March 18, 2011 – I’ve given enough Grimpendium talks now that I’m starting to get used to a few things. That people are more okay with presentations featuring phrases like serial killer, decapitation, and anal probe than I give them credit for, that my laptop and my projector will never be on friendly terms with each other, and that I always end up learning more from the audience than they learn from me.
And Wednesday’s event at the Goodwin Library in Farmington, NH, was no exception. We had a solid turnout of engaging folks with both a sense of humor and a tolerance for the macabre and who were willing to endure me putting on my best impersonation of a speaker before regaling me with fascinating tales of their own. I was told stories of brutal murder and unconsecrated garbage dumps, of gigantic antique bob sleds that could hold a hundred people and attain speeds of 60 miles per hour, and, of course, local haunted houses.
However, what I don’t expect at a book event is to be is initiated into the ancient and hidden secrets of the town.
You see, before the presentation, I was escorted down a back corridor of the library to a large room that turned out to be the site of the Farmington Historical Society collection. There, scattered around its edges with little order and few labels was a treasure trove of oddity, history, and interest-y.
There were artifacts from the town’s past, including its most famous resident Henry Wilson, who became vice president of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant. There was an entire collection of tiny baskets carved from nuts and fruit pits by a man with one arm. There was a old cabinet full of taxidermied birds. There were items whose origins are lost to history and others pulled from exotic corners of the world back when that meant much more than just ordering them off the Internet. All in all, there were about a thousand extremely compelling reasons to convert to kleptomania in that room.
So much thanks to Stephanie Piro and the Goodwin Library for the kind invitation, excellent venue, and friendly hosting. And thanks to everybody who showed up for the event.