A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 062

Behind the rebel lines

I have a suggestion that may shock a few people (Elsworth Hancock and his Performing Cannon for example) which is this: Come the next Civil War, Farmington should secede and join the South.

Having just returned from that part of the Southern Appalachians where Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina converge, I am struck by the similarity of customs and idiosyncrasies of one set of tree dwellers to another, a thousand miles apart. The duplications are endless - shiny Harley Davidsons; rusty pick-up trucks with the obligatory pile of crushed Bud cans as a cargo; beards; hollering and mudding; a hatred of Massachusetts, a love of guns and so on.

It was a bluegrass festival, featuring, among others, the legendary Doc Watson, that attracted me to the mountain town of Dahlonega, but I quickly discovered that most of the action took place, not on stage, but in the woods around the campsite. All-night picking sessions with stalwart clumps of hill-billies played and sang until the sun arose or the booze ran out. Yeehaas rose up when the fiddles and mandolins got ringing. Old-timey mountain music, blues and gospel harmonies spilled out of these raggedy dirt-caked, culture-rich southerners. Naturally, I was drawn to the penumbra of this furore but was too blate to barge into the inner circle until someone passed out a banjo and demanded a song.

Oooh dear! Panic! How does one ingratiate oneself to a partisan throng of whoopee-makers? Sing them their favorite song of course.

"Everybody know I'm a Good Old Rebel"? I asked.

"Nope!" chorused Everybody, suddenly looking darkly suspicious.

There was nothing for it but to plunge through all four verses. When I reached the end of the song not a hand clapped. Utter silence.

"Sing that again"! demanded a disconcerting mandolin player with no front teeth. And doing so, I noticed that other clumps of mountain people had joined our clump.

"Do it again"! requested the toothless one, at the end of the second rendition.

I got scared. Was this the musical equivalent of being made to drink myself to death? I struggled through the song for a third time, observing a crowd rivaling that for Doc Watson appear from behind rocks and out of tents. But this time, when I got to the bit about "three hundred thousand Yankees lying dead in Southern dust", the trees rang with rebel yells and hats flew upwards.

Then it dawned on me that they were hearing, for the first time, a song I had picked up in Scotland, but which seemed to have been suppressed in Georgia. Anyway, there it is - the embers of Civil War inadvertently fanned back into flames. The Rebs like Farmington, though, so Henry Wilson or no, perhaps we could at least stay neutral. After all, with six free Buds, a plate of grits and two girls' telephone numbers, we're talking good people, here.

Nute Ridge Half Marathon: On Sunday, Oct. 12, runners from many states will line up on Main Street for the start of the annual Nute Ridge Half Marathon, including, as we go to press, Farmington's own Tony Quinn among athletes from throughout the local region. The exact size of the field is open to the end of September entrants had already outgrown the 1985 total, with more arriving by each mail. Dozens of local people from Farmington and Milton will be in position around the route to give directions, times, water, first aid and encouragement. Police from both communities and Farmington Fire Department will co-ordinate traffic control and communications, and give the runners safety and service of the highest order. Why not come and join the crown of spectators lining the route and spot famous runners like Biff the mailman.

School News: Twenty-Eight adults are taking the U.N.H. computer literacy course at Farmington High School. To celebrate Fire Prevention Week all children will walk to the fire station and on Thursday, teachers will learn how to use fire extinguishers. Come and meet these newly-skilled persons at open house from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in their classrooms

Athens Of New Hampshire: Paintings, pictorial representations and photographs are currently flocking onto the walls of Farmington business establishments, and with the arrival of hunting season, the theme is a relevant one. Gazing around the walls of Vinnies Pizza, last week, I counted on display, 37 ducks, seven partridges, six gun dogs and four horses. Meanwhile, across the street in Kristies, while one gorges on a magnificent Hunter's Special (yes, they're back) one can raise one's eyes to see framed pictures of a bear, a mountain lion and a moose. On the opposite wall, of course, Kennedy gazes pensively over the Bay of Pigs.

Ballbouncing News: Farmington Town and District Men's League, due to commence its third season in November, is holding a meeting of team captains on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. in the Community Center. Last year, seven teams competed and it is hoped to increase this to a ceiling figure of eight teams in 1986/87. Call 755-2405 for details regarding the league, which is one of the most successful in the area.

Dog Gymkhana News: A curious letter arrived a couple of weeks ago from Strafford County Kennel Club asking for any and all information about the Hay Day Dog Gymkhana. Ha! I'm not going to fall into that trap. I deny everything. Nothing but a stroll in the sun for our little doggie friends, so it was. None of your cruel and unusual treatment.

"What about the dwarf poking 'em up the tunnel with a plumber's plunger, to get spooked by a horrid black cat?"

Hey! That was last year...the statute of limitations has expired.

Community Center News: Dances for local kids have recommenced for the winter period, being held every other Friday in the Town Hall. Chaperones are needed to ensure the smooth running of these popular events...if you are a parent, please consider donating three hours of your time, even just on one occasion. Call 755-2405 and ask for Zeke or John.

Oct. 7, 1986

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