A continuing tale of life in the boonies
A call from on high
"Her skirt was of the grass-green silk
Her mantel of the velvet fine
At ilka tett of her horse's mane
Hung fifty siller bells and nine
Thomas Rymer - Ancient Scots ballad
When true Thomas was summoned to fair Elfland, the queen had to saddle up the old bag of bones, ride over to his place and make the request in person, but nowadays things have got a bit more organized.
Brrrngg! Brrrngg! went my telephone the other day. It was Beulah Thayer making sure that I was coming up to the mansion on the crest of North Main Street hill to cover the auspicious occasion of a tea reception for the foreign students currently attending Farmington High School under an exchange program.
"True Thomas he took off his hat
And bowed him low down to his knee
And tho a thousand years have passed
That Thomas dude sounds much like me"
"Yes ma'am. Coming right up." Quick check to make sure I was wearing my very best cords - the pair with the ink blot that almost matches. Then, with two sharp pencils, a fresh pad and a mighty Hi! Ho! Silver I leapt into a muddy truck and sped up the brae.
As I turned into the driveway of Farmington's most famous residence, I was aware of entering strange territory, a land without Bud, beards and ballcaps, like some world I dimly remembered from long ago. I walked up the imposing front steps of the house, after tucking my pick-up out of sight, and half-expected to be beaten by a butler with a walking stick round to the tradesman's entrance. But no! Hearty cries of "Do come in!" "Shed your coat!" "Have some punch!"
Lifting up mine eyes, I beheld a wondrous sight, of candelabrum; of luxurious wallpaper, hand-blocked in Lorraine depicting Turkish minarets and exotic foliage; of a table groaning with delectable sweet-meats, enticing dips, sherbet punch and hot chocolate; of four ladies hereafter described.
Lady the First - Lorraine Meyer, in a Saudia Arabian full length dress of deep burgandy with hand-stitched gold threads and white beads all around.
Lady the Second - Mrs. Knox wearing another Arabian creation with Indian influence, of rich forest green, heavily encrusted with gold braid.
Lady the Third - Beulah Thayer, modeling a Mexican dress of lagoon blue, ribboned with embroidered threads of the brightest hues a la Moon of the Popping Trees (see last week's column).
Lady the Fourth - Jewell Gray in a Hawaiian dress of dazzling white organza overlaid with purple orchids and green vegetation.
"Are those marijuana leaves?", I queried, anxious that my notes should be botanically correct.
"No!" she answered, and there was a silence during which I thought about my inkblot.
A slight commotion followed, which turned out to be the guests of honor, the four foreign students, gaining access via the tradesman's entrance, on account of wearing Levis. In they came, past the wallpaper and punch to the warmest of welcomes - Eva Schultz from Braunschweig, Germany; Nicolian Van Derzee from Enchede, Netherlands; Chieko Natatani of Tokyo, Japan; Toni Garcia of Vera Cruz, Mexico. They were accompanied by members of the families with whom they are currently living with, the Goodwins, Browns, Charbonneaus and Welchs, respectively.
Presents were bestowed on the four girls, the lady with the punch ladle became as busy as a fiddler's elbow, and the delicacies were nibbled at as steady a rate as politeness would allow. Then came the climax, which was a guided tour of the mansion, with its library of leather-bound first editions and a myriad of objects d'art. With Beulah leading the procession, we glided past lacquered boxes and figurines, carvings in jade and ivory, and early colonial furniture. The carpets were by now, of a delicate pale blue with a Chinese motif, and the soaring minarets on the wallpaper had given way to a subtle oriental pattern.
"Ah, a spittoon," I observed, nodding to an artifact in a corner.
"Now, now, Mr. Nolan, that is an eighteenth century brass water pail." Mrs. Thayer chided gently, "Do you like this old canopy bed?"
"Yes," I replied with fervor, suddenly remembering my mattress on the floor 150 yards to the south. It seemed a world away.
The next part of the trip was to Jim Thayer's radio room, where the walls are covered neither in minarets nor the stuff of sinologists, but in awards and certificates from throughout the world, bearing a witness to his proficiency as a ham wireless operator. Out of the window could be seen the 100-foot mast that garbologist Roger Belanger had once climbed as a boy. One assumes that he had spotted a piece of litter entrapped in the upper section.
And then it was time to return to the sun room, with its pastel green lattice work and enveloping tranquility, to make my farewells to that enchanting company. As I did so I recalled a warning:
"But Thomas, ye maun haud your tongue
Whatever ye may hear or see;
If ye speak word o' Elfyn land
Ye'll ne'er get back in your ain countrie."
Farmington Theatre Group
After a drift from decisiveness to apathy and back again, it looks like the town players are going to go with a rollicking risque farce called "What the Butler Saw" by British playwright Joe Orton. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26, in the Community Center at 7 p.m., at which the final decision shall be made. All members of the public who are interested in acting or any other aspect of putting on a play are encouraged, nay urged, to attend to give their two-cents worth, and volunteer their services.
Gee, it was cold! I am sure that had the temperature been 20 degrees warmer the crowd attendance would have been enormous, and with a 30-degree hike, perhaps even the Courier staff might have been tempted out of their cars. Even so, despite the bitter wind seething out of the north, seven teams and a fair number of other hardy individuals competed on snowshoes and skis, on toboggans and in canoes. The salvation of the Sunday afternoon was the heat radiating from the charcoal burning drums, so kindly provided by Davidson Instrument Panel Social Committee.
Competition was fierce with the Boston Slickers, led by Long John Silver veteran, Colin McArdle, just inching out Ken Hoyte's Yonder Ridge team, with 31 points to the latter's 29. Breathing down their necks were Kurt Olson's Merrill Corner Marauders (28 points) and F.B.A./Foster's (27 points). Winning sculptures were created by Davidson I.P., Farmington High School, Ty and Ryan Corneau and Sherri and Terry Cope.
It is worth observing that the old timers seemed to stand up to the chill better than the younger generation. Tough nuts like Dot Liljedahl (81) from Milton, Wayne Spear, Betty Mros and Willis Berry braved the elements and stayed cheery throughout the carnival. Many thanks are due to those who worked so hard behind the scenes to ensure a successful event: From Davidson - Dan Livernois, Beth Spear, Ruth Freeman, Judy and Duane Cope, Don Stauffacher, Gerry Gullison, Louise Elliott, Karen (Pillows) Rowe, Jim Keegan and Sandi Canfield; From F.B.A. - Judy and Lyndon Brownell and Lee, Sandy Canney and Betty; from the town; Joyce Nutter, Linda Ghareeb, Mary Jolles and Willis; Marian Loper, Herb Portigue, Ernest (Hunter) Jones and Bruce Welch, canoeist extraordinaire. And in his own sentence, Paul Turner.
Feb. 24, 1987
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