A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 129

They shoot puppies, don't they?

In a get-tough policy hammered out a few weeks ago, Farmington Selectman John Scruton and Willis Berry signed a warrant directing Animal Control Officer John Fitch "to proceed forthwith either to collect all fees or kill all unlicensed or uncontrolled dogs according to the provisions of Chapter 466, Section 14, Revised Laws of New Hampshire, 1967, and to enter complaint against owners and keepers thereof, and the above designated dog officer shall kill or cause to be killed all such dogs whenever or wherever found..."

It is not thought that this power has been invoked out of a great love for kangaroos and old horses, two species which run a high risk of ending up inside dog food tins. A more plausible reason for the move is a suspicion on the part of the authorities that a significant section of the citizenry is blithely ignoring their dog taxes. Tsk! Tsk!

The warrant, which must be returned to the selectmen by July 14, requires Fitch to "...state the number of dogs killed, the names of the owners and keepers, and whether all unlicensed dogs in this Town have been killed under the provisions of this Chapter, and whether complaints have been entered against all persons whop have failed to comply with said provisions."

Kill 'em, grill 'em and bill 'em, so to speak.

Knowing Mr. Fitch to be a dedicated and thorough man, my mind wandered, after reading a copy of this order, through a door marked HOW?

Had he, perhaps, prepared a branch-covered pit containing sharpened stakes in a suspect's yard, or readied a snare to whip upward by means of a triggered sapling?

Could a thoughtful Fitch have planted a large carnivorous bush in the driveway of an unlicensed pup? Rocket propelled nets maybe? Or, if the 20 Wild Dogs of Meaderboro Road were yet on the prowl, wouldn't some armory lend him a helicopter gunship for an afternoon? After all, laws were being flouted here. Collapse of civic order imminent.

My curiosity was at bursting point, when I met Animal Control Officer Fitch a couple of days ago.

"How many dogs have you bagged since this Stump Up or Snuff Out order came into effect?" I asked him.

"That warrant is illegal. The state won't let you do that no more. Not for the last 10 years," John Fitch informed me, with a grin. "People sue if you shoot their dogs. They have all got to go to the pound."

And so the answer to the question posed in the headline is: No ... but it is still legal to shoot yourself in the foot.

Henry Wilson Grange news

Meanwhile, in a friendlier section of town, Grange No. 205 chose to honor its past-masters, and the oldest of these, Ruth Ducette, received a bouquet of carnations. Also earning tribute from Flora (one of the three graces), were Henry Champagne, Virginia R. Hayes, Elizabeth Webster, Bernice B. Eastman, Hilda Tucker, Ralph Russell Sr. and Walter Richards. Other past masters present who were honored, too, included Edward Laffery of Mousam Lake, Thelma Ray of Riverside Grange, and Wallis Doe of Piscataqua Grange. All of this followed a pot-luck supper, incidentally.

Then there was an outbreak of music, with Earl Ducett on violin giving a selection that included "The Happy Wanderer." Next, Fred Howard popped up and sang, if one can decipher Alice's writing, "His Eye on the Sparrow." (Did you not get enough to eat, Fred?). And so endeth Henry Wilson Grange No. 205's long year of working together to accomplish their goal.

C for Cranks news

Would the person who sent the anonymous letter appealing for less news about Henry Wilson please ignore the following article?

Open Letter To Mel Thomson

Dear Ex-governor:

In the June 19 edition of the New Hampshire Sunday News, you wrote at length about the state's only vice-president, Henry Wilson, and suggested the appointment of a legislative committee to explore how best to perpetuate his memory. As a Rochester Courier columnist, I have probably written more about Mr. Wilson than has any other human alive, and as such, I would like you to champion my case for a seat on this proposed committee.

Our man, through this newspaper, is now a household name from the Salmon Falls River all the way to Blue Job Mountain. I have named a winter carnival after Henry, and almost a road race, whilst encouraging the construction of a Big Cake to honor his 274th birthday.

Further, I have touted the erection of an 80-foot-high flashing neon sign depicting Henry Wilson, on Route 11; erroneously discovered his gallstone; revealed his penchant for spiritualism, and stumbled upon his re-incarnation right in the very town of his birth, Farmington, N.H.

To become even more deserving of a place on this projected committee to honor this great man, I am forming an action-group entitled "Wilson Out Of Obscurity Forthwith," or WOOOF for short. (WOOOF? WOOOF? No license. Don't shoot.)

Yours obsequiously, etc.

C for Cranks II

Did my eyes deceive me the other day, or was a well-known environmentalist and anti-Seabrook protester bearing a carpet towards the Mad River, in order to scrub off cat-sick?

Library news

In the Goodwin Library, even as you read this, priceless manuscripts and old newspapers are slowly, yet relentlessly, decaying. Time is taking its pitiless toll on ancient documents. Photographs are yellowing and curling at the edges. Minute spots of mold grow...(We get the picture! - Ed.)

Anyway, charging into the scene, like the cavalry in a John Wayne movie, comes Northeast Document Conservation Center to do a survey at Farmington's very own library, with support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and by Library Services and Construction Act, Title I. Eight libraries were successful in their applications to have surveys done, and perhaps the clinching factor in the Goodwin being selected is that it is home to a priceless collection of Henry Wilson memorabilia.

Henry Wilson was born in Farmington in 1812, and rose to become Vice-president of the United States of America. This little known fact deserves much wider dissemination and I, myself as founder of an organization called WOOOF am determined to redress the situation. Perhaps you, as the readership, may wish to raise your voices and petition the editor to rename this newspaper The Henry Wilson Courier. That would be a small step in the right direction. (How am I doing, Mr. Thomson, sir?)

Meanwhile ... back at the Goodwin survey, hazards will be identified, and storage, collections, and building conditions will be examined. Needs will be prioritized, and action to implement preservation measures will be outlined. This may mean hiring a taxidermist for the gerbils, after the grim reaper passes through. But then, they too, are a little bit of history.

C for Cranks III

Message to Scotty from Denver. Driving to South Dakota in late July STOP will pass you through the town named after you STOP Redfield STOP May stop STOP (Stop - ED.)

Bedouin jewelry, cards and balloonery

The exhibition following Bernie's Baseball Cards is Lorraine Meyer's Bedouin jewelry. From Red Sox to golden anklets in one move. Also to be seen are necklaces, earrings, hairpieces, and bits-for-sewing-on-clothing. Defies description. Kindly go and see for yourself, at the Goodwin Library.

Speaking of the library, Dorinda had the unnerving experience of driving back from Rochester on the day before the parade, in a Volkswagen Rabbit with a cargo of 48 inflated helium balloons. Her car was not holding the road as it should.

July 12, 1988

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