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The Five Men I Know in Every New England Town

The Five Men I Know in Every New England Town
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Welcome to the April 2009 edition of “Jud’s New England Journal,” the rather curious monthly musings of Judson Hale, editor-in-chief of Yankee Magazine, published since 1935 in Dublin, New Hampshire.

The Five Men I Know in Every New England Town

Last month I described the six women everyone knows. What about the men everyone knows?

Well, in the interest of equal treatment, avoiding accusations of sexism and once again risking stereotyping, here are five men I maintain live in every New England community. Yes, every one. Ready? Okay, here goes …

THE HISTORIAN — usually an elderly man (or at least a longwinded one) and almost always a native. He’ll tell you, often without even being asked, exactly where the old hotel once stood, the names of all the people who stayed there each summer, and what the weather was like the day before, the day, and the day after it burned to the ground.

THE DOER — a member of the working professionals in town, he’s chairman of the church’s executive committee, serves as town selectman, raises money for the regional hospital, and convinces “the Club” to allow townspeople to play on their golf course during the spring and fall. His wife is president of the Women’s Club.

THE ECCENTRIC — His actions are, well, just a little strange. One of my favorites in this category was a man living in nearby Peterborough, New Hampshire, who had an inordinate love of beavers. That’s right, beavers. His property bordered a large beaver pond. Each morning for a number of years he stood at the edge of the pond calling to the beavers. “Here, beaver, beaver, beaver! Here, beaver!” is what he repeatedly yelled, with apparently no reaction whatsoever from the beavers. I’m told that after some three years of this on an almost daily basis, one morning a single beaver finally emerged from the water near the shore in front of him, waddled up to our Eccentric, and bit him quite severely on his outstretched hand. (I’m not really certain whether this last part is true.)

THE MYSTERY MAN — one of the very few people in town whose ancestry and place of birth cannot be determined. Also, no one is quite sure what he does for a living or whether he ever had a wife and family. Or why he leaves town for 10 days every three months during odd-numbered years. The Mystery Man causes extreme frustration.

THE CELEBRITY — who either commanded the Second Army in Europe during World War II, wrote the screenplay for an early Fred MacMurray or Ronald Reagan movie, or was aboard Admiral Byrd’s plane on the first flight over the North Pole in May 1926. Although now in his nineties, the Celebrity, more often than not, still wears an ascot.

There are some others. But I think it would probably be best to quit before I really get in trouble …

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The Five Men I Know in Every New England Town

Updated Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

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