By Sarah Schrock

We’ve all heard of the childhood prank “ring and run,” when kids ring the doorbell, hide and then watch the innocent homeowner come to the door dumbfounded to find no one there. Dwight and Annie Filer were dumbfounded to come to work on their last day to find a mysterious golden plunger dropped on their front desk. Conveniently, Annie forgot to lock the shop door on the evening of Aug. 23, a rare oversight as she rarely forgets to lock up. Someone must have known how busy she’d been tying up loose ends before the last day of work.

Instead of being the brunt of an adolescent joke, however, the couple was thrilled by the clever and thoughtful gift. Attached was an anonymous thank you note expressing gratefulness for “keeping the valley flowing” for 30 years. Annie equated receiving the golden plunger to the plumber’s equivalent of an Oscar. The golden plunger acknowledges their dedication and hard work to a job that doesn’t always evoke images of the red carpet and certainly calls for less exquisite attire.

I asked Dwight what was one of the dirtiest jobs he ever had to do. Specializing in repair and service, rather than new construction, Filer Plumbing had a steady and reliable client base. He recalled one job that was by far the most miserable. It involved a sewer pipe failure in a crawl space. The break went undetected for a quite a while before the homeowners caught on that their crawl space was filling up with sludge. Dwight suited up in fishing waders and rubber gloves, leaving little skin exposed while he repaired the broken line. I’ll let you fill in the blank, but it was a _____ job.

Photo by Ashley Lodato
Dwight and Annie Filer are looking forward to a relaxing retirement.

One of the more memorable moments in a crawl space came a few years ago at Brown’s Farm. Crouched down on all fours, Dwight was nudging his way forward to fix a frozen pipe, guided by the beam of a flashlight behind him held by Jeff Brown, the owner, when the reflection of animal eyes flashed right in front of him. He pulled out his own light and found himself eye to eye with a skunk. Thankfully, the skunk didn’t spray.

Dwight recalls his earliest years as a plumber in the valley with the most fondness. He spent countless visits fixing leaky faucets and cleaning drains for old timers, especially his grandmother’s friends, who’d share stories of his grandparents and great parents. Dwight’s heritage goes back to the earliest days of white settlement in the valley when his great grandpa homesteaded in 1889.

Retirement coincides, but not coincidentally, with Dwight’s birthday and the couple chose Aug.25 to round out their careers with a celebratory day. Even though they’ve received the honor and distinction that comes with the golden plunger, there’s no pomp and circumstance surrounding their retirement. Rather, the couple wants to relax into retirement and fade into the sunset. They would like to thank whoever bestowed the golden plunger upon them. In Annie’s words, “it might just remain a great eternal mystery.”

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