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Excerpts of New Hampshire Travel Diary
State 2 - NEW HAMPSHIRE 20 OCT 97 - 24 OCT 97

 

Sunday

Today we realize that we need to be in our scheduled state by Sunday, not Monday, if we are to have a postcard ready and in everyone's e-mail box by Monday morning. So we will plan on being a bit off from the rest of the world, starting our weeks on Sunday mornings rather than Monday mornings and ending them on Thursday nights instead of Friday nights.

Tuesday

At Shaker Village today I bought a book called "Gentle Manners." Published in 1823, it offers advice to children on how to behave. It's a wonderful book to read to see how far we've come in the past 174 years, or more likely, how far we've descended. The best part of the book was General George Washington's 60 "Rules for Civility and Decent Behavior." Here are some of my favorites:

Rule #2: " In the presence of others, sing not to yourself with a humming voice, nor drum with the fingers or feet."

Rule # 29: "Speak not of doleful things in time of mirth nor at the table; speak not of melancholy things, as death and wounds; and if others mention them, change if you can, the discourse."

Rule # 41: "Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of others, and ask not how they came."

Rule # 56: "Be not angry at table, whatever happens; put on a cheerful countenance, especially if there be strangers, for good humor makes one dish a feast."

Ken says the chapter should be called "George Washington's Pet Peeves" because the so-called "rules" seem to be more about what bugs George than any universal civility laws. "Can't you just see the old General being irritated by these things?" Ken jokes. "He probably had a mark on his face that people stared at. Or maybe people were always asking him about war stories at dinner, and he just wanted to enjoy his meal in peace, poor guy."

Thursday

Sipping tea and eating a soggy English muffin in the dining room of the Cog Railway doing my favorite thing: eavesdropping. Overhear two couples from Great Britain debating whether or not to pay $40 to ride the train to the top of the mountain. The issue being debated is not fear of the steep climb, but of the steep fare. The husband of the first couple defends the price; the other wife seconds him. The other two spouses launch a fusillade of reasons against the price. Exasperated, the husband in favor says defiantly, "Are you going to let $40 stop you from a once-in-a-lifetime experience?" Secretly I hope he wins the argument. He doesn't. The other wife defected. It's now three against one. Debate ends with a heavy, disappointed sigh. I want to intervene and tell the guy to take the trip alone. Why be deprived of an experience just because his companions prefer the pleasure of saving money to the pleasure of taking a ride? Decide to mind my own business. Go to gift shop.

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