Nelson in Hudson kindly told me this story while we were on the subject of pranks kids play on each other, especially around Halloween time.

He and a young friend were walking home from school function with some tougher, older boys. It was dark, and they shared a single flashlight. It was cold. Snowing a little bit. Their path took them past a cemetery and at the front of the cemetery a stone vault. On this evening, the older boys got to daring each other: Let’s go in the vault. I dare you I double dare you.

The two younger boys slipped away from the pack and through the woods. They climbed up the back of the vault. At the top they found a small vent pipe.

They could hear the older boys coming. Nelson and his friend stayed very quiet.

“Dare you,” the older boys whispered to each other. At last, one brave boy walked up to the vault and knocked on the door.

Nelson said into the vent pipe in his deepest voice: “I’ll be right with you.”

How those big boys skedaddled.

Nelson also recalled the little farm on the side of Reservation Road where his grandma lived with a cousin named Bungy. Nelson and his family lived just down the road. Bungy was a big eater. One morning he showed up around breakfast time. He tucked into the pancakes. “What you doing out so early, Bungy?” Mother asked.

“Oh,” Bungy said. “Mum send me down to tell you the house is on fire.”

Which reminded me of a story out of Northwood. Cliff and Art Colcord were bachelor brothers who lived up on Mountain Road in the family homestead. They were known for being yankee careful, slow talking, deliberate. One morning, Cliff was in the kitchen, putting on his socks and boots one foot at a time. He was about halfway through that operation when Art came clumping down the stairs.

“Bettah hurry up with them boots,” Art said.

“Why’s that, Brother?” Cliff said.

“House afire.”

Another story of the Colcord brothers, or it may be some other pair of yankee bachelors: They were sitting on their porch one afternoon watching the world go by. Hoss and buggy passed. Cliff said, “That’s one fine black hoss pulling that buggy.”

Next day, sitting on the porch, Art remarks, “That wa’n’t a black. That was a by hoss.”

Next day, late afternoon, Cliff comes down the stairs with a suitcase.

“Where you going?” Art says.

“Moving out,” Cliff says. “Can’t stand all this bickering.”