Sometimes you just gotta Skyrim

So my thirty loyal readers may have noticed I missed last week’s post. This is hardly so surprising, since my cadence lately has been more fortnightly than weekly. (Crazy to think at one point I wrote blog posts daily, or even more than daily! They were shorter, and not amazingly well thought out or written. As opposed to these posts… um, yeah.)

I often have really good excuses of why I’m too busy to do something. Sometimes I go through these periods where my schedule bounces between insane and crazy with only period stops at out-of-control. But I have to be honest with you – last weekend it was the video game Skyrim.

Lots of people are having a hard time right now. Across the Caribbean, there are folks who are struggling to keep body and soul together. Many are leaving homes they may never be able to return to, in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and other smaller locales. Houston and Florida are still drying out. The West is burning. The air is unbreathable and the flames have claimed more than 35 lives. We refuse to even admit that global climate change is a problem, so it feels like there’s little hope of fixing it. The Dreamers wonder if they’ll be sent to exile in countries they do not know, whose language they do not speak. And there is fear, anger and hatred on every channel, Facebook check and news article. Heck, even the sports news is bad around here. The US Men’s Soccer team won’t be going to the World Cup, the Red Sox went down early and easily and the Patriots are not looking quite like the machine they once did. Also, football nastily kills or maims the boys who play it for our entertainment, so good luck enjoying that.

I’m a gamer, and we describe the characters we play using attributes. So for instance, your Cleric might have a 16 wisdom, a 13 charisma and a 10 strength. You would roll a 20 sided die to try to do something, and if the number is under your attribute you succeed. If it’s over your attribute, you fail. Sometimes, you get things that temporarily modify your attributes (like poison damage) that make it easier or harder by increasing or decreasing your attributes. So instead of a 16 wisdom, if your character say gets drunk, they might have a -2 modifier that means there wisdom is temporarily only a 14.

That’s a really long digression to say – I feel like everything I’m doing right now has a -3 modifier for the state of the world. Sure, I still usually am fine. But things that used to be easy are harder. And hard things feel almost impossible.

Generally I try to be a good steward of my time. When the weather is beautiful, I try to drag my kids on hikes. I exercise. I read. I make time for friends. I cook meals from my farm share vegetables. I LIKE video games, but I don’t really play video games because I carefully write thought-provoking blogs posts instead.

But man, these last few weeks my coping skills have run out, my well has run dry, and I’ve wanted nothing so much as a problem I can solve with a few fireballs and flame atronach. Grey had a sleepover for his friends last weekend where they mostly played video games together. And honestly? There were a million things I probably should’ve been doing. But what I was doing was getting my character up to level 29. I feel guilty. I actually think video games are a pretty bad way to recharge. A good book, exercise, clean living… much better ideas. But I’ve just run out of the will to keep making these healthy choices as often.

So if you’ll excuse me, I heard from a guy who used to be an adventurer like me (until he took an arrow to the knee) that there’s a dragon near Ivarstead that needs my attention.


How about you? There must be some people out there pleased at the way the world is going – are you one? If you’re not, what are some of the coping skills you’re using to face your every day?

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Nothing new under the sun

It’s Mother’s Day, and I’ve spent it in glorious sloth and catching up on some things that need to be caught up on. Someone praised my blogging on Facebook today, and I’m happy for the compliment. But then I find myself with another week coming, and another post, and not such great ideas.

This year’s lilacs

Or rather, I have some excellent ideas. I’d love to tell you about Mother’s Day, lilacs, and how much I love lilacs. Except I did that back in 2009. (Eight years later, the boys still roll down the hills at the Arnold Arboretum during the Lilac Festival.) Also, please note that in that post I whined about how hard it is to come up with things to write about. I also covered lilacs in 2010, 2011, 2012 and probably every year since then. Maybe I should start thinking of these posts as traditions instead of repetitions?

Yesterday at one point I had on my “Mirkwood National Forest” t shirt, had my “Not all who wander are lost” sticker on my laptop (the other laptop has a custom made “Gates of Moria” sticker and was reading Tolkien.

In an attempt to restore and rejuvenate myself, I’ve reread Tolkien for, I dunno. It might be the 40th time. I have my own “Editor’s Cut” of how to read the books if I’m in a hurry. I read them super slowly this time, to notice things that had previously escaped my attention. I did! It’s such a rich text. I love it more each time. This time I pondered a parallel between Theoden of Rohan and Roland of “The Song of Roland”. Both are killed by their own weapons (horse and horn), arguably because such characters couldn’t be bested by a foe and hold to the story. I also saw more clearly than ever some of the Christian allegory Tolkien claimed he was including. There is much of the Christ story in Gandalf’s death, resurrection, transformation & teaching. But I’ve also covered the topic of Tolkien pretty well.

Complaining about being busy is boring. Being busy is also boring.

My life is pretty awesome. The most I have to complain about is too much awesomesauce. There’s chocolate cake to celebrate tonight. And at any moment now I’m going to log off and start playing Civ VI like I intended to three hours ago.

May your remembrances of mothers and mothering bring you joy today. For those of you who do not have your mothers, may you find consolation either in memory, or in the memory of those who have served as loving influences in your life!

The Wheel of Time

I often looked at the cover art and wondered what the heck they'd told the artist, who had clearly never read the books.
I often looked at the cover art and wondered what the heck they’d told the artist, who had clearly never read the books.

“The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings in the wheel of time. But it was a beginning”

The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan

I was in sixth grade – perhaps seventh. Having worn through a few copies of The Lord of the Rings, my fifth grade teacher had lovingly given me a copy of Terry Brooks’ “Sword of Shannara” for graduation, as perhaps a subtle hint that there were more fantasy authors out there than just the one. (In my defense, that particular school didn’t have a library. And fantasy novels were far rarer in the 80s than they are now.) Having made that great discovery, I began reading at a great rate, along with three companions in my literary journey. Now, if I’d had the kind of heroes journey I was reading about, the four of us would’ve become inseparable companions, filled with a respect and friendship that would warm our memories.

The way it really worked was that there were four of us who like to read fantasy in the tiny podunk logging town I was raised in. If we wanted to talk about books, it was with each other. We did play Middle Earth Role Playing together. But despite my best efforts, fondness never grew from forced interaction. In retrospect, I deeply pity the guy I had a crush on who was forced to deal with me six days a week (we went to the same church) for multiple hours a day. I saw him at reunion and he got a slightly haunted look seeing me. Sorry!

I digress.

One of the books we discovered was “The Eye of the World”. It was a good one. I had bought a copy, and we all read it in turn. The seven hundred page sequel followed, and was similarly devoured. And then, bliss! The third came out! Granted, it was crazy expensive on my $40 a month food/clothes/fun money budget (if you knew me then, this explains why I dressed the way I did), but life was too short to not buy books! It would be great to finish the trilogy and move on to the next one. I may have pondered how wonderful it was to have a living author who would keep writing! I never fully got over the betrayal of Tolkien dying without knowing how much I loved him.

But what? The series didn’t conclude? I’d read all three back to back – with labyrinthine plots and a cast that had to be in the hundreds, you couldn’t rely on your memories of the last reading a year or two ago to see you through. You had to start over.

Well, a four book series wasn’t unheard of. We’d allocated out the purchasing of these books. None was available at any library we had access to, so they must be bought. This was back when a bookstore meant Waldens – before the big box bookstores came and long before they were replaced by the great online retailers. We had a deal. I’d buy Jordan. Chad bought Terry Brooks. Jack bought Lawhead. And maybe Heidi somehow weaseled her way out of being responsible for buying any author’s books.

A year later – in high school – the fifth came out. When I graduated from high school I was still there on release day, buying the seventh volume and praying that this time he’d really wrap it up. I spent hours in my bedroom reading the books and listening to “All the Best from Scotland volume II” on repeat – they’re still inextricably combined in my head. My collection of books was getting unwieldy, my budget largely spent on Starbucks, and the time commitment required to read seven books at about a thousand pages a piece was significant. But I was there. I even got that seventh book signed.

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In college when the eight came out, I may have made time to reread it. Maybe over the summer. But then it was followed by the ninth. Rumors began of his ill health. He had a fatal diagnosis. Surely, one thought, this would encourage him to oh… I dunno… actually close a plot thread for once? Ha! Great at opening them. Lousy at closing them. He even went to write a prequel. It’s possible that I was actually angry about this.

He died and I never read his last books because I couldn’t justify weeks of rereading, and he hadn’t *finished*. It all felt very tragic.

He had, though, written down how he was planning to some day finish up the plot. That thread was pulled up by Brandon Sanderson, who had probably been buying them from Waldens in the mall just like I was. That “last book” turned into three books, ponderous as their predecessors if a little better in the “closing plot threads” department.

And finally, the last book was written and the last story told in Spring of 2013.

In the Spring of 2015, I got a new job with a new commute. A car commute. By myself. As time has gone one, my tolerance for NPR has gone down. (I like the non-political news far more, and that’s been a vanishing commodity over the last two decades.) So I needed to listen to something. I figured that this was the perfect time for me to finally catch up and hear the end of the story!

So every single commute for the last TWO YEARS I have spent two hours a day listening to the Wheel of Time on audiobook. Especially around book six or seven I would get to work irritated. The entire commute could be cut by an editor (if only!) and there would’ve been no material change to the story.

But it was entertaining. And over this vast repetition, it also became much more real and tangible to me than if I’d only read it. Last weekend, recovering from a bout of labrynthitis, I laid on a chaise and listened to about eight hours of the conclusion. I realized, staring fixedly out the window, that this was it. I’d spent two years living with Perrin the Blacksmith and his strength, and Mat the womanizing gambler, and Rand the started-every-book-less-mad-than-he-ended-the-last-one, and Nynaeve with her temper and braid and Pevara who I think might be the only real hero in the whole book and and and… well, the list of characters is long. And I know them all with the intimacy of daily contact over two years.

The end of the series, if you’re curious, did not satisfy. All battle, no epilogue. There were major plot threads left open. (Spoiler alert – seriously, how did you not manage to explain that Olver is actually Gaidal Cane reborn, which is sooooo obvious!) We don’t see how the world does get remade, or how these overarching conflicts that I spent DAYS of my life hearing about were finally resolved. I got to the end, but I could’ve stood that last half of the book to be what came after. Alas, I didn’t get it.

But with all this – with the annoyance at the lack of editing and lack of satisfying culmination – I have done it. I have finished the series. I enjoyed it, whining aside. And it is almost certain that I will never read it again. That brings a sense of loss. I suppose I could read it, if I wanted. But those down sides are too steep to encourage me to ever climb them again. It’s just not worth the effort. And so it is that this journey, which I started twenty-seven years ago and spent endless hours on, is done. It is finished. I will never again hear of Thom Merrilin in his patched cloak or the hawk-nosed and fierce Faile.

Farewell, fictional friends. You will be remembered fondly.

It is not THE end, but it is AN end, for the wheel of time has neither beginnings nor ends.

Many, many first editions
Many, many first editions

The Bargain of Benjamin Gerry

Benjamin Gerry is said to have been a man of great courage. The following incident will prove it to be the fact. At that time this country was inhabited to a considerable extent by wolves. On a certain day, Gerry was out either for labor or business. He called upon a family, living upon or near where the Almshouse now stands, about dusk. It was thought rather dangerous for him to return home; however, having an axe with him, he proceeded homeward, but before proceeding far, he came in contact with a number of wolves. He braced himself against a large tree and pitched battled with his antagonists. The neighbors heard the conflict, notwithstanding he was left to conquer or die. He conquered, and returned home. In the morning, he went to the place where he fought, and there found that he had killed no less than four wolves, the fifth having walked off, leaving blood to show that he also had been wounded…

The house … afterwards occupied by the father of Benjamin Gerry .. was formerly known as the Matthews place. It is thought to have been built about seventy years since… At the season of harvesting a quantity of pumpkins were carried into the garret; one evening while the father was absent, and the mother with the children and other members of the family sat by the fireside, a noise was heard; something appeared to be coming down the stairs. It came stamp, stamp, down the garrett stairs; it then came to the entry stairs, which led to the lower door, and with increased force, came pound, pound into the entry below. There the noise ceased. The afrighted family waited with great anxiety for the return of the husband and father. When he returned, the news was communicated to him. He repaired to the entry, when on opening the door a good lusty pumpkin was reposing on the floor. Whether the house was ever afterwards haunted, is not known.

Gerry remained here for many years, but was called upon to fulfill his engagements, made previously to settling here. He left his wife and children, never to return; as it is said he fell during an engagement with a foreign enemy.

A Brief History of the Town of Stoneham, Massachusetts: From it’s First Settlement to the Year 1813 With An Account of the MURDER of Jacob Gould on the Evening of Nov. 25, 1819

Written in 1870 by Deacon Silas Dean


Everyone said my father was the second bravest man they knew. This was an old yarn they’d spin out. I think Scotchman Hay told it best, wicked grin curving around the stem of the pipe which was the only thing he’d brought from the old country. As stories about him told, whenever we were confident he was not listening, he’d even left his clothes behind when he showed up naked in my father’s barn. He had been running, as he said, from an impression aboard a redcoat war ship. But he brought the pipe, and he kept it with him.

“Ye see, my lad,” he’d say above a haze of blue Virginia smoke, “The bravest man I know’d was braver than he was wise. It was Phillips, laddie, who was the bravest I ever did meet. Why, he was out with the other men, a few years after the unpleasantness with the British, chasing after some Indians who murdered a local family. They followed ’em all the way to Concord – and a long way it was too. The sons of the forest were hiding in a rye field, and Phillips – he was warned they were there. Told him to be on his guard, they did. Told him that there was death and trouble in that field. But he answered in his decided way that ‘I am not afraid of the black rogues!’ Scarce had the words escaped his lips, ere a musket was discharged. Phillips took a fatal wound, sprung several feet off his horse and died right there on the spot.” So see, you dunna want to be the bravest man, son. You want to be the bravest man alive, lad. And your father, he is that.”

As my father’s eldest son, I worshiped him from afar, working hard on my labors to win his approval, and facing all life’s young challenges with the resolute chin and unwavering hand that seemed his legacy to me. But the closest I ever came to shaming my name was that All Hallows Eve night when he made his name as the bravest man alive.

As the sun on that day reached it’s zenith, my father made known to us that he intended to go up to see Richard Holden before dark, for he had promised his aid in setting some foundations for a new house before the ground froze for the winter. We’d spent a long morning in the uncommon heat of the fall day harvesting all our pumpkins from the patch. They’d done well this year and were plump and plentiful. We had a time carrying heavy loads of them out from the fields and straight up the stairs into the garret, where they’d be safe from freezing. Even my littlest brother had to take a hand carrying one small pumpkin at a time up the narrow, dark stairs.

It was heavy work, and we were all tired by the time the sun reached the top of the day. I hadn’t thought my father would then go on to more heavy work at the Holden’s – which was quite a walk away besides! But Benjamin Gerry was a man of his word, and he said that he thought as he carried the pumpkins that the cold might come early this year, and he had said he’d help. So weary though he was, he left after wetting his lips and tasting a morsel.

Wanting, as I did, to make my father proud of me, I returned to harvesting the fields. Without the watchful eye of my father, my brothers found other occupation in fishing nearby Doleful Pond for stripers, and I cursed them under my breath as I carried heavy load after heavy load up the rapidly dimming stairs. As the evening purpled, my mother greeted me with a cold heavy mug of cider, and turned with her faithful broom to sweep the stairs of all the mud we’d tracked in with our labors. Her face had a look of concern under her bonnet.

“Mother,” I asked, “I thank you for the cup! This year’s press is particularly fine I think. Does something give you fear?”

She turned in the black door frame, broom in hand, and looked back at me. “Well, son, I don’t doubt I’d not dare to say such a thing if your father was here. But it’s All Hallows Eve. In the old country, we’d be extra careful on such a day. We’d not go haring off to our neighbors’ so late when the work could just as easy be done on All Saints Day. Your father is a honest and brave man, and takes no stock in foolish nonsense. But I can’t help but wish he was already home tonight.”

As I sat and listened to the hiss of her broom on the rough planks, I couldn’t but think that she was right. I lit the main lamp, as the room grew dark and my brothers returned with their catch. Then I lit a second, and hung it over the door frame. I tried to tell myself that the full moon rising thick, twined about by wisps of flog, over the great expanse of the ocean between us and the old country was a good thing. My father was not yet home, but with such a bright moon he’d hardly need a lamp to find his way.

My mother had just latched the door to the stairs and switched from her cleaning apron to the cooking apron and was putting on our dinner when we heard, thin against the cold air of the night, the voices of the wolves raised in fearful chorus, rising and lapping over each other like a braiding of fell songs. My heart knew fear. My father was out there. The wolves were hunting. And it was All Hallow’s Eve. My mother’s face in the lamplight looked pinched and scared as she raised her face to the one glass window whose shutters remained open, to look at the moonlight streaming past.

“I’m sure father will be home soon, mother” I comforted her. We sat at table, my father’s place laid but bare of food. I led us in grateful thanksgiving, letting the food cool a bit as I asked that my father return safely to us, when we heard the first stamping sound from the attic, as though of men’s boots. After a quick Amen, I turned to the window to see if it might be my returning father. It wasn’t. I sat back down, and started in on my porridge.

“Stamp, stamp”

The sound was clearer now. It was certainly not outside the house. It was inside. My littlest brother left his place at the table and climbed onto my mother’s frail lap. My younger brothers, the twins, exchanged guilty looks. Poor five year old Paul dove under the table and couldn’t be brought out.

“I must’ve stacked the pumpkins wrong. A pile must’ve knocked over. Maybe if I’d had a little help,” I shot a meaningful glance at the twins “They might’ve been piled better.” Wee Tommy began to wail “I tried to help but my legs is too smaaaaaallll” he bawled.” “Crying is for sissies, Tommy. Father will be wroth if he catches you at it. Besides,” I added – a little ashamed of my temper – “I didn’t mean it for you.”

Stamp. Stamp stamp.

There was far too long between those thumps to be a settling pile of pumpkins, and we all knew it. We waited in silence, holding our breaths, the lamplight flickering over uneaten porridge and fish still steaming on the table.

Stamp stamp stamp stamp.

“Dear God, it sounds like it’s on the last stair” said my stricken mother.

There was a knocking – a polite rap – on the door to the garret stairs, as if some stranger waited there requesting entry. I thought of my father, and of his bravery, and I called out “Who is it who goes there.” The only answer was the howl of the wolves.

We waited a few minutes. I looked at the porridge – my appetite vanished despite the labors of the day – and thought of what my father would do. I took up my spoon and begin to eat. After a few moments, my family did likewise. My sister Ruth had almost coaxed young Paul out from under the table, and the twins started arguing about who’d caught more fish, when the rapping came again from the door. This time, it came louder.

The spoons clattered to the table. I held mine in limp fingers. Paul fled under the table, and after a moment of quick reflection, Ruth went with him.

Over the next hour, the banging grew and increased in intensity, pounding on the door as though the very fist of the devil knocked and sought entry. Four great crashes it gave, quick against each other. The door shook and rattled with the battering from the darkness on the other side. I looked at the latch and wondered if it would hold. I took the splitting maul from the side of the door – my father had taken the axe with him when he went to the Holden’s, as there would be cutting to be done for the posts – and stood in front of the door in case it should break. My mother, sister and brothers all clung to each other – backs pressed against the far wall – porridge and fish alike uneaten. After the fourth crash, there was a smaller pounding, and then all fell silent.

When the door flung open, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Not the door to the garret, no. But the front door. And in strode my father, limping, carrying an axe covered in blood and brains and fur – as he himself was.

He stopped short when he saw me, pale as February, facing the door in fear.

“What’s happening lad?” he asked.

“Father,” I gulped. Here he was covered in blood, and I needed to explain that there had been knocking on the door, and we had been scared by it. I was saved from this when the door gave the most terrific crash.

“Ah, I see.” He said. It seemed like he did. He was totally unsurprised. He walked over to the door, raised the sturdy latch, and the moonlight through the yet-unbarred window streamed past the golden lamplight to reveal what had knocked.

There, at the landing to the door, were five pumpkins. Or rather, they had been five pumpkins. They were smashed to smithereens. Their pulp reached all the way up the walls in gory orange entrails – up to even the ceiling itself. It showed brilliant against the new whitewash. In the oozing pulp, you could see the tops of four pumpkins scattered amidst seeds. On the third stair up there stood a more whole pumpkin. It was cracked down the middle, and juice leaked down the stairs in a trickle, but it looked to my fevered mind as though it was escaping from the slaughter below.

My father raised his axe and smote the last pumpkin, smearing it on either side with red blood. The blade bit deep into the stairs, almost cleaving the broad board in two.

He turned back to us, staring white-faced and wide-eyed.

“I smell fish.” He said, “Is there enough for a hungry old man?”


I was a man grown, and my own eldest son was the age young Paul had been, when my father got news that he was needed and that he must go. In the few days given him to prepare, he found time to pull me aside.

“Elbridge” said he. “Do you remember the pumpkins?”

I’d always thought it remarkable that a man of such courage, a man who on that fateful All Hallows Eve had slain four wolves with a back against a tree, and then come home to cheerfully dispense with our fears before digging into my brothers’ ill-gotten-fish, had been very kind in not teasing us about our fears of that day. In fact, he’d never spoken of it, even as the legend of his battle with the wolves was the talk of every tongue, and the 16 pound bounty he’d claimed from their pelts had allowed my father to pull me from the fields and send me to Harvard, an act which would change my life. The only change was that we no longer planted pumpkins. Given that none of us could even stomach a pumpkin pie, this seemed no odd thing to me.

“I do father. Will you throw my fear and cowardice in my face now, when you have forborne to do so for so many years?”

“Nay” he said. “Before I go, I wanted to explain. You see, there was something great to fear that night. I never should have left under that cursed witches moon, on that cursed night, in the twilight. You know the story of how I set my back to a tree and faced those wolves. It was a mighty pack. I killed four and mortally wounded the fifth before the others fled. But what I never told anyone was that it was uncanny. I knew as they circled me in the dark, the full moon gleaming off their eyes, that I was already as good as dead. I prayed as hard and fast as I could. It’s possible that I forgot to be quite a good Christian man at the worst possible time, and I found myself praying for a bargain, to anyone who might be listening.

“It came to mind mind that someone was very curious what bargain I’d make. I said I’d pay later if I could come through this all right and make it home. I said that for each wolf I’d kill, I’d ask for a year years. It made no sense, even in my head, even as my axe spun around me.

“But it came to me that my bargain was granted, and that my family would be let to know too. That part didn’t seem quite… nice shall we say.

“So I laid about me with my axe. I killed two easy. The third I took a wound in my leg as I killed it. The fourth is the one that got me arm. And the fifth knocked me down to the ground and it’s teeth were bared to rip out my throat when I laid about with the axe and managed to knock it off me. It slunk away bleeding, and the rest of the pack went with it, but…”

He paused from oiling his old sword.

“Well, son.. it talked to me as it went, laughing. It said, “Four of us killed. Very good. That’s four years. And I’m wounded, you might call me almost a fifth. Not quite five. But when not quite five are come, it will be your time to make good on your bargain, Benjamin Gerry, and present your soul to the one you bargained with. You know old Jack. He makes a good pie, and a better bargain. Go home to your family. Jack o’ the lantern knocks on their door too. And think to that day when you will be called upon to keep your part.

“And then, son, he faded into the darkness. And I came home and found the four and a half pumpkins, and I knew.

“That was four and a half years, ago, Elbridge. And now I’m called – old though I am – to go fight with my former legion. I think that I shall not escape death again. But I wanted you to know. Never again plant those devilish gourds. And never make a bargain where your soul is at stake. Pray for me, for I will never see your face again nor know aught of heaven’s joys.”

That All Hallow’s Eve, I found on the front steps of my house a pumpkin, carved with a face like a wolf, gleaming in the light of a full moon.

Of my father, no word ever came again.

Notes:
1) Silas Dean makes it clear that Benjamin Gerry was not actually the father in the pumpkin story – only that it was Benjamin Gerry’s father’s house prior to the incident.
2) Scotchman Hay did come off a boat and did work on Benjamin Gerry’s land, and there WAS a naked sailor who showed up naked in a barn, but it wasn’t Scotchman Hay, it was a man named Hadley. There are no fewer than three residents of Stoneham who got their start jumping overboard from unwelcomed stints in Boston harbor.
3) The story about Phillips is also in the book, and much of the language is exactly what Silas Dean used in telling the story. Nineteenth century authors were often very racist and one-sided. They omit to remember in their writing that they were conquerors who had stolen much of this land from the native folk they rightly feared.
4) I’m not sure exactly where Richard Holden’s land’s, or the Matthew’s place, are. We know that the wolf attack took place near the Almshouse – which is now the Senior Center and the soccer fields nearby. I often think of this when I watch my sons play soccer there, and wonder just where Benjamin stood in his fight for his life against the wolves.
5) Silas Dean says that Elbridge Gerry served in the Madison administration. There’s an localish Elbridge Gerry who signed both the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, but did not sign the constitution. That Gerry doesn’t seem to have grown up in Stoneham. His father owned major mercantile resources, and was less likely to be out late at night taking on predatory carnivores. There was also a line of Elbridge Gerrys in Stoneham, but none of them were born to Benjamin. I think Silas may have gotten confused with the reoccurrence of such a rare name.