A continuing tale of life in the boonies
Part I: Blackhill: This week I was reminded of an old gentleman from another country and another time. He was a gaunt, kenspeckle character who had spent the greater part of his life delivering sacks of coal to householders from the back of a horse-drawn wagon that crawled slowly along the city streets. In the course of this vocation, Yoho had been knocked down by six cars and a beast of burden, on each occasion, by his own account, due to strong drink taken. It was interesting, therefore, that in his retirement years, Yohoís mode of perambulation involved a stoop from the coal bags, a sideways lurch from the booze and a hirple from the accidents. He kept on keeping on though, and you could tell it was him coming from a long distance away.
Yoho was always surrounded by small children (the way a crow is mobbed by sparrows) and he would throw them pennies if hobbling resolutely towards the pub, and abuse, if weaving, pennilessly, back from it. On lucky days, when Dionysus smiled upon him, Yoho would serenade people leaning out their windows and shout "How many books in the Bible? How many parts in a bren gun?" No one knew the answer to either question. Nor cared, that much.
As a policeman, it was important for me to know where Yoho was currently staying, in order that he could be speedily helped indoors on his homeward journey before he reached the I.R.A. portion of his singing repertoire - the part guaranteed to produce a Protestant backlash in the shape of an empty wine bottle hurled from out of the darkness.
Yoho sometimes lived with his wife, on other occasions with his mother, who was in her eighties, and if not there, then with his girlfriend. Although these three identically drab council houses were located on the same depressing street, it would have been a fearful blunder to deposit Yoho at the wrong abode. I used to think of them as Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia.
Yoho may have been a drunk, but he wasn't daft, and had perfected a formula involving guile, charm and invective to provide him with at least one meal per day. Invective was used by Yoho against the place he had most recently been kicked out of, and this stout rear-guard action was finely counter-balanced with a campaign of charm (usually gifts of a liquid nature) directed towards whichever lady he was due to lodge with next. Guile, of the variety employed by a bronco rider, was essential to ensuring a stay of several days at the present address. Thus was a constant access to food preserved.
Part II: Farmington: Since making an unfortunate and hasty remark, compounded by reference to same in this very column, I have been effectively cut off from the succulent delights of a Vinnie's Pizza. If this were not bad enough, following a well-intentioned, but unfair and inaccurate statement issued on my behalf at Town Meeting, I feel about as welcome in Kristie's at breakfast time as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip. And if being deprived of the joys of one of Ron's "Hunter's Specials" were not bad enough, the other day I fell foul of the Dock Square Restaurant cook, and was rebuked in public. Oooh! And the calypso business has added to a feeling of transience.
Thus, I am deeply indebted to Roger Belanger, the Town Hall custodian with the Micky Mouse ears, for assisting in the recent construction of a white flag on a stick. This, waved outside Vinnie's window, was instrumental in my obtaining a pepperoni and mushroom pizza of the very highest order. In only 20 minutes. Yoho would have approved.
Competition Winner: The winner of the competition based on song parodies was Paul Cameron of Farmington Water Department, who receives $3. Paul, along with several other entrants, scored six out of a possible eight points, and was the name drawn out of the hat. The answers are: 1. Swanee River/Stephen Foster or Al Jolson 2. Flowers of the Forest/Jean Elliot (referring to a lucky win by the English over the Scots in 1513) 3. Hard Day's Night/The Beatles 4. King of the Road/Roger Miller.
Good News Travels Fast: In this case, all the way to South Africa. The day after I received my much publicized raise, a letter arrived in the mail, from, of all people, Bishop Desmond Tutu. "Dear Friend of Justice," he wrote, "please send a $100." Sorry, buddy, but I fear my truck's on its last legs, and I may yet have to drive to Rochester to eat. I'm saving up for a new clutch.
Correction: A recent item in this column concerning the price of light iron, mentioned the figure of $17 per ton. This should be $12. I apologize to all those readers who have started scrap piles based on this erroneous information.
Ballbouncing News: Steve Mosher of Farmington High School has been selected to be one of 12 players on the New Hampshire state team to play Vermont in the 6th Annual All-Star Alhambra game on June 21 at U.N.H. Mosher has also been picked for the A.A.U. Junior Olympic Basketball team of N.H., and will play at Montreal and in the N.E. tournament at Boston. This is the second year in a row that such an honor has been bestowed on a Farmington student - in 1985, Tim Mucher was selected - a remarkable achievement for a town of this size. This calls for a poem. What follows is not strictly applicable to school ball, inspired as it was by a rather fierce game in the Men's League, but itís all there is on the shelf:
Good D! Lets go!
Play ball! Move it up!
Spread it out! Shoot two!
Don't get intellectual,
It makes you ineffectual,
Then you'll be sitting on the side.
Art and Lit. renouncing,
Just concentrate on bouncing,
Dem other guys keep trouncing,
Good D! Lets go! (etc.)
Police Praise: The new town ordinances, aimed at curbing the street habits of an anti-social few, go into effect on April 1, having been passed at Town Meeting with a thumping majority. Even those people who dissented, seemed to concur with the spirit of the laws, baulking only at the actual phraseology. This mandate, democratically given to the police, should be borne in mind once the first few $100 fines have been meted out. Support should be maintained for Farmington police officers during the painful period of establishing norms of behavior on Main Street that other towns take for granted.
Officer Ken Buttons has helped to take kids rock-climbing to Pawtuckaway State Park, and together with Officers White, Harding and Kelly the Hatless, has played a major part in forming the Outdoor Club, designed to get whole families away canoeing, hiking, fishing and climbing.
Steve White did a fine job of crowd and traffic control arrangements for the first Nute Ridge Half Marathon, although earlier in the year when the route was being designed, Sgt. Brown did his best to arrest the official course calibrator. Finally persuaded that the man on the bicycle was performing a tricky and complex task of measurement, and was not a drunk, Brownie, for his penance, agreed to be trussed up and driven out of town on a horse and buggy, as part of the Hay Day entertainment.
Yessir! Cops like these donít grow on trees.
(Whatdya mean, the branches arenít strong enough?)
March 24, 1986
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