Back River, books 'n breadboards

The Boston Public Library is a world-famous institution with some 2 million books, maybe three dozen branches, tremendous collections, and a staff that would frighten you. When the voters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were about to vote recently on a referendum that would limit real estate taxes, the Boston Public Library improbably got in the news. Everybody with his feet in the public trough began thinking up reasons why that referendum should fail. The saddest thing in nature is a hedgehog up a tree when the choppers come to cut the tree down. The firemen, policemen, schoolmarms -- just about everybody living off taxes -- cried foul. And word went about that if the referendum should pass, the Boston Public Library would have to curtail its services and would not open on Saturdays.

In this connection, I had just made Nancy Penniman a breadboard. The Pennimans live across the way here at Friendship Back River, and Arthur said he would like a breadboard. I assumed he had a holiday gift for Nancy in mind, so I cut an end off one of my wide pine boards, fashioned some sides, and told my wife to telephone to Arthur that his breadboard was ready and to come fetch it. Ah, woe! My wife telephoned, Nancy answered, and my wife said, "Your breadboard is ready."

"What breadboard?" Thus are secrets blown to bits, but wait! The breadboard Arthur wanted was not for Nancy, his wife, but for Chris, their new daughter-in-law.

I should say, now, that Nancy helps at our Town of Friendship public liberry. Phyllis McFarland is the liberrian, and Nancy and Sue Simmons assist. The appropriation last town meeting was $1,800, but they had $588 left over from the year before. Last year 400 new volumes were added. Very fine small-town facility. Open year round -- Monday evenings, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Big day is Sattidee, when folks going to the stow-er for grosrees pick up a novel for the weekend, or students come in to look things up.

Anyway, Nancy took one look at the breadboard and she hoseyed it. No way. Let Chris, or Arthur, make do. If John made me a breadboard, it's mine. Blithely, as always, I pursued my several unrelated bents and knew nothing of this foul-up until I chanced upon Nancy and said, "How come you never had a breadboard?"

"Oh, I've always had a breadboard."

"Then why another one?"

"Well, I never had one you made me."

So the matter was explained and I took care of Chris, and if the Boston Public Library is to be curtailed because of the new tax limits, why does the institution have to close on Saturdays? Why not Mondays, which wouldn't bother too many people and accordingly wouldn't stir so big a touse? Well, when an outcry is needed, go for the big one. Somebody figured that out.

It was on a Saturday that our unrelenting cold weather relented, and we had a heat wave. The forenoon was slushy, and the forecast called for sudden change, extreme cold, and heavy snow by nightfall. Good day to stoke the shop stove and take down a board. I couldn't think of anybody who needed a new breadboard, so I made some pie carriers. Slatted somewhat like a clam hod, a pie carrier holds a pie on the bottom, and then there's a tray that hinges down and you can put in a second pie. Great for picnics or for carrying pies to the public supper of the Women's Auxiliary to the Friendship Volunteer Fire Department. I have always believed in encouraging pies. So I put in my forenoon, and when I went to the house for lunch my wife said, "Something happened this morning that I think should make you a Monitor piece."

"Oh?" (She's great at thinking up things for me to do.)

"Yes. Nancy Penniman telephoned to let us know the library won't open this afternoon. Bad going. She and Sue and Phyllis are calling all around town."

So it's odd how unrelated things sometimes fit together. Let Bostonians sweat this out. We have Nancy and friends, and Boston doesn't, and our town meeting is not likely to pare their budget right away.

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