Our sleepy little town is in
turmoil, I said.
The sleepy little town in question was
Weaverville, in upstate New York. Im a science-fiction writer and a
couple of my books had had modest successes, enabling us to buy a house there,
moving from our apartment in New York City. It was a pleasant
spring day and we were sitting out on the patio. My wife Ellens Uncle
Pringle was visiting us for the first time that year and hed asked the
usual question about what was happening in our town. Instead of giving him the
usual answer of Nothing much Id answered as above.
Uncle Pringle was a small dapper man
whom Id always thought resembled the English actor whose first name he
shared, Claude Rains. Hed been in some secret government agency and on
retirement was a consultant, although what he consulted about and for whom was
never clear. One thing was clear; he had many high-level contacts and some
low-level ones as well, and an uncanny ability to solve problems. In the past,
hed helped out several of our friends as well as myself and our family.
Hed recently been out of the country on one of his missions,
as he called them. Now he said, Turmoil? That is surprising. What is
For answer I handed him the days
local newspaper, whose front page headline proclaimed: Historical Statue
of Jacob Weaver to be Torn Down after Riotous Town Meeting. Jacob Weaver
was the first settler and founder of Weaverville.
Well, well, said Uncle
Pringle. I suspect that Jacob has been found guilty of something he did
in years past.
Its our new mayor,
said Ellen, who was passing out cold drinks to us.
The new mayor is a recent import
from New York City, like us, I said. Her name is Arabella
Camerela-Verdasco. Shes of mixed heritage, some African-American, Latino
and maybe Native American. She was elected mayor last November because no one
of note was interested in running and also, I suspect, that a lot of our
liberal residents voted for her to show their open-mindedness. Shes made
some changes - a tax on utilities to fight climate change, a tax on gas to keep
down auto emissions and a fee on all city transactions to help the homeless,
although I dont think we have any homeless persons. Now shes
discovered that old Jacob Weaver, who founded our town, fought in some war
against the Indians in colonial times and that makes him a racist so his statue
has to be torn down.
I see, said Uncle
Pringle. Well, some interesting things have been going on in this
country since Ive been away. You cant say that Weaverville
isnt on the cutting edge. There seems to be a nationwide movement to
examine the heroes of the past and judge them by modern standards. It seems to
have started with anyone on the Confederate side in the Civil War. So statues
of Confederate generals are being taken down and I suppose that anything, a
school or a street or a building, named after Robert E. Lee must have its name
Yes, I said. And now
its extended back to our founding fathers. Since many were slave holders
they also must have been racists. Even Washington and Jefferson arent
exempt. The city where Jefferson was born is no longer going to celebrate his
birthday. And some mural in San Francisco showing Washington doing something
has to be painted over.
So Jacob Weaver has become a
target. I take it that not everyone agrees that his statue must be
A lot of people, especially the
older residents, objected, but the Town Council voted and approved it 3-2. I
think Camerela-Verdasco has them intimidated. Shes very vocal about
anyone who opposes her. And the last think white liberals want to be
accused of is being a racist.
When is this removal supposed to
There has to be another town
meeting. Its to decide whether to move the statue, maybe find some
museum willing to take it or simply demolish it. The last is what
Camerela-Verdasco would like to do.
Do you think you can do anything
to stop it? Ellen asked Uncle Pringle. Before he could answer his phone
rang. Excuse me, he said. Yes, Donald. No, as I
told you before, youll have to stop those ridiculous tweets. No,
otherwise I cant help you. Besides, I may have a little business her to
take care of. He put down the phone.
Was that ------? I
An old acquaintance from New York
who, Im afraid, is in over his head. But, getting back to the
matter at hand, Ive always liked seeing that statue when I come to visit.
Let me think about it.
The morning of the scheduled town
meeting our local newspaper had another startling headline: Statue of
Jacob Weaver Disappears Overnight. The story described how a worker
arriving to clean up debris in the town square suddenly noticed the statue was
missing. Mayor Camerela-Verdasco denied that she had anything to do with
removing the statue. Its just as much a mystery to me as to anyone
else, she told reporters. When asked, she said yes, thered
still be a town meeting that night. She also said it hadnt been
deemed necessary to guard the statue; nobody had thought of doing
What do you think? I asked
Ellen. Do you see Uncle Pringles hand in this?
Its possible, she
said. He does like dramatic effects.
A phone call from Uncle Pringle later
that morning erased all doubts. Ellen and I both got on the line. How did
you do it? I asked.
I have some friends in
construction, said Uncle Pringle. They had the necessary tools and
it wasnt too difficult.
What did you do with the
statue? Ellen asked.
Lets just say its in a
So what now?
Ill see you at the town hall
meeting tonight. Oh, and Ill be bringing a friend along. I believe he may
The town hall that night was packed. We
had arrived early and met Uncle Pringle, who introduced us to his friend, Chief
Silver Eagle of the upstate New York Senequoi tribe. As Ive said,
Uncle Pringle had many contacts, both high and low-level. So I
wasnt surprised that Uncle Pringle knew an Indian chief. The Chief
wasnt dressed in Indian attire, he wore a dark suit, but he was an
impressive looking man, tall, with a bronzed face, a noble nose and high
cheekbones. There was no doubt as to his heritage. We obtained seats close to
the front and waited for the proceedings.
The meeting began. Mayor
Camerela-Verdasco repeated her denial that she had anything to do with the
disappearance of Jacob Weavers statue. The council members then argued
about whether they should just do nothing or try to retrieve the statue and if
it was retrieved then what should be done with it. They came to no conclusion.
The meeting was then thrown open to the floor. A number of people said
that they missed seeing the statue and that if it was retrieved theyd
like to have it back. Then Chief Standing Bear was recognized.
Thank you, he said. I
represent the Senequoi tribe. When it came to our attention that the statue of
Jacob Weaver was to be taken down we were surprised. Jacob Weaver fought with
our tribe against the Onuga tribe, who were aligned with the British against
the Americans. Our tribal historian researched our records and confirmed
this. Accordingly, we thought the best thing to do was remove the statue
to a safe place until this matter was resolved. If you wish to restore
the statue to its place we will be glad to return it. If not, we shall be
honored to have it on our land. Oh, and I understand that Mayor
Camerela-Verdasco has some claims to be of Indian heritage. Our tribal
historian is looking into this.
Chief Silver Eagle sat down. The crowd
by this time was in an uproar. The chairman of the town council called for
order. People were yelling, Take a vote. Get the statue back. The
Mayor seemed subdued. The vote was eventually taken and it was 5-0 to retrieve
the statue as soon as possible. Jacob Weaver would once again occupy his place
in Weavervilles town square.
We were back in our house with Uncle
Pringle. Chief Silver Eagle had left after the meeting, saying he had business
elsewhere. It was a warm evening so we were again out on the patio, having cold
drinks. Well, said Uncle Pringle, that was a satisfactory
It was, said Ellen,
thanks to your Indian chief friend.
You know, I said.
Those were strange-sounding tribal names. Ive never heard of them
and Ive done some research into Indian tribes in New York State. And is
there really a tribal historian whos going to look into the Mayors
claim to have an Indian heritage. And come to think of it, Chief Silver Eagle
looked very much like an actor Ive seen on television.
Before Uncle Pringle could respond his
phone rang. Yes, Donald. I see. All right, but this is the last
time. Yes, my business here is done. Ill leave immediately.
Remember, this is the last time. He put down the
Was that -------?
Yes, the same acquaintance from
New York. Im afraid I must leave now, a plane will be
About your Indian
We can discuss that when I
return. The next time I visit you I look forward to seeing Jacob
Weavers statue back where it belongs. He winked and was