`Dinglefuzzies' and other oddities of nature

WITH the laudable purpose of enlarging the general hilarity, I have assembled several unrelated matters and you may take your pick: ``Hollywood Squares,'' that solid television institution of all knowledge and some facts, asked lately if 'tis the male or female peacock that spreads its tail feathers like a fan. I have italicized the neuter to show the erudition that prevails, for had the man said his or her he might well have helped with an answer. Anyway, if somebody sees a lady peacock, particularly one with her tail up like a fan, I would like to be notified immediately, because I believe it would be important. (Answer: The peacock, not the peahen, fans and struts.)

Now, my friendly wife and only daughter decided to take a trip up to Quebec, so I went to the bank and got them a wad of Canadian money. Then my wife said, ``I can't handle French - grab the phone and make us some reservations.'' I dialed the Hotel-Motel Arnold beside the rushing Chaudi'ere River at St. Georges-Est, and Mme. Giselle La Pierre said ``Allo!'' in impeccable Beauce County French. I said, in the Maine English for which I am famous, ``May I make a reservation for my wife and daughter for next Monday evening?''

``Certainly,'' she said.

``A double room with two beds.''

``No problem. What time do they expect to arrive?''

``Middle of the afternoon - well before supper.''

``Their names?''

Thus it was, and next I talked to a gentleman at the Motel Voyager in Quebec City, and in an Anglicized manner he promised the same friendly hospitality. The moral is that if you have a wad of Canadian money you will find the French-proud Qu'eb'ecois adequately bilingual.

Then when Bill and I went to our woods camp far up in the Maine wilderness, we found that previous occupants had left quite a few groceries on the shelf - a customary thing to do and often much appreciated. We, in turn, left some more. But as we took inventory we found somebody had brought a package of microwave oven popcorn into this sylvan retreat, which is just about 85 miles from the nearest electric outlet.

Somebody spent 25 cents to tell me the word finalize really is in the dictionary. Well, didn't I tell you the dictionary can be wrong?

A fine split infinitive, proving you shouldn't, ran thus: ``I meant to appropriately buy a gift for my wife.''

A draftee in West Germany couldn't find anybody to care for his flock of sheep while he did his military duty, so he took them along when he reported for service. The Army fixed him up with a meadow for that night, and the next day sent him home, which seems sensible. Why doesn't some enterprising young American take 200 sheep into the Pentagon? Could be fun.

The other day I heard a man say dinglefuzzie. Dinglefuzzie was always good Down East for somebody whose name you couldn't recall. I remember a conversation between my mother and father when I was a tyke and Father was just home from the village. Mother said, ``Dinglefuzzie was here.'' Father said, ``What'd he want?'' Mother said, ``Didn't say.''

Sic transit gloria mundi. Pvt. Hiram Smith was the only casualty of the Aroostook War, 1836-39. This was a dispute over the Maine-New Brunswick boundary that flared but never burst into conflict, and it ended with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842. The war had comic-opera qualities.

Hiram's demise has been variously attributed, and one erroneous surmise is that he was unheroically run over by a supply wagon. His grave is in the so-called Haynesville Woods, along the old military road into Maine's Aroostook County, and until lately was marked by a suitably inscribed stone. Word comes that the stone has been removed, but nobody seems to know when or why.

What became of the Custard Pie Associates? Members would seek candidates and initiate them in the nearest restaurant that served custard pie. The member and the candidate would order a whole custard pie and eat it jointly with two spoons, following approved ritual. The candidate, of course, paid for the pie, but he could get his own candidates from then on.

And how about the Good Egg Club? The poultry industry used to honor somebody now and then at a convention by inducting him into the Good Egg Club. They made me a Good Egg long ago in St. Louis, but I've lost touch and have mislaid my credentials.

And does anybody at all remember ``The Shifters'' of the 1920s?

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