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Flying Squirrels & Other Silly Bits October 26, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.
32 comments

Beyond politics, gardening, and newsy tidbits, my grandfather’s letters are sprinkled with flying squirrels, dueling mosquitoes, and other silly bits:

1957

2/24 ~ Hartland: busy week, including a trip to Middlebury for the Mid Winter Legion meeting, banquet, and dance.  “After the orchestra left for home a group of 25 or so got around a piano and sang old songs.  I got away with it in the crowd.”

6/13 ~ Montpelier: “Last evening as I prepared for bed I discovered I had a noise in the closet. (It wasn’t a skeleton).  I suspected the half-witted woman from the third floor at first as she some times wanders in on people. I got a flash light.  Inspection showed a flying squirrel sitting on the pillow stored on end of the closet.  I got the dust mop and tapped him over the left ear.  I then laid him out on the porch roof till I could embalm him.  This morning I completed the rites.”

9/12 ~ Family politics.  “Margaret is getting so she TV’s till 11 o’clock.  And after all she said against it!  Wow!”  [First documented example of transforming a noun (“TV”) into a verb.]

1958

2/17 ~ Deland, FL.  For his birthday, he decided to visit with an old girl friend, Thelma Lovell.  “Last Saturday I dressed with unusual care and prevailed on Margaret that we should look Thelma up.  Margaret was a bit sour but she went.  Now it is the party at Merrills.  The mad social whirl!”

11/28 ~ Hartland: “With respect to the Church Drive, I am drifting along and letting the sand sift and settle as it may.  We have churches which through discord and disagreement are being allowed to rot while a frantic minority campaigns to build more, which as far as I know may also rot.”

1959

2/5 ~ Montpelier: “I have been giving some thought to a gift for Feb. 14. I feel that you might like another tool for the shop or cigars if you still use them. Since you can buy something you would like, please do. Oh, Richard, part of the gift you buy is from Margaret. Like if you get a hammer, the handle is from Margaret.”

Margaret & Walter at my parents' wedding, 1955

Margaret & Walter at my parents’ wedding, 1955

1960

8/26 ~ Hartland:  “I had an exhibit at the Hartland Fair.  Do you remember the “Swimming Hole” black and white over the desk?  Emerline Webster wanted Arts & Crafts exhibits and I entered that.  It got a 3rd prize.  I always thought I had a high degree of artistic taste!”

9/2 ~ “I have been watching Echo I [passive communications satellite] each night.  Last evening it was visible at 7.59 and 10.04.  I was able to find it both trips around.  Margaret went up back of the mill with me the last time.  It is just the time she wants to prowl anyway.  It is a nice morning.  The sun was up at seven, or before, when we first looked upon it.  The brook was peaceful and full to overflowing of the dam.  Only a wandering mosquito broke the slumber with its insistent buzzing.  I traced it to a window, open a mere bit, and battled with it.  I think I slew it.  Our Day had started. Margaret is cooking something by the sound from the kitchen.  I dare not enter.”

1961

2/25 ~ Hartland: “My day yesterday had it filled with snow flakes. That stuff most necessary for skis. It fell all day. This morning it is sunny. On the sordid side, I spent much of yesterday with a wooden shovel in my hand. There is plenty of snow for all. It is two feet above the window ledge at my desk. There is more to put . . . I don’t just know where. I had to start by clearing the porch roof. It had to be moved again to clear the path down to the shed door, gas bottles, and garage. Soon the entrenchment was too high to shoot out of breast high. The only entrance is the kitchen door.”

“We watched the space shot from the arm chair. It was on all day. We served coffee and something at noon, our eyes glazed but still glued to Cocoa Beach. Believe me, the arm chair is an exciting place these days. Alice in Wonderland had Margaret on the edge of her seat. I just spent an hour with the wooden hand tool. The pinnacle hangs higher in the sky. If the clouds hung low, I could see, dim, through the break in the mist, the snow tipped range, the stunted growth, the Mountain of the Moon, the Himalaya in the yard. I read the Geographic. And no fooling I like it. Marjorie read some of this over my shoulder. Said she, “They will think you are a goof.” In closing, I am alive. I have been seen returning to the coal bin after dark each night with a shovel.”

3/12 ~ Hartland:  “We had a mild February and early March but on the ninth 12 or 14 inches came down.  When I walked to the State House, the sidewalks were bare, the evening balmy.  I dashed down at seven in low shoes and no rubbers.  My head was bent in deep and concentrated thought.  I should have looked skyward but too busy ~ I went home in 3 inches of snow.”

Aah . . . that’s better!