Tuesday, October 27, 2015


From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
~Scottish Saying
I've never been a big fan of 'things that go bump in the night', but it is an occupational hazard, or a hazard of occupation, in a house this big, this old. Whether it's a late night screech outside the bedroom window, or the occasional bat swooping down the front stairs on a summer evening, or the oh-so-cliched' creak of the stairs, this old house has enough noises to get a part from Central Casting in any Halloween flick.
On the other hand, there's the comment made by a little neighbor girl asking where we lived. 'Oh,' she said,'The wedding cake house!"  How scary can a wedding cake house be? To be the folks in the wedding cake house is ever so much nicer than being the neighbors who cannot grow pretty grass!  Sometimes one of the little ghoulies and ghosties running up the steps on Halloween will holler over their shoulders, "You have pretty flowers!" or  "I like your pumpkins!"  That's a reputation I'm happy to own: the friendly people in the wedding cake house with pretty flowers....who are generous with Halloween treats!   
We've been combining across the river this weekend, driving past Jim and Thelma's old place.  Jim and Thelma Woolsey were our neighbors when we first set up household in the little tenant house on the Tarkio River bottom east of town.  Their place was tidy and well kept...the gabled white house and the big white barn gave me something to aspire to in my first efforts at homesteading. We saw Jim often on route O: sometimes in his pickup or sometimes on a tractor, but always hatless. Thelma was one of that group of formidable, yet hospitable, women who made Tarkio an organized and civilized place to live.  That was my impression back then; I have never had reason to alter it.  Through the years, we looked forward to the afternoons that Thelma and a whole carload of her friends would make an outing of a visit to Hurst Greenery.  Until we started attending high school football games I never realized Jim and Thelma had a totem pole.

Not everyone does, you know. We don't think twice about having windmills of all vintages, sizes, and usefulness in our landscape.  Windmills are part of our cultural vernacular, like white frame houses and wide Main Streets.  But a totem pole overlooking your patio...one that is thirty foot tall, mind you, is akin to wearing a Derby bonnet every day of the year, defying convention and reducing the weight of global drudgery on everyone's shoulders by the teensiest bit.

I always wanted an old-fashioned windmill out at the farm.  When Curfman Hardware cleaned out their attic before closing the doors, I lingered longingly by the never used Aermotor vane, but was far too faint of heart to plunk down cash.  We had more practical uses for our scarce time and money than one more artifact making noise on our already wind battered hill.  
Fast forward a decade or two or three.

 I just sent off my sealed bid for Thelma's totem pole.  Practicality be hanged.  This totem pole may have been commissioned in Alaska, but it is an Atchison county totem pole now.  It moved from Rock Port to Tarkio through the efforts and ingenuity of about half the county, as far as I can tell.  To move it again...will be a spectacle, at the very least.  There is no doubt the totem pole will be lovingly restored and treasured wherever its new home is, but I hope that new home is local.  It would be fitting as a tribute to Thelma, a community booster of the first order.

And....just maybe.... next Halloween the wee ghoulies and ghosties will say 'Treat or Treat!  Hey, I like your totem pole!'

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