The History of Our Fair City, part 1.

The end of the world was not nearly as exciting as everyone had expected. Oh, it was bad. There were riots and all kinds of craziness in the big cities, and most of the smaller cities too. But there weren’t any zombies. No rain of fire from the sky. No Jesus on a white horse leading us all to victory. It was pretty underwhelming out here in farm country.

Sure, it sucked losing electricity, and people got a little testy when they realized their hard-earned money was mostly good for writing notes and starting fires, but we’re resilient people out here. Anyway, we had Crazy Joe, and he had been waiting his whole life for this.

Joseph “Crazy Joe” Rutkowski always knew that civilization-as-we-knew-it was teetering on the edge of the abyss, and he didn’t want to be caught with his blue jeans around his knees when Armageddon broke out. He’d expected something a little more spectacular, but as he’d later say, sometimes you don’t get the disaster you want, but you get the disaster that you need. It turned out that his bunker and stacks of freeze-dried food wasn’t as useful as his general knowledge and his hitherto unrecognized leadership skills.

The town council and the mayor at the time, Bob Jenkins, called a meeting as soon as it became pretty clear that everything was circling the bowl and the outside world had forgotten about Vonnstown. The meeting started out somewhat less orderly than a bar room brawl, but as Crazy Joe sat there looking at his nephew, Little Joe, cradling his great-nephew, Baby Joe, he knew had to do something. And that something involved an air horn and his signature booming voice.

“HEY! People! CHILL. We can do this. We will be ok. Just SHUT UP for a second.”

Once he had gotten everyone’s attention, he began to lay out his plans. We needed water and maybe some electricity of our own, so wells and windmills seemed to be the thing to do. He called out the people who could make that happen. One problem at a time, he made the townspeople feel like they might survive after all.

“We are going to have to grown some food. I have seeds. The farm supply store has seeds. We can do this. Everyone plants a garden in their yard. We plant up the parks and some fields. We’ll have food for the whole year,” he declared.

A few people were not really onboard, and at least one person wanted to know if he’d get paid for his part “when things got back to normal,” but most people were happy to have someone taking charge and acting sane, even if they’d always called him Crazy Joe.

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