Day 619: Dummer

As Laetitia walked down Raglan Road toward the Emerald Victorian in the early dawn hour, she was thinking about the night before, when she had met her grandmother and several members of the extended family for dinner. During the evening’s conversation, her grandmother used the term “young Turks” to describe a group who were trying to effect change in a women’s organization that she belonged to. When Laetitia first heard the expression as a child, she envisioned a group of men with turbans and scimitars and women in harem attire, but she later learned that the phrase originally described a faction of young men who rebelled against the Ottoman Empire during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At this point, her thoughts shifted to the day’s tour as she arrived at her destination, made coffee, and settled into a comfortable chair in the library.

It’s 123 miles from Laconia to Dummer, New Hampshire, but the drive passes through White Mountain National Forest. It took Laetitia and her group much of the day, since they made several side excursions and frequent stops to go on short hikes. On arrival in Dummer, the group did a walkabout. The town of about 300 residents is a scenic one, surrounded with lots of woodlands near the Pontook Reservoir and the Androscoggin River. As such, it attracts lots of tourists. The town was named, not as a comment on the intellectual capacity of its residents, but rather for Governor William Dummer, who was a hero during the eighteenth-century French and Indian War. The day’s limerick sprung from some happy hour gossip about an ambitious teenager named George.

Teen George viewed himself as a comer
A “young Turk” riding round in a hummer
But his plan had a flaw
Folks aren’t easy to awe
When you tell them your hometown is Dummer.

Day 618: Fur Out

Laetitia and her group headed east from Cornish Flat in the direction of Laconia in New Hampshire’s lake country. The town is near several lakes, including Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest, which covers 69 square miles and has 253 islands. The group did a scenic cruise on the lake and visited the Lake Winnipesaukee Museum before going to Laconia for the evening. Following her usual custom, Laetitia went to happy hour before meeting her group for dinner.

In the past, a young man out to impress a young lady with his affluence and future potential might say, “I will dress you in furs.” ‘Tis rumored that that line was more likely to be successful that its coarser alternative, “I’ll have you farting in silk.” Times have changed. Diminishing populations of wild fur-bearing animals and the political pressure against fur farming have driven fur prices beyond the range of the budgets of many young suitors, even if the “impressee” found going around “enfurred” desirable. The happy hour gossip that Laetitia turned into a limerick was about a local man whose attempt to find an economical solution to this problem was not a resounding success.

Since he knew she abhorred what was phony, a
Lad failed to impress young Antonia
By saying the fur
Was genuine cur
That he bought her in downtown Laconia.

Day 617: Knickers Snickers

The Mind’s Eye group headed northward out of Keene. Their ultimate destination for the day was Cornish Flat, New Hampshire, but Laetitia had planned several stops on the way. The first was Kinson State Wildlife Management Area, where they were going mountain biking. Later they went to Pillsbury State Park, where they hiked part of the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway trail.

Cornish Flat is a village within the town of Cornish, New Hampshire, established in 1763. The original settlement was called Mast Camp because it was where tall masts for ships of the British Navy were put in the Connecticut River and floated down to the coast. The town was named for an Admiral in the Royal Navy, Sir Samuel Cornish.

The area is known for its interesting bridges. The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge spans the Connecticut River. Built in 1866, it is the longest wooden covered bridge in the United States. The other is the Blow-Me-Down Covered Bridge, built in 1877. The bridge crosses Blow-Me-Down Brook. “Blow me down” is a sailors’ expression of surprise. How the brook was so named is not clear.

The bar gossip that gave Laetitia the limerick of the day was about the local fashion police and one of their noncompliant contemporaries.

Clucked the dowagers of Cornish Flat
“Here comes Madelyn Smith with no hat.”
But their clucks turned to snickers
When they saw she lacked knickers
As she bent down to pick up her cat.

Day 616: Nude Prude

Laetitia and her group drove north out of Ashuelot, New Hampshire and spent much of the day at Pisgah State Park. Named for the mountain from which Moses viewed the Promised Land, the park is New Hampshire’s largest. Its 13,668-acre area encompasses the entire watershed of the Ashuelot River. The group hiked its highland ridges and old-growth forestland.

Their destination was Keene, New Hampshire, a town of 23,000. At happy hour, Laetitia caught fragments of a conversation about a self-styled morality policeman. The man’s wife sewed fig-leaf-like covers for breasts and genitalia, and he sneaked around at night gluing them to statues with super glue. Laetitia couldn’t tell from the conversation where the statue defacer lived, but she wondered if Attorney General Ashcroft, who enshrouded the “Spirit of Justice” in 2002, was his inspiration. “Whatever,” thought Laetitia, “I need a limerick.”

‘Twas heard in the city of Keene
Of a man who thought nudes were obscene
And sneaked like a thief
As he placed each fig leaf
On the statues that he thought unclean.