Dapper Elfie

Another story from Gabriella, courtesy of her older brother:
I told you Jeff was an animal vet. While going to college, he spent every summer at this cherry orchard. Jeff was a strong young man wasn't afraid of hard work. He was given different tasks, he liked to worked there, and the orchardist and other workers liked him, too, and things went fine until Elfie showed up on the farm on some sunny late August day one year. Jeff didn't remember if Elfie came for some business or just wanted to visit him (it happened sometimes), and Elfie was about to leave when one of those fast August storms hit the farm, so Elfie took cover in the coachhouse with Jeff and two dozen people that were working in the fields that week, most of which were female who did sorting and boxing. In the coachhouse there was one of the farm's two carbide cannons. It had a real long barrel, and it was loaded with carbide to which they gave water; that made the carbide blow off with such a noise that birds eating the crop three miles away died of heart attacks. The two guys surrounded with nearly two dozen women started to feel better and better, when one older woman asked what that big something under the tarp was.
Elfie immediately said that it wa a huge photomachine, used to photograph thieves in the dark, which the orchardist had just bought a week ago; he was the only farmer in the entire county who owned such a wonder. It was so expensive! Jeff was looking at him odd because he knew that Elfie knows well what that thing was (Elfie loved technical things, though he never completely understood how those complicated things work but admired them, and Jeff had even showed him the cannon in action once... Elfie went deaf and mesmerized), but Jeff didn't say a word. The women got excited – a real photomachine, and it's so huge! "May they see it?" they all asked. Elfie looked at Jeff as if asking for his permission, Jeff shrugged and they went to the cannon and put the covering off it. The women were amazed; it looked like a cannon! The two men were generously smiling and agreeing. Elfie was going around the machine showing the lens, the box where the film is, the window the photographer sees; good thing the women didn't go any closer. They admired the photomachine from a safe distance, and kept nodding and chuckling to Elfie's words, who finally went behind the machine, bent over with the move of a photographer and jokingly said he could photograph them. The women now got really excited, and asked "will you take a picture of us with that fantastic contrivance?" Elfie stopped smiling, walked back from behind the cannon and told them in serious voice that it's impossible, this is a very expensive and sensitive machine and not a toy. My brother was choking trying to suppress laughter. The women were begging for just one photograph so much that Elfie finally gave in and agreed on taking only one photograph of the happy group. Jeff ran behind to pick carbide up and load the cannon; Elfie arranged the women in a pretty group in front of a the haystack near the barn, the gun-barrel was staring right at them from the other side of the coachhouse. Elfie made a line to stand, another one to kneel and a third one to sit, fixed a scarf here, arranged a blouse there, all in all he was acting like a real photographer. Jeff added a little more carbide than usual for the sake of fun, added water and told Elfie to leave the women. Elfie went back to the cannon and started to clean the 'lens', the black hole of the barrel with circular motions, smiling back to the women who were nodding and giggling.
Jeff started to get nervous. The problem with a carbide cannon is that you never exactly know when it's going to fire, and with the extra carbide and extra water Jeff put in the machine, Elfie had no chance to survive if he's still at the barrel when it goes off. Jeff shouted at him to leave the barrel NOW. The women stopped snugging each other and looked in the barrel with serious faces. The explosion was huge. Later on nobody understood how the entire coachhouse hadn't collapsed on their heads. When Elfie and Jeff put their hands off their ears and held their heads up, it was all dust and... the women were nowhere. Then they realized there were writhing figures on the floor where a group of females were standing and sitting a minute before. Some of the women pissed herselves, some were crying hysterically, an old lady messed her pants, a few women were found in the haystack where the pressure of the air had pushed them... The doctor had to put some sprained wrists and ankles in place, dress some wounds, calm some heart palpitations, and give a lot of tranquilizer, otherwise they survived. Jeff was fired at once, and the women threatened him and Elfie that their men were going to skin them alive. However, when the menfolk arrived later that afternoon they were laughing their asses off at the story of the carbide photomachine. And the next day when the women returned to their sorting, they were laughing, too, and whenever they saw Elfie (out in public or at the theatre, he was not allowed too close the farm anymore), they started to wave and shout, "Hey, Mr. Photographer, when are you going to photograph us again?" and were laughing even more. Jeff told me that Elfie always blushed when that happened.

Here he is in the break between productions of Arsenic & Old Lace and The Pirates of Penzance. Teenage girls
swooned. Teenage boys made him swoon. Back then, people didn't have a clue which way his rope swung, despite
how he dressed; they just thought he had a different fashion sensibility because he was an actor. Which was also true.
found at Hunter Antiques at a different time

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