A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 022

Noel (A Short Farce)


Mr. Bumbler of Main Street, a gray-haired reporter

Mrs. Flynn of Central Street, a defender of "Christmas"

Mrs. Quinn of Central Street, an occasional user of "Xmas."

Act I

It is December, 1984. Following the regional publication of the word Xmas in connection with a competition to elicit a collective name for Santa Clauses, a telephone rings in a small New England town.

Bumbler: Hello! Santa Claus Competition!

Mrs. Flynn: I am complaining about the use of the word Xmas instead of Christmas. It is demeaning to Christ. (Expounds at some length)

Bumbler: (Eventually) May I convey my deep contrition, Mrs. Flynn.


Act II

It is November, 1985. Following the regional publication of the phrase "Christmas, not Xmas, Mrs. Quinn," the same telephone rings in the same small New England town.

Bumbler: Hello! Hatwatch Hotline! (This refers to quite a different farce.)

Mrs. Quinn: How dare you correct me in public. It is my option to use Xmas if I so wish. (Expounds at some length)

Bumbler: (Eventually) May I convey my deep contrition Mrs. Quinn. I meant Mrs. Flynn.


And so, with all revealed, 'mid joy and laughter,

Did Bumbler, Flynn and Quinn live happily ever after.

This sentence is to apologize for six usages of the word Xmas, five of them in the cause of Art.



There's A Clever Boy

I have often wondered why a certain faction in town favor the wearing of their ball-caps back-to-front, and was delighted, this week, while deep into hat research, to stumble on a very plausible theory. Paul Fussell in a book called Class, advances his belief that the wearer, by exhibiting the adjusto-strap over the forehead, identifies more closely with the hat's technology, and displays his own mastery of it. Sounds about right.

Current Affairs

Not to be outshone by Halley's Comet, nor eclipsed by the Farmington Businessman's Association Christmas decorations, Kerry and Kathy Vickers have upped the ante. This year their house on South Main Street is draped and festooned with 500 colored bulbs. Domestic lights all over Strafford County dimmed a little at 6 p.m. last Sunday as this incandescent extravaganza was switched on, before a crowd of 100 guests and Santa Bob Reinhagen. Thanks to the recent bolstering of the electrical grid by Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. Public Service of New Hampshire was able to meet this unexpected demand for volts, and will be sending a Certificate of Appreciation to the Vickers family.

Great Pyramids Of The World No. 4: The Funk Pyramid.

Amy Langis is nursing a sprained neck, following a cheer-leading mishap. It happened thus. Coach Joan Funk gave instructions to Amy who was perched on another girl's shoulders, that ran "Jump, land on your feet and go into a roll." Poor Amy jumped, went into a roll and landed on her head. Crumple. Other news from this rough sport is that Deena Hogue has a sprained ankle. Only the wimps go in for basketball these days. Ya gotta be tough to cheer

Food Update

Kristie's Restaurant continues to thunder towards the 21st century with the recent acquisition of blue lace curtains. However, I was perplexed to notice, as I tucked into one of Ron's humongous Hunter's Specials, that a few regulars, like birds disturbed from a nest, had forsaken favorite window seats in a retreat from the innovative fabric.

Yarn Spinner Venerated

There is no doubt about it. Storytellers have replaced jesters and minstrels as the high priests of Folk Art, and with the arrival of one of their exalted number in Farmington, last week, this position is secure. Becky Graber held Junior High pupils in the palm of her hand, as, without the aid of hypnosis or mind-warping drugs, she coaxed an enraptured group of strapping 8th graders to participate in a version of The Three Bears. They listened spell-bound to Russian tales of cows, and were entranced by swamp creatures from Alabama. For their further delight, and for the sheep lovers out there - and I know there are some - here is an additional titillation

"As I went down to Derby, 'twas on a market day

I saw the biggest ram, sir, that e'er was fed on hay.

The horns of this ram, sir, they reached up to the moon

A little boy climbed up in May and he ne'er got back to June"

(cont. on P. 94)

My rates are reasonable, Mr. Bibbo.

Handle On Baskets

Following last week's request for information regarding the one-armed basket carver of West Milton, the readership has responded nobly. Elaine Blair of Wakefield, when she was a young girl, knew this craftsman as Deke Varney, and John Gilman of Milton recollects his name to be Peen Varney. Both variations have been passed on to Phyllis at the museum. This topic brought another name to Mrs. Blair's mind, that of a carver of animals and horse wagons known as George Goodwin, also of West Milton.


Stella Michaud wishes me to correct any impression that readers may have formed regarding the unfair restriction of a pigeon. The bird has a broken wing and an injured leg, which proves a handicap when dodging cats. Therefore, the cage. This tattered representative of the order Columniform will be on view to the public on sunny days outside Stella's trailer, after the passing of hunting season.

Help, Och Aye!

The knowledgeable and diverse readership of the Courier has prompted Mr. Ramgunshoch to appeal for the address of a reputable purveyor of haggis. This foul concoction is apparently an indispensable part of an obscure Caledonian festival in January, at which Scotsmen spout verse and fall down drunk.

Forces Of Darkness

Sometime after 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, thieves walked off with a cool 150 light bulbs from Chez Vickers, having waited for Kathy to first switch them off. Police investigators, some with hats, have ruled out bedazzled neighbors and Farmington Businessman's Association from the list of suspects. More on this as enquiries continue. Meanwhile, as a precaution against theft, a nearby family, the Varneys, will booby-trap their imitation reindeer. Their son, inventor Mark, will doubtless come up with some eyebrow raising device.

Selectmen's Meeting Of Dec. 4

Selectmen Berry and Scruton opened the meeting quietly with a discussion on the possibilities of a snow storm. Road Agent Percy Day thought the storm might move out to sea but Health Officer Fitch urged the population not to take chances and to stock up on donuts. By coincidence he sells 'em.

Same Old Blues Again

After the commercial break, Manny Krasner, lawyer, town moderator and shepherd, gave a passionate eye-witness account of a guerrilla force numbering 20 untagged dogs which had over-run a number of government outposts in the vicinity of Meaderboro Road.

"Only one way to police dogs in the country," said Fitch, but before he could say "spiked donut," Mr. Vic Lapierre had yelled "Shotgun!" There followed a trip down the Memory Lane of Dog Officers past, invoking colorful names like Alton Haywood, Brownie and John Fitch. Marshal Colwell being out of town, his mother-in-law, Welfare Officer Trudy Pence, explained that he could not exceed the capture limit the town had agreed with the dog pound. "Shotgun," re-iterated Mr. Lapierre.

Biff the Mailman, in a statesman-like pronouncement, declared that in emergency situations dogs could be picked up by the police. John Fitch also offered his services and was appointed Deputy Dog Officer (unpaid) for his pains.

Going Round In Circles: Mr. Krasner, and to a greater extent, Mrs. Krasner, then asked a number of piercing questions about that hottest of potatoes, Ten Rod Speedway. Why are the owners not found in contempt of court on every Monday that follows a Sunday race meeting? Is town attorney Whittum keeping the heat under them? Couldn't such a contempt case be handled right in town? "Yes," said Mr. Lapierre with the same fervor as when he had said "Shotgun." Hmmm!

Lead-Singer: John Fitch, donut-magnate, deputy dog officer (unpaid) and Health Supremo then revealed the coming of a great machine from the big city which can detect dangerous lead in household paint. Anyone in Farmington who wishes to avail themselves of this free service should contact John. Those families with small children, who live in older apartment buildings, are encouraged to do so.

Sleeping Policeman: No, not Brownie, but the recently installed speed retardation device at the rear of the school. Road Agent, scholar and gentleman, Mr. Percy Day, complained that the offending lump of tar was bumping his sand truck. "And my milk float," echoed Selectman Scruton. "And my donut wagon!" piped up a baker. Eyes turned on school janitor Berry who has a pick-up and trailer, but he maintained a diplomatic silence. Percy asked that the school be approached to plow and sand its own area. And so it came to pass.

Claustrophobia: Bushes on the side of the road are getting so as they're closing in," declared Mr. Lapierre, suddenly. "Which roads?" inquired Scruton.

"All roads," said Vic setting in motion a botanical ball that at times threatened to roll out of the room and into the street. Mr. Fitch suggested that local wrongdoers should be given the opportunity of bushwhacking before going to court, with the carrot of a lighter sentence. He recalled a man on River Road who had once picked up 19 bags of rubbish.

Mr. Lapierre suggested that the task might be accomplished by prisoners from the county farm. I thought of movies I had seen, in this context, usually set in Georgia, that always involved chains, shotguns and sometimes bloodhounds. The 20 wild dogs of Meaderboro Road could easily be written into the script. What a good meeting this was turning out to be.

Climax: The most furious debate of the evening concerned the dumping of sewage. Mr. Lapierre, who, it should be recalled, crushed the Selectmen and everybody else in a Horseshoe Tournament (courtesy of Mr. Day's superabundance of sand), moved swiftly into the attack, arguing against the closing of the town dump on Wednesdays and Thursdays. He said this would adversely affect the man whose septic system blocked in midweek, as increased travel costs to Somersworth, not to mention a user's fee, would have to be passed on the unlucky blockee. Silver spoons were mentioned.

Mr. Scruton maintained that the Selectmen's position was a responsible one as landfill areas were running out, and it was essential to keep a supervision over town dumping. He pointed out that in the foreseeable future a fee would have to be levied on all dumping based on the amount of garbage or waste discharged, this being the most equitable system. Mr. Lapierre requested that the legality of conveying sewage more than eight miles beyond the town boundary be confirmed. At one point during these exchanges, the date of the New Dump Padlock Key was announced - Dec. 15.

Finally, after a torrent of pumping, dumping, mumping, grumping, griping, sniping, snapping, clapping, flapping and yapping the meeting lapsed into Secret Conclave to discuss personnel.

Being There: After some time, a puff of white smoke was observed and the announcement came.

"Selectman John "Biff" Silvia has been co-opted to serve Farmington until the town meeting in March."

"Who plowed Webster Street?" asked Biff almost immediately, of Percy.

"Where's Webster Street?" asked the Road Agent, as a wonderful evening drew to a close.

Business News

Farmington Business Association attracted a bumper crowd of 27 members at a meeting last Wednesday, although it is doubtful that they produced half the decibels of the tiny group further along Main Street. (See selectmen's news.) It was decided to hold a Christmas Food Sale on Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with proceeds going into the Lights Fund. The venue will be the fascinating emptiness next to the Nearly New Shoppe. Move over, Archie. On the same day, Santa's mailbox will be in place outside Sandy's Coiffures. Letters should be addressed to Santa Claus, North Pole. No stamp is required.

Dec. 10, 1985

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