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I really like local parades, amusing trail signs and tapioca pudding. Also, a clever arrangement of words that trigger a gleeful chuckle, or better yet, a moment of outright hilarity. A hardy laugh is humankind's most easy source of get-up-and-go energy.

My friends Shannon and Karen Clark were recently in Salt Lake City and while walking around the Farmer's Market in Pioneer Park came across a unique vendor sign.

Apparently a few older citizens living in that community rent a space in the market each week and dispense knowledge from under a canopy crowned by a poster reading, "Old coots giving advice. It's probably bad advice, but it's free!"

What could be an easily overlooked community asset is being offered gratis along with a pleasing sparkle of self-effacing humor. Three cheers for the aging, but still effervescent sages of Salt Lake City.

But you don't have to travel to the Utah state capital to hear fascinating stories, learn something new or gain useful guidance. We have many interesting and insightful mentors living in our mountain town, and two of my favorite such folks are Jeanne and Don Neff.

In May of 1965 the Neff family arrived here in a Chevy Coupe they had nicknamed "Jezebel" that was minus its back seat. Their first living quarters in Flagstaff were in the Gus Pearson Forest Service Ranger Station located on the grounds of the Fort Valley Experimental Station near Baderville.

While living at the station Don did a study for the Forest Service concerning the foraging habits of deer and was later hired as a biologist by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. From 1974 to 1984 he conducted an important field survey about the declining antelope herds on Anderson Mesa.

Along with Jeanne's many other endeavors during that time, she raised children, trained service dogs and bicycle toured in the United States and Europe. The Neffs have been an active part of the Flagstaff outdoor scene for over 50 years.

You can meet this interesting couple at the Festival of Science's annual open house of the Fort Valley Experimental Station on Saturday, Sept. 29 around 11 a.m. They'll be there to re-experience their recently restored first home in Flagstaff, tell some fascinating tales and as always, be their usual entertaining selves.

The station will be open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and during that time there will be guided tours of the grounds with folks available to answer questions about this significant place in Flagstaff history.

Susan Olberding, the author of the book "Fort Valley: Then and Now," will also be there and as the longtime historian/archivist for the station is an incredible source of interesting information.

On another subject, the next PUTLRUS (pronounced Putt-L-Russ) clean-up will be this Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7 a.m. starting in the Home Depot back packing lot located along East Route 66. We'll gather all the litter we find during this hour and a half pick-up between the Harkins Theater and the Picture Canyon entrance/exit. For more complete details, call 928-714-0504.

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