climbers setting forth with ropes and ice
axes to climb a local peak. He thought he recognized
one of them and, walking over to get a closer
look, found it was Grampa Merriam rigged out in Alpine gear for the
His preparations for a trip and his packing were both very
simple. He once started around the world, so the story goes,
with only a tooth brush and a celluloid collar or two packed in
a grocery bag. Anything else he might need could be bought
when the situation warranted, which was very risky. He was always
being pickpocketed on his trips to New York, and if such a
thing happened in a foreign country it could be rather embar-rasing.
According to my father, he not only looked easy prey
to the unscrupulous, but he also kept his money in an accessible pocket.
My father always maintained that the only proper place
to carry money while traveling was in your sock, especially in a
sleeping car, because you could feel it all night and know it was there.
I acquired this habit at a young age and continued to
practice it as long as I rode on sleeping cars.
The Merriam house was very comfortable in every way but
one — Grampa would never permit the installation of modern plumbing; he
considered two indoor privies, one upstairs and
one down, perfectly adequate. The upstairs privy was quite
a conversation piece as it communicated directly with a pit in
the basement, two stories down. Looking into that black abyss
was terrifying. Had it been in our house someone surely would
have either fallen in or been pushed in — but not at the Merriams
because they were all well behaved.
Automobiles were allowed on the Merriam farm on a tempor- ary basis
only; under no conditions could they remain there