A continuing tale of life in the boonies
Unlikely stories, mostly
The title "Unlikely Stories, Mostly" rightly belongs to Alasdair Gray, whom Anthony Burgess described as "the first major Scottish writer since Walter Scott" in the New York Times Book Review.
I am sure Alasdair won't grudge me borrowing his heading for a week, considering the circumstances.
Firstly, one of the tales in his book puts me in mind of Farmington Corner, when it describes "etiquette, government, irrigation, education, clogs, kites, rumour, massage, town-planning, sex and ventriloquism in an obsolete nation."
Joe Woodcutter: "What's with the obsolete, buddy?"
(Response censored by Rochester Courier editor, provoking a six-month strike.)
United once more
Readers may recall that in the fall of 1986, Buddy Michaud, pigeon of Ten Rod Road, had a short but tragic life brutally terminated by one Morris the Cat. Stella reports from the Michaud trailer that one day last week Morris made to spring onto a counter, didn't quite make it, hauled a toaster down and was killed stone dead by a blow to the skull. Morris is now buried in Farmington town dump close to Buddy, and, on moonlight nights, some say, it is possible to detect eerie movements under the garbage. As it is the custom to mark such an occasion with a few poetic lines I append a moving Scots song with only small adjustments. Normally rendered in the plaintive key of A minor, incidentally.
1. Toaster's killed the pussy-o
Toaster's killed the pussy-o
The mammy cat sat doon and grat
In Stella's wee bit hoosie-o
2. It happened on a Thursday-o
It happened on a Thursday-o
The garbage men all said "Amen!
We've never seen a worse day-o."
Charge of the Heavy Brigade
"Dum di dum di dum," sang Freddi Olson to herself, sleepily, as she pottered around in her kitchen (Meaderboro Road P.B.E.) at the crack of dawn last week. "Scronff! Kafrumph! Prrechh!" came a mysterious noise to her ears from out in the garage. Hmmm. Clad only in her nightgown, Freddi opened the kitchen door and came eyeball to eyeball with four enormous brown and white cows. Her ensuing yell so startled the beats that they lurched away in fear and galloped out onto the street.
"Oh my God!," shouted an early morning jogger as several tons of beef charged towards him. Luckily Judge Whittum (for it was he) just managed to dive for shelter behind a pick-up truck before being trampled by the panic-stricken animals.
On the last occasion that the fire-truck was mentioned it was being driven to Indiana by Wayne Spear and Ridi Moulton for a major overhaul. In passing, it was recorded that Wayne got locked in a motel bathroom and was only rescued after a death-defying Houdini act by an employee. Last week, Wayne and Ridi got word that the Farmington Fire Appliance was ready to go back into service and so they reached Indiana without incident, picked up the vehicle and started on the long haul back to New Hampshire. According to my source, Mr. Percy Day, they were on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, with Wayne at the wheel, when they got stuck behind a long-bed transporter on which was a double-width modular home.
"That's a bad road," said Percy, "I was on it once, bouncing up and down, with potholes so deep they swallow a tire. Thought I was back in Farmington."
Anyway, of a sudden, the house got tossed off the trailer, struck the fire truck and spun it in three complete arcs across the highway. Although the Farmington vehicle received extensive damage, driver and co-pilot were unscathed, but they were shaken more than a little.
Unfortunately, Mr. Spear, as I type, cannot be reached for a quote, being apparently on well-earned vacation in Virginia. Rumor has it he is currently trapped in a bathroom in Fort Eustace.
As I tucked into my Hunter's Special in Kristie's Restaurant the other morning, I caught sight of something that made me blink. A large promotional display by a photographic company, near the cash register (still jammed) shut with a fork - see previous column) portrayed, in a glossy color shot, a family group of five people. There was a blonde smiling boy, and a beaming daughter, and a happy wife, and a proud successful husband, and...and...it couldn't be...yes...by Jove, a grandfather who was an Archie Corson look-alike, wearing a blue pork pie hat and dozing contentedly in a truck. They are a little out of date, though. Our Archie has moved on to much snappier headgear.
Selectmen's meeting of Feb. 25, 1987
Before the meeting got fully underway, secretary Pam Brown asked Selectman Scruton for clarification of a passage from her notes of the Planning Board meeting on the evening previous. John is a member of that body also, by dint of living on Meaderboro Road.
"This part doesn't make sense," said Pam, reading aloud a piece of gibberish.
"I agree!" said John Scruton, wholeheartedly.
"But when I read it back to you guys last night, you all said 'Yeah, yeah'," pursued the minute-taker.
"That was at 11 p.m.," replied John, blaming the lateness of the hour.
Let us not be too critical, however. I have a suggestion that may produce much revenue for the town - let the Farmington Planning Board meetings be recorded on compact disk and marketed world-wide as a non-chemical foolproof cure for insomnia.
First item of business for the Selectmen concerned complaints of junk cars parked near Farmington Appliance Center. Bill Fraser was asked to contact the business owner, Royce Hodgson. Good luck to you, buddy. I have been trying to contact Royce for 10 days regarding my water-heater which leaked all over Wayne Willey's stamp collection following a small explosion.
Then the public learned that in bygone days there was a mica mine on Blue Job Mountain, and that Farmington had been a major source of sheep in the days of the Rochester weaving trade. Fascinating stuff. Not like the Planning Board at all.
By way of a change, a public hearing opened to discuss the proposed new health code ordinances, but the public stayed stubbornly silent, so the selectmen approved the ordinances.
Then the public (voluble section) in the twin forms of Alan Spear (son of Bathroom Spear) and Robert Buckley took their places on the wooden bench. Hearing on the Health Code Ordinances re-opened.
"Why do we need an ordinance to enforce a state law?" Mr. Spear wanted to know.
"So that the town gets the $100 fine, that's the only angle," said Health Officer Fitch.
"No it isn't" corrected Mr. Scruton.
"It will be bringing in the state health inspector, if we have our own measurable legal health standards," explained administrative assistant, Bill Fraser.
"What is a ‘gross, putrid smell’?" Mr. Buckley inquired, looking up from his copy of the proposed legislation. "I got cows," he continued, "and they'll take it hard if I ask 'em to stop smelling like cows. But some fancy senator from Washington that's tramping round the place is sure gonna complain."
"Not if he's running for president," responded Scruton, referring to the not-so-far-off New Hampshire primary, and winning the point. The ordinances stayed adopted.
Next up was Road Agent Clark Hackett, to model a number of becoming hats for the board.
"This one is a logger's helmet," stated Clark, putting a bright orange contraption on his head, and gazing at the Selectmen through a lowered visor. "And these little do-dads come down like this," he added wrestling a pair of blue ear protectors down into position.
"How's WOKQ coming in?" asked Selectman Berry, peering at the road agent with intense interest. Clark fought his way free of the fiberglass hat, and seemed relieved to return to his all-cap.
"Do you want six of 'em?" asked Selectman Silvia.
"Six? No, Biff, I'd have to wear one! Just a couple." said Clark. It was also decided to supply the road crew with steel toed boots, or at least give the workers up to $60 each for this purpose, provided the footwear met with OSHA standards. John Fitch declined, at this stage, the prestigious post of town boot inspector.
Then there followed a long discussion about a repair to the bucket loader that made the 370-page novel "Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance" pale into insignificance. The company that had worked on the machine had apparently cured much more than was sick, and were attempting to charge the town accordingly.
"Don't pay!" yelled Biff with ferocious conviction.
"We're not paying," Bill Fraser assured him.
"Oh!" sighed Biff apologetically, "I got excited," and he subsided back into his chair.
The evening concluded with Dale Sprague talking on water, in his inimitable calm fashion. Dale had had enough drama for one week, what with the birth of his son and all.
Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Sprague. I hope that when your son grows up that there are still Selectmen's meetings...they are a wonderful institution.
March 1, 1987
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