A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 061

Hands across the sea

There is an Irish song (that should be on p.94 - Ed.) which runs:-

"In the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and six

We set sail from the coal quay of Cork

We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks

For the grand City Hall in New York..."

Well, I guess they got blown a little off course and took longer to get here than expected, but anyway, they've arrived in Farmington! Yup! The men of Cork, complete with bricks and strange customs, setting Main Street buzzing with conversation.

"Did you know they got put out Mrosís for making dog noises?"

(Sure it was just the Gaelic of the spalpeens)

"Did you hear the hooting and whistling at the women, when they're up on that scaffold building the bank extension?"

(Hush! 'tis naught but the Celtic mouth-music of Fiach an Mhadra Rua)

"Did you see them all on the Library steps with the beer cans?"

(Ah now, we're talking religious interference ... to the Indian, his peyote; the Rasta, his ganja; the Cork man, his Bud)

This ebullient squad of brickies seems to have something approaching diplomatic immunity, setting them apart from your run-of-the-mill hollerers, and this on account of them being, without argument, craftsmen of the highest order. And everyone wants to see the bank finished. Just one word of warning to the boyos - in the song, after an unforeseen disaster "the whole of the crew was reduced down to two." But before that should happen, drop in and see me...I have a wee bottle of the old moonshine (smuggled back from County Clare) and some fine ceilidh music. Whistle some girls up!

Triplets: So many things in Farmington seem to come in threes. Selectmen. Dog Officers (including deputies). School librarians. And, in this week's spotlight, town garbologists. The word garbologist, incidentally is having its first local outing in print. Although it was coined in America, it was a title often used by a streetcleaner called Gus of the Brittle Bones, from my Scottish village, to give his occupation the dignity it deserved. It is too good a word to fall back into oblivion.

While Farmington's official Garbologist is Mr. Rusty Thomson, who has partly mechanized the position by placing a garbage can in the back of his car, there are still two traditionalists who wander, nay, patrol, Main Street on foot. One is Roger Belanger, who works during the day as Town Hall janitor and who sets aside the evening hours for his holy war on street litter. Although occasionally spotted as far afield as Spring Street, the slightly stooped silhouette of Roger is more often viewed between Mros's (see Dog Noises, above) and Main Hill, carrying, as like as not, a cardboard box to bear away the objects of his attention. Candy wrappers, empty Bud cans, cigarette packets, Planning Board jottings of bored journalists.

The other is an older gentleman called George Haskell, who spends much of the day eating, but, nonetheless, finds time to gather up a great deal of the trash which flutters onto the sidewalk during the course of the morn. George, like Randy Bois and Mr. Ramgunshoch, has a keen interest in mineralogy, with a collection of specimens going back many years. Mr. Haskell is also extremely knowledgeable about world religions, and took advantage of his years in Boston to investigate many churches first hand. These include the Russian Orthodox, Southern Baptist, and the Maronite and Druze faiths of Syria. George has attended synagogues, tabernacles, temples, chapels and cathedrals, sometimes as the only English speaker, sometimes as the only white face, but always courteous and ever welcome. George Haskell is currently a member of the Baptist Church of Farmington.

Wonderful News: Mrs. Barbara Spear, schoolteacher and Parks & Recreation Commission chairperson, has accepted the Bicentennial of the Constitution Document mentioned last week. She is already involved at state level.

C For Cranks News: Madam, kindly stop writing that poppycock! Thank you.

Henry Wilson Reappraised: Since being appointed Citizen of the Year by the kind and gentle folks of Henry Wilson Grange #205, I have felt it an obligation to look more closely at the teachings and influence of Vice-President Henry Wilson. The strictures of space prevent true justice being paid to the champion of working people...suffice to say that shortly after his untimely death, in 1873, the League of Nations came into being, the Olympic Games were resurrected, and the Brooklyn Bridge completed. And not too long after this, a second vessel was on the high seas, full of bricks, dog noises and men from Cork.

Athens Of New Hampshire: As if the Kennedy painting in Kristie's were not a big enough draw, Farmington can now boast a second tourist attraction for those specifically lured by great art works. This newest creation has been executed by West Lebanon artist Ralph Winslow and is on display outside the shop that formerly declared itself to be Flowers by Tuttles (fig leaves a specialty). Ralph's painting has changed all that. Favoring the medium of wood paneling in the style of Piero Della Francesco, he has elected to lay down evocative black oils on a sensational white background, for this double-sided masterpiece. The words "Village Bouquet and Greenery" leap out. Tantalize. Swirl the brain. And then one sees those calla lilies, influenced by the vignettes of Aubrey Beardsey for "Le Morte D'Arthur," perhaps. Or by the tulips of Charles Rennie Macintosh. But, inarguably possessing an exquisite eroticism all of their own. What a town this is getting to be!

Rocking Chair News: Rumour has it that Tim Woodward is swaying towards donating a rocking chair to the school library for story-time, thus precipitating a Judge Whittum story.

Other School News: An ice cream social, sponsored by the P.T.A. and costing 75 cents will be held at Memorial Drive School on Thursday, Sept. 25. The Lions CLub is supporting Quest, a program for 6th graders, run by Mr. Chiappinelli and Ms. Goggin for a full year, teaching adolescent skills such as communications, decisions, peer pressure and dog noises.

Pets Corner: The Balch Family Goat, which once butted its way into the news, has done it again. This time it got its beard so full of burrs that Ted had to cut the whole thing off. Nanny is now the cleanest-shaven creature on Poulson Road. I know a song about a goat (that is on p.94 - Ed.)

Sept. 25, 1986

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