A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 122

Henry Wilson, Archie Corson, John Sununu - uncanny coincidences

One day back in 1873, Mr. & Mrs. Fletcher of Lowell, Mass. were advised by a wise and venerable Egyptian spirit to set up shop as mediums in Boston. Soon fame and success were theirs as a steady stream of clients beat a path to the Fletchers' regular sťances. The couple had great assistance in their work from two playfully rival contact spirits from the other world, who were called "Dewdrop" and "Winona."

Apart from these ghostly go-fers, a flower-medium, name of Mrs. Thayer, sometimes sat in on the proceedings, and had the spirits drop off various spectacular blossoms in between raps and other such astounding manifestations. Some might say that this phenomenon is yet in existence, what with Beulah being a regular customer of Stuart Pease, but that as getting off on a tangent.

Things went exceeding well for the Fletchers, especially when an English aristocrat, Juliet Theodora Hart-Davis, came to live with them. At an evening sťance, in between rappings and bouquets of flowers dropping out of the rafters, Mrs. Hart-Davis's dead mother piped up and said that it would be a good idea if custody of the family jewels was passed over to that saintly duo, the Fletchers. Unfortunately, the English law-courts thought that this arrangement was a thoroughly bad idea and brought charges of cheating and defrauding by false pretense against them, notwithstanding the Fletchers' reputation as Spiritualists and Shiverers, at that. Indeed, the judge in the trial, which Mrs. Fletcher sailed to England to attend (Mr. Fletcher got sick and stayed in Boston), called it "miserable, mean, paltry trick."

Anyhow, the jury found her guilty, she served a year in the pen, and emerged to write a book completely vindicating herself, entitled "Twelve Months in an English Prison." In this very readable autobiography, she gives details of a host of renowned callers at her Boston home, respectable folks dropping by for a cup of tea and quick rap with "Dewdrop" and "Winona."

One day, in 1875, for example, there was a knock at the door, and who should pop in but Vice President Henry Wilson for a consultation with the controlling spirits about the state of his health.

"Retire from office, or retire from this life within six months," the spirits told him, by rapping to Henry Wilson, and to prove their point, revealed intimate details of his life. Probably things like "You ain't really Henry Wilson, you're Jeremiah Jones Colbath from Farmington!"

Vice president Wilson responded that for him, death held no terror, and that he would make his will, the spirit-world holding more reality than this. Three months later, he died in office.

One hundred-thirteen years later, for the second time in the history of the White House (that we know of), dwellers therein have been seeking the advice of other-worldly sources, and perhaps even Henry has been rapping down his two cents worth of opinion - very likely on quotas for foreign shoe import. Good luck to all of 'em, I say.

Uncanny Coincidences II

Saul of Tarsus, tentmaker and scholar, was devotedly attached to the institutions of his country, and viewed with alarm and anxiety the progress of a new religion called Christianity. Such was his zeal that he obtained letters from the Roman governor to grab a bunch of disciples in Damascus and haul them back to Jerusalem to face the crucifixion squad, but as many of us know, on the way he had a vision and underwent complete conversion, plus obligatory name-change. As St. Paul the Apostle, he became one of Christianity's strongest supporters.

Archie Corson of Farmington, taxi-driver and sage, is devotedly attached to the institutions of his town, and viewed with alarm and anxiety, the rise of a band of police officers known at The Hatless. Such was his zeal that he went to the Board of Selectmen and Made a Fuss and a lot of good that did. But the publicity waxed fruitful and bore Hatwatch Hotline, although The Hatless waned not.

Now, as few of us know, Archie has had a vision and has undergone complete conversion.

"Since my son gave me a scanner, I realize just how busy the cops are," said Corson, last week, indicating that he is now one of their strongest supporters. "Those poor guys get all kinds of calls. They are on the go, constantly. They just don't have time to wear their hats," added the saint of Orchard Circle.

Uncanny Coincidences III

Do you remember the Wizard of Oz, and how he appeared as a ball of fire that held everyone in awe, that is until he was exposed by a lowly creature? Then the Wiz quit office - in fact he even departed the state over which he ruled - taking off in a hot air balloon. Over the trees he went, and probably changed his name on landing.

Do you recall just two weeks ago, humble ol' Farmington Corner was on the brink of spotlighting Gov. John Sununu, what with his Socialist policies on liquor, gambling and hunting, not to mention his Soviet-style view of nuclear power. Is it mere coincidence, do you think, that he has announced his decision not to seek re-election? Now we must ask ourselves will he drift southwards by means of hot air in the direction of Bush. Watch more important spaces than this.

Science and Art Fair

This event, staged by Farmington Elementary School, deserves a column of its own, with the entire Burtram-Rondeau Auditorium packed with exhibits by young students. Much could be learned just by walking around reading the tags - for example Mr. Beaupre the Fishermen (failed) could have gleaned from Shane Hoyt's water pollution project that Merrymeeting Marsh is one of the top 10 fishing spots in the U.S.

Nancy Reagan could have familiarized herself with the planets on display in Jamie Arsenault's Solar System.

There were coincidences too, that made one shiver. Amy Hagar did The History of Wool, and she a student of Mrs. Lamb!

And there was excitement as a large plastic bag, inflated by a hair dryer, slipped its moorings, and drifted down over an unsuspecting visitor engrossed by Small Ecosystems. Suddenly the sky went dark etc...

The exhibition was due to terminate at 7 p.m., but with only a couple of minutes left before the deadline, the gymnasium was still packed with hundreds of parents. How would the authorities ever get the crowd to go home? Suddenly Principal Caroline Butler had a brainwave - with only seconds remaining she yelled across the hall in a booming voice "Please stay for the P.T.A. meeting which is just about to start." This naturally caused an immediate stampede for the exits, and as the clock struck seven, less than a handful of parents were left behind.

Credit: A special thanks to Bob Colpitt, of the Bookery on Farmington's Main Street, for stumbling on the Henry Wilson story, and "nearly falling out of his chair." Thanks also to Mary Jolles for Oz info.

May 24, 1988

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