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Flying Squirrels & Other Silly Bits October 26, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.

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


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.]


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.”


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


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.”


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!


1. valleygrail - October 26, 2014

I like him!

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

Thanks, VG. Me too.

2. ericjbaker - October 26, 2014

“If you get a hammer, the handle is from Margaret.”


nrhatch - October 26, 2014

I got such a kick out of that line.

3. granny1947 - October 26, 2014

He sounds like he was a real character.

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

In person, he never came across as silly or goofy. Some of his letters surprised me.

granny1947 - October 26, 2014

Ahhhh hidden depths.

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

It makes me wonder if I was too young (and self-absorbed) to catch the subtle undercurrents. Maybe he was like the movie Shrek ~ with layers, like an onion. 😛

4. Jill Weatherholt - October 26, 2014

I love these, Nancy! I especially enjoy the 6/13 entry…”the half-witted woman from the third floor.” 🙂

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

That comment made me wonder about her wanderings ~ reason enough to lock the door.

5. Yolanda M. - October 26, 2014

2/25 😀 I have to echo an earlier comment and say I like him too! A great writer with a wonderful sense of humour.

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

Thanks, Yolanda. I feel I know my granddad better than ever after reading these letters. Wish he was still around.

6. Grannymar - October 26, 2014

I wish I had old letters like that in my collection to learn about my grandfathers. They are a joy to read.

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

It would be great to have a collection like this for each of my grandparents ~ reading and sharing them has been lots of fun.

7. thecontentedcrafter - October 26, 2014

I think I see where your humour comes from. Did your dad inherit it too? I think it is so wonderful you have this cache of his letters.

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

Dad did have a good sense of humor, but he kept it “in check” more than I do ~ maybe that happens when you’re busy raising 4 kids and don’t want them to think that life is all fun and games. 😛

Organizing these letters has been a time consuming project, but one filled with good cheer.

8. Crowing Crone - October 26, 2014

loved his comment about the church and rot! What a delight to read through this. You must so be enjoying it yourself.

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

It’s been wonderful to see the world through his eyes, Joss. Makes me wish I could sit down and chat with him over a Happy Hour cocktail.

Crowing Crone - October 26, 2014

I bet Nancy, I just bet.

9. Barb - October 26, 2014

I love his sense of humour, i.e. “if you get a hammer, the handle is from Margaret”. He sounds like a great character with many layers to him Nancy. These letters must be so precious to you.

nrhatch - October 26, 2014

I love that line, Barb. It (and others) made me grin at the liberal use of salty humor peppering his letters.

10. Val Boyko - October 26, 2014

His letters really are a gift! 😉

nrhatch - October 27, 2014

Filled with poignant reminders of who he was and how he lived.

11. jannatwrites - October 26, 2014

I like his humor. Had to laugh at the noise in the closet not being a skeleton. I can see why his wife wouldn’t be thrilled to go to dinner with his ex, though 🙂

nrhatch - October 27, 2014

I laughed at the expression he used to describe her reaction ~> “a bit sour.” I often feel “a bit sour” when dragged along to social obligations. 😛

12. Silver in the Barn - October 27, 2014

These letters give us such a glimpse into his character: intelligence, humor, and kindness. I always enjoy reading these excerpts and his gift for understatement. “Tapping” the flying squirrel. He would have made an excellent blogger just like his dear granddaughter.

nrhatch - October 27, 2014

Thanks, Barbara! I’ve enjoyed his understatements too ~> e.g., no gory details of the squirrel’s demise.

13. diannegray - October 28, 2014

These are wonderful entries, Nancy – and 1957, the year of my birth 😀

nrhatch - October 28, 2014

You’re just a “tad” older than me ~ 1958.

14. Three Well Beings - October 28, 2014

I love the story of the flying squirrel. He took it all in stride, didn’t he? What a very clever, interesting and friendly man! He might have been somewhat understated in person, but I’ll bet the flecks of his humor came through. I somehow imagine him with a twinkle in his eye!

nrhatch - October 28, 2014

Your description is spot on, Debra. He did take things in stride ~ very accepting of the “what is.” He was clever and well read with many friends in the community. Also understated with a touch of humor twinkling in his eyes when he deigned to be silly.

15. Sun Temples and Druids | Spirit Lights The Way - June 17, 2015

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