There were lots of long beards in Gnometown. Young Virgil had gone to school to be a barber and set up a shop down by the river, complete with a red, white and blue barber pole. He grew up poor but had learned to work hard, save for what you want, take care of the things you own and be happy for what you have. Every day he would get up early, milk the cow, pick eggs, feed the animals, and help in the garden before he set off for work. One morning, while cleaning up after his last customer, he muttered, “I am so tired. If only I had enough money to retire I could volunteer to help Gnometown folks with their chores, run errands, or just visit the lonely.
At that moment, Gov Ted walked in. He needed a haircut and beard trim. He had overheard Virg’s lament and when he left, he thanked him and gave him a bag of gold coins. There were enough coins for Virg to retire. He quickly found the CLOSED sign, put it in the window, and started for home. About halfway home he noticed an old woman, struggling to pick vegetables in her very weedy garden. It was a very hot day, but Virg walked quickly by, pretending not to notice her. He walked a ways and looked back. He turned around, set down his bag of coins and started helping the old woman. A robber who noticed Virg set down the bag of coins, grabbed it and ran off. Saddened, he turned right around and went back to the shop and put the OPEN sign in the window.
Later, Gov Ted happened to walk by and was surprised to see Virg back in the shop. Virg looked so very sad as he spilled his tale of woe to Gov Ted. Gov felt such compassion for his hard luck, that he reached in his pocket and pulled out a diamond and gave it to Virg. Although he had never seen a diamond before, he knew its value. He thanked Gov Ted and put the CLOSED sign in the window and started for home.
On his way home, he noticed the old woman had fallen in the garden and spilled all her vegetables on the ground. He looked away thinking he had to get home and hide the gem. His wife wasn’t there when he got home, so he put the diamond in the pot over the fire and laid town to dream about what he would do with his new wealth. In the meantime, his wife came home, grabbed the pot over the fire and went to the river to get water for supper. She dipped the pot in the stream and the diamond fell out. Not knowing about the diamond, she filled her pot with water and headed back home.
Virg woke from his nap just as his wife was coming in the door with the pot of water. As she put the pot on the fire he ran over to check for his diamond, only to see that the gem was gone. So back he went to the shop, put the OPEN sign in the window and waited for the next customer. Gov Ted was out for his usual walk and noticed the OPEN sign in the window. “I thought you wanted to retire?” the Gov said. Virg told him what happened. Once again, he had pity on him and reached into his pocket and took out one coin, probably only enough for a tin of coffee. Virg thanked him, looked at the clock and noticed it was time to go home, so he put the CLOSED sign in the window and started for home.
Just as he started on his way, he saw Gnome Elder netting a walleye from the river. It was such a nice walleye, Virg offered the coin to Elder in return for the fish. He put the fish in his lunch pail with a bit of water. The large fish was flopping around in that small pail so much that it coughed up the diamond. “There it is!” There it is!” Virg yelled loudly. The robber was hiding in the bushes and thought he had been caught and would be arrested. He scrambled out of the bushes, pushed the bag of coins at Virg and ran off.
Stunned, he dumped the fish back in the river and hurried towards home. On his way, he noticed the old lady on the ground in her garden, slowly picking up her spilled vegetables. This time, he was so grateful he had recovered his treasure, he stopped to help the old woman pick up her vegetables and gave her some of his gold coins. The next day, he went back to his barber ship and put a NEW sign in the window.
FOR SALE – Now Virg could retire all due to his good fortune. He vowed he would volunteer to help any Gnometown folks who were lonely or needed help; and he DID!
But after a few weeks, Virg had too much time on his hands. There must be something else he could do, he thought. At the local coffee shop, he heard the Gnometown Bank needed someone to to help the Gnometown area with their insurance needs. Virg thought; “I think I can do that.” So for the next 20 years, he served Gnometown area with their insurance needs. With his hair graying and running out of pencils and erasers, he turned in his broken down typewriter to the Gnometown banker. He was happy to get back to the things important to him. In cold weather, he could haul meals to the shut-ins and elderly. In nice weather, he could water their flowers; in the fall, he could give away his delicious apple; and when time and weather allowed, he could spend time with his friends, Gnome Phil and Gnome Del. They could sit at the rivers edge, rod in hand; just watching their bobbers go up and down in the water. They had lots of stories to tell about the early days in Gnometown.