Make Way for Uncle Mort

Published 7:14 am Saturday, January 7, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Most folks in the thicket were surprised to learn that an “uppity lady from up north” had become owner of the crossroads general store on New Year’s Day.

Finding her name–Sadie Ladarovich–tough to pronounce, my Uncle Mort slapped a nickname on her that’ll likely stick. “Sadie the Lady” from the outset, she announced several changes for the store.

Patrons applauded her daily breakfast specials. However, clapping slowed considerably as she posted “No Loitering” signs. Uncle Mort, who’ll be 105 come July 4, figured the signs signaled warnings for him and his buddies. Sooner than later, he would try to convince Sadie that he and his buddies are “guests” who liven up the place, and–on occasion–are paying customers, too.

   Exhibiting more poise than most folks thought he had, Mort joined friends in taking seats around THE table. It’s the one they’ve claimed for decades for domino-playing, conversation-starting, problem-solving and opinion-offering, sometimes all during the same day.

They discuss topics ranging from Adam’s rib to web pages and fibs. With such a vast expanse of history, they find it hard to follow rabbit trails that “don’t wander too far off the main road of popular topics,” they say.

“Hey, now, Sadie,” Mort said. “Remember we guys will be ever alert, even during breakfast. If a robber gets lost out here and tries to take your cash, we’ll manhandle him for you.” (Later, they’d break the news to her about “toning down” her entrance. Her new Lexus stood out, as did her sleek after-five dress–and her diamond ring with enough sparkle to blind an entire time zone.)

Mort added an addendum to his breakfast order: “Make sure you use a clean plate.” When Sadie brought breakfast for the foursome, she asked, “Okay, who gets the clean plate?”

They brought out the dominos after chowing down, but soon “football talk” reduced the game to a slow shuffle.

At the one-hour mark, Sadie was still refilling their coffee cups. Mort told Sadie that his wife Maude would be “powerful pleased” to stitch up a nice, flour sack dress for her–one far more practical for wearing at work.

The men agreed the Dallas Cowboys will make it to the Super Bowl, the one big game remaining after a glut of college bowl games.

Overhearing, Sadie admitted she’s a fan of Ohio State. “I expected the Buckeyes to make a strong statement from the git-go. Instead, they puttered around for 60 minutes, and never got around to saying anything.”

Everyone laughed. Maybe Sadie would fit in after all, they decided.

They wanted to do what they could to make this Yankee woman feel good about her move down South.

Mort promised to “make a list” of suggestions. It would include advice to park the Lexus out of sight in back, place the diamond ring in a bank lock box and wear “everyday” clothes.

Sadie pondered things, but didn’t speak: If these guys were Christmas tree lights, she wondered, would there be enough juice to light up the whole string?

Upon arriving home, Mort told Maude about the new store owner. “I think she’ll adjust to life in the thicket, but it’ll be gradual. First off, I’m hoping you’ll make her a nice everyday dress. Folks around here won’t cotton to buying groceries from a woman who looks like she’s dressed for a New Year’s Eve ball.”

“Reckon what size she wears?” Maude asked.

Mort suggested she use a pattern Maude follows when making a dress for herself. “She’s a perfect size, too,” he beamed. He’s been working the compliment angle for the almost 85 years they’ve been wed. It works almost every time. Before taking another breath, Maude sat down at her Singer treadle sewing machine, ready to turn out a new frock. It would be made from sacks earlier filled with flour when purchased down at the crossroads store.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. For inquiries/comments: email to Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: