Frugal’s Just Another Word for Cheap

Many years ago in a small town not so far away, “Mrs. Smith,” who was never happy, gave (according to a friend who lives in said town) a “fiery speech to the select board about how the tax rate was getting so high people like her were going to have to move out.”

The road agent was on hand. Usually a man of few words, nevertheless he came up with several for the fired-up woman. “Mr. Chairman,” he said.

“Yes, Fred.”

“You tell Mrs. Smith we got some trucks if she needs help gettin’ out.”

Many laughed, but Fred never so much as cracked a smile.

Dan Rothman of New Boston wrote to me after I’d given a presentation on Town Meeting at the historical society. He wrote:

When you asked for a story about a New Boston town meeting, I half-remembered a very old story I’d read somewhere. I’m quite sure I would have remembered the other half if I wasn’t lulled to sleep by the clickety-clack of Candy Woodbury’s knitting needles. Now that I’m home, I found the story on my very own website, on my page about New Boston Churches. The story is:

New Boston’s first meetinghouse was rather plain, and in 1810 some patriotic citizens thought it might be nice to decorate the cupola with a gold eagle. They wrote to Boston to find out what it might cost, and at Town Meeting shared what they’d learned: A wooden eagle carved from hickory and gilded with gold leaf would cost five dollars. Coincidentally, at the time the one dollar coin was also called a “gold eagle.”

Before the townspeople could vote on this purchase, a farmer named Joseph Dunbar rose to speak. “Gentlemen — and others — I always reckoned the voters of New Boston were big fools, and probably always would be, but if they are willing to give five honest-to-goodness gold eagles for one gilt one, they are a darned sight bigger fools than I supposed.”

Way back in January, Jean Whatley wrote with a story about a country store. I’d published a little essay about country stores in NH Magazine, and that reminded her. One story leads to another. She said I could embellish at will, but I don’t think it needs much. She wrote:

Our son, Christian, in his early teen years, took a summer job in the meat department at Heath’s Supah Makit in Centah Habah, NH. He was placing wrapped meats in the display case when a woman, who appeared to be of considerable means and was fashionably dressed, asked if there were any dog bones.

“Excuse me just a moment, Ma’am,” says Chris. “I’m not shoah. I’ll have to ask.”

Just at that moment Ole Thomas, who’d worked at Heath’s meat department some 20 years came upon the scene. Chris asked, “Tom, do we have any dog bones?”

“”Nope,” says Tom. “Narry a one. We ain’t kilt any dogs today.”

Or should the punch line be, “Nope. No dead dogs today.”

I’ll work on it.

Happy spring, my friends. I hope your forsythia is blooming as brightly as mine.