THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT

The towns along the line prospered during that period. North Whitefield was no exception. It sported four grocery and grain stores, two blacksmith shops, and the Chadwick House, a summer hotel. This hotel was located next door to Shorey’s Blacksmith Shop and thereby hangs this tale.

I was about ten years old and had gone with my father to the “Corner,” as we called it, to have the horse shod. In one end of the shop, they had an “ox sling” so they could shoe horses and oxen simultaneously. An ox will not hold up its hoof so the shoe can be nailed on, like a horse will. Therefore, an ox must be hoisted up off his feet by means of a wide leather belt. After the ox is off the ground, its feet are fastened firmly to a post. Deprived of leverage, the ox can no longer kick and can be safely shod.

This was a fine, warm July day, and a male guest at the Chadwick House had walked next door to see what went on in a country blacksmith shop. He was wearing white shoes, white pants, white jacket, white shirt, and a white panama hat.

A blacksmith shop is not a very clean place, at best. I noticed that our white clad visitor was careful not to brush against the wall or sit on the visitors’ nail keg. He stood, however, directly behind the ox. Even at my tender age, I knew what was coming as did all the adults present. No one said a word. When they began to hoist the ox by means of the belt under its belly, the pressure from it caused a stream of “grass-green fecal matter” to spurt straight out, as if from a hose, hitting the white clad gentleman squarely on his belt buckle. As we had anticipated, he was spattered from his white shoes to his white hat. Amid snickers from all present, he beat a hasty retreat to his hotel. I wonder if he ever took another “country vacation.” I think he left on the next train.

 

COMMUNITY “SOCIAL CENTER”

I have mentioned that North Whitefield had four stores. Hiltons was the busiest. It was close to the railway station and was the “community social center.” Horse whips hung from a big wheel on the ceiling as did a large bunch of bananas with the banana knife stuck in the stalk. Next to that was a barrel of tripe. All the men would stop at the tripe barrel, and with the banana knife, cut themselves a sample to “test it out.”

In case you don’t know what tripe is, it is the lining of a cow’s stomach. Actually that should be plural for a cow has three stomachs. They eat their food rapidly. It goes into stomach number one. When they are done eating, they regurgitate a mouthful called a “cud.” This is chewed like we would chew gum. This goes on while they are at ease until all three stomachs are full. The lining, if cooked properly, is delicious.

I always ordered tripe when I dined at the Lincoln House, fifty miles above Bangor on the road to Houlton. The only place I know where one can get tripe today is at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro.

One of the stores in North Whitefield was owned by Lizzie Hodgkins. Although she carried a few staples, she sold no tripe or bananas. She featured so-called “yard goods.” Ninety percent of the clothing worn in those days was handmade. The women folk all bought their cloth, needles, thread, thimbles, etc. from Lizzie. Up over her store was a small hall. That is where I saw my first moving picture.

As I have indicated, winter neighbors were few and far between. The nearest year-round neighbors on either side of us lived more than a mile away. Bert and Helen Leadbeater and their two children lived over a mile to the east on what is now Route 126. Helen was taking her kids to the movie and invited my mother and me to go along. It was winter, and she had a two-seater sleigh pulled by their old white horse.

I was around six years of age. I don’t remember much about the movie except it jerked and stopped and flashed. At one point, the operator got the reel in wrong, and two people in a canoe appeared upside down with their heads in the water and the canoe hoisted on their feet.

On the way home, I was in front between my mother and Helen. We had a buffalo robe over our knees. After all that excitement, I got sick on the way home and vomited on Helen’s new buffalo robe. She was not happy about that and sputtered all the way home. I think that may have had something to do with the unpleasantness I shall recount later.

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