A continuing tale of life in the boonies


No. 001

Young men a-courting and stars on a summer's morning are items which "first appear and then they're gone," according to the words of an old song. And to this list, add newspaper reporters, for brief candles they may also be!

Take the case of Jaroslav Hasek. A talented bum, he lived in Central Europe some decades back, achieving fame if not fortune, for almost completing a novel called The Good Soldier Schweik. Earlier, however, his friends and creditors, anxious to secure him employment, managed to install Hasek as editor of an internationally respected scientific magazine named Animal World. At first, under Jaroslav's guidance, the magazine flourished. Naturalists in universities around the world read avidly of freshly discovered creatures living in Turkish caves and the Amazonian jungle. Hitherto unknown fauna like the Faraway Bat.

Great was the Wrath of the Readership when it emerged that these animals were the figment of the editorís imagination.

Moral: Don't get caught hoodwinking the public.

Earnest cub reporters should also heed the little known, yet instructive tale of one Sandy Blackwood, a Scotsman.

Sandy planned to study for the ministry at Aberdeen University, and to help with the cost of his textbooks, he persuaded the editor of the West End News, in Glasgow, to pay him for a weekly contribution called Church Spy.

Sandyís inspiration derived from a national publication, which, at that time, ran a regular feature called Pub Spy. This entailed an incognito reporter visiting an alehouse somewhere and describing the quality of drink, food, service and decor for the benefit of the newspaperís readers. Sandy modeled his first article accordingly and there shortly appeared in the West End News, an appraisal of an austere local house of worship.

"Fine stirring sermon," wrote Church Spy, "but a dusty font, and draughty pews at the rear should certainly be avoided."

Great was the Wrath of the Readership. Shocked middle-class ladies canceled West End News subscriptions. The telephone glowed red hot.

" How was I to know?" moaned the editor, fearing ruin. "Heís going to be a divinity student!"

Naturally, for poor Sandy, dismissal and disgrace was instantaneous.

Moral: Avoid that which inspires righteous indignation.

There are many other examples of fine young journalists whose careers have been blasted from the air in the first few seconds of flight, but I guess I have stalled enough, and will have to write something pertaining to Farmington. With the Wrath of the Readership in mind, though, I am scared.

Non-controversial information

This year, in Farmington, Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday. A well-known local person, Mr. Archie Corson, has volunteered his services as Santa Claus to any group or organization that has such a need. Slightly round, sprightly and with a large gray beard, Mr. Corson would be an excellent choice, and can adapt his schedule to suit. He has pledged not to spit tobacco juice.

Selectman's meeting of Dec. 1, 1984

Selectman Joel Plante and Willis Berry went into non-public session with Chief Police Carl Worster. Roads and Highways Chief Percy Day then discussed bridges and culverts - for ages. Replacing the bridge on Four Rod Road with a culvert and getting a contract price for the bridge on River Road were among items visited, and which will be referred to the budget committee. It was agreed that a truck driver/laborer will be hired as of Jan. 1 to bring the department back up to strength. Regarding the landfill vehicle loader, $5,400 will be needed for an overhaul, with the selectmen recommending to the budget committee that this be approved. Meanwhile, to keep the loader operational the green light was given for the purchase of a "small little roller thing."

Percy also reported on the continued vandalism to locks and chains at the dump gates ... a cost to the taxpayer in recent weeks of $100. Uncuttable locks were settled upon, of the type used on state liquor trucks.

Regarding the Dog Officer, of whom there isn't one at present - $80.13 remains in the account for the payment of any emerging dog officer, and $4.70 for the sheltering of dogs. Meanwhile, 278 animal complaints, mostly about dogs, have been received by the police this year. A proposal will be discussed by the budget committee that in 1985, there should be $9,300 set aside for wages, vet fees, and vehicle conversion in connection with the appointing of a part-time dog officer. The possibilities of combining this post with that of Building Inspector and Health Officer will also be examined. The post, along with the vacancy in the Roads Department will be advertised in due course.

Roads and Highways, a.k.a. Bridges and Culverts. (Part two)

A letter will be sent to Public Works and Highways in Concord pointing out that no sidewalk has been attached to the temporary bridge on Central Street. Pedestrians at present use the footpath on the old bridge but this will shortly be under repair. Walking-on-water workshops can be held at Community Center, if needed.

Saturday meetings

Gerry McCarthy, referring to the change from Wednesday evenings to Saturday mornings for selectmen's meetings, asked on how many occasions there had been full representation. Only once out of seven meetings, he was told. Mr. McCarthy looked grave, and asked further questions about selectmen's representation on the Planning Board and the Budget Committee. He felt that at present, the town was not being as fully represented as it might. I noticed that the daily newspaper reporter was writing furiously. He looked very professional. When he followed Gerry McCarthy out into the hall for additional information, I remembered Wrath of the Readership and lack of spice. Perhaps this should be the lead story. Perhaps not. Two hundred and seventy-seven more people have complained about animals - that's a lot more folk than come to annual town meeting.

Community Center news

Not a single all-correct solution to November's crossword puzzle was received, despite $10 being at stake. The prize money will be added to that offered for December's crossword, which will appear around the middle of the month in the Puddledock Press. With this increased stake perhaps citizens from surrounding towns may arrive by taxi to scoop the pool.

The recently purchased video equipment has already been proving its worth, and has been used by the Keep Fit class, Girls basketball, and Phil Gamage, who filmed the Miss New Hampshire Teenage Pageant. His daughter, Ruth, reached the semi-finals of this illustrious occasion.

The Who-Cleans-What debate, highlighted by a column centimeter in a rival newspaper, causes wry amusement in the town. To add to the stickiness of the situation, a well-known local businessman has declared his intention to distribute 2,000 pieces of free gum to children attending the Town Hall gym.

Atmospheric Note: As I type, a column of dogs wheels purposefully through my yard, dropping bombs like electronic nasties in a video game. Call this animal observation No. 279.

In praise of older men

"Excuse me, sir, but you have your Rochester Courier upside down!"

"So I have. Thank you. But how did you notice?"

"Davidson Rubber is top of the league!"

"Ha! Ha!"

Hey, cut that out! It may be fashionable to glorify only those at the top, but itís Davidson Rubber who merits a large share of the praise in the Farmington Menís Basketball League. With an average age of 37, many of the team players are twice the age of their opponents. For example, Carl Lytle is a dashing 40-year-old and Captain Clarence Garnett an elfish 42.

Clarence and company - we salute you! Now donít drop out.

Dec. 11, 1984

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