Always friendly and smiling

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 31, 2003

I can’t, like hundreds of people, say I knew Henry Murden. We met a few times on those occasions where city officials and politicians gather; he smiled, shook hands, and told me how he enjoyed my columns. I remember how small his hand was because I always gauge my handshake by the size of the person. Even his eyes told me to be gentle. But he definitely was a giant in Suffolk based upon the amount of people he knew and the knowledge he had acquired; a one-man encyclopedia. Only one time did I encounter him in the courthouse where they store those voluminous records, and being inexperienced in such matters I looked helplessly around the room. Mr. Murden popped up from nowhere and spent 30 minutes showing me the path through the maze.

I read every comment offered by those who knew him and worked with him. All spoke favorably, especially William Randolph Carter Jr. I remember Mr. Murden endorsing Carter as his choice to follow his in his footsteps. I said at the time that Mr. Murden’s endorsement might be political. I believe I was correct after reading that Carter had known Mr. Murden since Carter was a little boy, went to school with Mr. Murden’s son, and regarded Murden as his mentor when he began to practice law. That’s pretty tight.

A couple of old duffers have a car wreck and the media descends upon them like vultures that they are. You don’t have to tell the average oldster when to hang up the steering wheel, they are thinking about it all the time. Darn few old persons want to die and they’ve lived long enough to know all about injuries. An 85-year-old in good health is a better driver than a 60-year-old in poor health. And both are safer on the road than most adults under 30. It’s not an older-driver question; it’s a medically at-risk driver problem. Most elderly drivers slow down or get off the road in bad weather, when they are on freeways and interstates, in heavy traffic or unfamiliar areas, during rush hours, at night, dusk, or dawn, or over long distances. It’s the young idiot with payments still due on his little toy that’s dangerous. They are short on brains and long on the gas pedal. How often have you had an elderly driver pull up behind you at speeds over the limit, blowing his horn and giving you the finger when you sensibly slide over a lane?

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So what’s wrong with a porn shop in a local shopping center? Not much, apparently. The entire East Washington Civic League showed up at the Board of Zoning Appeals to oppose placement of cargo containers in an area zoned heavy industry and screened by trees. But nobody showed up to oppose the porn shop in Suffolk West Shopping Center. Either citizen priorities are out of balance or no one knew about it. I can’t imagine Suffolk not caring. Some say UDO says &uot;No,&uot; but the porn shop owners threaten to take it all the way to the highest courts hoping to rub opponent’s noses in it, using the same New York law firm that represents Hustler filth magazine, and pond scum Larry Flynt. The owners say it will be a nice addition to Suffolk that will offend no one; that &uot;ye flesh shoppe&uot; will be up-tempo, whatever the hell that means.

As you enter you see nothing but lovely things similar to the undies in Victoria’s Secret. But there is a lot of latitude in the word &uot;similar.&uot; Then, if you are of a mind to, you can be age-checked and buzzed into the porn pen where the real cute items line the shelves; and instructive as well as destructive adult movies for rent or sale. Like the owner says, some items can already be purchased from Spencer catalogs and the like. Why he can’t leave it at that is because he wants to become the middleman and offer them off the shelf. I expect the local churches will get in the act, prayer in either direction could help, and they might head the porn patch off at the pass. In a little town up north a stranger tried the adult store idea. The citizens let him build it, stock it, advertise, then one night it mysteriously burned it to the ground. You should have seen the kids pawing through the rubble. &uot;What’s this for, mom?&uot;

Just curious, where did the city put up all those people from Italy? Those Italian flags sure looked nice in downtown Suffolk. But where were the American flags on the fourth of July? I saw many of them in Chuckatuck.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted at