Helen Seltzer

Helen Estes Seltzer, oil painting by her husband, Richard Seltzer, Sr.
Helen Setzer

Richard Seltzer's home page  Publishing home

Ruminations, a collection of poems by Helen Estes Seltzer

Part One - Humor
Clashing Mirror of Ceiling and Mind
A Forest Tree and Me
A DNA Nightmare
Exposing and Deposing Leo
Those Bachelor Girl Blues
I Need a Valet
Never Had a Debut

Part Two - In Memoriam
Goliath and David
Jinney the "Gipper"

Part Three - Odes
A Valentine Ode to Bob
Ode to Ginger
Hong Kong Song
Ode to Hong Kong and Tai Chi
An Ode to Keats' Grecian Urn
Ode to Penny
Ode to Sallie
Ode to John Templeton
The Union League of Philadelphia

Part Four - Philosophy
The Eyes Have It
The Grey Years
"Lust"rous Revelations

Part Five - Philadelphia
Philadelphia: City of Love and Liberty
Philadelphia: The Sapphire City
My Bench in the Park
Snow Ghost
In Old East Falls

Part Six - Women's World

An Anatomy of the Lives of Women in Ages Past

Part Seven - One Short Story
Jimmy Fortune's Way



There I was living in a dream world --
in my own outer space.
Had kept myself looking younger
with pale blonde frosting to erase
some dowdy dark brown.
I seemed like a queen with a golden crown.
Then I had to suffer through a virtual hell
in a lovely but terrible, fateful hotel --
where there came over me an age-shaking fear,
in England's Lake Country Windemere.
The setting: the bathroom;
the culprit: a mirror in the ceiling
which evoked in me this strange new feeling.
It sent me crashing down to earth,    
and to stark reality gave birth.
The "jig" was up -- My natural "wig" was up --
and the villain was a spotlight-fixture
  starring in that fateful picture.
'Cause, there before me, finally exposed,
never by me ever even supposed,
was my own true "salt and pepper" thatch.
And it sent my well-ensconced happy illusion
spinning 'round my mind in total confusion --
as it wrestled with that false smug delusion.
Then, finally, in the mirror of my mind
the replacement took hold, and cloyed and cloyed.
I was let down two decades -- or should I say "up?"
To say the least, I was annoyed!
How horrible it was of that unwelcome thatch
to rear its ugly "head"
And awaken me to the awful truth
that my hair and age are, in stark reality,
an unmistakably perfect match!

July 19, 1999

A Forest Tree and Me

It seems to me a forest tree
gets more attention than human me.
A poser widely used by all
is that, if a single tree should fall
in a forest with no one 'round
would it be heard?
That's a problem quite profound
and I'm jealous, think it absurd
'Cause insignificant little me --
my words are falling constantly
And there's my husband by my side,
looking like he wants to hide;
while my words are falling, fast and furious,
and he isn't even one bit curious.
So I shouldn't envy
that fabled tree.
I'm as unheard as any tree can be
with someone sitting right next to me.

June 12,1997


What does the future seem to be?
There'll never be folks like you and me
They'll cut out imperfects, our bods contain defects --
some brains addelpated -- and all of ours'll be out-dated
They'll want all people perfect - to be the same
And forget that "different"'s the "name of The Game" --
the Game of Life, that is.
For history has taught us, again and again
that a perfect human can't be a "whiz"
for it's a proven fact, established by God,
that all geniuses on earth have to be odd.
Their foibles have been fun to know.
They have idiosyncrasies  galore,
are usually in a muddle, and, what's more
where does absent-mindedness seem to grow?
In those very fertile fields of knowledge --
prevalent every college.
And while we're on this "very odd" topic,
we all know these "strangies" are often myopic.
So stop all that research -- with its "scientific gains"
Or, I predict
we'll lose our best "brains."
And then we'll all be bored to death --
'Cause no one'll be different, "interesting", or "strange."
So I urge all scientists to

August 2,1997


I've named the beautiful fragile zebra as
the symbol of femininity,
since they all seem to be like most of us
human females on every family tree.
And the symbolic male animal I always had my eye on,
and finally chosen by me, was the "King of the Forest" lion.
He was surely our perfect counterpart,
and was my choice right from the start.
Yes, this Leo was, to me, male down to the bone.
Certainly it was always he who killed
then dragged all that zebra meat home.
How disconcerting it was for me to learn
that it was often "She"
who killed the zebras violently.
While like a lamb, the "Lion King" stayed home
watching their cubs at play --
role playing babysitter all through the day.
Just waiting for the bloodthirsty Mom
to drag home those zebras --
for the whole pride to gnaw upon.
So, now I must select
a male of a different species
to symbolize you macho males,
from your nose down to your tails.
And I also now have a bone to pick
with that famous lion-painter Hicks.
'Cause he started me on this
"lamb and lion" kick.
And with his lion symbol
he threw me a trick.
Could a sometime-babysitter male ever be
a stronger symbol than a ravenous she? NO!
So, as the prime strong male animal symbol, for me,
Leo has lost his validity
And I must search some more
for that "nth" degree beast --
as symbolic of war as the lamb is of peace.
Since his female qualities are by me
here exposed,
for my purposes, I declare him "Deposed."

November 27, 2000


When you've had your fling, my girl,
and grown weary of the whirl
of countless dates, and countless "steadies", too,
then you try to fool yourself and smile,
and go on "happy" all the while,
when inside you know that you are really blue.
Then it's time to check your pace,
and to seek to find your place
In the woof-and-warp-type pattern of thits life.
You must find yourself a mate --
not just another date.
Now's he time, gal,
You became some bachelor's wife.

Summer 1939


I dream of having the perfect valet
to hang up all my garments
each day.
And that little old dear,
can brush my clothes, wash my hose,
and get me a frosted beer.
I need a valet
to get me ready for bed.
Heıll never from his duty stray --
Will bring me cocoa on a tray.
And to his work his hands
heıll keep.
And let me soundly
go to sleep.
I need a valet --
but he must strictly keep his place,
Cause Iım a gal
who needs her space.
A sexless couple
we will be --
no "tra la la" or
"Fiddle dee dee."
Heıll never
violate my bed.
he must be British
born and bred.
And faithful to me
To my dying day --
that wonderful
dream valet.
Move Over!

December 19, 1997




For example:

EVE, that wily woman of Eden who got an apple
from a snake in the grass, and invented the first picnic,
but had no plumbing for after-showers ...

Then, in mythology, THE MEDUSA,
who had a head full of snakes,
but couldn't get a rattle out of any of them...

And HELEN OF TROY, whose face could launch a thousand
ships, but her body was afraid of the water...

Also QUEEN ISABELLA, of Spain,
who gave Columbus her jewels, and
threw in a box of cigars for the Indians...

And let us not forget that the
who said to Sir Walter Raleigh, "Shape up or ship out" ...

And we can't overlook the notorious
the sexy white Russian, namesake of a famous drink...

Then there's that dramatic French queen,
who yelled those cruel BITING words:
"let them eat cake." ... she

who had a rich and famous horse,
but had no handicaps...

et cetera, et cetera, et cetera

August 13, 1995



The truck and driver were Goliath;
David's Harley his slingshot.
Face to face
they rounded their corners,
motors blaring.
The millennium was different --
so were the odds.
This was the twentieth century.
Born of parents nearing forty:
A perfect face
topping a godlike body,
Ever sweet and docile.
Eyes smiling.
A bold, yet shy, grin
crinkling his noble countenance.
He got his own head.
'Twas natural.
All melted 'neath his charm,
carefully forged for two decades
on the anvils of handsomeness
and diplomacy.
This David towered
a full two inches above six.
Another fraction'd tipped
his ideal image.
The height of the driver?
No matter.
Civilization ruled out
God's own criteria for battles.

July 1975
In Memoriam David George John Meyers,1955-1975
Nephew of Helen


Jinney was and is the Gipper of our clan.
So, whatever we do that is
morally and spiritually good,
or that brings pride to our family
In any phase  of life --
let's "do it for the 'Gipper.'"
We must always make sure her leadership
love, personality, sense of humor,
dramatic story and joke telling,
stage acting and monologue reciting,
caring, joshing, laughing,
just plain having fun --
and her always giving and getting
the most out of life --
will live forever,
as we pass down
stores about her
thru our Family Tree.
She is a living legend.
For example, Jinney didn't just "go"
to weddings or to any event --
even funerals.
She went "on" them.
Now, she is on her way
To her heavenly home.
So, Knute, move over,
make room for our "Gipper."
Here comes Jinney!"

January 15, 2000
Sister Helen

(Gipper s the nickname of the beloved Knute Rockne, the late coach of Notre Dame's football team, and more recently applied to our late President Ronald Reagan, who portrayed him in a motion picture.)




Your Grandmother, "Mimi"
For your Twenty-Third Birthday
July 29, 1998


A tower of strength you seem to me,

You live your life your way -- carefree,

I admire your spirit and your nerve --
no man or woman do you serve,

That head of yours is screwed on right.
You're sharp, astute and very bright,

Freedom is what we strive for
and it's what we're all alive for,

You've taught me quite a lesson by your living:
it's that too much advice I shouldn't be giving,

To sum it up, I give you love,
God's Blessings and Best Wishes
for everything good,
And declare that,
To me, you are:


From your Godmother, Aunt Helen
with Birthday Greetings
January 26, 1997


I want to go to Hong Kong
before the British leave.
I want to go to Hong Kong

with my heart upon my sleeve.

I'll save my hard-earned money;
upgrade my clothes and hair;
book on the poshest tourist trip,
And bag a millionaire.

I want to go to Hong Kong;
ride in one of those rickshaws --
enjoy the sights and night club life
while its under British laws.

I want to go to Hong Kong
and buy myself a suit --
handmade by Hong Kong tailors --
And I'll get two skirts to boot!

I want to go to Hong Kong.
It sure won't be the same.
When China takes her over,
She may even change her name.

December 20, 1993


Oh, Hong Kong, city of mystery
why are you so far away?
My dreams won't ever get me there,
so, I'll write this ode to you, and pray.
My daughter brought you to me. She practices Tai Chi.
And, on a visit from L.A., brought a video for me to play
so, in private, I can emulate your people in the street,
where all ages go to undulate
to that rhythmical, mystical beat.
We Americans should strive to learn
this enviable art form from you.
Then go out in our parks together,
as your Hong Kong citizens do,
and, using your magical Tai Ch,
cast off our cares,
and some of our long-held age concepts, too.
Oh, Hong Kong, city of mystery,
why are you so far away?
My dreams won't ever get me there,
so I'll write this ode to you and pray.

Early 1990's


Oh, wondrous ancient Grecian urn,
You symbol of Eternal love,
Where lovers revel in a chase --
Their heat of passion
At full speed,
Where maiden's
Never caught,
And neither lover fills
The deepest need --
Not even of embrace
You illustrate a hunt,
A wild and sweaty race
When hearts
Of dogs and hunters
Fiercely pound --
But you ensure the fox
Is never found --
The thrill of capture
In abeyance held,
And the victim's
ever felled.
The hunt is always
At its prime,
Since there is no
Let-down time.
Except, perhaps in some
A sense of crime
For, while human trysts
Must all turn cold
Your feverish lovers
Will, with love,
Forever burn,
And not grow old.
Oh, wondrous ancient
Grecian urn.

December 1, 1997


There isn't anyone like you,
And loyal friends are far too few,
Strong character's now a trait of the past,
And loyal friendships seldom last,
But, tho' close-knit -- our years are only three,
As we near the twenty-first century,
I'm sure we'll  last throughout eternity,

To y dear friend, Penny Jaeger
Christmas 1996


You're just right in every way,
Ever since your natal day,
You have filled our hearts with joy;
Now we have a girl and a boy,
Sent to us from heaven above,
An absolute angel -- easy to love
So, because in all you've done;
Equestrian, linguist, film creator, ...
You are the ultimate achiever,
For these, and a host of other reasons,
I dub you:

To my daughter on her birthday
January 8, 1997


A most unusual man are you,
John Templeton
Not only smart, but true, true blue,
John Templeton
You always practice what you preach
And, for me, are
Never hard to reach,
John Templeton
Because you are a prime example
For us Christians, day to day,
I am bold to say YOU ARE:

June 19, 2001
* Cymbeline by Shakespeare


Oh, stately, grand old gentleman
On the Avenue of the Arts,
you make us very proud and warm our hearts,
Standing there august and proper --
we wouldn't want you any other way --
as you play the role of friendly host
To members, night and day

And your attributes are legion,
but above them all we rate
your service to our nation
in the War Between the States:
for all the troops you provided,
supported and fitted out --
You're what love of country is all about!

And we give high praise to your two founders
Who played the leading part;
for it was they who gave you life,
and formed your heart.
And you also possess a beautiful soul,
earned by your most poignant role
Of bringing freedom to the slaves,
and finally by "taking on those bastions of old
by welcoming women into your fold"*

But  it is your ethos -- the great spirit of your motto,
"amor patriae ducit": LOVE OF COUNTRY LEADS,
Inspiring members through the ages,
That will keep you going on and on
Throughout history's pages.

And we thank you for sharing
those consecrated halls
with your valuable art collection
on pedestals and walls:
displaying our famous American heroes
In all their majesty:
Representing our mutual love of country,
And sense of liberty
With General Washington
commanding front and center,
atop that massive staircase
at left when first we enter.

But your foremost feature, towering over all,
Is your tremendous tribute to Honest Abe:
that hallowed Lincoln Hall,
which, standing tall, and majestic --
just like him -- is the heartbeat of it all.

We salute you,
the Union League of Philadelphia!
May you grow and always prosper
On our Showcase of the Arts,
Standing there eternally --
An example of love and sacrifice
for freedom and national unity.
We love you and revere you
for all that you have been and are:
a steadfast guide and a beacon -



* Robert G. Wilder, the UNION LEAGUE BANNER, January 1999, p. 5.

This ode is dedicated to the memory of John Fraser (1825-1906), architect, and to James Crump (1827-1892), builder of the Union League of Philadelphia, founded in 1862.

Commissioned by the Union League of Philadelphia,, 1999



Soulful eyes show double soul -
Taking the place where the spirit had been.
There is no sparkle
Or even a gleam
From the place out of which JOIE DE VIVRE did stream

"The eyes are the window of the soul"
But the obverse is also true --
They beam forth the owner's intelligence --
It's there that the genius glows thru
Look for the light in your eyes every day --
There are those in your life --
Who might steal it away.

Safeguard that spirit
It's the vehicle you
Can use through your life
to carry you through.
Stay with the up-beat
Turn down the downers
Don't waste your time with the pessimists and frowners.

December 16, 1996


When we're young,
and always right,
is black and white.
as our years
are on the wane,
stiffened concepts
bend in twain.
And our mind sets,
which once
were different as
day and night,
blend into sunsets --
And, as go our hairs
to grey
so time mollifies
our whole --
thoughts, behavior,
And erstwhile
prejudices may
in one big happy
melting pot,
come to match our hair:
all one glorious blend
of grey.



I love my eyes
For letting me see.
I love my nose for
Breathing, and
I love my mouth for smiling.
And its sapid-"ity".
I love my body and its
Functioning faithfully.
I love its sexuality.
I love my legs and feet
That carry me.
I'm glad that I was born,
And still am
To love and be loved.
But, most of all,
I love

February 27, 1999

*"The love of self is the first rule for self-presentation."


Tonight I discovered some wonderful lusts --
pure and innocent -- devoid of disgust,
and thrilling to an nth degree.
It all happened while watching a TV mystery
starring that favorite actor of mine --
Alan Bates -- whose acting borders on the divine.
As for this word "lust" of which I'm now proud --
It had been covered by me in a heavy shroud
of sexual evilness.  I was ignorant and biased,
but now miraculously changed by this mystery.
It was one of those classic wondrous tales
laid in my ancestral Wales. ...
With Alan I experienced entering
into a quaint little Welsh shop --
and it sent me into a nostalgic drop --
to a time when I found these Welsh roots of mine,
causing me to say,
"I love little shops like that --
I lust for more travel -- I'll start packing today!"
What a find -- right out of the dark
my mind was lit with a bright "lust" spark,
and felt that traveling was for me an urgent must!
My entire body was one big thrilling blush.
All at once I was lust's "inventor" --
The word was mine by rights.
And I raised it to an even greater heights.
And now I'm enjoying my contemplations
of the many glorious "lust" creations
there are to discover, and their magic employ:
So, to all, with passion, I say, "long live 'lust'"
Dare to dream; dare to venture,
Then jump in, lust away, and most of all, enjoy."

September 26, 1999



Philadelphia, Philadelphia
City of love and liberty.
Philadelphia, Philadelphia
A name earned by you through history.
T'was Billy Penn put love into your name
When the Friends for religious freedom came.
But then the colonists grew discontent:
they had no voice in Parliament.
Their anger exploded on Fourth of July
of '76 when, their spirits soared high.
And they gathered at Independence Hall
to chime out their freedom cry for all.
Philadelphia, Philadelphia,
a name earned by you through history.
Philadelphia, Philadelphiva,
you'll never cease to say:
"Come here for loe and liberty,
It's your hometown
It's the


Fall 1993


We're singing of love. Brotherly Love;
it's Philadelphia we're singing of.
Our Sapphire Philadelph-I-A, colorful in every way.
Her skyline buildings, sparkling blue,
spectacular from every view.
And a thrilling eyeful is Boat House Row,
bright-painted by day, at night all aglow.
We've got med schools, colleges, and Ivy League Penn,
founded by our inventor, Ben,
Whose namesake bridge, puts on a show --
each night sending out a sapphire glow.

We're singing of love, Brotherly Love
it's Philadelphia we're singing of:
She's the East Coast hub -- right in the mainstream --
for business and trade, an investor's dream.
We've a musical mix to fill every soul --
from Symphony Orchestra to Clark's Rock and Roll.
And you must see our famous Park Houses and Zoo,
the Wissahickon Creek -- Valley Green, too.
And Penn's Squares add even more to the green --
with our classy Rittenhouse reigning as queen.
Come -- take in museums -- Rodin's, many more,
try climbing those steps up which Rocky tore.

Were singing of love, Brotherly Love,
it's Philadelphia we're singing of.
Here's where past and present merge:
she's a modern city, you can feel the surge.
Yet ghosts of famous patriots roam
through cobbled streets -- it's still their home.
But, mostly, we're a people place
friend to all the human race.
So about our ethnic groups we brag,
as we flaunt our ethnic groups we brag,
as we flaunt our blue and yellow flag.
And we all strut together down our Broadway
with those dazzling Mummers on New Year's Day.

We're singing of love, Brotherly Love;
it's Philadelphia we're singing of:
But, we're proudest of all of our Freedom Shrines --
those symbols of hope for all mankind --
The famous Hall and sacred bell
which sounded for all men its liberty knell.
So, if you're bored in the country and Big Cities get you down.
You'll find freedom and love in our Big-City-Home-Town.
Cause there's no otherly city so brotherly
as our famous City of Brotherly Love.
Come just once and you'll want to stay
in our Sapphire Philadelph-I-A,
The Everyman's Capital of the U. S. A.

December 6, 1997


I want to buy a bench in the Park*
to write my heart out;
put into words
those deepest thoughts:
of experiences of the past;
plans for the future;
advice to young and old
people I have known and
loved, hated, admired,
laughed at, cringed at --
even those who bored me --
at least they got a rise out of me --
made my adrenaline flow --
even if in
The wrong direction.
I'll get to:
describe my feelings;
get anger out;
put happiness in;
give happiness to others --
at least make them:
I want to buy a bench in the Park,
to hold court with friends,
or make new ones.
And even discuss my thoughts
with those so inclined.
Perhaps even find some who are
Of the same mind.
That would really be a
I want to buy a bench in the Park
and, if nothing else --
or maybe the best,
my weary bones will
Find a place to sit alone
and think more thoughts,
or merely

*Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA
March 14, 1999


I have a city window with a view
of an entrance to a park.
And, as I peered out one frosty morning
I was alarmed to see
five separate lonely snow piles
in the early morning dark.
I worried, "Are these street people?"
So, struck with deep feelings
of empathy and grief,
I rushed to get my glasses.
And, to my great relief
there were to me
five God-sculpted
lounging about in a swaddling pose.

Rittenhouse Square
Winter 1995


No street people, just street noises --
like music in the air,
as hucksters and hawkers
called out their wares.
And quaint cobbled streets
for safe-footing of horses,
as their wagons they drew
up those long, hilly courses.
And, like in our gang,
when the dog catcher sprang
after our pets,
we scampered 'round wildly,
our eyes wet with tears,
yelling out warnings,
like small Paul Reveres,
a life and death mission
our dog-friends to save --
each of us strong and proud and brave.
There were lamplighters, icemen,
and bread, fresh each day.
That was the East Falls
Of that great yesterday.

August 3, 1997
*A neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA
Also Grace Kelley's hometown



I grieve for women of ages past.
Today's abuse is but a shadow of their tortured pain.
These voiceless, noble women thought
their very thoughts in vain.
Too long their suffering
has been sealed in silent graves,
So, I dedicate this anatomy
To these forgotten, tortured slaves.

I grieve for women in ages past.
The men controlled them totally --
And, while barring access to the knowledge sea,
Were proselytizing all male progeny
into an "old boy" tyranny,
Planning to hold the "females" down
throughout eternity.

I grieve for women in ages past.
Not able to even write a story,
they had no chance for intellectual glory.
And, whatever words of theirs were heard,
Men considered to be absurd
And what full-blooded male would chance
the wrath of the "fraternity"
By honoring female thoughts
and writing them down in "their" history?

I grieve for women in ages past
They had no voice to call for peace
and respect for human life,
Or to condemn male acts of hatred,
and malice, and strife
But, if women had had political power
through the ages,
Civilization would be more advanced,
And the history of war would now
have fewer pages.

I grieve for women in ages past
But the stifling of their genius
is man's most poignant disgrace --
For in killing this cultural heritage
they've robbed the human race
Of classics, cathedrals, and symphonies,
To mention just a few of countless aesthetic pleasures
they've stolen from me and you.

I grieve for women in ages past.
Now, let us strive to free
their anguished souls from torment,
By opening doors for them today
throughout every continent.
But do not blame the men of today --
for they have come a long, long way
And together, whatever we do,
let it be peaceful, equitable,and true.

March 10, 1999


Now, listen, girl, and listen good;
I want to make this understood.
This advice could mean your death or life
Whether daughter, sister, lover, wife.
Have I now got your mind and ears?
Listen and I might ease your fears.
First: how familiar should you get
With your human being, love-mate pet?

Do you always hurt the one you love?
Sure -- the closest one is the one you shove
So, keep you distance -- hunker down -- be content,
'cause familiarity breeds contempt.
And never tell all -- it will come back to haunt you;
He'll long for new stories and no longer want you.
Now, listen, girl, and listen good;
I want to make this understood:

Don't play the weakling, the "Patsy", the pawn;
Those girl-beaters are cowards under that brawn.
Just play it cool, baby, cool, and you'll never be used;
And chances are you won't be abused.

Fall 1994



"And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand); and were choked in the sea." Mark 5:13

Lakeland, New Hampshire, April, 1959

Jimmy Fortune had a way with stories. In fact, he had a way with men,with children, with women (but thatıs another story), and with animals, mostly pigs. Like the time old man Pulsifer bought Elmer and Rosemary. As Jim told a bunch of us ice fishers huddled in a shack on Perch Pond, that was an excitin' day for the seven Fortune kids and him and his wife, Elly, and likewise a sad one.

These pigs was the First two theyıd raised, and had come to be real special around their farm. Most country folk wouldn't put such store in two pigs, but these Fortunes was city bred. Just been up here a summer and a winter. Might have been the first hippies to come north. Left their regular home in Baltimore City to find a new life up here in our White Mountains.

Well, these pigs just had to be sold, and that's all there was to it. Jim was hankerin' after seeds to sow that spring, so he switched the thinkin' of his kids to the cute litter of six Elmer and Rosey were leavin' behind. Pulsy's cash offer had moved Jim to action, and all he had to do now was to catch them, put them on Pulsy's truck, and hitch up the tailgate. Now Pulsy lived right next door, on their left-hand side; but he was givinı the pigs a cellah-to-cellah truck ride. And, once he got them home, all he need do was to put down that tailgate, and ease the pigsdown into the cellar under his own barn.

Well, sir, Pulsifer drove around the Fortuneıs house to the back of the barn,and backed up to the hole in the barn cellah, the home of Elmer and Rosey. It was a real mess, as most New Hampshire barn cellahs are on a warm April day: had the goop of a winterıs worth of pig slop, and the mud and slush from the mountains of snow that had been meltin' and thawin, and goin' -- where else?

We all know the laws of gravity.. So old Pulsy sat waitin' in his truck, stonefaced as the Old Man over yonder in our White Mountains. Wouldn't dare let on to Jimmy that he thought he was gettin' the best deal. Well, then. Jimmy sloshed into that theyah pig pen, and started goin' after that bacon. And, every time he thought he had one of them, out it slid from under him, and down went Jimmy. He told us it seemed like forever that he was gropin', slippin', slidin', catchin', losin', gropin', catchin' those two -- mostly on his belly. Then heıd be flipped over on his back, now his whole self full o' slime, right up to that shock of red hair.

What a picture he'd have made: a six feet two, raw-boned, freckle-faced carrot-topped Lil Abner (was just as goodlookin' as him -- cleft in the chin and all) struglin' round in that conglomeration of muck! Well, sir, he finally got the slimy critters onto the truck, and him and Pulsy was transactin' behind the truck.

Pulsy had jumped right out, quick-like-a-bunny, just as Jimmy fastened the tailgate: he hankered to seal the deal with this patsy of a city boy in a hurry. Now, old Pulsy was a skinny little thin', come up to about Jimmy's belt buckle. But Jimmy could see plumb over the top of that tailgate, and he looked! And it's a good thin', too, 'cause he seen Rosemary agaspin' for breath like some over-actin' movie star. And it looked to Jimmy like she was really overdoin' it, cause, all of a sudden she was dead still.

Big Jim pole-vaulted, with his hands, right over that tailgate, droppin' that dirty money right in his tracks. In a flash he turned Rosey right over on her back and mounted her. He knowed life-savin' real good, it seems, and so he slurped up and down on 'er stomach, workin' away with his great big paws, in and out, and in and out. He said his own breath like to 've stopped, most like he was aimin' to squeeze it into Rosey with his fingers. Such crazy thoughts as was runnin' through his noggin! Should he try that new fangled mouth-to-mouth life savin' stuff on her? Did he really like Rosey that much? He chuckled to himself over that thought.

All the while his brain was ponderin' about that dough on the ground. It was still there, and Old Pulsy was busy with the rootin' section -- Elly and the kids. They'd a been squealin' about losin' their pets. -- and now doin' a combination of sorrowful-like howlin' and happy-like cheerin' for Jim and Rosemary.

Then there was Mrs. Gude, their neighbor on the right-hand side. She was mouthin' some weird Bible stuff, about maybe the scriptures was bein' fulfilled, and that Jim might just be rid of all his evil from then on -- that Rosey could be takin' the evil out of Jim -- those sparks from his evil eyes. Such excitement.! Wish Iıd 'ave been theyah. Well, sir, meantime, Jimmy kept thinkin' about the money . . . , was it his? The transactin' had been done, but the pigs was still on his property.

But, likewise they was on Pulsy's property: his truck. That dead Rosey, sure as shootin' was now a Pulsifer. But would old Pulsy see it that way? Then, all of a sudden, the sweet music of squealinı spouted out of Rosey, and the money pictured in Jim's head brought back the gleam to his cornflower blue sparklers.

Those eyes of his was sparklin' most of the time those days. Seemed to have wise and innocent looks all at once, sayin', "I know all the good and bad in the world, but I take none of it seriously. My wiseness has a twinkle in it." Matter of fact, his whole face seemed to kind of glisten-like: sort of like the woods after a spring rain. And he wasn't as ungainly as Lil Abner and other big fellas seem to be: he moved along smooth through everythin', ambled, kind of, never rushed, but he got there fast anyhow. Seemed like he could pass, like greased lightnin', through a grove of trees, never stirrin' a twig. And, even when he was rigged out for workin' -- ragged jeans and red and black flannel shirt -- Jimmy Fortune looked scrubbed clean, with ut one exception: his fingernails was always filthy, loaded with his precious New Hampshire soil.

Now, this Jimmy Fortune had somethin' most of us would give anythin' to have: seemed like he was charmed or somethin' -- always vibratin'. Folks liked bein' with him, listenin' to his stories -- all of them true! Like I said, he just had a way with people, Jim Fortune did. Would've fit in any place, but our great li'l beauty of a spot lucked out -- ours was the pocket of land he really cottoned to.

Seemed like God just picked him up from Baltimore City and tucked him into that passel of land of his in our White Mountains. Canıt ever picture Jim as a short-order cook in a big city. But thatıs the life he come from!

Strange, the way got here. Seems like he was willed that farm by a distant cousin -- one he'd never heerd of -- the old Speare place, the oldest buildin' in town, perched right on the edge of three hundred and sixty acres of nat'rel woods He was good stock. all right -- just like all those pioneerin'- type folks he come from. And it seemed like they saved everythin'. There was plenty of ole stuff in both buildin's. Good antiques some of them.

This windfall like to have turned him and Elly on. It meant goin' back to nature for them. Theyıd live off the land. So, Elly and the kids backed Jim up all the way and nobody doubted he could pull it off for them all. Jim could do anythin'! Made sundials, to order, for summerfolk, from our native granite. Could set them for any spot in these United States -- probably any spot in the world, for that matter. So folks came from miles around for Jim to do their impossibles.

Like when the Congregational preacher lost the antique key to the church. Giant thin' it was. Never could figure how such a whopper could of got lost! Well, sir, not one of the locksmiths for miles around these parts could make a new one.

But Jimmy Fortune did! A bunch of us Lakeland couples had a ball one night around his parlor fire, cuttinı up over some of his latest fan-dangled creations. Well, it seems like Mrs. Gude, or ³Goody Two Shoes² Jim calls her, had got hold of some wood pipes from an old church organ. Now, how sly old Gudy had gotten her hands on them, weıll never know, but she hankered for Jimmy to fashion her some door chimes out of them. Like to have died laughin' over ideas we all threw out on how he should go about it. Meantime, Jim's homemade wine -- made it by the magnum -- was ripenin' us up to a mellow state, and each idea got nuttier and nuttier.

Jim explained how thereıd have to be air forced through the pipes somehow. And, just at that minute he heard his pigs in the barn cellah out back a gruntin', a snortin' and a squealin'. That brought to Jim's mind those three little pigs and the old wolf huffin' and puffin' on their steps. He lept up and shouted, "I've got it! Iıll just make a hole in the door, line it up with those pipes, and have callers huffin' and puffin' their way in to music."

Yeah, Jimmy Fortune sure had his sparkle in those days. And, another way he could let out that sparkle was through a paint brush. Don't claim to know much about art myself, but most folks said he turned out a real good oil picture.

Painted real happy-like ones -- lookin' just as happy as he did in those days. And summerfolk, mostly the female ones, would buy ones heıd have hangin' on the front porch clothesline. Then they would make over him like they had personally discovered a sparklinı, goldenboy-like man up here in our hills. And even some of our local folk paid hard earned cash for their kids to learn paintin' from Jim. Yeah, Elly was mighty proud of him those days, but likewise a wee bit jealous of how those city women made over him. Donıt know why, 'cause he loved only her -- a rare doll-like beauty: blonde-haired, sky-blue eyes, kind of cameo-like, she was.

His paintin' kind of mixed her up. She knew it was also that sparkle in his eyes that got those city women to buy. She liked it, too, but Mrs. Gude nagged her that it was real animal in him, and that you never saw a vegetable sparkle. Said his was an out-and-out evil gleam. Come to think of it, old Goody-Two-Shoes mouthed some weird Bible stuff about evil that day Jim saved Rosey, and I saw her nudge Elly and whisper. It was just as he dismounted Rosey and give that big whoop, 'cause she was stilll livin':

"Quick, Elly, look at Jimmyıs eyes. Don't let on to him. Is that evil gleam gone, girl?"

Well, gleam or no gleam, Elly said Jim could always paint -- kind of born with a paint brush in his hand. So, when he wasn't sloppin' the hogs, or workin' the soil, he was paintin' -- mostly pictures of our hills and valleys. Never saw him do none of real live people in those days. Well, sir, Elly didn't cotton to his paintin' for long hours at a time. Was kind of jealous of it 'cause it took him away from her and the kids. I felt for Elly 'cause, no matter how pretty it is up here, our small town livin' can get kinda lonely and borin' for a city gal. So Elly always tried to get him away from it. That was woman-like.

So, to 'scape the naggin', he put himself up a lean-to with a potbellied stove for heat, 'way over on the farthest side of their land, right up near a pretty water fall runnin' into a nice skinny-dippin' pool. Well, that's what us Lakeland kids used to use it for when I was young. Well, Jimmy would 'scape there and paint to his heart's content, and Elly couldn't hound him at that distance. At first he went over there about once a week. Then oftener and oftener, sometimes stayin' for days on end.

There wasnıt no harm in it, as far as I could see. Still kept the farm and did his chores. Kids didn't ever seem to want for nothin' in those day, either. Yeah, Jimmy was a good fella, and Elly was a good wife and the kids a thrivin' healthy bunch -- all as smart as a whip!

Most town folks say Mrs. Gude started their breakup -- poisonin' Ellyıs mind, She claimed that on the day of the pig sale his eyes had grown sparklier - he had added Roseyıs evil to his own. I love that family, and. to me, Jimmy Fortune is one of my special people. And I, for one, will never forget him.

And, if there's such a thin' as miracles, hell be right smack in the middle of one of them. And as sure as my name is Ethan Allen Hathaway, they'll be a special one. just for him -- to bring him, his sparkle, and the whole crew of Fortunes right up theyah with him -- you mark my words!

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