This came via e-mail from a fellow farm girl, June Blauser, sometime since the annual "woodchuck column." I inserted a little delay. But obviously we are still experiencing "woodchuck weather," so it is timely enough.
"I was going to send you this story last week, but I don't always get things accomplished in a timely manner."
"Anyway, one summer's day on the farm, my dad and the Assistant County Agent, John Brockett, managed to corner a woodchuck in a sluice pipe. Now, since neither had a weapon of mass destruction with them, dad yelled for me to bring the .410 (a shotgun dad thought was an appropriate gift for my 16th birthday -- what was he thinking!!). So, I grabbed the .410 and rushed to their aid.
"However, when I arrived on the scene, dad told me to shoot the woodchuck. I raised the gun, and saw the critter looking at me. That's when I wimped out, and couldn't pull the trigger. I told dad I couldn't do it, and his reply was, 'give me the [expletive] gun!' and that was the end of the woodchuck. The good old days of farm life. haha"
I can imagine that scene. If memory serves,, June's dad was John Gordon, a good dairy farmer and a member of several farm organizations. I remember him as a leader in the milk producers' marketing agencies.
Also from the e-mailbox, here's one from the reader and contributor with a lot of local history in his noggin, George Todd:
"In one of your articles the question was brought up as to how the police was summoned in early years.
"At one time the Bell Telephone office and all the operators were located over M.D. Schwartz's Dry Goods Store (now Mid Town Bar). [When assistance by] the police was needed, people called the operator and she in turn would switch on a red lights that hung in front and at the top of the building. When the officer saw this or was notified it was lighted, he in turn would go to the nearest phone and call the operator for the information."
I might state, after reading the nature of most of the recent calls, they could be taken care of by the parent at that time with no fear of legal action."
Quite a few people have expressed similar thoughts to me. One said, "Kids act the way they do now because parents are the way they are. I hear that kids don't pay attention. But are parents paying attention to their kids? Do they know what their kids are doing online and with their cells?"
As for police keeping an eye on the former Schwartz store building, I believe they still do, to some extent; but now they are summoned there from time to time by a member of the Mid Town staff or some other person who is aware of a fracas in, in front of or behind the place. And when I see references to such events, in the blotter, I want to ask all the combatants, "When's the last time you read about a dinner fight? Or a pizza shop fight?"
Returning a moment to woodchucks, were you as thrilled as I was to receive a mailer saying "It's a Gas to Play with Gus"?
This tri-fold mail piece, sealed with a bead of the stretchy stuff, opens to reveal this legend: "Six Months Worth of Savings. How Lucky Can You Get?"
Below are six cut-part, bar-coded coupons, to be used where people buy Pennsylvania lottery tickets. Five of them bear a likeness of a woodchuck. Well, I guess it is supposed to be a woodchuck.
Apparently Gus is the name of the woodchuck. And the woodchuck is the Pennsylvania lottery mascot?
This woodchuck looks like a stuffed woodchuck. And I have been known to suggest that the only good woodchuck is a dead one - and I suppose if some of the dead ones are preserved in some, um, decorative form, though the taxidermist's art, they still qualify as good, being good and dead. Also, I believe I have even suggested that woodchucks should get, um, taxidermed.
But don't you think it's pathetic that an arm of the state government (analogous to the amputated arm of a one-armed bandit, and every bit as willing to pay off) has decided that the most worthy symbol of our fair commonwealth is a mangy, marauding, meddle-some marmot?
To save money, Gus and his managers want us to use one of these coupons a month when we buy lottery tickets, spending in the process at least $25 on tickets and getting $12 worth of bonus tickets. No money, not cash back, not a discount on our purchase, but additional "chances."
Sorry, Gus. Without needing any luck at all, I'll save $25. I won't buy those tickets I'd have to buy to get those other tickets. I'll save a whole lot more by never buying anything from Gus and his kind.