A continuing tale of life in the boonies
The times they are a-changing
While the 20th century has borne witness to many worthy land reclamation ventures, from Holland's Zieder Zee to Israel's irrigation of the Negev, there has been nothing quite as marvelous as that which transpired in Farmington last week when Mr. Bubber Haycock and the Boys created a garden on a site of post-industrial blight. I am referring, of course, to the strip of land separating the Show Biz block from Main Street.
Boston may boast of the Emerald Necklace, that string of park pearls curving out from Fenway, but now, 80 miles away, there is a serious rival. Yessir! Right in downtown Puddledock!
From Fernald Park, our green jewels sweep in a crescent from the Woman's Club geranium pot, through Dumontskee's flower box, to Bubber's lawn and marigolds, and on up Main Hill to the floral oasis around the water pump.
For one to truly appreciate the vision of Bubber and the Boys resulting in this green Eden, it is necessary to recall the previous uses to which this plum site facing the Town Hall has been put. Shortly after the Indians were shoved off, the land in question became the drab approaches to a Shoe Factory, and when this closed, the ground became a free-fire zone around a pool hall. After this venture died, and the four-story building became a repository for furniture and kerosene stoves, countless thousands of feet packed down the earth in the headlong rush for bargains. But this also passed.
The building was converted into apartments and the Show Biz block was born, so named because of the stage and media connections of many of the tenants. It was here, for a short while, that Buddy the Pigeon dwelt. And Mr. Lefty Lee of Lefty Lee and the Drifters. Sam on Piano still resides at this address, as does the Conjuror's Assistant, (sawn in half a speciality). The Show Biz block has provided the setting for several features in this very column, including Forghetti Spaghetti (or Fire Dept. water-jets supper) and Born in the U.S.A. (or Feathered Friend Evicted into Snow).
The most recent land uses of this prime spot by the Show Biz tenants have included a used car lot, a vital part of a dirt bike and three-wheeler race track, a rallying point for Bud Men, and an important center for the local sport of Hollering. But now, these are but ghostly memories, lying under the sod.
It was a tranquil mid-week morning
When, without any warning
Bubber Haycock and the Boys went into action
A fence sprung up and loam went down
Rolls of sod were spread around
Also strips of red-tiled path to give some traction.
By the time the sun reached noon
Two fine flower beds they'd done
Yet scarce a Bud had been quaffed by those gringos
White edging next they laid
To demarcate the toil of spade
Then they scoured the countryside for pink flamingos.
"Yessir! We are moving with the times! We are gonna make this sucker into a Condominium," said Mr. Eddy Michaud, one of the Boys, with commendable pride, as he looked over the lawn, affectionately. He was careful to stand on the red-tiled path as he sipped his beer, as were the rest of the Boys.
It is unusual to see them stand in a T shape instead of a clump, I thought, breaking the news that Mr. Bubber Haycock had been awarded the title Gardener of the Month and three boxes of marigolds, by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Bubber Haycock Jr., maturely ignored the derisive cries of "Flower Girl!" from a string of ne'er-do-wells in passing pick-up trucks, as he carried the blooms over Main Street.
And so, if anyone walking in the vicinity of the Show Biz block hears a cry of "This Bud's for you!" it may well be that some lady in the apartment complex is being presented with a home-grown floral specimen. The times are a-changing!
As this article goes to press, four beautiful dwarf conifers have been added to Eden, making it a serious rival to the Town Hall, and putting the Goodwin Library in the shade.
Come, come now, Women's Club. Keep your end of the crescent up, please!
Bush Doctor II
The tragic death occurred in Jamaica, last week, of the renowned Rastafarian and reggae singer, Peter Tosh, who featured Mick Jagger on his album "Bush Doctor." Mr. Tosh had strong links with Farmington (although he may have been unaware of this fact) by virtue of his records being played on a daily basis at the Dock Square restaurant, where the management is from that same Caribbean island.
Some of Tosh's hits include "Walk and Don't Look Back," "Legalize Marijuana," and "I Shot the Sheriff." His voice is characterized by the ease with which it can pierce an upheld Boston Globe, as one struggles vainly to digest one's breakfast in peace.
To perpetuate the memory of this son of Jamaica, restaurateur Sonia is contemplating the naming of a dish after him - a stew of sirloin tips, turnips and dumplings is likely to become The Peter Tosh.
Congratulations are due to Roger Belanger, who has been voted Citizen of the Year in a recent poll. Mr. Belanger, who is not a Rastafarian, is best known for his services to Garbology, a lifelong hobby that has given him the appearance of a man with a permanent stoop. This is not the case, however, as Roger is perfectly capable of undoubling himself if the occasion calls for it, such as Memorial Day, when he delivers the Gettysburg Address.
Roger's name surfaced on a recent visit I made to the Goodwin Library, and discovered that in the children's section, two hamsters were happily romping in a cage.
"A gift from Beulah Thayer," explained Dorinda the librarian, and I scanned her face for traces of pleasure or dismay.
"Roger Belanger comes in a lot now," she continued, "and it's to visit the hamsters, I think."
"That's okay," I said, "only worry if the other Garbologist shows up. That George Haskell has a fearful appetite."
I had a horrible vision of them bobbing around in a Peter Tosh. Later in the day, Roger confirmed that he did indeed have two new friends, whom he had dubbed Gertrude, and Heathcliffe, after an obscure T.V. show from the early fifties. Roger also talks to the cricket which lives in the Town Hall gym ... its partner got squashed by a basketball February of '86 as I recollect.
Tuffy the Tiger, that eight-foot high papier-mache mascot, has been dislodged from the library (anonymous sighs of relief) and has re-appeared in the high school hallway, in what seems to be a semi-permanent location. (Who gave the groan?) Once, during summer vacation it had been trundled into the gymnasium, and gave janitor/selectman Willis Berry a bad scare in the half-light of early morning. Some reports have Willis, who is no fan of Tuffy, taking firm revenge with a broom.
By the way, Willis, Mr. Bubber Haycock (Gardener of the Month) makes the retrieval of delinquent ice-houses his speciality. See Bubber's Diving Services card in Vinnies Pizza.
Memorial Drive P.T.A. kicks off its fund-raising drive in the school gym on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. The day before, on the 22nd, teachers will attend a dairy workshop, and will learn how to milk parents, one assumes. On the 28th, under the Quest program, teachers and parents will again meet, regarding decision-making skills for sixth-graders. This will assist the kids in dilemmas like "Should I get up at 7 a.m. or snooze for 10 more minutes?" or "Will I have a bowl of cereal or a stick of chewing gum?"
Pete Jarrett, high school guidance counselor, has received a grant of $28,000 to set up a scheme whereby a dozen 16-21 year olds can take part in lessons and job-related skills. The young people, who must be low-income, unemployed dropouts, will attend the 25-hour per week program for eight weeks. Mr. Jarrett is also optimistic that he can find kind-hearted employers willing to give these prodigal students a break, and an opening. Call 755-2811.
Mr. Archie Corson, I am sick of looking at your blue pork-pie hat, famous though it may be. Please uplift same from my office or I will donate it to Cathy Condon as a book-end for her book-case.
Royce Hodgdon 0 Fix-my-freezer-reminders 8
Sept. 22, 1987
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