got stuck in our front yard and needed
something under the wheels for traction. "Here," said my mother coming
forth with the ulster, "take this old thing. You can't do it any harm."
The automobile got extricated but the spinning wheels tore the
faithful garment to shreds and when my father heard what had happened
you would think that he had lost his best friend — which indeed he had.
The Merriams once gave a dinner party where poems were written
about all the guests. One of them follows:
Here comes Dickson, pale and thin —
See the whiskers on his chin.
Always dressed as neat as a pin —
Gee what an expense ! It's really a sin.
The whiskers referred to the beard he grew to keep his face warm
during the winter months. On "straw hat day" he shaved it off again and
his face remained bald until the first heavy frost next autumn.
Bearded — especially in the early stages of growth — he looked much
older than his age — in fact, he looked older than my grandfather who
was always well-dressed and neatly groomed, and a stranger might think
twice before deciding which was the father and which the son.
One October day, while driving past our farm in Sudbury, my
grandfather noticed a man shaking an apple tree and picking up the
apples as they fell to the ground. It turned out that my father had
given him permission to gather windfalls, and he was merely trying to
increase the supply; but as my grandfather knew nothing about the
arrangement, he called, "Who told you you could have those apples ?"