A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 089

The Pardoner's Tale

What does Mechanic Street, Farmington, have in common with Canterbury, England? Rather than offer the customary $3 for the best reply, I will disclose the answer at once.

Both localities have been the subject of pilgrimages, and from these saintly journeys, stories have emerged. There is a close parallel between Geoffrey Chaucer's tales of 1386-87 and those that have surfaced in the local press of Strafford County exactly 600 years later.

Take the Summoner's Tale - that certainly created a stink unequaled until the Summonee's Tale was published in the Courier in November of last year. Then, one may recall, Archye off Altoune was compelled to be

"ffull faste away with alle his myghte,

Whare it was dirke as midnyghte myrke,

And water flode alronde his knee."

More recently, another uncanny similarity cropped up between the Miller's Tale of the 14th century, and the Miller's Tale of Foster's Daily Democrat. The former and more famous version, is renowned for its bawdiness, tho' it is fair to add that the Miller did not warn his listeners that he was drunk. In the modern version, partly set in a jolly tavern on Mechanic Street, the language is once again ribald, although a justification is not given, apart from the revelers' merry chorus of:

"Synce thou comest not to buy a bere

Speed ye back to Rochester from here!"

And now, to complete the trilogy, comes, once again from that metropolitan jewel, Mechanic Street, the Pardoner's Tale.

Why so named? Because nothing newsworthy happened, and one seeks pardon for the ensuing boring details. Although the tale is set on a Saturday evening, no one cussed, spat or argued, and despite a gathering of almost 100 people, not a Bud or a reporter was in evidence. Pardon again, if I continue ...

The occasion was the Henry Wilson Grange Annual Penny Sale and before the auction the organizers were thoughtful enough to lay on entertainment for the crowd. This was a good idea in part - the part that consisted of Ed Demers.

But first, people were obliged to thole a banjo-plunking Mr. Ramgunshoch who announced his intention to sing songs pertaining to livestock, and asked all farmers present to give a show of hands.

No farmers were in the audience, but unabashed he proceeded with a dirge about a horse clumping through an icy pond and, to follow, he regaled the company with a tale of one man's love for his sheep. (Are you sure this isn't newsworthy? - Ed.)

Finally, after compelling the aged to hear to the story of yet another man sneaking up and grabbing a sheep round the throat, weak, polite applause allowed Ramgumshoch to slink away, still puzzled by the absence of farmers in a Grange hall.

The entertainment portion of the evening was rescued by the arrival, on stage, of Prof. Ed Demers who lives on Spring Street. Ed, playing harmonica, guitar, dulcimer and better banjo, sang a lively selection of gospel songs that had the audience tapping their feet and joining in the well-known numbers like "Amazing Grace" and "Angel Band." This time a genuine ovation greeted the end of the musical interlude.

Then it was time for real excitement, as the auction opened with a 25 cent bid for a red cabbage. After frantic exchanges, the vegetable eventually fell under the hammer at 40 cents to Cathy Condon (not a farmer) of Elm Street. Next up was a blue Hubbard squash, quickly dispatched for a dollar. As the evening went on, the pennies and nickels and dimes added up, until by the close of proceedings, at around 10 o'clock, almost $450 had been raised for the Grange. And this in a way that brought neighbors together in a spirit of joviality and fun, before they launched themselves once more into Mechanic Street to wander peaceably homeward, clutching potted plants, home baked pies, garden produce and knick-knacks.

Yellow journalists find nothing to write about such placid occasions, preferring to paint Mechanic Street in lurid colors and blue language. Pardon me for having taken up your time with such grey prose.

Library news

Currently on show at the Goodwin Library are a collection of photographs of the Farmington of yore. My eye was drawn to a black and white snap of a large crowd gathered on Main Street.

"I know that one," I said to Dorinda, as I recalled a 1985 newspaper headline from the pen of a bygone hack," that's 'Women fight over Cord of Wood' isn't it?"

"No, that's laying the Cornerstone of the Library in 1926," she replied, as the two hamsters (or are they gerbils?) raced noisily inside a metal treadmill. "They're training for the Nute Ridge Half Marathon," she added nodding in the direction of the stew ingredients.

Race news

Interesting entries that have come in for the Nute Ridge Half Marathon on Oct. 11, this week, include a 61-year-old man from Marlboro, Mass., a woman in her late 50s from Durham, and Mr. Jim Demaio of Rochester who will make his third attempt at breaking the two hour barrier. Good luck to you, sir... there is so much more to running than being the winner.

If 13 miles seems a little too far, why not enter the Cocheco River Fun Run, a two-mile loop which starts and finishes at the FNS Bank. Don't worry about losing weight. As a runner, you will be entitled to put it all back on by stuffing yourself at the post-race refreshment tables in the Town Hall. Helping out Betty Mros and the gang, with donations of appetizing victuals, will be Varney's Market, Cardinal Snax, C&B Mini-mart (best for subs!) and Dumontskees Restaurant. Call 755-2405 for an entry form, or just sign up on the day. 12 noon. Town Hall.

Gardening news

A new month, a new gardener. Selected as Gardener of the Month for October is Mr. Ronnie Dumont who has managed to grow a prize potato in his Main Street flower planter. Expressing surprise at the award, and indeed, at the existence of the potato, Mr. Dumont surmised that the vegetable may have resulted from the random discarding of a French fry from Vinnie’s Pizza.

Presidential news

Farmington Democrats recently played host to the wife of presidential candidate, Richard Gephardt. A crowd of 40 Democrats, including Kelly the Badgeless, Sheriff Cavanagh, Ronnie the Mailman, and the lady who won the Courier Burns Quiz, Marilyn Robicheau, showed up to listen to Jane Gephardt extol the virtues of her hubby. On the following morning, she toured Alton Shoe factory, and stated that her husband would support legislation to curb the import of foreign footwear. This is good news. If more American shoes are purchased, perhaps local factories will be able to pay more than the bare minimum wage to their workers, who then, in turn may afford the exorbitant rents now demanded of them.

Erotic news

On the 24th, 25th and 26th of October, Farmington Town Players will proudly present, in the Town Hall, the "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" by Neil Simon in what promises to be an absolutely fascinating evening. Larry Parent will solicit the favors of three ladies, played by Mary Barron, Beth McKay and (no stranger to this column) Jeannie Blinkinsop-Blinkinsop of Ten Rod Road. More on this as the exciting date draws nigh. Meanwhile grab a ticket! 755-2405.

Ballbouncing news

Anyone interested in entering a team in the Farmington Town & District Men's Basketball League (Fee - $150), should come to a meeting at Farmington Community Center on 15th October at 6:30 p.m. Call 755-2405 for details.

Near miss

Some kindly citizen, last week, tried to help out Joe Bean of Meetinghouse Hill Road by attempting to knock down the remnants of a red kite and infuriating bell from a tree opposite his house. Unfortunately the rock, pitched from a passing vehicle, only succeeded in bashing Joe's mailbox off its post. Joe, however, does not subscribe to the kindly citizen theory, and attributes the act to "some ding-a-ling from Ten Rod Road." Could it possibly be that someone intentionally committed an act of stupid vandalism against two octogenerians? Surely not! I stick with the kite explanation.

Latest Scores: Joe Bean 2, Porcupines 0; Royce Hodgdon 0, Freezer Reminders 44; Woodchucks 0, Joe Bean 3

Oct. 6, 1987

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