A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 194

Windbags wince at WOOOF

Gratitude is a rapidly dying commodity, and let me tell you, within that glib and wretched world of Channel 11 T.V. it is quite extinct. Just take last Friday.

Here in the newsroom, I was hunched over my keyboard like a medieval alchemist over a beaker, vainly trying to convert leaden drivel into golden prose, when the phone rang. It was Mrs. Kelly the Hatless with urgent news. Some Fritz Weatherbee or other from the New Hampshire Crossroads program, she said, was in the Goodwin Library at that very moment filming the story of Vice President Henry Wilson. And did I know?

Thunderstruck, I was! Me, the Founder and President of WOOOF, an organization dedicated to blasting Wilson Out Of Obscurity Forthwith, an organization with an amazing track record of unearthing bizarre and riveting Wilsonalia, an organization even boasting Lapel Buttons ($1.99 each), not so much as extended the courtesy of a professional consultation or a two-cent opinion. Well, I was soon screeching up to Farmington to crash that cosy little tete-a-tete, armed with a bundle of Farmington Corners from yesteryear.

When I raced down into the library's subterranean Henry Wilson room, where the door is jammed open with Henry Wilson's gallstone. (Ha! Didn't know that, did ya, Fritzy, old boy?), an interview was just about to be recorded with a 10th generation relative of the Vice President, a lady who reputedly lives in Union. As a Courier reader, wouldn't you have thought she'd be delighted to see I had arrived to share the burden of illuminating Henry's name. But not on your life.

"Oh, no!" she yelled, waving an accusatory arm, "Not him! He'll ruin everything."

Hmmm. I ignored Weatherbee's startled look and seized him by warmly by the hand.

"Hi! I'm President Nolan of WOOOF," says I.

A blank response revealed the dearth of Channel 11's background research into the subject.

Weatherbee's interview with the distant relative began, and the air filled with great clouds of historical sawdust. I paced around in dismay, knowing that modern day viewers would be channel-flipping to MTV after 10 seconds of such tedium. Finally, dreading some terrible scene, Weatherbee grudgingly enquired about WOOOF and immediately was given a scintillating insight, on film, into the real Henry Wilson.

Wilson the consultor of spiritual mediums and, after death, the ghostly bather gliding damply along the Senate corridors. Wilson the Incarnate, first as Joe Stalin, and later taking the form of Mr. Royce Hodgdon, repairsman and purveyor of secondhand stoves and freezers. Entirely proved with charts.

But did Weatherbee's eyes grow as wide as saucers? No, they rolled up into his head and then tried to meet. He cared not, it seems, that plans to relocate a Scottish mountain (called the Cobbler, like Wilson) to Farmington as a permanent tribute died through a shameful lack of financial support, locally. If Weatherbee was pained that a proposal to erect an 80-foot high flashing neon Henry in an avant-garde design up on Route 11 had inexplicably failed to ignite public enthusiasm, then he hid it well. What's more, his camera crew seemed to find the whole shameful business titteringly funny.

In my heart I knew this interview was a charade, and that Weatherbee would rip the footage out of the camera and gleefully dance all over it the second I left the library. But, as President and sole remaining member of WOOOF, I have endured stony ingratitude and impolite rejection before. And let me tell you something else. Next day I was down at Royce's Used Stoves and Freezers sipping a Saturday morning Bud with the reincarnation of Mr. Henry Wilson himself and inquired if Weatherbee had called by.

"Fritz Weatherbee? Who the heck's he?" asked Henry.

February 8, 1992

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