Mr. Dyer did know beans

These good people who look so far ahead to find that eternity is about half-past 2, should try to read the future that prevailed before space was invented. Eyah. Now they're telling about freeze-dried foods grown on the moon to sustain space travelers at the HoJo, McDonald's, and Burger King canteens beyond the outermost regions.


Would somebody care to hear about the boat Satchel-Eye Dyer built in his parlor? He was known locally for the way his upper cheeks dominated his face, and he did not resent this at all. All the Dyers were pouchy.

Satchel-Eye was respected and ran for the school board. He taught violin at the academy and was town fence-viewer for years. He was a farmer and a curious odd stick. His boat was 42 feet long, on the style of a Maine lobster-catching craft, and Mr. Dyer lived 74 miles from the nearest tidewater. See what I mean?

Mr. Dyer built his boat in his parlor, which was not at all unusual. He did all his carpentry and joinery there. It was a large parlor, and on the far (or port) side he stacked beehives, which he made for his own bees and to sell. He also made furniture and musical instruments, and coopered tubs, barrels, casks, firkins and hogsheads (dry and liquid), and repaired snowshoes.

He made this boat because he had the lumber in stock and, except for canoes, had never built one. He had no use for a boat. But having made it, he was proud of his work and decided to keep her. This meant he had to get her out of the house and into the barn.

Accordingly, he removed the side of the house, put it on hinges, and arranged shivs and pulleys so he could raise or lower it with his oxen. He then moved the boat to the barn, lifted it by pulleys into the peak, and left her ready to lower if the need arose. She was up out of the weather, and not in the way. Then he could open or close his house when he wanted to clean out shavings or get some beehives, fiddles, rockers, and so forth.

At this time, the country was busy with the Civil War, and Mr. Dyer was sad about one matter. As the war developed, dry beans became a valuable commodity, as they were a mainstay in the military diet. Mr. Dyer was sad because he had no dry beans to sell to the government, whereas all the other farmers up and down the road were unloading beans at fancy figures. He resolved this would not happen again.

Mr. Dyer now began raising about 10 acres of dry beans every year, which he stored in barrels he turned out. Also, Mr. Dyer began eating baked beans exclusively, because he had so many of them at hand.

Every time he and Mrs. Dyer and the children sat down to table, Mr. Dyer would reach to take the cover off the tureen of baked beans. And when he looked in, he would sniff and look pleased. In good humor he would exclaim, "Ah, beans!" as if they were the joy of his life. Mr. Dyer kept his family wondering what the poor people do.

We are now coming to the point. Before long, Mr. Dyer needed a place to store dry beans, as he waited for the next war. So he made a thing like a grain elevator that took his annual crop up and dumped it in the boat under the rafters. His boat was ideal for this. After a few years, it was full of dry beans.

Mr. Dyer also had more beans in boxes, barrels, and bags, mostly in the barn but some in his parlor and some in the attic. And when the Spanish-American War was declared, Mr. Dyer was agreeable but not altogether astonished.

The next morning, he visited a brokerage in Lewiston and inquired about the prospects for dry beans The price was the best since 1865, and the man said, "I'll take what you've got. Bring 'em in!"

Mr. Dyer went home to lower his boat and put the oxen to the big cart. He hauled beans to Lewiston all that spring and summer, and well into the winter. Seeing the oxen going and coming on the highway, folks wondered what was afoot, and took an interest in how Mr. Dyer was accumulating a vast fortune.

It was said that the earliest of his beans were so dry, the Army parboiled them a week before baking them in Army pots. Then the soldiers still had to chew quite a time before swallowing.

Which relates very well to the latest news about growing food for Earth people on the moon and stars. Astronauts, it says, can spin along, pausing three times a day for tasty meals freshly picked from a comet bed of cucumbers and a patch of frozen peas. How about a pizza from the planet of your choice?

All to the good, because the day of the enterprising Satchel-Eye Dyer is gone. The soldiers who suffered the trials of war along with Dyer's baked beans won't be seen again here. Where, today, can you find a bean pot?

When Satchel-Eye Dyer was an old man, still spry and active, and enjoying the comforts provided by his substantial savings, he came into the house one day from pulling turnips. He asked his wife (Griselda was her name, I'm sure), "Grizzy, you mind them thills I was keeping for when I made us a new buggy?"

Griselda said, "Yes, I do, Sylvanus. They be in the parlor by the piano, next to the hay rack. What'd you want them for?"

"Well," he said, "Didn't know but I'd start a new boat."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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