June 2nd…“WHO, IN YOUR CHILDHOOD HOMETOWN, HAD A UNIQUE OR EVEN FUNNY NICKNAME?”
Every town in America, I’m sure, is populated with unique individuals that bring character and ambiance to the everyday life of a community. My childhood hometown of Kiester, Minnesota was no exception. In previous stories, you heard me tell about a person in our town with the nickname of “Lightning”, but today, there’s an individual that I’m happy to share a story about with a smile. We children knew him by the nickname of “Pud”.
Born into this world in 1914 as Vern Bufkin, “Pud” and his father, Ed, were quite a team when it came to cleaning our school. I remember “Pud’s” dad as being a very stoic, straight-laced and straight-faced person. Mr. Bufkin Senior, being from the old school type of generation, Vern’s father wore a standard tie and, in latter years, he even sported a bow tie on his fully-buttoned, long sleeved shirt. “Pud”, on the other hand, was pretty laid back in his dress code and his “take it easy” attitude. I can only theorize where “Pud” may have acquired his nickname, its actual source I do not know, yet I enjoyed him just the same.
“Pud” was sure a kind soul to me. He was gentle in his ways and always had a few minutes to chat to this super energetic, zip around each corner kinda kid!! It was easy for him to discern that in those days, I was little hot-wired tiker a buzzin’ around those echoing halls and stairwells of dear old Kiester Elementary School. I knew I could always approach “Pud” and receive a smile and a pleasant greeting.
Vernon’s parents, Ed and Marge Bufkin were fellow saints in our local church’s congregation and worshiped the Lord at my childhood church (Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church) there in Kiester, Minnesota. Vernon, himself, was the middle sibling of the three Bufkin brothers (the other two being Dale in 1912 and Clyde in 1920). As it turned out, Vern outlived both brothers when he finally passed into Glory in 1994.
It’s highly probable that “Pud” may have been a subliminal inspiration for my own many decades as a custodian in the Battle Ground School District and now here in the school systems of Hawaii. Maybe, in the back of my heart, I’ve also wanted to show kindness and a smile to the thousands of children I too have had contact with in my lifetime. Either way, I’m glad that “Pud” was part of the young life of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.