Who brought the peas?

December 27, 2017

At the end of 2017, I look back at all the rocks I had to go around, climb over, and some I ran into head on. More rocks that I’m used to. Bigger rocks. Some danged hard ones — no give to them at all. But humor sustains me. Always has. Luckily I’m surrounded by people who can see the humor in almost everything — family and friends (you know who you are). Luckily I get to go out into the world and tell stories and people tell me stories and we laugh (sometimes cry but mostly laugh) together. It’s a racket!

Here are a few stories that made us laugh this fall and on into this fierce early winter.

In Gilmanton, where Grace Metalious wrote Peyton Place, an old fellow was asked if he’d read the book. “Didn’t have to,” he said.

Then there’s the tough old yankee who, upon slicing off his finger in his workshop, asked for a bandaid. Which reminded me of an evening in Auburn, when “Carl,” known for his colorful language was asked what he said when he banged his thumb with a hammer while alone in the barn. “Didn’t say nothin’,” Carl said. “Nobody around to hear it.”

John Rule’s grandmother, Lena Lassonde LaPierre, was a tough cookie, too. Four foot something, about 90 pounds, and not young, Lena regularly split dry wood to make kindling. She lived with her son, next door to her daughter and daughter’s family (which included John Rule). Any of them would have been happy to make kindling for the old woman, but she insisted on doing it herself. Until the day she came trotting down the trail through the woods to her daughter’s house, her hand wrapped in a bloody towel, her thumb (they discovered later) dangling by a thread. “Anybody to home?” Lena said, as she walked in the door. That was the day they took Lena’s little hatchet away.

Rebecca Courser reminded me of this story about Harry who worked at the dump in Warner. Seems Harry got sick and had to go to the hospital. The gossip mill went into action and pretty soon word spread that Harry had died. Only he hadn’t. Once a bit of gossip catches fire though, it’s darned hard to put  out. So when the people of Warner arrived one by one at the transfer station that Saturday morning, they were met with large hand-written sign: HARRY LIVES.

We got talking about transfer stations and dumps. I told the story of bringing my dad and mom, who lived next to the dump in Boscawen, to see our daughter sing in an opera at the Capitol Center for the Arts. Dad bragged that his whole fancy outfit came from the “treasure house.” That’s what he called the dump. His shirt, his sweater, his pants — all free from the treasure house. “I guess you draw the line at underwear and socks,” I said. “No,” he said, “ nobody leaves ‘em.”

A woman in the audience said her family also acquired many things from the dump. We talked about house rules like: “Don’t bring back a bigger load than you bring in.” “Yup,” she said, “even the dog came from the dump.”

For the holiday just passed, Dick told the story of his brother-in-law aka Dufus. Dufus decorated his car with deer antlers on either side and a red nose on the grill. It was subsequently attacked by a herd of deer. True story, according to Dick.

Penny, who waitresses at a cafe, told of a little lady with some age to her who often came in to eat. When Penny asked how she was doing, the little lady said, she was good. “I’ve got a pulse,” she said, “I’ve got something to eat. And I’m looking for a man.”

Penny asked what kind of a man the little lady desired. She said, “I want one just like me — with a pulse.”

She probably would have liked Lyle from Durham, who enjoyed being invited to different ones’ homes for a meal. Not wanting to be a freeloader, he always came with a contribution for the meal, usually a can of peas.

And finally:

Sue fondly recalled the summer cottage at the end of a mile long road. Way out in the boonies. She and her brother were little. They spotted a “wild” kitty in the woods. They begged their mother to let them put some chicken stew out for the kitty. They did. They watched out the window. Round about eight or nine o’clock in the evening, sure enough, they spotted the little kitty eating the stew along with a big kitty and two other little ones.

Except they weren’t kitties. They were skunks.

“That was the last time we ever put out chicken stew,” Sue said.