FARMINGTON CORNER

A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 187

Now you see 'em ... now you don't!

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there were a whole bunch of secondhand stoves and freezers permanently displayed outside a secondhand stove and freezer shop.

In fact, so long had they been there that they had become an unnoticed part of the landscape - unnoticed, that is, except by the Authorities. For it is a well-known fact that Authorities everywhere harbor a passionate hatred of secondhand stoves and freezers and seek them out and make war upon them at every chance.

Well, one day these particular Authorities had had it right up to here and told the poor store owner that if all his appliances were not out of sight within 24 hours, policemen would come and take him away!

My goodness. What could he do? The secondhand stoves and freezers outside his shop were really worth anything - all the good ones were inside. And his crusher wasn't hooked up yet, so he couldn't squish them. And there were far too many to throw off into ditches when nobody was looking. Desperately he racked his brains and, suddenly, a great idea came to him.

The store owner got to work. He washed and dusted and polished his secondhand stoves and freezers till they shone like new pins, even though most of the insides had been ripped out for spare parts. Then he got nice bright cards, yellow and shocking pink and lime green, and wrote price tags like "$75 - what a buy!" "An unrepeatable offer at $60" and "At $90, the chance of a lifetime!" Then he taped these prices tags onto the shiny appliances and went home for the night.

Now the name of the country where the man had his secondhand stoves and freezers was called Roxbury and the inhabitants of that land were famed for their astuteness in spotting a good thing when they saw it, especially after dark. So there were the Brothers (as the inhabitants of Roxbury call themselves) cruising up and down and suddenly spying those shiny stoves and freezers with those bright, enticing price tags. "Yo!" said the Brothers ...

... The very next morning, not long after sunrise, the Authorities and the policemen marched up to the store ready to take the poor owner away, for they had set him an impossible task, or so they thought. But, instead, their eyes bulged! Every secondhand stove and every secondhand freezer had vanished, magically, during the night, and there was storeowner smiling broadly, and sipping a Bud.

"What seems to be the problem, gentlemen?" he inquired politely.

Double Act

I didn't realize until recently that back in the 1860s there were two Henry Wilsons serving in the U.S. Senate at the same time.

Firstly, there was the renowned son of Farmington, that intelligent, upright, industrious family man who eventually rose to become vice-president of the United States serving under Grant. It is he, Henry Wilson, Man of Granite, that I have been struggling to restore to his rightful place in the sun, and incidently, I still have a few WOOOF lapel badges for sale at negotiable prices. (WOOOF being Wilson Out Of Obscurity Forthwith, for newer readers, and the badge depicting several pooches baying at a yellow moon-faced Henry. Against a tasteful blue background.)

Secondly, there was a dumb and rakish Sen. Henry Wilson, a Henry Wilson who only came to my attention while watching "The Civil War" series on PBS. One of these episodes had a segment on spies, and it revealed that one of the most successful of this breed was a lady ensconced in Washington under the very noses of the Union government. This young woman supplied the Confederate Army with accurate and vital information concerning Northern troop strengths, movements, and attack plans - information that served Gen. Robert E. Lee well.

This charming lady's information came from the best of sources, for her paramour was the love-besotted chairman of the Union War Council. He was the other Sen. Henry Wilson. I ask you, could such a blunderer ever have risen to the very top echelons of American politics?

(Psst. Heard of Reagan? - Ramgunshoch)

Clarifications

My hat is off to Mr. Clark Hackett, the road agent who takes his name from a Royal and Ancient pothole on River Road, for Clark is the very paragon of patience, at least where Farmington Corner is concerned. A while back, this column wrongly reported that he was a Harley Davidson man, and then in an attempt to put the record straight, corrected his choice of two-wheeled transport to a Honda Golden. Wrong again! Clark, it seems, is the proud owner of a Honda Gold Wing. Definitely. I think.

And under this heading, Beulah Thayer says that when her husband Jim recently called the police about a strange car parked on Main Hill for four days, it was to alert Authorities to the fact that it might have been stolen. Not a parking issue, at all.

Bulldozer News

Though most people in Farmington may be Republican, or at least conservative Democrats, there was nevertheless a sense of disappointment when the recent coup in the Soviet Union failed and Gorbachev bobbed up again.

It all goes back to the town dump bulldozer, you see. Recently that item was officially declared to be worth its weight in gold, and as gold was valued, pre-coup, at $356 per troy ounce, this piece of aging machinery was valued at a remarkable $51,264,000.

Then - a lucky break. The KGB snatches power in Moscow and gold shoots up to $363 a troy ounce in a matter of seconds. Net effect? The town of Farmington can add a cool $1 million to the value of its bulldozer. But, curses! The red plotters are overthrown, gold crashes to $354, and the bulldozer slumps to a mere $50,976,000. O me miserum! Such is the world of international intrigue and high finance.

Mixed Feelings

It was only after a tremendous struggle with the conscience that I added my name to a petition this week (a petition already signed by almost every resident on River Road) asking the town to fill in Hackett's Crevasse, and if the truth be known, in my heart of hearts, I hope they crumple up the document and lob it into the wastebasket. No, I don't. Only kidding, neighbors.

And yet...have we lost our sense of history? Can't we sacrifice the odd tire or muffler to spare such a rare and hallowed geological feature, famed from Gilmanton to Dover. I concede that during the recent hurricane, when white caps were skipping over the surface of Hackett's Crevasse, a kid stalled out his car and was lucky to escape drowning. But should he have been out driving in such conditions?

I ask the selectmen to think long and hard before they make a decision on this one, and should they decide to fill in Hackett's Crevasse, I hope they allow a member of the Historical Society to make a plaster of Paris mould so that it may be fittingly preserved in the Henry Wilson Room of the museum. I am sure it was a pothole back when Henry was a boy.

P.S. Thanks to Mel Woodman of New England Furniture for the true tale from Roxbury.

August 31, 1991

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