A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 133

Bentsen takes political gamble

Lloyd Bentsen, the senator from Texas who hoped to be the next Vice President of the United States, took the political gamble of his career, last week, by turning down the vice presidency of WOOOF, an organization sworn to hurtle Wilson Out Of Obscurity Forthwith.

Henry Wilson, born in Farmington in 1812, rose to become vice president under Ulysses S. Grant from 1873-1875. Sadly, all that remains to mark his noble career is an unassuming granite block at his birthplace on Route 153, and a humble gravestone in Natick Cemetery. Now a ragged band of admirers, under the banner of WOOOF, are struggling to redress this outrage.

Has Bentsen, who is Henry Wilson's great-great-nephew, made a blunder by not accepting this vice-president? Some within WOOOF's hierarchy think so. They had envisaged the senator playing a leading role in the rehabilitation of Wilson, of then being swept into the White House on a wave of New Hampshire gratitude, and subsequently dishing out federal funds on a magnificent monument for his ancestor. The possibility of shipping over a significant chunk of a Scottish mountain, as a fitting historical marker, has already been discussed in an earlier column.

Nonetheless, the disappointment of WOOOF officials is tempered by the graciousness with which Bentsen declined the job offer. The full text of his letter reads:

Dear President Nolan:

It was a delightful surprise to receive your letter and especially the handsome WOOOF button that will take a prominent place in my personal collection.

I am confident I can speak for former Vice President Wilson in applauding your efforts on his behalf.

My present duties as running-mate with Governor Dukakis preclude my acceptance of the esteemed vice presidency of WOOOF at this time. Nevertheless, it was an honor and a privilege to be asked and I am sure that you will achieve your goal of salvaging Vice President Wilson from historical obscurity forthwith!

Thanks again and best wishes,


Lloyd Bentsen,

Washington, D.C. 20510

And so, although the search for a V.P. goes on, another offer is liable to be delayed until after the November elections. Meanwhile, WOOOF state chairpersons are still being appointed, the latest being in New York. Steven D. MacArthur, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Elmira, was the successful applicant from that state, out of a field of one, and will receive notification of this honor, directly, plus a WOOOF button.

Regarding buttons, the fact that Lloyd Bentsen has come out so strongly in their favor may help to stabilise the market value of these unique tributes to Henry. There had been fears that these rare items might have been slipping from their pegged price of $1.25 each, every since Jeannie Blinkinsop-Blinkinsop attempted to swap a large home-grown turnip for five of them. Her ludicrous offer, incidently, has been firmly rejected.

In other exciting developments, WOOOF is currently trying to contact the director of the School of Computer Information Systems, within South Oregon State College. The director, a Robert McCoy of Ashland, Oregon, turned up in Farmington, N.H. on Hay Day, claiming to be a direct descendent of Henry Wilson. Unfortunately, instead of introducing himself to President Nolan, who would have appointed him Oregon State Chairman for the price of a WOOOF badge, McCoy spoke to citizens more preoccupied with a Bed Race, before slipping quietly away. Tsk! Tsk! This man, who may yet prove to be vice presidential material and provide the means for a coast-to-coast publicity link-up, abandoned in favor of perambulating furniture.

Woman's Club news

Farmington Woman's Club is also beginning to plan for the fall. Their first scheduled meeting will take place on Oct. 21, and in the presence of the state president (of the Woman's Club, not WOOOF) 11 new members will be unveiled.

Shakers preferred to tub-thumpers

Rather surprisingly, instead of opening their autumn program on Oct. 7, with a passionate diatribe on Henry Wilson delivered by a local authority, Farmington and New Durham Historical Society has elected to tread a quieter path. They will probably pay a visit to the Shaker Village in Canterbury. Full details may be obtained from Mrs. Stanley Place.

Then, at their November meeting, after a pot-luck supper, the society will elect office-bearers for the coming year. Stepping up from vice president to president will be George Messinger.

Strong porters wanted

The last time I had occasion to hire a porter was in 1975 when trekking from the Gurkha Pension Paying Post in Pokhora, westwards towards Annapurna base camp. The daily rate at that time was 20 Nepalese rupees, for which the porter would carry around 60 pounds of gear on his head, in a wicker basket called a dhoka (possibly). On the journey, we traversed eel-infested rice paddies, monkey-infested jungle and lice-infested tea rooms, until I eventually came down with a stomach disorder known locally as Dehli Belly. Halcyon days, I tell you.

Anyway, porter time is here again. Stout fellows wanted. Strong women considered. I am planning to join an expedition sworn to slash and hack its way through impenetrable, insect-ridden forest, criss-crossed with snake-bearing waterways, and choked with poisonous vegetation. A land where Man, white, black, red, yellow or brown, is unlikely to have set foot for years. Probably not since 1981.

The goal of this intrepid peregrination is the spot on the map where the towns of Farmington, Barnstead, Strafford, Alton and New Durham all meet, and included in the slash and hack party, apart from a Rochester Courier journalist and his porters, will be selectmen from all five communities, who must agree on the boundary junction. Apparently this must be done, under state law, every seven years, and 1988 is the year to do it. The date is set for Saturday, Oct. 15.

All applicants for the Rochester Courier porter vacancies should address their resumes to Farmington Corner, and include details of previous experience in the field. No golf caddies, please. They should also be prepared to provide their own dhokas and machetes, and realize that the dangers are many and the pleasures are few. They will have to contend with ragweed pollen, poison ivy, northern water snakes, mosquitoes, and trench foot. The successful applicants must have demonstrable skills in portable chair construction.

Furthermore, due to the Courier management's failure to accept the importance of this undertaking, no funds have been allocated for the hire of porters. Outrageous, I know, I know. Yherefore compensation will be paid in WOOOF buttons, with up to three being awarded to a particularly satisfactory bearer. Closing date for applications will be Tuesday, Sept. 27, 1988. For further information, please call 332-1182 or 755-2926.

September 18, 1988

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