Saturday, June 21, 2008


Looking at my last post reminded me of a funny thing. I’d start that walk at the end of a dirt road within the township of Twin Mountain, New Hampshire. Many years ago, I was stopped for speeding on Route 3 in Twin Mountain, by a local policeman who was clearly on the lookout for “foreign” cars and had spotted my Connecticut license plates. He had to follow me for quite some time, because I slowed and pulled over to the side but kept rolling, assuming he needed to get by me to chase someone who had actually done something wrong. It took me long enough to realize I was his target that he was more than a little peeved when he strolled up to my window. I’ve actually been stopped three separate times in the Granite State (unironic motto: “Live Free or Die” — take that you Brits) by policemen who were—what shall we say?— enforcing the law in a selective manner. I love it up there all the same, and eventually may myself be living free until I’m pulled over at that final speed trap in the sky. (Living out Vermont’s calmer and more optimistic “Freedom and Unity” might be a little less stressful.)

[Time out: Connecticut’s motto, “Qui Transtulit Sustinet”— “He Who Transplanted Still Sustains” seems like a suspiciously unpatriotic reference to Britishness and what those vile dogs of Tories called “the freedoms of Englishmen.” However, a 19th century worthy suggested instead that it comes from the 80th Psalm: “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.” Which, of course, is much better. There’s an episode in my town’s history of a minister in the 17th century walking out his back door, seeing an Indian “skulking” in some nearby bushes, and shooting him dead. What else would be the Christian thing to do if you were busy casting out the heathen so you could either Transplant or Sustain?]

Anyway, a year or two after this experience, I was at the funeral of the parent of an old friend, whose eldest brother had come down from St. Johnsbury, Vermont, for the service. As we were chatting, he stunned me by saying, “So, you were stopped for speeding in Twin Mountain a while back.” I, of course, replied, “How the hell could you know that?” Turns out that because St. Johnsbury is on the Vermont-New Hampshire border and there aren’t all that many people in Northern New England, its newspaper included the police blotters of even distant New Hampshire towns in its coverage. And as he said, “I didn’t think there could be more than one Mark Alvarez in this part of the world.” So I was busted. Twice.

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