A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 117

The administering of love

Any similarity between the following article and the first two paragraphs of George Orwell's "1984" is a purely coincidental Bidenism:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clock was striking 13. Then it packed in altogether. John Oakley, halfway through a cup of Mros's coffee, sighed deeply, and slipped quickly out of the variety store, but not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from blowing into the shop.

Showing the concern of a protective parent, he gazed up at the clock-face on the tower of the Congregational Church, opposite where he stood, and with an absent-minded gesture tossed his unfinished stryofoam cup into the gutter, before crossing over Main Street. Behind him, a balding garbologist silently materialized to snatch the abandoned container before the wind could bowl it away.

John gained the stout grey door of the church, turned one of the iron handles, and went inside. The hallway smelt of dusty pews and old hymn books and at one end of it a colored poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to a wall. It depicted the enormous face of a man about 55, with baleful eyes that seemed to follow one about, as they gazed from under a police hat.

"Big Brownie Is Watching You," the caption beneath the picture ran.

Opening a small door off the hallway, John Oakley came to the foot of a wooden ladder that disappeared up into the darkness of the church tower where the faulty machinery of the clock was located and with a spryness that belied his silvered hair and lined face, he began to ascend the worn rungs.

It was a journey of great familiarity to the repairman because the enormous timepiece, of such pride to the citizens of Farmington, had been in need of his regular - indeed, sometimes hourly - attentions in recent years ... but such love did John Oakley bear for those enormous cogs and wheels and spindles which comprised the "workings" that his face revealed only affection and patience sprinkled with a scientific inquisitiveness. Reaching the top of the ladder, his hand gripped the first of the cleats nailed to the internal framing of the tower, and slowly he groped up the remaining 60 feet, to stand on a narrow platform abreast the clock.

Down in the street, little eddies of wind were whirling torn paper into spirals and sending Bud cans rattling along the sidewalk after which the garbologist would scurry, but John was lost to this world. His hand found a candle on an oak beam above him, which he lit, and in the flicker of the light thrown by its dancing flame, he peered with the rapt concentration of an engineer, at the bewildering arrangement of levers and counterweights in front of him. He hummed gently to himself as he scanned the shadowy cogs and ratchets and cocked his head sharply and made a clicking noise, when he considered that he had spotted the seat of the trouble.

"We'll soon have you going again, old clock," John Oakley informed the machinery with great warmth, his hand reaching up once more to the beam from whence he had extracted the candle. This time his hand tightened around a 2 x 4, which he swung with astonishing determination at a flywheel, striking it with an almighty clang. The entire contraption shuddered, and then, with reluctance, chugged back into life. John carefully replaced the candle and the piece of lumber before descending from the tower, and emerged, with noticable satisfaciton, onto Main Street.

He crossed over to Mros's Variety Store and poured himself another cup of coffee. The word "minivictory" formed in his mind.

Competition Results

Readers were asked to send in rearrangements of the phrase OH! DICK GEPHARDT BITES THE DUST," and a few folk did ... Jeannie Blinkinsop-Blinkinsop, mostly, quite undeterred by the vile utterences of Abu Woodchopper and OFFAL against C for Cranks. Good for you, Jeannie. Taking these threats into consideration, I have awarded you second and third places for your two entries. Unfortunately, these carry no actual monetary renumeration, although there is the prestige factor!


However, the winner of the $3 prize is none other than Mr. R. Ramgunshoch with his searing inquiry: DID DEATH PICK THE GHOSTBUSTER?

School News

Queens of the school kitchen, the Loperettes, recently donated sufficient money (at the suggestion of Betty Hart) to allow several pieces of journalism to be tastefully lacquered onto strips of polished wood. These novel trophies, which all referred to the famous Tigers' Class M State win, were then presented to coach Mike Lee, the man who is a cross between Gene Hackman and Yul Brynner.

Congratulations, also, to Jenny Parker of East Grove Street in Farmington who has been awarded a $20,000 full expenses four-year scholarhsip to Keene State College.

Pitz Blitz Hits Citz

The citizens of Farmington have been more than a little astonished at the ferocious energy expended by Jean Pitz, co-president, along with Zeke Ghareeb, of Girls Tee-ball and Little League Softball. Jeanne was disappointed when an arrangement to have a $1,100 concession stand building donated by an outside company fell through. But instead of nursing her grief, Jean began to talk up a storm - she called Cameron's Sod Farm, and DiPrizio Lumber, and Tibbetts, explaining at length to these businesses, the Girls Club's sad plight.

Moved by her torrent of words, these local timber companies opened their hearts, and donated all the materials necessary. Union Telephone consented to dig the foundation holes, Marty Gilman agreed to draw up the blue prints and Dennis Lepene said he would supervise the construction, as Jean Pitz's cannonade of pleadings blew defenses aside.

Last Thursday, she changed gear. Laying down the telephone, she took up bags of concrete and pails of water. She wielded a shovel and maneuvered a wheelbarrow like a hardened construction worker, "and woe to he that went to look for tea, with the Jean Pitz Fusiliers." By the time you read this, I would not be surprised if the entire building was erected.

Red River Valley

Last week the Farmington Road Crew was working peacably on River Road. Pete Dickie was operating the grader, getting the dirt surface back up to standard after the winter months, and Rick Washburn was slowly driving the six-wheel '84 L8000 truck. Suddenly, around a bend, roared the school bus, and as this vehicle drew abreast of the Road Crew operation, a boy leant out of the window, squeezed a plastic bottle, and raked the grader and the truck with a deadly accurate burst of tomato ketchup. To say that Pete and Rick saw red, is to vastly understate the case.

For five minutes, any citizen listening to their scanner, would have been alarmed at the wrath transmitted over the airwaves, and then thrilled, as Brownie tore to River Road in the police cruiser, overtook the bus, and captured the culprit.

To make him fully aware of the folly of his act, the young Rambo in question will be obliged to show up at the town shed, in the near future, and wash down four road crew vehicles. Sounds like justice to me.

Back Row Blooper?

Last weekend saw the highly popular and successful staging of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" at Farmington Town Hall. On Thursday, the final dress rehearsal was scheduled to commence at 7 p.m., and for this occasion, invites had been sent out to several retirement communities in the area. With a few minutes to go before the curtain drew aside and the show began, the front few rows of audience seats were occupied by senior citizens from both the Clipper Home and Garnet House, assisted by staff and volunteers.

I was not surprised to see Judge Whittum's wife, Sylvia, also sitting patiently, and knowing her good record for community help, I assumed that she was with one of the aforementioned parties. I handed her a program that carried details of the musical. She looked a little puzzled, and asked an irrelevant question about voting on the new school, which was simultaneously taking place up at the Burtman-Rondeau Auditorium.

I thought nothing of her remark until I came down from the balcony a short time later and saw that her chair was vacated. Then I realized that she had been waiting for the curtain to open and reveal Jim Bibbo and the School Board. Oh well!


Auditions for the Farmington Variety Show, slated for May 14, are being held on Thursday, 21st April from 7 p.m. at the Town Hall. Not the Burtman Rondeau Auditorium. Full details from 755-2405.

April 18, 1988

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