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Doppler Effect

Excerpt from a December 8, 2010 Interview

Dusty Barnes: The Oklahoma Cowboy Who Once Befriended A California Cowgirl
By Samantha Evans
(The Spyglass Newspaper)

Evans:  Dusty, you helped pay to get your friend Lucy get published on-line after she died.  That money went to Ed Scattergood, and it took him months and a district attorney’s prosecution to finally get The Cartoon Cowgirl up and riding.  Were you upset about that, and do you have any words of advice for Demod Smith’s family and friends as they see even more delays in publishing the line-by-line commentary?

Dusty: Nawww, I weren’t upset in the least bit. (SPITS.)  I’d cut the feller some slack and then some.  He’s dealing with cyberspace.  (PUTS MORE TOBACCO CHEW INTO HIS CHEEK.) I know from my years listening to Lucy and also watching that moonwalk in ‘69 that it’s all slow-motion when you’re wrangling up there.

Evans: Moonwalk aside, Dusty, are you saying Lucy Acres spoke of space or cyberspace in a way that help might explain the delays in publication?

Dusty: Awww, that Lucy could talk about anything and then make up a rhyme on it.  And she knew lots of words that rhyme withspace.  Lots. (SPITS.)  But I remember one night in ‘73 the sheriffs mistook  me and Lucy again for wrecking the Nine Bears Bar in French Gulch [small town near Whiskeytown Lake].  So we had occasion to be hidin in bushes along the road when they flew by, sirens a wailin and the lights a flashin.

Evans: And what was Lucy a sayin—I mean, what was Lucy saying?

Dusty: Nothing yet, but as the sheriff’s car came hard at us and then passed by, its siren echoing on out into the Whiskeytown night and all, I noticed sumpthin kind a funny. (SPITS.)

Evans: Of course!  The sirens’ pitch and frequency sounded seemingly higher coming at you than they did after he missed you and passed by.   Did Lucy tell you it was the Doppler Effect?

Dusty: Not to my recollection.  We was making fun of the deputy.  Lucy never liked the loud noise no how.  She did like them red and blue lights, though she called it crass to be flashing them together.  She’s always said that if she was ever a deputy, she’d use the red lights for her work period during the day and then the blue lights for work at night.

Evans: Her clever take on the red shift and blue shift!  That’s when the Doppler Effect is applied to light instead of sound.  Since it’s like a law of physics, we can track the movement of stars and galaxies by measuring it.

Dusty: A law?   Look, miss, I don’t want to get Lucy into no trouble.

Evans: A different kind of law, sir.  But if I may speak with the bluntness of an eleven-year-old, Dusty, Lucy’s beyond all laws now.

Dusty: Well, but anyhows, like I was saying, before I noticed that funny thing, we were just making fun. In fact, Lucy said, “Wallace wouldn’t want to hear what we’re saying about him as he was passing by.”

Evans:  Wallace Stegner?!  But he would want to hear it. All of it! In Angle of Repose, he wrote that the Doppler Effect could be applied to life. That you want to hear your life as it’s coming at you instead of, and . . . I quote from memory, “instead of hearing it as I do, a sober sound of expectations reduced, desires blunted, hopes deferred or abandoned, chances lost, defeats accepted, griefs borne.”

So Lucy was a Stegner fan?

Dusty: Nope, but you sure are a talky kid. (SPITS.) Wally Acres, Lucy’s little brother, had just become a deputy and was in that patrol car.  She always called him ‘Wallace’ just to make him mad.  She said it would take a week for him to figure out how we duped him, if ever, and then it would be too late. But she was always saying that.

Evans: Ok, Dusty, I give up:  What DID you notice that night in 1963 as Deputy Wallace passed you, his sirens wailing and his red and blue lights flashing?

Dusty: (SPITS.) There was a little kid in the back seat.  He had his face up in the window and I think he even spotted us as they went by.  It was a little kid, an English boy named Scott Groade, who had come from London with his no-account sister a couple years before, in trouble again for his newest scam on the citizens of Whiskeytown.  He couldn’t have been much older than you.

As he came at us, he looked like a scared little kid, but just after he passed us, he suddenly looked all old and bitter.  Lucy was just a shakin her head like she was wont to do.

“That’s the Doppler Effect of a kid going nowhere,” she said. “Can you hear the irony?”

Evans:  Wow.  So whatever happened to Scott Groade?

Dusty:  Don’t rightly know.  Reckon him and his life got pretty scrambled after that.

Evans: Scrambled!

For more about Lucy Acres, visit her digitized remains at her eGrave at www.lucyforever.com.  For more interviews by Samantha Evans, 12 year-old journalist at The Spyglass Newspaper in Terre Haute, Indiana, click here and here.

2 Responses to “Doppler Effect”

  1. [...] Samantha.  But don’t think I’m overconfident about meeting you.  I’ve read an interview or two of yours and have concluded that even though you’re in the sixth grade, you’re more than a [...]

  2. [...] A posthumous interview indicates that Lucy Acres may have been on to this phenomenon, too. Or [...]

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