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The Village Blacksmith Dan Blaine DBLIVIT This past week the village blacksmith died. Willy G. was 66 years old. I knew Willy as the president of our local runner’s club. He had a beer belly, no neck, Popeye’s forearms and a ruddy complexion…too much good Schwäbisch cooking washed down with that delicious Hefeweizen beer. I didn’t know his past track record until after he died: he had completed 24 marathons and 10 100km races. His best time running through the Alps for 100km was 9hours 44 minutes. (this was at age 39!).

He still ran his smithy in the barn behind his house. In our town you can still see a big stack of manure steaming alongside a house on the main street. They still use horses back in the woods to drag logs out in the places where it’s too narrow to get a tractor in. Willy never wanted for work.

The other day coming back from the Schwarzwald, the traffic was stopped on the county road…an itinerate sheepherder was moving his flock down from one of the high pastures to a lower area not snowed over. After 5 minutes or so, the traffic started flowing again, Schwabs coming back from a weekend of skiing to their high tech jobs in Germany’s silicon valley.

What the hell has all this got to do with SI? For me, it’s like living in a time warp, going back to the days when Louie Eib’s cows used to come into my backyard on Vanderbilt avenue. When one could get enough worms out of the manure pile at Franzreb’s stables to catch as many sunnies and bass as he wanted to at Clove Lakes. Fishing for Striped Bass at the end of Cromwell Center. Digging sandworms in front of SS White in Tottenville. Ice skating at St. Francis Seminary. Hearing the knife and scissor sharpener, the strawberry man and the junkman sing out their various cries letting the neighborhood know they were there and ready for business. Playing stickball in the school yard and Ring-a-leevio in the backyards and empty lots.

Anybody else out there living in a SI time warp?

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