A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 040

Stones, stumps, structures

Precious Stones: The museum beneath the Goodwin Library is brimming with Vice-President Henry Wilson memorabilia. Wherever one looks, one is reminded of Farmington's famous example of population drift. Hence it was a pardonable error for me to assume that the gray rock holding open the door to the exhibition was the great man's gallstone.

For the record, it isn't, but it could have been, okay? The largest stone in medical literature is one of 13lb. 14oz., recorded at Charing Cross Hospital, England, in 1952. The museum door stop looks to weigh less than half of that.

Anyway, with such a misunderstanding cleared up, Sue Thorton's gallstone remains in undisputed first place as Most Celebrated. Sue's stone, you must recall, was featured in Betty Mros's Nearly New Shoppe window as one of the mystery items in the Hay Day children's quiz. I smuggled it in when Betty went on a short vacation, telling the assistant that it was an oak-apple.

Who would have thought that such a strong bond still existed between Sue and the object of her operation. For a week, she patrolled the window, and when Betty returned on Saturday and spotted the item basking on a rather appealing dress, I got an earful. "Oak-apple my foot!" chided Betty, as Sue steamed slowly by, bestowing yet another maternal glance on the concretion. Ah, well! Betty's Shoppe has since passed away, and Sue said recently that she had lost her curio. For old time's sake, I offer a $3 reward to the finder.

The Libyans Are Coming! The Libyans Are Coming! I have nought but the greatest respect for Nick Servetas of Mechanic Street. When Khadafy sails up the Cocheco, here at least, is one man who is prepared to fight and defend his little acre against the ravages of the Bedouin hordes. I saw Nick last week inspecting the fortifications around his property that backs onto East Grove Street - from the strength of the defenses in this sector it looks as if the first wave of attack is expected here. Storming this bunker, however, will be no military pushover.

There is the eight-foot chain fence with stanchions ready to receive barbed wire, behind which are strong I-beams sunk into the ground and strung with cables that should stall an armoured division. Tanks would also have to negotiate the large metal drums painted red and white and emblazoned with the word KEEP OUT. As a refinement, I would suggest that this defiant instruction be written also in Arabic, Spanish and Russian, to avoid any apologies or lawsuits, later. Meanwhile, as an applauding neighbour, I will assist by scanning the area for strange men with tunneling equipment or vaulting poles.

Stumped For An Answer: "I'm sitting on this old stump, babe, Got a worried mind..." sang legendary blues man, Big Bill Bronzy. That same verse is currently being sung by legendary road agent, Percy Day, who is obligated to receive all the stumps of Farmington, and who is running out of storage space behind the town shed. Several suggestions were made at the Selectmen's meeting of April 23 about what to do with them.

Park them in Main Street and let Brownie chalk them said someone. Dump them in Mt. Vernon Street reservoir, said another helpful citizen. Stick a stamp on them and send them to Scotland, suggested Selectman Scruton, gazing hard at the Press Corps. Gentlemen, I have the solution. Offer them to Nick Servetas as material for a barricade.

Athens Of New Hampshire: As one Shoppe closes, another Shoppe opens. Goodbye Betty, hullo Candy. Longtime quilter, Candy Lee, has opened the Cobble Shoppe, on Main Street, and stocks all the supplies needed for basket-weaving, caning, quilting and making lampshades.

Music News: This column takes briefly to the airwaves on Sunday, May 4 from 10:30 to noon, on WUNH, 91.3. Dave Stone, the regular D.J. of the Ceilidh program, who plays Irish and Scottish music each week, has been reckless enough to invite myself and fellow countryman, Eck Elliot, to select the music of our choice. (The last time we appeared together, on Radio Clyde in Glasgow, a melee erupted in the studio, and we were tossed outside into the sub-zero temperatures of a New Year's morning, Eck, somehow or other, in bare feet. A policeman's hat, was involved, as I recall. Don't worry, Dave. This time drink will only be praised on record. Also slated for a spin is a song about sheep, dedicated to the poor shepherds of Farmington...the ones who have had to take on second jobs.

School News: Talking of chaos, last week's stramash in the playground of Memorial Drive School, was neither a fire drill nor a melee. Merely 650 pupils planting 800 bulbs and 45 juniper bushes in a time worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records. I now advocate the introduction of prayer into school in order to give this vegetation a fighting chance. Meanwhile, thanks are due to Cameron's Garden Center, Tim Woodward and the man who can wrestle three fridges at once, Royce Hodgdon.

Fattened For The Kill? I was spotted by Jean Pease, last Wednesday, lurking outside the door of the Woman's Club, listening for news. Expecting to be hauled in by the ear, I frantically waved a fig leaf I discovered in my paw, like an olive branch, and this seemed to have a placating effect. I was graciously received, and, despite the nervousness of a Daniel in the Lion's Den, managed to enjoy a piece of strawberry shortcake and a coffee. Moral: Don't cross your bridge-players when you come to them. In the light of such generosity and courtesy, it behooves me not to mention Jean's parking ticket dated April 16.

Fernald Park: In view of recent lawsuits in other towns regarding play structures, it was decided to dismantle the wooden platform in the park, to be replaced, if ever money is available, with a commercial built and installed playpiece. Such playground equipment has the advantage of being covered by the manufacturer's insurance, being built within stringent safety guidelines. Meanwhile, kids will have to make do with a sandbox. Good news, though. A volleyball court will be constructed soon, portable soccer goals will be purchased with grant money, and a summer vacation play program is firmly planned.

The timber from the old structure has been carefully stored and will reappear as flower planters, picnic tables and additional park benches. While in the park, may I thank Henry Sabine for planting lilac bushes all along the river bank. Need any tree stumps, Henry?

April 29, 1986

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