by John J. Metzler Weirs Times Contributing Writer
UNITED NATIONS -Thunder clouds are swirling over the Korean peninsula as a perfect storm of political instability and regional geopolitical challenges rumble through South Korea. North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, as well as Chinese bullying, have thrust the region into a dangerous cycle which could affect South Korea’s hard won peace and prosperity. Events over the next six months will be crucial.
Political crisis has returned to South Korea, a vibrant if fractious democracy for over a generation. President Park Geun- hye, the once popular but tough president has been forced from office after a bitter drawn out impeachment scandal. President Park, the now tarnished daughter of Park Chung-hee the strongman who rebuilt the shattered South Korean economy, was a close American ally. Elections slated for May will no longer be the polite formality as expected where former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would swan into the Blue House, but a tough knockdown contest between the now discredited right and an ascendent left.
Not since the countdown to the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics has there been such political tension.
Yet today’s Korea faces a very different dynamic as young people have grown up in a safe, secure and prosperous society no longer shadowed by the Korean War of 1950-53 and the arduous rebuilding era of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The candle holding protesters are hardly the militant firebomb throwing hyper political youth of the mid-1980’s. Continue reading → Post ID 2689
by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr. Weirs Times Contributing Writer
It was the year that Robert Frost’s book of poems titled “ New Hampshire” was published, the Laconia Car Company manufactured its last railway cars, and Governor Brown signed a bill giving the University of New Hampshire its name. It was also the year that the legislature was to work on tax reform in the State, but news editor and soon to become New Hampshire’s Secretary of State, Hobart Brownside Pillsbury, indicated that the tax reformers had lots of fun but produced no laws during their January to May session in the year 1923. In the January issue of The Granite Monthly magazine an article titled “A Program for Taxation ” by Raymond B. Stevens declared that “The most important and difficult question before the coming legislature is the question of taxation.” He maintained that New Hampshire’s “…system of taxation is antiquated, and entirely inadequate for modern conditions.”
The Democrats, who controlled the House of Representatives, through its State committee chairman, Robert Jackson of Concord, declared that their branch of the legislature had been one of the most successful in the history of the State. The Republicans, who controlled the Senate, felt that they should be congratulated for keeping what they considered to be the radical ideas of the Democrats from becoming law. Hobart Pillsbury wrote on April 21st that since New Year’s the Legislature had “… accomplished a good deal, although no bill has been passed yet that amounts to anything. None will be passed, no matter how long the session lasts. This, however, is satisfactory to all concerned.”
Pillsbury obviously believed that legislators could accomplish as much sometimes by defeating proposed legislation rather than passing it, and could have fun doing it. So maybe we can have fun pondering what the tax reformers in the House of Representatives proposed that the opposition Senators rejected. The majority leader in the Senate was Republican Leon D. Ripley and the Democrat Ovide J. Coulombe of Berlin was the minority leader. The House passed a bill to eliminate the poll tax for women, but the Senate defeated the bill on party lines, 13 to 8, leading Pillsbury to observe that the action meant “…that the fair sex will not be prohibited from enjoying the pleasure of equality with men in paying a poll tax.” The poll tax had to be paid to allow a person to vote. Another House supported bill was to impose a one cent tax on gasoline along with a bill to establish a highway fund into which would be deposited all fees and taxes related to automobiles. Another tax bill passed by the representatives, but not by the senators, involved inheritances. This was a flat rate tax with heirs divided into three classes with different rates applied. The first class was direct heirs with a two percent tax levied upon them. The second class was referred to as collateral heirs, like brothers or sisters, who were to be taxed at six per cent, and the third class was to be other collateral heirs, who would be assessed a ten per cent tax. An additional inheritance tax bill was passed which made the state a collateral heir, which Pillsbury described as “…sort of a second cousin, twice removed…” that would be entitled to a certain percentage of estates above $50,000. Taxes on savings bank deposits were cut by one-third in an effort to encourage the New Hampshire banks to increase their dividends which were lower than those in Massachusetts which, it was claimed, held fifty million dollars of money belonging to New Hampshire residents.
In 1923 if you owned an automobile you were thought to be rich, so legislators looked for ways to raise money through fees and taxes on the owners and to pass regulations to control the use of vehicles. Efforts were made to pass a bill introducing compulsory insurance on automobiles. The House of Representatives passed a bill placing mandatory jail sentences on drunken drivers. No fines were to be assessed and no jail sentences could be suspended. The first conviction for the drunken driver was a sixty day jail sentence and the repeat offender would be sent to the state prison for six months and lose their driver’s license for one to three years. Hobart Pillsbury’s comment about this proposed law was that “It was argued that if this bill could pass there would be no need of compulsory insurance, because an automobile is dangerous only when there is gasoline in the car and whiskey in the driver.”
As the legislators of New Hampshire adjourned their 1923 session in May, the first of the politicians who were preparing to run for President of the United States in the nation’s first primary was beginning his campaign. His name was David S. Beach and he was from Connecticut. Mr. Beach seemed to think that he could save the country and the world from financial disaster and spread the wealth around, but he also advocated abolishing state governments which would mean that there would be no need for state governors or legislators. Mr. Pillsbury insisted that such a candidate would not find support in a state like New Hampshire where “All the inhabitants … outside of the state prison, and some of them inside, hope someday to sit in the Legislature unless they have already done so…”.
Maybe Mr. Anderson, who felt that there was unequal taxation and large amounts of wealth that escaped taxation, had a more favorable response to Mr. Beach’s plan to share more of the wealth of the nations between individuals.
One victory for the Democrats in 1923 was the appointment of one of their own, Rev. Ora W. Craig as the state commissioner of law enforcement, which, according to Mr. Pillsbury, meant that he was the commissioner of prohibition. He had several deputies who secretly worked under him, and the common opinion was “When a stranger invades a quiet New Hampshire community , he is assumed to be a prohibition deputy until proven otherwise.”
March roared in like a lion at Vermont’s Middlebury college, where students chose to riot rather than debate the estimable political scientist Dr. Charles Murray. If only we could blame it on the month. Sadly, Middlebury followed the example set earlier by schools like UC Berkeley and NYU: failing to prevent a riot or punish rioters. It isn’t the month; it’s the movement.
“Mad as a March hare” is a common Brit expression dating back hundreds of years, long before college basketball fans took to the coinage “March Madness” to describe their annual tournament. At least hares and hoop fans have an excuse for their behavior. What could possibly explain away the insanity on display March 2nd at Middlebury?
Much has been written about the violence that greeted scholar and author Dr. Charles Murray by students who have probably not read his works. The story boils down to this: Dr. Murray was invited to debate a liberal professor on topics from his recent book Coming Apart: The State of White America. Campus officials knew the event would draw protesters. They reminded the students about Middlebury’s code of conduct, which, not surprisingly, was about as effective as reading the Marquess of Queensberry rules to marauding Vikings. Administration should have known better and prepared accordingly.
Students who have been allowed to grow up thinking they have a right to not hear opinions they find disagreeable and to prevent others from hearing them, too, prevented Dr. Murray from speaking. They shouted him down using the moronic couplets much beloved of the political Left. (Any chant that starts with “Hey, hey, ho, ho” is going to be inane.)
But the acolytes of the arrogant ignorant Left didn’t stop there. They never do. When their limited vocabulary failed them, they rioted. The liberal professor was hurt and Dr. Murray threatened. Private security did its best to get these academics to safety, but their car was blocked and rocked before they could make their escape. I have yet to read an account in which the police were called and the appropriate response – legal use of force and arrests – was brought to bear.
The “terrible twos” are a tough time for parents and anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck in an airplane seat near a screaming toddler. But being in the presence of intellectual babies going through their terrible teens or twenties can be downright dangerous. College administrators must start applying the same level of ruthless enthusiasm to curbing anti-free speech rioters as they have been in promoting PC speech codes and punishing microaggressors. You know there’s something wrong on campus when failing to use a preferred pronoun gets you in more trouble than using violence to intimidate and disrupt a debate.
That tactic – violence and intimidation – has deep roots in authoritarian movements like the one we’re seeing on campus today. That it is employed by people claiming to advance “liberal” or “progressive” ideals is irony defined. A March 1936 editorial in the Toledo Bee titled “March Madness” described a “fantastic riot of tomfoolery” in Europe as Mussolini “abolishes his chamber of deputies and the deputies applaud the news,” and Germany “prepares for an ‘election’ with a one-way ballot, proving, says Der Fuehrer, that he’s for democracy.” We know where that “tomfoolery” led. Though they were dressed in the typical student uniform of t-shirts and hoodies, the Middlebury rioters were acting the part of Blackshirts and Brownshirts in service to authoritarianism.
Students have shown their willingness to engage in violence. Administrators now must demonstrate their willingness to expel students and assist in the prosecution of violent agitators. Until they do, the anti-democratic violence on campus will escalate. Since university leaders have yet to do the right and necessary things, they need to be encouraged. We know that they are money-motivated; we’ve seen universities twist themselves in knots to avoid losing funding tied to Title IX and Department of Education “Dear Colleague” letters. It’s time for federal and state governments to stop the flow of public funds to campuses that fail to promote intellectual diversity and maintain order in the process.
Our NH legislators should demand to see proof that our public universities and colleges promote diverse debate and have plans in place to effectively deal with campus anti-free speech violence. Public funding should be on the line in these discussions. Berkeley and NYU seem a world away from UNH or Plymouth, but Middlebury is right next door. It could happen here. We need to know that our campuses are fully prepared to deal with the Brownshirts in their midst.
Last week I gave some ideas in using famous movie quotes to help new transplants, otherwise known as Flatlanders, in adjusting to their first winters here.
I had no idea at the time what was about to befall us that Tuesday. If I had known in advance about the coming snowstorm I would have included another famous movie line once shouted by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire: “STELLA! STELLA!”
Of course, this wouldn’t have helped in adjusting to the storm, but it would have provided some good old fashioned primal scream therapy to at least help get through it.
My household was fortunate enough in not having to endure a prolonged power outage like so many others; in fact, we didn’t have any at all. Though we did lose our TV and Internet for about a day. If I had been given a choice before the storm of which I would rather endure, no lights and heat for three or four days or longer, or no TV or Internet, the choice would have been simple.
Still, as some suffered through the former, those who only had to endure the latter still didn’t know enough to count their blessings. Finding my way online using just my cell phone (how advanced and yet primitive, depending on your age) I kept track of the progress, or lack thereof, by the cable company in getting life returned to normal – as far as normal is nowadays.
I got the opportunity to read the various comments by others, most sitting on comfortable couches in their lit and heated homes, moaning and groaning about the cable workers who weren’t working fast enough through downed trees and power lines, howling and dangerous winds and subhuman freezing conditions in getting them back on Facebook and Netflix fast enough.
These folks were, obviously, connected to the Internet, but not in the way they would like. The inconvenience was apparently unbearable. Continue reading → Post ID 2685
This being a March of college hoop Madness, alert basketball fans may have noticed a Canyon Barry playing for the Florida Gators. Yes, he’s the son of Hall-of-Famer Rick and his second wife Lynn. Canyon is actually a grad student at UF, studying nuclear engineering, having already graduated from the College of Charleston—with a year’s hoop eligibility remaining.
Named for the Grand Canyon, where he was conceived, the younger Barry is one of the top scorers for the Gators, who earned the fourth seed in the Eastern Regionals.
Canyon has four half-brothers who all played pro ball—Scooter, Jon, Brent, and Drew, sons of Rick and his first wife Pam.
In his prime, Rick was the top forward in pro basketball. I met him in 1971 at a basketball camp in Fitzwilliam, N.H., where the other big name was Jerry West, then the top guard in pro basketball. (Imagine LeBron James and Steph Curry coming to New Hampshire today to run a summer camp to make some extra money!)
Barry was with the Nets then, who lost in the ABA Finals to the Pacers the next year. Rick then returned to his former Warrior team, whom he led to an NBA title in 1975. Continue reading → Post ID 2682
Winter hasn’t given up yet and there’s proof! We’re still shoveling the snow that winter storm Stella left behind as she blew through our state.
Stella has made winter enthusiasts smile big. Skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and snowmobilers rejoiced. Even before the blizzard there still was a lot of snow in the mountains and covering your local ski slopes.
The day before Stella was forecasted to arrive it was a lovely Spring-like day. There was no snow in my yard, the sun was shining and it now stays light out well after 5pm. I grabbed my skis and backpack and jumped into my car and drove to ski Mount Chocorua.
Recently, this column gave you two related articles on ‘Attack of the DIPA’s’ or Double IPA’s which spoke of that beer style as well as the magnitude of DIPA beers flooding the market each week. It is hard to keep track of them all but when one catches your attention, you tend to keep it in mind the next time you shop for brews. One such beer new to the shelves lately is from 603 Brewery.
603 Brewery started in Campton (above Plymouth), but is now located in Londonderry, NH. They offer year-round beers as well as seasonal beers matched to their climates. Just 4 years old, 603 Brewery has made a momentous mark in the NH craft beer scene. They are now a 60 barrel brewery providing 12 oz cans, 22 oz bottles and kegs for restaurants. Each of their beers has something to do with a historical fact about NH. For instance, their 18 Mile Rye Ale is named for the 18 miles of Atlantic shoreline NH is afforded between Maine and Massachusetts. Their beer is sold throughout NH as well as Massachusetts. You can find it in Hanniford, Market Basket and Case-n-Keg, in both Meredith and Laconia while you are out shopping. Visit them at https://www.facebook.com/603Brewery/ or at their website at www.603brewery.com
The Double Black IPA can sports two black diamonds which may refer to the difficulty of getting down a treacherous ski trail. But it is more about the enjoyment in an achievement. So this beer is quite an achievement and lets you relish in that moment of success with the first pour and sips. It is almost entirely black due to the roasted grains used in the build. A fluffy and generous tan head lasts through much of the glass and laces the sides like translucent curtains of froth. But the real treat comes when you taste the dry-hopped citrus blends of Amarillo, Simcoe and Mosaic hops. The malt is so big that amount of hops balanced to the build just make this an amazing success. Piney and earthy tones help to finish out your tasting session. At 8.3% ABV and 75 IBU’s (bittering), it is one beer that is truly remarkable.
Double Black is scheduled to be a seasonal but I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a year-round offering sometime in the near future. BeerAdvocate.com has not yet rated it, but many who have tried this are raging about its taste. Pursue this one while you can!
Jim MacMillan is the owner of WonByOne Design of Meredith, NH, and is an avid imbiber of craft brews and a home brewer as well. Send him your recommendations and brew news to firstname.lastname@example.org
The annual Masters Golf Tournament—my favorite sports event of the year—is only a month away. The flags are going up at Loudon Country Cub—my favorite golf course. So it’s a good time to reflect on long-overdue golf rule changes recently promulgated by the U.S. Golf Association.
Most people I play with follow a very liberal interpretation of golf rules, i.e. if you can’t find a ball on a leafy autumn fairway, then just drop a ball where you think your ball ended up. No problemo! Or any two-foot putt is a “Gimme!”
Of course, in league and tournament competitions, one really needs to know and follow the rules, especially if your opponent is one of those dreaded “sticklers.”
Still, not only do the new and overdue USGA rule changes make sense but there are actually FEWER rules now. (Washington and Concord take note!)
*There is no longer a penalty for accidentally moving your ball on the green. (I hate it when that happens!)
*You can repair damage on the green before putting. (My balls always seemed to end up behind an unrepaired hole on every green.)
*A ball is declared lost after a three minute search, as opposed to five minutes. (This rule change will really speed up play with some of the guys I play with.)
*Under the new rules, you can do a ball drop from as close as one inch above the ground, as opposed to shoulder height. (Bravo! This will cut down on my ball drops rolling into water hazards.)
*If you throw your putter and damage it, you can still keep it in your bag. (I’d been carrying two putters anyway. Hope that’s not against any rule.) Continue reading → Post ID 2664
When Sir Walter Scott wrote of tangled webs woven to deceive, he could not have imagined the tangle of Gordian knots modern man would create trying to fool Mother Nature.
I’m a man of simple tastes: strong, black coffee; Highland single malt; bacon. I appreciate Alexander the Great’s solution to untangling the intricate knot of King Gordius of Phrygia: Slice it in two. I’d apply a similarly simple solution to the increasingly complex and entirely man-made problem of living in a world where social media giant Facebook provides a list of more than 50 “genders” from which to choose: For purposes of public policy and accommodation, go with the plumbing God – or god-like surgeons – have provided.
The latest kerfuffle arousing passions in the “gender fluid” movement is the case of Mack Beggs, female high school wrestling champ. Ms. Beggs’ rise to the top was made possible by forfeits and performance-enhancing testosterone. Some parents didn’t want their girls competing against a wrestler with a physique like a 1980’s East German female Olympian in three-fifths miniature. That oddly-proportioned and physically-dominating body was the result of testosterone, part of treatment helping this girl transition into manhood.
While she “identifies” as male, Ms. Beggs is biologically and chromosomally the same female she was at birth. While any other girl on testosterone would have been disqualified, the rules of the governing body for school sports in Texas declared that the state’s education code permits using banned drugs such as steroids if it “is prescribed by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.”
The simple and elegant solution to this problem is to end the discriminatory separation of the sexes in all school sports. No more “separate but equal.” No more Title IX shenanigans. This approach would not only solve the Texas dilemma, it would accommodate those girls who want to play as girls on boy’s teams, and vice versa. Whether you’re a boy, a girl, an XX+testosterone, an XY+estrogen, or some other combination not yet medically possible, you would compete for a position on a single team. May the best athletes win. Continue reading → Post ID 2662
by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr. Weirs Times Contributing Writer
Daylight Savings Time, though perhaps never considered a major political or social issue, seems to have always been a controversial idea, particularly when we realize that we mere humans cannot change the amount of daylight so we try to adjust our schedules to get the most out of what is given to us, verifying that we usually prefer light over darkness.
Having lived at different times in several different states, my observation is that some people seem to handle the change from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time and vice versa more easily than do others. As the Pastor of a church in rural Pennsylvania, I was surprised to find that during the period of Daylight Savings Time a husband and wife among my good parishioners used different timepieces. The husband refused to change from Standard Time based on his belief that Daylight Savings Time was the Devil’s time. The Mrs. set her clock ahead one hour at the prescribed time in the Spring, so when the clock on her side of the bed read 8:00 o’clock, the clock on his side of the bed read 7:00 o’clock. They arrived at the church building on Sunday mornings together in the same car, but he was there at 8:30 and she at 9:30.
I’m sure I’ll take some grief for this, but if I don’t say something, who will?
Back about ten years ago I took a lot of heat for questioning the state legislature in quickly passing a bill to make our state fruit the pumpkin (yes, the pumpkin). The idea was presented to them by a group of elementary school students from Harrisville, New Hampshire.
I wasn’t questioning whether or not the pumpkin should be the state fruit. I was questioning how easily the legislators passed the law. The whole idea behind the kids submitting the idea in the first place was to learn how the legislative process worked. A few legislators who publicly questioned whether or not the pumpkin should be the state fruit were chastised on the floor of the house as well as in the media for being shallow to the children’s feelings after all the work they did in promoting the pumpkin.
I thought that arguing against the bill was a perfect example of how the legislative process is supposed to work and that by having a fight over what the state fruit should be would teach a more valuable civics lesson to the kids than just passing the bill with no questions so as not to hurt any feelings.
I found myself also grouped with those who were being insensitive to the feelings of the children.
Not really fair.
This week I am here to defend the pumpkin. It has been officially designated as our state fruit and I am fine with that. I’m not one to make a stink if things don’t go the way I wanted (there’s too much of that going on already).
It is new legislation introduced this year that got me thinking.
Now it is being considered, if not already decided as I write this, to make the blackberry the state berry.
Huh? Continue reading → Post ID 2658
The Fat Lady has not begun singing yet.
There is still plenty of snow on the mountaintops and on the ski slopes.
Don’t give up on Winter!
Keep skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snowshoeing until the last snowflake melts. Join me in a snow-dance.
The days are getting longer and the mercury in the thermometer (or whatever that red stuff is now days) is on the rise. Spring is coming soon—the 2017 Spring Equinox will be at 6:28 am on Monday March 20th
Spring is fun and the proof is the goofy stuff people do on the slopes such as pond skimming. We dress up and try to ski or snowboard across a man-made icy cold pond. Sometimes with success but more often than not the result is a big splash. From now one you can pond skim somewhere every weekend.
Check with your local resort when they are hosting their Spring Celebration of pond skimming.
Pats Peak and Gunstock will be hosting their pond skimming contests on March 18th. Don’t forget to wear a costume to score the maximum points with the cheering crowds.
Bretton Woods’ Annual Beach Party and Slush Pool is being held on March 25th with live music and a lift ticket special pre-buy on-line $30 lift ticket.
April 1st, April Fools’ Day, Waterville Valley celebrates with $1 lift tickets (no joke) and hosts their Last Run Luau Pond Ski. Also on April Fools’ Day Mount Sunapee hosts its 19th Annual Mount Sunapee Slush Cup and Sunapee is famous for their very challenging long pond.
Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party & Wet Tug-O-War and Cannon Mountain’s Blizzard Splash Pond will be both held on April 8th.
Yes, there is still snow on the mountaintops. You may start out bare-booting but please wear your snowshoes and not post-hole your way up the trail when you reach the snow. There is nothing like frozen holes in the snow to make for difficult travel up and down the trails.
I can forgive the moose but people’s frozen track traps are easily preventable.
We just recently snowshoed the Northern Presidentials—Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington and we summited Monroe too. What a sunny super day we had and the snowshoe track across the summits was in nice shape and in many places smooth like a sidewalk. But the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail had seen a great deal of traffic and had quite a few post-holes.
I don’t know how people can stand sinking deep down as much as mid-thigh high.
We saw a few skiers skinning their way up along the railway tracks and then later descending down into the Ammonoosuc drainage and back to the Cog Station. Soon we’ll all make a trip to Tuckerman Ravine.
Enjoy the snow, summer lasts a long, long time.
Usually by this time in the winter months of New Hampshire, you are either loving the snow (skiing, snowmobiling, xc skiing, etc) or you are VERY ready for spring! I must admit, I could be talked into a month-long trip south to haven from our season this year. But if you are a true Hampshirite, you tough it out, put on your gloves and go out there again. And after a day of roof shoveling, snow clearing, building snowmen with your kids or whatever, it might just be time for a good brew. So let’s look at this rewarding offering from Moat Mountain Brewing, Single Speed IPL.
Moat Mountain Smoke House & Brewing Company are located in North Conway, NH. Their food is great with a spectacular menu and worth a visit. Although they still brew on premises where their eatery and original location are (smaller batch seasonals for the restaurant and growler fills), their newest brewery upgrade is a state-of-the-art “barn” and artfully done. This place is their main 20 barrel brewery created in 2013. They added the canning line in the following year. It is not open to the public though. You can find out more about their offerings with a name search on Facebook or at their website: www.moatmountain.com
The real difference, albeit slight, between IPA’s and an IPL is crispness. If you are not making an overtly hoppy beer, but just a snappy refresher, lagering is the way to go. It lets hops shine through without being too malty. Lager yeast, which is also responsible in part for pilsners, is a more delicate yeast. It takes longer to ferment and is produced at colder temperatures. This crispness that is obtained helps to make very refined and great tasting beer.
Pouring a clear copper-yellow with a handsome 2 finger high white head, IPL’s 6.3% ABV is a balance of gentleness between hops and malt. It has a light to medium body which doesn’t weigh you down after 16 oz. Refreshingly zesty, yet a bit creamy in texture, Single Speed delivers citrusy and piney notes to your tongue before finishing with the expected hop resonation at the end.
Why not try all of the other offerings from Moat Mountain Brewing. Their Iron Mike Pale Ale, Bone Shaker Brown, Square Tail Stout, Imperial Stout, Miss V’s Blueberry Ale, East Intervale IPA and Hell Yes! Helles Lager are available in 16 oz cans.
You can purchase Moat beers at Hanford Markets and Case-n-Keg, Meredith and Laconia just to name a few locations… brewed in New Hampshire for the love of the beer!
Jim MacMillan is the owner of WonByOne Design of Meredith, NH, and is an avid imbiber of craft brews and a home brewer as well. Send him your recommendations and brew news to email@example.com
Recent Facebook postings remind us that 2017 is a year for Red Sox commemorations—this being the 50th Anniversary of the pennant-winning 1967 Impossible Dream Boston team that created the modern Red Sox Nation. While young Sox fans have no recollection of that magical year they should better appreciate Boston’s baseball heritage through the anniversary dates the team will be highlighting as the season unfolds.
Some of these Facebook postings from old-timers including reminiscences about first trips to Fenway Park.
My first trip to the Boston ball-yard was on August 9, 1972. My bleacher seat cost $2 and Rico Petrocelli hit a home run as the BoSox beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2. When I played golf with Rico last summer I asked if he remembered that game and he confessed he had no memory of it—in contrast to my vivid recollection.
by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr. Weirs Times Contributing Writer
In past columns I’ve written about scenes from my childhood during the spring, summer, and fall, so it seems advisable now to share some of the winter experiences while we are still in the season.
New England country roads with dirt (sand and gravel) surfaces became sledding trails for the boys and girls of my era. Actually those I played with called it sliding. We used sleds, with an occasional toboggan or traverse, but we went sliding on the roads and in the fields when the conditions were right. Our sleds were of the flexible flyer variety with metal runners and frame underneath wood slats with a wood handle for steering. Packed snow on the hills of a dirt road surface as the result of being run over by car tires became a good place to use our sleds. The limited vehicle traffic travelled our Dana Hill Road at slow speeds and if we met one on a ride down the hill we simply turned into the snow bank beside the road for a quick stop. There were times when our school recesses became sliding times as we took our sleds up the hilly road a quarter of a mile or more and slid down to the schoolhouse where the teacher had stopped traffic heading up the hill. The town sanding dump truck was not a welcome sight for us. In those days the bed of the truck was lifted to let the sand slide out, sometimes assisted with a man with a shovel at the back of the truck. Slippery roads meant that it was time to get out the tire chains for cars and trucks. If the conditions were right in the hay field below our house, meaning a crusty surface strong enough to support sled and child, we would slide there after school. Sometimes the sleds runners would break through the crust and stop abruptly, with the rider continuing to slide by himself on the snow.
I have experienced the inevitable facial scrapes and bruises from those episodes. Large pieces of cardboard were found to be safer substitutes for the runner sleds under certain conditions. The eastern side of our field provided a steeper but shorter hill for sliding, but we had to maneuver between the apple trees and there were saplings along the edge of the field. One Christmas I had received some new lumberjack style heavy wool winter trousers with black and red checks and wore them as I slid down the hill among the apple trees,into the clear at the bottom of the hill, continuing into the saplings beyond which stopped me. Somehow, maybe from a nail from the sled, my new trousers sustained a large tear in them. I cried as I returned to the house, knowing that my parents weren’t going to be pleased with what I had to show them. I wasn’t hurt; the crying was to exhibit remorse, and maybe it did hurt a little, but I escaped the application of any additional pain applied as punishment.
My boyhood winters were not all play, there were chores to do, such as sawing and splitting wood, filling the kitchen and sitting room wood boxes morning and evening, feeding, watering and bedding the animals, cleaning out the tie-up, and shoveling snow after the storms, washing dishes, and sometimes hanging up wet clothes to dry. If the weather was thought warm enough they were hung outside even in winter.I do recall times when I found my union suit (longjohns) frozen stiff on the clothesline.
I had siblings, so we shared the chores, and sometimes they were related to our 4-H projects. One of my memories is that of mixing grain and warm water in a pail in our kitchen and feeding the pigs twice a day. By the way the tie-up was that section of the barn where the cattle were tied up and spent a good part of the winter. Cleaning it meant shoveling the manure out of an open window onto the manure pile in back of the barn. In the barn yard there was a concrete water receptacle for the cows which was in a wood enclosure. We used an axe to cut through the ice which sometimes built up considerably during the winter months. Milking the cow was another of the jobs that we boys had to learn to do, along with separating the cream from the milk and operating the churn to make butter. A lot of activity took place in and around the barn. One winter’s day I discovered a red fox curled up in the snow behind the barn sleeping and decided I would find a way to kill it, so I found a brother (maybe two) to help me dispatch it. We found a long wooden pole and plotted to sneak up to the fox and whack it on the head with the pole, hoping that would kill it. (I remembered visiting our neighbors in past years, the Leslie Smith family, and walking through a shed with multiple fox and probably other animal pelts.) On approaching we realized that the animal was not sleeping, but already dead. The dead fox was taken to Leonard Huckins who skinned it for us, so we had our own fur pelt, which the last I remember was stored in a bureau drawer.
We slept upstairs in unheated bedrooms on rope beds with cotton filled mattresses and on the really cold nights soapstones were heated on the wood stove, wrapped in newspapers, and used as foot-warmers. After school I sometimes visited the cellar to grab an apple to eat while I read about a famous person in one of the orange covered book series by a publisher I don’t remember and/or listened to a radio adventure program such as “Sky King” or “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon”. Saturday nights we ate beans for supper and sometimes had leftover beans for breakfast on Sunday morning, and maybe bean sandwiches for lunch on Monday. Of course, Saturday night was bath night when the galvanized metal tub was brought out and placed on the kitchen floor beside the stove with its’ water reservoir where enough hot water was available. On Sunday evenings, after the Sunday afternoon church services at the schoolhouse, we popped popcorn on the stove which was eaten with milk with perhaps a sour pickle on the side. If the static on the radio wasn’t too bad we listened to “Amos and Andy”, “George Burns and Gracie Allen”, “Jack Benny” and “Our Miss Brooks”. And I must not forget school, since that dominated weekdays from nine a.m.to three p.m. The black chalkboards and the squeal of the chalk writing upon them, the desks with the built in inkwells to supply ink for our pens before the ball-point ones arrived, the long settees used for group activities and guests to sit in, the wood stove with the circular medal enclosure around it, and the making of valentines for every pupil during craft times are all part of my memories. There was a contest for the best valentine, but everyone knew that Peter Emmons would be the winner, not because he was the teacher’s nephew, but because he was the most artistic person in school.
So there is a quick sketch of my childhood in winter though much more could be added. I have some closing advice to the sledders, though. Be careful and don’t take foolish chances. Know where your sled will stop before you start and never try to slide under a barb-wire fence, it’s not worth the risk, even though some have successfully kept their heads low enough to survive that stunt.