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Putting potatoes to good use

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Milford and Nellie Wellford lived on the Wellford family potato farm in Fort Fairfield, Aroostook County, Maine, the biggest potato- growing town in the world, and as the saying goes, they were just gittin' by. They had one child, Chelmsford, a boy in whom they were well pleased, and they despaired of finding the funds to send him to the university down in Orono.

Scrape, scour, save, and do without; it was not easy. As a final hope, Milford cleared the last 40 acres on the north end of the farm and put them into potatoes. It was extra work and more than old Milford should have attempted at his age, but all went well. In September, Chelmsford went off to college at Orono.

They didn't see him again until Christmas break, when he arrived home just before supper. What a happy reunion! Nellie had all the good things her boy liked to eat, and used the pretty family dishes. Their boy was home from college, and how proud they were!

They asked Chelmsford all about it. But when he began to reply - my goodness, was this their boy? He spoke not in the Aroostook tongue, but in the words of the college classrooms, in the professorial esoterics found otherwise only in extension bulletins from the United States Department of Agriculture. Milford and Nellie sat with forks poised halfway and listened in rapt disbelief.

Then Milford laid his fork down on his plate and said, "Nellie, we just blowed 40 acres o' pertetters!"

Arthur and Ruth Mraz, longtime friends in Fort Fairfield, were down from Aroostook just now and brought us a bag of Green Mountain pertetters grown at "The Fort." They were "outside" on a visit to New Hampshire. In Aroostook County there are only four places to go. You can go "up" to the valley, which is the verdant course of the St. John River between Maine and Canada for 70 miles. You can go "over east," which is to New Brunswick. You can go "down county," which is toward Houlton. And you can go "outside." So Art and Ruth came outside and brought us the welcome gift of Green Mountain potatoes, the finest eating variety. They're hard to find.

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