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I got a Christmas Letter the other day from some distant relatives up-country. The way I see it any relatives you have to drive almost four hours to visit is a distant relative - even if they're a brother or first cousin.
For the past several years these folks have been including a nice letter (remember them?) in their card to let friends and relatives down this way know about all the exciting things that have gone on in town in 2014. You have to understand that “exciting” as it's used here is a relative term (no pun intended) because the town I come from - the town these relatives write about in their letter - was never known as a good place to find excitement.
A tourist once asked a resident of the town what he did for excitement and he said, "To tell you the truth, I've never been excited." The town manager has a little sign on the wall behind his desk that says, "So little time; so little to do!"
According to this letter 2014 started off with a bang and everyone for miles around drove over to Wytopitlock Grange Hall for their big Year End Variety Show. The slogan for the event is "Make the Wonder of Wytopitlock part of your family's 2015." Now, that clever slogan probably wouldn't be enough to get me to drive over 100 miles round trip on snow-covered roads but it seems to work for the people up that way.
Imitating the big cities the folks in Wytopitlock cap off the year ending with a big show in the Grange Hall on Main Street and they pack that place right up to the rafters. They say there were cars parked along both sides of Main Street for over 50-yards.
Like I said, normally the idea of driving over to Witipitlock is not my idea of how fun times begin but friends and relatives who've been to it say this Year-End event is worth the trip - even to Witipitlock.
The featured performer was supposed to be the magician from Waterville. No one knew much about him but the committee members said he had an impressive brochure and everyone figured if he's from Waterville he must be pretty good, right? Well, I guess he wasn't all that impressive. Some in the audience thought the most impressive thing he did was find his way from Waterville to Wytopitlock.
The crowd's favorite performer, by quite a margin, was Alton Peasley from neighboring Passadumkeg who for his big finish juggled six flaming, double-edged axes while carving a large chunk of ice into a moose. as a local musician played "Lady of Spain" on his accordion, Peasley juggled and carved and two-stepped all around the stage to thunderous applause. Everyone was so absorbed in the drama of the moment that they hardly noticed the EMTs who arrived to transport the injured in the front row. In fact, some thought the EMTs were just part of the finale.
Fortunately there weren't too many serious injuries and most of the injured were treated and released.
As per Maine statutes that regulate artistic performances, there were several clogging groups, eleven or twelve country and western bands and for the real 'arty set' a mime.
The whole thing was over and done with by eight-thirty and the town was completely deserted by nine. Even on New Year's Eve, folks up that way figure you're only looking for trouble if you're still driving around after nine at night.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at mainestoryteller@yahoo.com or 899-1868.
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