Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Deep Tale

Script No, 541

© 2008 David Minor / Eagles Byte

August 25, 1830. Mid-morning. As John Fowler leaves Canandaigua, New York, heading to Rochester, he mentions passing through Victor, Minden – he got a bit confused; it’s ‘Mendon’ not the town in Montgomery County – Pittsford, and Henrietta Corners. That’s actually just ‘Henrietta’, but at the time some locals apparently added ‘corners’. Fowler might have noticed a cobblestone house just now being completed in Henrietta. This belonged to James and Rebecca Tinker, who had begun construction two years previously, to house themselves and their six children. Their homestead is the site of a museum in our own time.

Newspapers of the day have little to say about these settlements, apart from a few cases of small pox in Victor, and Rochester itself. So, along with Fowler, we’ll just pass through. He arrives too late in the evening to explore the village and makes reference the next day to, “mine host”, not saying whether he stayed in a private residence or in one of the numerous hotels and taverns here in town. He does mention, however, the surprising growth of the place for one founded only eighteen years ago. And it is important to remember that most of the area was only a brief step beyond frontier status in 1830. The following tale, reported back in February – with tongue slightly in cheek - in a local paper called The Craftsman, points this up.

A man is walking down Buffalo Street (today’s "West Main” when he comes across a woman poking a stick into the mud of the road. He overhears her muttering to herself, “Ah, me! I’m sure he’s here abouts some where, the dear cratur, and if I ounly had a longer stick, so that I could poke down a little grain deeper, I should find the darling!”.

He asks what it is she’s lost. “Och, bless your kind soul! It’s my swate little child, my darling Jemmy that’s lost in the mud.”

He says, half to himself, “A child lost in the mud, in the city of Rochester? Impossible! The woman’s crazy.”

She elevates her voice. “Jemmy! My darling, if you’re under the mud, spake!”. A youthful voice is heard from under the mud’s surface, somewhat smothered and indistinct, “A little lower—there—there a grain lower, and I can reach it.” She responds, “Och, the darling, there he is, sure enough. Don’t try to talk, Jemmy, or maybe you’ll get your swate little mouth full o’mud.”

Voice: “There, now, I’ve got hold of it—pull, now! Pull! . . . Uts! My hand has slipped—a little lower—there, I guess I can hold on with both hands. Now pull!”

The mother encourages the boy, “Hold fast, Jemmy! Och, my darling, there he comes! Spet the mud out o’your mouth, Jemmy, and thank the jountleman for helping ye out. Lord, love your swate soul, Mister, whoever you are, for saving my child. And Jemmy, my dear Jemmy, listen to your mother, and never try to cross the streets of this blessed city, till you’re big enough to help yourself out of the mud, jisst, my darling.”

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