A century and a half ago, an incorrigible young Barnegatter
nicknamed "Snuffy Joe" committed an unforgivable misdemeanor.
So, seething with rage, his mother seized a birch broom and set
out after him intending to serve the little scamp a liberal dose
of birch oil.
Prudently taking to his heels, Snuffy Joe soon outdistanced his
infuriated pursuer. Ere long, however, the gap between the two
grew visibly shorter when the boy's mother-mad as a wet hen-got
her second wind.
(The sight of a broad-beamed woman brandishing a broom hot on
the heels of an obviously frightened brat, and puffing like a
grampus, proved a sight to behold.)
Sensing an exciting climax, a group of bystanders gathered and
with bated breath began to predict promptly who the winner would
be. One, a landlubber, picked the boy figuring that his youth,
fleetness of foot, stamina and staying power would give him the
edge. The landlubber was convinced that the voluminous, many-tiered
garments (each liberally festooned with row upon row of pleats,
flounces and ruffles) draping Snuffy Joe's buxom parent would
sap her strength, would cause her to lose ground and weaken her
resolve to punish her son. However, an Old Salt-wise to the vagaries
of the turbulent North Atlantic and its blustery winds-promptly
placed a bet on the mother.
A seasoned mariner, he clearly realized that the boy was tiring
and that the mother, though breathing hard, was being helped
along by a brisk east wind. Each puff sent her reeling ahead,
each zephyr filled every flounce and pleat, and each gust ballooned
every ruffle as "wing-n-wing" she was driven by a following
wind. Thus, when a sudden gust from astern gave her an added
lift, the Old Salt was sure that he had won his wager.
Then, as he was mentally counting his winnings, an unknown passerby
took the Old Salt's wind out of his sails:
"Try her on the wind, Joe!" the passerby bellowed.
"Try her on the wind!"
* * *
A Barnegatter, seething with anger, once delivered a tongue-lashing
that to this day has never been equalled, surpassed nor even
challenged. His outburst was triggered by a publicity release
issued by the city of Beverly. For reasons difficult to understand,
that city-the self-proclaimed Garden City of Massachusetts-also
insists that it is a seaport and the "Birthplace of the
Understandably, the town of Marblehead-the home port of the first
American warship-resented Beverly's exaggerated pretensions.
On this occasion, the speaker, a hard-boiled bitter-ender, jumped
at the chance to defend the Hannah's place in history.
What he said on that memorable day won the plaudits of all who
were present; to one it was awesome; to another it was exhilarating.
The speaker delivered a torrent of phrases peppered with searing
oaths and ribald insults, literally tearing Beverly's specious
claims to shreds. He also mocked and taunted the characters who
continued to promote those claims.
Among those present, however, was a youngster who, failing to
grasp why each sally was greeted with cheers, and why each searing
thrust fathered a round of hoots, catcalls and scurrilous jibes,
stood silently by, wide-eyed and puzzled ...
Were Beverlyites slavoring monsters, man-eating ogres or scary,
loathsome denizens from the depths of the ocean? Were they evil
spirits or could they be Old Dimond's everpresent kelpies from
the Nether World?
Unable to contain his curiosity, the boy asked: "How can
I tell a Beverlyite if I see one?"
"It's simple," the Barnegatter explained, "They're
easy to spot. They look just like a Salemite who's had his brains