The small town of Willoughby was exactly the kind of place that any clean cut American would want for his hometown. People there took great pride in their wholesome lives, and God, country and family reigned supreme. There was only one somewhat obnoxious catch though. Life in Willoughby was somewhat silly and off kilter.
At the center of town, at 300 Mulberry Street, was Mr. Quackenbush’s Barber Shop. In most ways it was quite an entirely traditional barber shop with a red and white pole proudly displayed at the front entrance. The inside was well stocked with all sorts of lotions and gels, including Vitalis, Aqua-Velva and Witch Hazel. Mr. Quackenbush’s shop was a bit different than those in other cities though. There was always a live cow, named Bessie, in his.
To the folks in Willoughby, Bessie was everyone’s pride and joy. The kids in Sister Rose Eugene’s first grade class at St. Gabriel’s Elementary School, a few blocks away, were especially fond of her. They were always wandering in and out of the shop at the oddest times just to say hello to her. Sometimes, a visiting stranger from out of town would come into the shop for a haircut and shave. Inevitably taken aback by the sight of such a creature in such a place he would be greeted with a hearty: “G’wan ‘n’ pet ‘er, Misther. Bethie’th tha thweet ‘n’ purty!” from at least one of Bessie’s young friends.
Tommy, Ralph and Mabel Dingle’s little boy, was quite especially fond of Bessie. He even tried to carry on conversations with her. After school each day, and on Saturdays, he’d spend as much time as possible telling her all about his life and about anything he thought might interest a cow that lived in a barber shop. Conveniently Mr. Quackenbush was quite a patient gentleman, especially with cows and kids. “Hey I was young once too, don’t you know?” he’d exclaim. “I wish my barber would have been willing to let my friends and me get to know his cow.”
Of course Bessie most certainly had her share of attitude problems and mood swings. Doesn’t every cow? She was quite compulsively addicted to soap operas and there was simply no living with her whenever she lost a game of canasta. In general though, she was quite thoughtful, considerate and a perfect lady. Compared to all her good points her character defects were slight.