When Marion Mayor Allen "Snooks" Bouska donned a helmet made of folded newspapers and claimed it was to "deflect all negative remarks," I was puzzled.
I felt like there was a punchline I was missing.
Bouska presented to a group of around forty in the , speaking on the time he spent as an aviator, both in the Navy and as a crop-duster, wearing what appeared to be the very same "crazy Czech crash helmet" that he wore before.
I imagine the helmet could be useful, even as a good luck charm, as in his his decades in aviation he explained to the crowd that he had crashed numerous times.
He bounced from topic to topic while using the helmet exclusively as a comedy prop. He’d fold the paper helmet pressed with newspapers to resemble a "matador’s helmet" — for when you go to a Mexican restaurant — a baseball helmet — apparently appropriate gear for a Chicago Cubs baseball game and a graduation cap — for, well, graduating college.
He presented with pictures and momentous from his time in aviation, including photos of his time in a United States naval base in Hawaii decades ago and memorabilia, including a copied aircraft registration card from Elvis Presley.
His informal speech was focused on humorous anecdotes and the culture of the age he started his career in aviation, beginning in 1966.
Like this anecdote, which he set up this way.
"The Russians also had large fishing boats, throughout the oceans and the world… intelligence operations," he said. "It is a horrible lifestyle for those fellas — they are out five, seven months following our ships and trying to catch our radio signals."
He went on to explain the tradition his crew had for interacting with what were essentially Soviet spies.
"We would fill these plastic canister up with things we had; Coca-Cola, toilet tissues, sandwiches, magazines and we would throw the darn thing full and eject it out the doors, and they would be waving — it was like Christmas for these fellas."
He finally suggested that, nearly as important to the time he spent flying airplanes, was the numerous times he ran them into the ground.
So much so, that a man in the audience jokingly suggested that Bouska should have the same crew that watched over him in the Navy oversee him in his current gig, as mayor of Marion.
With all those crashes, he said it's amazing Bouska is still alive.
"We’re lucky he’s still here," he said.