April and May are high volume months for a storyteller like me. I’ve been out and about sharing stories with, well, all kinds of folks — for example the 13 students who make up the whole student body of Errol Consolidated Elementary School, K through 6. Every one of them wrote me a thank you note, including some of their own stories like this one:
“The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! is a great book! It reminded me of when we made a jump on our hill. We only got to use it once or twice. The teachers made us demolish it. That was fun too. That sled must have been waxed before the children used it.”
Good writers at that school. Good listeners, too. And, evidently, skilled and daring sledders.
Another group, about a hundred women and two men, traded stories at the fancy White Mountain Hotel in Conway. You know the one at the foot of a cliff. Towering cliff. Beautiful hotel. Delightful people who weren’t afraid to belly laugh — at the stories, at me, with me, at and with each other. I visited the Bradford Historical Society, the Penacook Historical Society, the Exeter Historical Society, and the Seabrook Library. At every stop people told stories and I wrote them down in my little book — to tell in the next town. It’s a racket!
Here are a few, for the record — and, I hope, for your reading pleasure.
This one, from by Hank Amsden, requires reading between the lines.
Danbury, NH, town meeting Marcy 10, 1835. “Voted that the Hogreaves do not meddle with the Hogs except complaint be made.”
Another story of small town politics and loyalties. In Bradford, Mary Ann went to the town clerk to register to vote. It was three days after her 18th birthday. The clerk scolded her: “Young lady, you’re late.” Mary Ann declared her intention to register as a Democrat. The clerk became irate. “Young lady, you are a Republican. I know! I signed your birth certificate.”
This next story comes from Bruce in Seabroook. (STOP reading here if you have a queasy stomach.) Seems the new minister went to visit Sarah, an elderly parishioner. They talked for a good while at the table in the middle of which was a bowl of peanuts. The minister ate quite a few and then apologized. “I shouldn’t be eating all your peanuts, Sarah.”
“Have as many as you like,” Sarah said. “I can’t eat them. I just suck the chocolate off.”
Bruce swears to the veracity of this story. And how could I doubt him? He was voted selectman in Seabrook for two terms. On his third run, his wife informed him, “I am going up to the town hall and vote for you. But if god loves me, you’ll lose.”
It was a close vote. Hand-counted ballots. Bruce stayed to the bitter end to hear the results, which didn’t come until late into the night. When he arrived home he said, “Cindy, god loves you.”