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Archive for Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lawhorn’s Lawrence: Hopping around with downtown’s Toad

April 14, 2013

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Toad Easum goes about his daily route as he's done for some 20 years, working downtown Lawrence running various sorts of pickups or deliveries.

Toad Easum goes about his daily route as he's done for some 20 years, working downtown Lawrence running various sorts of pickups or deliveries.

At first, Mike Amyx orders biscuits and gravy.

Everybody standing around Amyx’s chair at his downtown barber shop at Ninth and Massachusetts laughs. They know Amyx isn’t going to have biscuits and gravy for breakfast.

“Ah, just the usual,” Amyx says.

And so Tim Easum takes the few dollars Amyx pulls from his pocket and plods out the door to go fetch the usual.

Outside, Easum explains that there is a simple reason why Amyx won’t be covering anything in sausage gravy today. Sure, cholesterol may be the simple answer, but there is more to it than that.

“His wife would kick his butt,” Easum says.

That’s the way it works around here. If there’s something more to know about downtown, Easum usually can fill you in on it. Anybody who has ever been to Amyx’s barber shop — or the barbershop of Amyx’s brother just up the street, for that matter — probably has heard Easum explain it at one time or another.

‘Here I am’

Perhaps you are confused, though, because not many people know Tim Easum. But a whole lot know Toad, the downtown go-for who owns Toad’s Delivery Service.

It would make sense that Easum got the nickname because of his propensity to hop around downtown from store to store with a delivery. But soon enough you’ll realize sense is overrated.

“I don’t know why they nicknamed me Toad,” he says. “One of the guys at Mike’s shop gave me the nickname when I first started coming in there. And it stuck.”

So has Toad. For 23 years, Easum, 47, and his mo-ped have been making the trip to downtown Lawrence most Mondays through Saturdays to do whatever errand needs doing for downtown businesses. Breakfast delivery is a big one. Getting change at the bank is another. Plugging a parking meter has happened a time or two as well. Even buying panty hose isn’t out of the question. It was on a Halloween, but in case you are wondering, a guy named Toad buying panty hose does cause a store clerk to ask a few questions.

“When I first started, I didn’t think I would last six months doing this,” Toad says.

But to be fair, when he started he didn’t really know he was entering the delivery business. He thought he was just getting a haircut.

And wondering what he was going to do after his father died.

Mike Amyx knew Toad. He was the type of local boy you would see while you’re out and about, perhaps at Walmart or Dillons where he worked at times. But Amyx also knew Toad’s dad, a hard-working iron worker. Amyx cut his hair, including those days when he was in hospice care.

“I asked Mike Amyx whether there is anything I could do for him,” Toad says. “And here I am.”

Road warrior

If Toad is here, then his mo-ped must not be too far away. From Day 1, the delivery service has featured a mo-ped.

You’ve probably seen it, perhaps at the gas station. He fills it up with $3 in fuel every other week. “People cuss me every time at the gas station.”

Or you’ve maybe seen him out on the road. If you’ve gotten a little too close to him on his mo-ped, he might have acknowledged you with a special gesture or something like that. Don’t hold that against him. Life on a mo-ped in Lawrence “can get a little hairy.”

“I had a truck pull out in front of me,” Toad says of an incident about six years ago. “I hit it, flew over the handlebars and knocked the camper shell off the truck.”

The accident left him with a totaled mo-ped, a “rung bell” that kept him out of work for a few weeks, and an almost daily question.

“The police officer who worked the scene sees me downtown a lot,” Toad says. “He always asks me if I brought my helmet today. I know a lot of police officers. They watch out for me.”

People person

As a fellow who spent a part of a day following him around — a Toad in training, so to speak — I can tell you that Toad knows a lot of people. People working a counter say hello, a merchant plugging a meter yells across the street to say good morning. On days Toad doesn’t show up downtown, one of the Amyx brothers invariably calls him to find out what is going on.

People call for other reasons, too. A quick call or a text is how he gets summoned for some errands. But many times, he just stops by and does what Toad does best: checks in on what is going on.

Today, that scored an order of a power bar and coffee from Rhonda at Pro Print.

“Just a bit of milk?” Toad confirms.

As a Toad in training, I wonder what the key is to this job. Maybe it is knowing how much milk constitutes “a bit.” Maybe it is having a mental Rolodex that remembers everybody’s “usual.” Oh, by the way, bagel with plain cream cheese is an important one to remember.

“Mike’s is always plain cream cheese,” Toad says. “I got him some flavored cream cheese once, and, well, I won’t do that again.”

Maybe it is keeping your arm limber. There’s a lot of waving going on, or giving a friendly point to a car that honks on its way by. Right now, we’re in prime waving season downtown. Spring has sprung and so has a certain spirit.

“It is a good time,” Toad says. “Everybody is smiling, everybody is saying hi to everybody. If you stay inside, those four walls start closing in on you. It does you good to get out and mingle with people.”

Right on cue, there is another wave. It is his neighbor parked at a red light. She sees him and gives a genuine smile and a hello. Another small reminder that sometimes the best part of downtown is what’s not for sale.

A friendly hello can do so much, including jog the memory of a Toad in training. Toad already had told me what the most important skill is for this job.

“Just be nice to people.”

How great it would be if that were everyone’s usual.

— Each Sunday, Lawhorn’s Lawrence focuses on the people, places or past of Lawrence and the surrounding area. If you have a story idea, send it to Chad at clawhorn@ljworld.com.

Comments

Les Blevins 1 year, 8 months ago

A "mo-ped" you call it? What planet are you from Chad? A mo-ped is a vehicle with a motor and pedals, hence 'mo-ped.' Your subject rides what is called a motor scooter or 'scooter' for short.

Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 8 months ago

Do you know for certain Taod does not use a mo-ped?

UneasyRider 1 year, 8 months ago

Based on picture in print edition that is a scooter he is riding. The focus of the story is his riding around on a mo-ped, if so why not a picture of him riding a mo-ped, not him riding a scooter. Big difference.

Chad Lawhorn 1 year, 8 months ago

Motorized scooter. My apologies. Thanks, Chad.

PhilChiles 1 year, 8 months ago

It's not that big a difference. They're both little vehicles that you scoot around on. It's pretty common to use terms like moped and scooter interchangeably; while technically incorrect, it makes zero difference in the story. A simple matter of fact correction is in order, sure, but not the know-it-all, spiteful correction we're used to seeing on this site.

UneasyRider 1 year, 8 months ago

Sorry, but it is not common to use moped and scooter interchangeably. At least no with anyone I normally talk with. And if you publish a story, complete with pictures, you might want to spend a little time on being accurate.

PhilChiles 1 year, 8 months ago

Sure, stories should be accurate. No one disputes that. If the reporter overlooks a very minor detail, all you have to do is let them know. There's no need to act like a jerk about it.

irvan moore 1 year, 8 months ago

great article, Tim is a true Lawrence treasure, greets everyone by name and will brighten up your day if you stop to visit

Jamea CallsHim 1 year, 8 months ago

Tim is a really great guy! Just the other day he called me just to tell me he liked the way my yard was looking after sprucing it up some. Always a friendly smile and great for a chat!

bmoody51 1 year, 8 months ago

Tim is certainly a true friend. It is never what can you do for me; it's "What can I do for you." And he does it. He is as much of a downtown landmark as the Eldridge Hotel. Long Live Toad!!!

Bob Forer 1 year, 8 months ago

how much does he charge for his services?

Chad Lawhorn 1 year, 8 months ago

On most items, his compensation is the tip he receives. For items that involve him going outside of downtown, there is a negotiated price. Thanks, Chad.

Maryse Schlenk 1 year, 8 months ago

I lived by Tim for years! He is a great guy, gets up early, like his music and TV load, and he calls it a mo-ped, and you just leave it at that.

love2fish_ks 1 year, 8 months ago

Toad may regret the publicity since he openly admits that he doesn't pay taxes., Not a good story one day before April 15.

Bob Forer 1 year, 8 months ago

Especially when you broadcasted it to the world.

He should pay taxes like everyone else.

But not very smart of him to brag about it.

Lathrup 1 year, 8 months ago

Back when there was Karoke at Caspers Bar there was a guy everyone called "Froggy". I wonder if this is the same fellow?

Frightwig 1 year, 8 months ago

Kind of a bizarre guy. On two separate occasions as I was going for a morning run along the sidewalk and minding my own business, he angrily blurted something out at me as he zoomed by. Weird.

Violet 1 year, 8 months ago

Hmmm...I am also a runner and have experienced rage from this guy as well, yelling at me to "get off of the road" etc. I know of at least one of my friends who has had a similar experience w/ him. For someone who promotes simply being "nice", it is weird indeed!

windjammer 1 year, 8 months ago

In his home neighborhood he yells at everyone that gets in his way. That must be his therapy on the way to the barbershop.

Bob Forer 1 year, 8 months ago

Wasn't there a guy with red hair who wore an orthopaedic shoe who used to run errands for downtown merchants.

Bob Forer 1 year, 8 months ago

Is Wendell still around. I remember him as early as the early seventies. Saw him several years ago, but that's been it.

windjammer 1 year, 8 months ago

His name is Wendell Lewis and he is from Ottawa. Came to Lawrence to attend KU. Wendell had two hobbies one being a weightlifter and the other a student. A very good lifter and fine student. He was enrolled at KU for years. Very smart, nice man.

Boston_Corbett 1 year, 8 months ago

Wendell has moved back to Ottawa. I saw him downtown just a few months ago.

littlebit1313 1 year, 8 months ago

I have have watched him screaming and honking at a woman in front of him at a red light to get out of his way. A lot of road rage for a nice guy.

Mark Currie 1 year, 8 months ago

The Toad may have a temper, but he is an ok guy. I know him from years ago at LHS. He could get by on disability if he wanted to, but he has chosen to work instead. He was a very pleasant student even way back then. He got hurt pretty bad in that wreck & it left him in pain. Don't get mad at him, just consider the source. Would you choose to inflict pain on a mentally challenged relative?

Bob Forer 1 year, 8 months ago

A head injury can really cause some pretty pronounced emotional problems. He may be on disability. YOu can receive disability and still earn up to $900 per month. Probably doesn't make that much per month running errands, but it keeps him busy and supplements the paltry disability check he probably receives.

Tasteoflawrence 1 year, 8 months ago

"Sych" got it right. Doesn't pay taxes... doesn't have to. Started out on mopeds... graduated to scooters. Sometimes "Tim-Toad-Froggy-oake "does check his velocity with his speed sensitive middle finger. Rather than risk pileups (and there have been more than one) Tim's insurance company helps him employ an air of belligerence while "owning the road" in order to reduce engagements with enemy targets. Take heed or risk the dreaded "forehead battering ram" that is capable of dislodging camper shells and will be deployed if necessary. Further enhancing it's lethality is a modern hard-shelled enhancement that looks like a large white ostrich egg yet actually is a "helmet" capable of tearing through multiple pedestrian- toted Dillons grocery bags, low branches, and the occasional "incoming" empty beer can projectile. Again, "pay heed all who enter downtown and East Lawrence... beware of the Frog!"

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