July 12, 2006

Midday Mayhem On North Main Street

We love to see them capering in a distant meadow or browsing languidly in the forest. They apparently love the flavor of the flowers we plant in our gardens. For the most part, here in the country, folks and fauna enjoy a peaceful coexistence. There are exceptions, however. Just ask Frank Calvo.

Last week, he told The Independent about his recent interaction with a local hoofed resident.

It all started on July 1 at around 2 p.m. The Saturday afternoon of the Fourth of July weekend was busy in Calvo's East Hampton Pharmacy on North Main Street. Calvo was standing in the pharmacy section of the store, speaking to a customer at the counter about 10 feet away. From that vantage point he could look out the window and down Cedar Street. What he saw next was quite a surprise.

A deer came running right down the middle of the busy street. The next thing Calvo heard was a crash coming from East Hampton Video and Electronics next door.

Amy Distler and Tracee Fedi were minding the store, standing behind counters helping a customer not two feet from the glass front door. "All of a sudden, Bam!" Distler recalled. "I thought it was a car." Then, she said, "We saw this deer writhing [on the front steps]."

It crashed into the door twice more, then tried to get through the window, "sliming it," the clerk recounted. After the last bash, the animal tumbled back, landing at the handicapped ramp in front of Calvo's store.

"She walked up the ramp and into the store," Calvo said, joking, "She probably wanted drugs. I wouldn't give her any and she got mad."

Once the deer hit the hard wood floor her hooves slid on the smooth surface, splaying out. That's when all hell really broke loose. The deer fell, then scrambled up, knocking over displays on the ascent. She ran forward, pushing a customer into a card rack. The forward gallop continued, ending at the closed back door, with yet another bang.

"She hits the door, falls back, gets up and hits it again," Calvo recounted.

Running back into the aisle, each step taking out more shelved merchandise, the deer veered into the section of the store that hadn't been trashed yet. By then, Calvo said, "the customers were all on the floor, one dove behind the counter."

Hitting a dead end, "she began to spin, chasing her tail like a dog." The shopkeeper stood there. "Apparently she felt trapped, because the next thing, she just dove right out the window."

The explosive sound of shattering glass brought people from as far away as inside the IGA on the corner out to see what had happened.

The force of propulsion threw the animal to the curb. Again, she regained her footing. "The last I saw, she was heading up the middle of the street under the railroad trestle," Calvo said. According to Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen, the crazed quadruped was never heard from again that day.

Larry Penny, director of Natural Resources for the Town of East Hampton, was at a loss to describe the deer's odd behavior. It could have been tick-infested and driven mad by the discomfort. Or, it could have simply been frightened by a neighborhood dog. Perhaps it used to live in a section of the neighborhood that's now being developed and was frightened by heavy equipment. Penny noted this isn't the first news of weird animal behavior. Earlier this spring, just nearby, a deer ran through a plate glass window at a residence.

Back at the pharmacy, by Friday, the mess had been cleaned up, but wooden boards still covered the window and door at the two stores. Calvo estimated damage at $10,000, which luckily, is covered by insurance. He expressed gratitude to both the town police, who arrived on the scene "in a second," as well as customers who pitched in with cleanup that afternoon.

Over at the video store, the young clerks were still shaking their heads over the drama. They had closed the door to turn on the air conditioning only moments before the deer hit. "It was kind of lucky," Distler observed. Are they scared it might happen again? "Now we stand here," Distler said from behind the counter. The young woman summarized the event, declaring, "It was just so random."

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