A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 047

What rhymes with skunk?

A letter containing mild admonition arrived last week from Elizabeth Webster, secretary of Henry Wilson Grange 205, regarding lack of coverage in the local press. Well, Betty, you'll have to organize something mouthwatering like a melee to attract regional coverage, but I'll use my pull with Heidi on the Puddledock Press.

Consulting the yellowing files, I see that I covered the Grange Chocolate Cake in January '85 and again in March of that year I reported on an entire evening's program that included Fire Chief Moulton's talk entitled Mating Habits of the Common Wood Stove, if you recall. After that the line went dead!

Well, for those who know not, the Grange, founded in 1867, is the largest farm organization in the world, open to everyone over the age of 14, with the Junior Grange for those below that age. The Henry Wilson Grange 205, has 130 members and meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, except July and August. If you hurry, you'll squeeze in one meeting before summer, and be able to discover the aims and accomplishments of the organization. To make up for this 15-month absence from the column, I append a couple of verses, sung to a well-known tune, played daily on Radio Main Street School:

I'll give you a poem

About folks (and you know 'em)

Who are not often mentioned, how strange,

From Mechanic Street, therefore

Throw hats in the air for

Henry Wilson (Vice-president) Grange

Poem, poem on the Grange

Where the dear little farmer folk play

'bout whom seldom is heard

An encouraging word

And Mechanic Street's rowdy all day.

Oh, no it isn't!

Oh, yes it is etc. etc.

Fire Dept. News: While we're spitting out rhymes, I recall a couple of songs from Britain that celebrate the bravery of firefighters. Three, actually, if you count the Scottish fiddle tune "Smith's a Gallant Fireman," which one day I should learn on the banjo and inflict on a ham and bean supper. (Cries of "No thanks!") One song is called "When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire" and concerns the burning of an English pub, with the classic line: "Booze, booze the firemen cried as they came running in the door..." The other is a children's skipping song from Glasgow and goes:

My brother Bill['s a fireman bold

He puts out fires

He's only 24 years old

He puts out fires

He went to fight a fire one night

And somebody shouted "Dynamite!"

Wherever he is, he'll be alright

He puts out fires.

All this is leading up to Deputy Fire Chief Plante's graduation role. The successful students were Joe Emerson, Tim Wombles, Donald Small, Mark Hill, James Tibbetts, John Morrison, James Yerakes, Robert Moholland. Joel's parting words to them make sound sense for everyone: There's more to life than just living in a community. You gotta be out there being part of it.

Competition: And this is your chance! By entering the poetry contest (first prize-$3), you could become a renowned part of Farmington. Rules, as ever, are simple. Keeping the tune and pattern of "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes," complete the verse that starts

"Oh, I rather hit a pothole than a skunk."

Sing your entry over 755-2405 or send to Farmington Community Center, Cultural Division, c/o Town Hall.

Foot Fetish News: Hard on the heels of Imelda Marcos and Jim in the See-through Plastic Raincoat (April column) the Boston Globe takes up the theme by pointing the finger (or toe) at Vice-President Bush, whose financial disclosure form reveals the receipt of over 30 pairs of shoes and three dozen pairs of socks in the past year. And nearer to home, in Memorial Drive school, art teacher Lorraine Woodford is having 600 children trace out the pattern of their right sneaker. These are then colored and pasted on the corridor walls, where 600 feet will presumably stretch for 200 yards. Homo sapiens is the only creature that does this, I think.

Fiddlehead News: Fragile Hartford Lady Walking Ostrich Interrupted Sensitive Massachusetts Male Climbing Limestone Boulder. Not a tale of love - just the names of a dozen ferns, many of them "fiddleheads," casually strung together. The point is that fiddleheads are simply new leaves of a typical true fern, of which there are four families, 24 genera and dozens of species. So, what exactly are you guys eating out there? Would you be so blase about toadstools? With my deep mistrust of Nature (please fence me in), I am sure at least some of these fiddleheads are mildly unpleasant, if not harmful. Take the case of Cathy Vicker's dog - it munched and died on such be cautious, Mrs. Urquhart and the rest of you. If in doubt, please consult your local, friendly pteridologist or the girl at the cash register of Purity Supreme.

Request: Two requests last week. The first was to write the album notes of someone's next folk record. (I'm not sure that impudence is conducive to sales, but who am I to argue?) The second request was to write something praiseworthy concerning Mrs. Elfreda Otis. And do not deviate from praise, many persons have warned, darkly. Well, I drove up to the cemetery, where Mrs. Otis has been superintendent for over 40 years "running a tight ship," as one of my counselors put it. In the course of conversation, she praised grass cutter (past) Martin Stanley, winner of the coveted Mudder of the Week, and grass cutters (present) John Carlson and Brian Ridley. She praised Mrs. Glidden who had spoken highly of her, but withheld her total admiration for this column, saying it sometimes picked on people. Hmm. All hail to thee, nonetheless!

Historical News: "Superb! Excellent!" enthused Phyllis Kuligowski, when asked about the final Historical Society shindig that commenced with a lecture on the White Mountains and culminated with the best fruit punch she had ever tasted. Ah-ha, thought I, a story here, and called up Roger Nutter for the recipe. He would admit only to mixing ginger ale with Hawaiian Punch, and claimed that it was non-alcoholic. Under questioning, he revealed that three other men were lurking near by, but thought it unlikely, considering the moral fibre of these gentlemen, that they had spiked the refreshments. Enquiries are continuing.

Church Fair: The annual Strawberry Fayre, one of the jewels in Farmington's calendar, will be held at the Congregational Church on South Main Street on Saturday, June 21. Strawberry-shortcake baker-in-chief will be that Mrs. Alfreda Otis. Joyce Nutter is slated to be in charge of crafts unless she can ferret out the real punch recipe from her father or one of the other alchemists. Stalls will be groaning with home-cooking and goods for sale. It is even rumoured that the Great Lidini will be present, he who so mesmerized elementary students last week with his prestidigitations.

June 17, 1986

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