2011.03.09 Potatoes in the pipes

Written by David Green.

Sandy Shepherd has been after me again about an old April Fool’s story. Not just any story. It was the king of April 1 that she was after: the tale of when Morenci became part of Ohio.

Many of you will remember Rick and Sandy Sheppard. Rick served as pastor at the Morenci United Methodist Church. He also served a church in Saginaw and that’s where the Sheppards had an odd incident with instant mashed potatoes.

Sandy occasionally furnishes columns for a little weekly paper in Iowa—I can’t recall the story of how that got started—and she wanted to write something for early April about my infamous prank.

She sent her future column to me to read and she also attached a potato column. I took one look at it and offered a trade. She could write anything she wanted about me in Dayton, Iowa, if I could have the potato story this week. Here it is.

By Sandy Sheppard

My husband almost left me over a box of instant mashed potatoes.

Well, maybe that’s a teeny tiny exaggeration, but the incident did give him something to tease me about for years. It wasn’t that he discovered I was feeding him instant rather than homemade. Nothing quite that simple. Because when it came to mashed potatoes, we were in total agreement—we both disliked the boxed kind. Only real, creamy, buttery mashed spuds would do. Here’s how the whole thing started…

We were living in our first parsonage in Saginaw, where Rick served as Associate Pastor in a large church. I worked full-time at the Wickes Lumber Home Office, so fixing dinner after a long workday required some effort.

I searched the contents of the fridge one evening after work. The leftover roast beef needed mashed potatoes, but there was not enough for two good-sized servings. I decided to stretch the remaining potatoes by adding some instant, hoping Rick wouldn’t notice the difference. I found a half-full box at the back of the cupboard where it had sat for a long, long time. Too long, in fact. 

BUGS! It crawled with bugs!

Without thinking, I poured the contents down the churning garbage disposal and turned on cold water. There! All gone! I dropped the empty box into the trash and went back to fixing dinner. We’d just have to share the leftover potatoes.

Later, my husband washed his hands and watched as the sink filled up with soapy water. “Did you pour something down this sink? It seems to be stopped up.” He looked at me questioningly.

“I don’t think so.” I shrugged.

He brought out his tools despite the advice a plumber once gave him after a Saturday night fiasco with some leaking bathtub pipes. “Reverend, you’d better stick to preaching and leave the plumbing to professionals.”

In a minute he took apart the trap under the sink. Clean as a whistle. Next he tried threading the metal snake down the pipe. No luck. The water still refused to go down the drain.

Frustrated, he eyed me again as he headed for the basement. “Are you sure you didn’t put anything down this drain?”

“Well, I did pour some instant mashed potatoes into the garbage disposal. But it went right down, so that couldn’t be the problem.”

“Why’d you do that?”

The answer seemed quite obvious. “It had bugs. I didn’t want them crawling around in the trash can.” 

He gave me his “I can’t believe anyone could be so dumb” look and went downstairs, muttering under his breath. 

A few minutes later the phone rang, and Rick answered it on the basement extension. Suddenly I heard him bellow, “Sandy, come down here!” I quickly answered the voice of authority and stopped, transfixed, at the bottom of the stairs. Rick had dismantled a trap in the ceiling pipes. He stood, phone still in hand, behind the ironing board where he had strategically placed a bucket under the open trap. Large quantities of fluffy mashed potatoes, slightly greenish-tinted, dripped noisily into the bucket.

Plop! Plop! Plop!

“Oh!” I raised my eyebrows and looked at him innocently. “Do you want me to heat up the gravy?”

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017