Niagara Gazette


June 7, 2014

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: All revved up for Island mower mania

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Mowers — In the play “The Sunshine Boys,” cantankerous old Willie Clark belittles his one-time vaudeville partner Al Lewis for “spending too much time on a New Jersey porch.”

“I look out my window, I see everything,” Willie rants, rattling off eye-witness accounts ranging from “nice people” to “jumpers from buildings.” In comparison, Willie sneers, Al sees only “a lawnmower and a milkman.”

Obviously, Willie’s worldview has not included the northwest shore of our non-tropical paradise, where there is no such thing as “only a lawnmover.” The region’s next Saturday resounds again with the annual lawn mower races, plus “everything” from kids’ game to a classic car show. The what annual? We’ve lost track. Probably spending too much time on a Grand Island porch.

We do know that it redefines “lawn fete,” conceived in folly, fertilized with the stuff that fertilizes, shelved for decades and then risen again like a phoenix from the mulch, with a considerable touch of the bittersweet, besides.

Land baron Floyd Doring, with whom Doug once shared duty as a Scout leader, pulled the first mower-race rope when he and a neighbor got to mixing it up about who had the speedier mower. Some neighbors chimed in and the whole thing turned into a sequel to “Blade Runner.”

It reminds us a little of the Shaw Festival over the border, which began with two weekends of one show and now dominates the Niagara Peninsula for half a year.

Our own John Deere Derby remains a one-day event, but now there’s something for absolutely everybody. And that’s where the sadness comes in. The opening five-kilometer walk memorializes Kevin Doring, gone too soon, one-time proprietor of the finest coffee shop we ever had. All funds raised benefit our Relay for Life, dedicated to disease research.

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