Random Thoughts

Screw-ups, make-overs and other local news

... breaking non-news on the home front -- October 2008

Observations from Editor Don Norris



Wildlife center of the world ...

Me and Tom Dillon and Shirley Rabb were at the VicFair, doing the pictures for the photo layout in this October issue. An old associate, Dana Jewell -- a bird-watcher, conservationist and all round good fellow -- approached me among the crowds on Main Street.

"Hey, Don", he started, "take a look at this picture I took last week (early September)". Excitedly he yanked an eight-by-ten color print from a brown envelope and pushed it at me. There, standing in the shallows of a small pond, were four white tail bucks.

We weren't in the White Mountains, or Vermont or Montana. We were in Melrose, five miles from downtown Boston, the hub of the universe -- and here Dana is claiming he shot this single photo of these four deer in the CITY OF MELROSE!

"Go on," I started, "that's not Melrose. I've never seen that pond," I said.

"It's up behind Mount Hood," Dana explained, "in the extreme southeast corner" of our small city. It's at a corner where Mount Hood spills over into both neighboring Saugus and Malden, a wooded area about 50 yards off the new golf practice area.

I mean, I believe Dana, but I had to check this out. So I rode up to the Slayton Tower atop Mount Hood, parked the bike and started hiking through the woods. Sure enough, I found the pond just where Dana said it was -- and it looked just like his eight-by-ten.

I won't tell Dana, but I put a scan of his photo through some serious inspection, and couldn't find a trace of skulduggery. He took that photo with one of those silly little silver digital cameras. No Nikon, no Canon. Just one shot. No cover, no back-up, no different angle. Just ONE shot.

And so, we citizens of the City of Melrose can add another phenom to our modern history -- we have seen a moose, fisher-cats, bobcats, frogs (a diminishing breed), coyotes (a growing concern), skunks, fox, a zillion migrating warblers, and once in a blue moon, an errant fawn -- but not four full-blown male deer. At least, not since Victorian times.

This IS the city!

... a hot meal perhaps

I forgot. That's age for you. If, at 77, one can remember anything, it's "I forgot."

Ah! Turkeys, turkeys, turkeys. Ten of 'em, walking across my not-so-manicured front lawn. Right here in Melrose! Midday! I was just headed out to the store on my motacycle and there they were. I just couldn't resist, and drove across the lawn, scattering young turkeys in all directions.

I noticed in my rearview mirror that they had re-grouped and were now headed down Spear Street. It's been several months since I've seen them in Melrose, and I figured that the coyotes got 'em all. Not so, apparently. There are, however. several new notices posted on neighborhood telephone poles: "Missing lapdog", and "Our gray cat is missing". Well, I'm not surprised, now that we are an integrated community -- every coyote in Middlesex County must have heard that Melrose is a fine place for a hot meal.

(Editor's note: I shot this pix perhaps a year ago, and now I am sure that these fledglings are the same ones I chased with my motorcycle -- sans Mama).

... stole gasoline all the way home

Again, I was out on my motorcycle on my way up to the Slayton Tower at Mount Hood golf course when, while crossing the 16th fairway (there's a road there for this purpose), an old geezer waved me down. He looked harmless, and his two dogs seemed to like my bike.

"Hey," he said. "Never ever stop what you're doing, just keep on ridng your bike," he said, shaking my hand without let-up. Well, that's kind of my philosophy also. So we got to talking, and the old geezer (I discovered) was one year older than me.

"Boy, I'd surely like to get a bike like that," he said enthusiastically.

"So what's stopping you," I said, "It's a Chinese bike and it only cost 1500 bucks.

"You know," he continued without a break, "my first bike was one my sister gave for my 16th birthday, just as the war ended. It was a bicycle, but I rigged a small motor on it, and I took off for the White Mountains. Well, I rode all through that country, and then ran out of money and gas. So I asked a cop what I could do."

"You see that gas station there?" the officer said. "It's going to close in 20 minutes. Now you see that rubber hose on each pump? Well, each of those hoses is full of gas -- probably enough to get you on your way back to Boston."

"So that's what I did. I stole gas from the pumps, all the way home."

... the cost of being a sport

Remember how much it cost you to play football or field hockey a mere 50 years ago? Nothing. Uniforms were supplied, balls and bats were supplied, the umps got paid, the field was groomed. And all that cost the players nothing. Not so today. What with all the advances civilization has made this past century, it cost a minimum of $250 to play a sport at MHS.

More to come -- add a short piece yourself. Don.


October 3, 2008


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