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Essays from John Gould

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We had wanted to include these John Gould columns with the special coverage that ran in Monday's Monitor (Oct. 21, pages 12-13) to honor Mr. Gould's 60 years with this newspaper. We didn't have room on the two-page spread, though, given Gould's 30-book bibliography and so many heartfelt reader comments.

We present them here instead, starting with Gould's first "Dispatch From the Farm."

And if you missed Gould's live online "chat" Oct. 23, you can find the transcript at:

Buck-saws and Christmas trees

Oct. 21, 1942:

There is reason to believe that, if the sun came up with a derby hat on some morning, most of my neighbors would not look twice, and would hardly mention it to their wives when they came up from the barns to breakfast. Our rural community has been conditioned by several generations of whimsical folk who seem to have had a lot of fun doing things that were not a bit different from putting a bowler on Old Sol.

This facet of life on the Ridge has never been satisfactorily explained beyond our borders, possibly because we are now accustomed to it and seldom feel the need of explaining. It is true that our explanations are always as queer to strangers as the original deed, and that naturally complicates matters.

I remember when someone looked up at Wadell's one morning and discovered that Chris Wadell had painted his silo with red, white, and blue stripes, making the structure look something like a huge barber pole. The silo sat on top of the hill, and could be seen to the limits of the horizon when it was merely a subdued weather color, but now it could be heard as well as seen. Not a man in the neighborhood commented on this improvement, and it is likely Chris never expected them to. It is said that a man from Worcester, who was driving through on business, once drove in and asked Chris why he painted his silo that way.

Chris said it was to preserve the wood.


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