These are the final days of a familiar pair -- or pair of pairs -- in Eureka. Marty L'Herault, he of the dapper hats and Old Town tales, has finally sold the Old Town Carriage Co. On March 25, he turns over the company, the horses, the rig and all the rest to the mysterious new guy who has bought the whole deal. No more Marty and Buster. No more Marty and Barney.
Won't the horses miss him? Nah, said L'Herault yesterday evening as the low sun dropped warm glow all over the red-brick F Street Square and the resident pigeon flock conspired against shiny new-car paintjobs. "Barney," he said, gesturing at mister white fuzz standing patiently in his traces, "only cares about the carrot."
To illustrate, he grabs a carrot from the big sack of carrots over by his carriage-rides sign, and instantly the previously indifferent beast has eyes only for him. Turns big shaggy head to follow him -- follow the hand with the carrot, rather -- as L'Herault walks back and stands out of reach. Stares until finally the carrot comes closer.
He'll miss Barney and Buster, of course. But not enough to delay his plans any longer to pursue an acting career in New York City. He's been plotting this for some time now, but had to sell the carriage company first.
So, who is the new owner?
L'Herault gets all friendly-cagey, says, "He's perfect for the job." Smart businessman, L'Herault wants the new guy -- a fellow with a Liverpool accent and decades of carriage driving experience -- to arrive with a flourish and tell his own story then.
Well, why not wait? We could tell you more, but it's more fun this way.
L'Herault's last day driving is March 24. He said some local folks have agreed to drive the carriage for weddings and occasional Saturday events in April and May. And then the new owner will resume the Old Town Carriage rides in Old Town, "six days a week" all year long, after that.
L'Herault said he'll miss Humboldt, but plans to return at least once a year. His youngest brother, Marshall, lives here; their brother, Matthew, also lived here until his death last year, two days after Christmas, at age 53 from pulmonary fibrosis.
"It's truly bittersweet to be leaving here," L'Herault said.
His first stop is Wisconsin, where two older brothers live and where he plans to store some personal belongings. Then New York, here he comes.