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The Almost Legend of Bankie Barth

Nov 22, 2013 01:44PM ● Published by Kyle Jacobson

By: Kyle Jacobson            

     Gathered here and bein’ near suppose you came round to hear, so plant your restless rumps and rears and listen to the tale unsaid.  Brought to my attention by some divine intervention and I ask for your retention so what I say gets through your head.  Broken ears ain’t hearin’ nuthin’ and dare you not to call my bluffin’ as this story’s simply somethin’ beyond an old man’s grumpy gruffin’s.  So beg ya now ta make no sound as y’all here gather round on the somewhat swept up ground of my quaint and humble hearth.  Don’t sit too nearly and listen dearly to what I will call sincerely the merely almost legend of Bankie “Bucktooth” Barth.    

     Our story begins before Bankie made a name for himself, for you see it takes a doin’ for a man to make a name, but no doin’s for a man to be given one.  So Bankie was given the name Bankie when Bankie was just a baby, but he grew into that name as sure as this here town grew into its own.  Bankie was, in himself, no more special than you or I.  Ya see, the difference between most folk and Bankie is that he didn’t stand ‘round huffin’ and puffin’ when things weren’t going the way he wished them to.  Bankie was a doer.  Too many folk, it seems, talk about all the great things they could be doin’, but never seem to find the time to get on doin’ ‘em, while Bankie’s the sort who gets on with the doin’ and never sees no reason to waste time talkin’ about doin’s not done.

     So Bankie was quite the asset when that lake over yonder was no more than a swamp.  He would work as hard as his stringy muscles would allow, and always be lookin’ to do what needed doin’.  Well Bankie got to doin’ so much that it came he had a hand in just about everything built up to that point, and folk started joking around about Bankie buildin’ all them beaver dams on the river at the end of the swamp.  It wasn’t long ‘fore they started to call Bankie “Bucktooth” which is ironic when considerin’ Bankie had neither.  This name was a prideful one in the minds of Bankie and the folk who gave it to him as it was meant to show Bankie’s tenacity.  Now a man by the name of David Drake worked with Bankie to make up a sawmill on one of them beaver dams, and that sawmill was soon sold to a man by the name of Moses Ordway.  Bankie stuck around and helped out Ordway’s son, David, to finish building up that dam with nothing but dirt and rock.  That June in 1843 they’d done what they set out to, and Beaver Dam Lake grew in place of that once there swamp.

     Now Barth, if you’re German is a bit rusty, means beard and comes from the German word bardo which means bearded one.  As was tradition in Bankie’s family, one could not grow a beard until they had made a name for themselves.  Well it was just so that Bankie had, so he grew a beard that, after six years, was so thick a family of fussy squirrels would find nothing worth their complaining unless they didn’t like the low peaceful hummin’s Bankie was known for when he was hard at work.  It was after them six years passed that Bankie earned the title of legend, though nobody now remembers him which is why I call him an almost legend though his character is legend enough.

     Ya see in 1849 some heavy rains came and the lake had grown to such a size that the beaver’s dam, reinforced with mud, rock, and sweat, could no longer hold back what it so desperately wanted to.  It was a violent rushin’ of water to say the least, and a destructive unhindered force of nature to say the most.  As bridges were torn apart by mud, rock, and current, Bankie was already hard at work.  Bankie “Bucktooth” Barth had taken to fillin’ a wagon with boulders of all sizes and brought them to the site of that first dam he built.  It weren’t too long before folk started flooding that flood with their own boulders and such.  Reverend Montgomery in particular was quite a talent due to his good godly size and strength.  Eventually every man, woman, and child was buildin’ that there dam, to create this here city.  Bankie made as many trips as he could without stoppin’ until that lake was redammed.

     After he had done all that work, Bankie decided to find himself a nice place down the river to rest.  Not too far from the bed of the river he found himself a nice little cave.  He tucked his beard under his ear to make a nice pilla’, brought his knees into his chest, and wasn’t heard from again.

     Story doesn’t end here, even though you’d ‘spect it to.  Heck some of you may have already known everything up to this point, and just never heard the name before.  Well here’s where things get a bit interestin’.  Ya see Bankie wasn’t heard from again, but he was seen.  Last year in June of 2012 Bankie woke up.  He had not aged a day, but his beard had grown quite ravishlike.  As he wandered about the city he had played a large role in creatin’, he started to feel a bit disheartened.  Ya see, people ‘round here had forgotten what it was to be a community; to watch out for each other and take pride in what ya doin’.  Bankie ran into all the supermarts and such only to notice that people had become disconnected.  They lazily slumped around gettin’ what needed gettin’, and leavin’ without so much as a smile or nod.  Now he did notice that some folk were, in fact, keepin’ with the spirit of what it is to being a folk, but he was too saddened by what he’d seen.  Bankie decided he would try again, and crept back into his cave where he curled up and said a little prayer, not to God, but to the people who were a part of city built by everyone workin’ together so long ago.  Bankie prayed that, one day, them people start workin’ together again and reach the potential he saw in all folk, which was the same potential he found in himself.  It was everyone workin’ together that created this place, and the only thing that can tear it apart is everyone workin’ apart.  Beaver Dam had been ripenin’ for such a change, as many folk here worked hard in makin’ sure of that, and I notice that many of us here today heard Bankie’s prayer; we just gotta keep on addin’ our boulders ‘til one day everyone in the city is pitchin’ in.

     So havin’ heard and grown to knowin’ this tale which once had been at rest ‘bout how the complexly simple turned to something that is simply complex, I ask you all for “Bucktooth” Barth that you would simply take to heart that strength is built and grows impunity for everyone in our community.


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