Stories written by Jeanne Cleck-Reese Edited by Tom Reese 2019
How Professor Pannebaker Got His Name
As I sit down to write what follows, I remind you that it will be more fun to believe than to not believe.
There are many stories told about the American House. To start, let me introduce a fellow who has lived in the American House for as long as anyone can remember. His name is Professor Pannebaker. Some would describe him as a bit stand-offish and overly proper. Someone who would rather scamper away than stand around passing the time of day. For sure, the professor is not a chatty type. He gets right to the point with no wishy-washy nonsense on his part. Oh, if I didn't mention it before, I should also add that Professor Pannebaker happens to be a mouse. Yes, that's right. A talking mouse!
A good place to start is with the story of how the professor came by his name. Miss Grace Pannebaker was the owner of the American House from the 1920's through the early 1960's. She was known by all to be a very sweet lady, quick to smile and quick to cover her mouth when she laughed. Miss Grace had tea each morning at the kitchen table overlooking the back yard where she kept her garden. She liked this bit of peace and quiet in the early morning before the morning rush of customers began. Guests staying in any of the 10 bedrooms upstairs would soon be wanting their breakfast.
On this particular day, Miss Grace noticed a small mouse that had jumped up onto the table, looking at her very seriously. Miss Grace, not one to be rude, quietly said: "Good morning, who might you be?". The mouse said: "I'm a mouse". Miss Grace replied: "Yes, I see that, but what is your name?". After a moment, the mouse said: "Oh my, I don't believe I have a name.". "I see", said Miss Grace, "Well, in that case we should give you one.". The mouse thought about it and then agreed: "I suppose you are right".
After a short time, Miss Grace suggested: "How do you feel about 'Professor Pannebaker'? You seem to be quite intelligent and the Pannebaker family has been living here for almost 100 years. It seems to fit." The mouse took no time at all to say "Yes, I like that!". So, Miss Grace and the Professor continued to sit at that table each morning having their tea before they each started their day.
The Professor Meets Patches the Cat
You may notice pennies here and there throughout the American House. On floors, window sills, baseboards and other places. There is a reason for this. Please don't pick them up.
As was the Professor's habit after his morning tea with Miss Grace, this day he took his morning stroll around the nooks and crannies of the hotel. This took him through the blue dining room where guests were pouring their coffee and waiting for their pancakes (or panne-cakes as he liked to call them). Then through the Tea Room where, as usual, he hopped up on the front window sill to look across at Long's Community Store. The professor started doing this when the store was owned by Raymond and Doris Long. Now it is owned by their son, Denny. The Professor particularly likes to watch on cold snowy days when Denny brings his tractor to plow out the parking lot so anyone who needs this or that can get what they need.
It was on one of these walks that the Professor
came upon Patches the cat. Patches lived
with Jack and Betty Thompson, next door neighbors. Not sure who was more
surprised, Patches or the Professor when they saw each other. With Patches being
a cat and the Professor being a mouse, you can guess what happened next. A
chase throughout the 23 rooms of the hotel, in and out of bedrooms, up to the
attic and down to the basement where Miss Grace kept canned goods and potatoes.
And then, just inches away from one of the Professor's mouse holes, Patches
reached out and stepped on the Professor's tail. The Professor, being a smart
little mouse, knew he needed to talk and talk fast. "Please Patches, can't we make a deal of some sort?". Patches had
never had a mouse offer a deal before so he said: "What do you have in mind?". As luck would have it, the Professor
spotted a shiny penny on the floor within his reach. "Here is a penny I will give you so you can buy something over at Long's
Store. Perhaps tuna flavored candy.". Well, that did sound good to Patches
since, as it turns out, tuna was his favorite candy. So an agreement was made.
After that, and to this day, the Professor places pennies all around the hotel.
Just in case.