A picture from our Vermont days: One time at the feed store, where he was
buying materials to build a pen for the baby chicks hed gotten my brother and
me for Easterwith no idea what we were going to do with them when they
got bigGeorge spotted a wildflower seed mix for sale. He came up with this
idea of digging up our lawn and planting the whole thing with wildflower seed
Back at our rented house, he gave my brother and me paper cups filled with
seeds and instructed us to toss them in the ground wherever we wanted, to make
the flowers grow in a more natural-looking pattern. He had abandoned the idea
of rototilling up the lawn at this point. George preferred to let the seed find its
own way into the soil, he said, filling in the patches where the grass was thin.
I knew, even then, no seedlings would take root that way. Even as he was
telling Val how wed set up a flower stand in summer, selling bouquets, I knew
After his first round of the country-and-western phase, George had a fling
with photography. He took up puppeteering. He had this idea he could make a
living taking educational puppet shows to schools, teaching children about the
importance of good nutrition.
They were ahead of their time, Val and George, as health food types, vegetarians.
Georges plan to make a killing selling vegetable juicers, and juicer
franchises, came sometime after that. Then there was the yogurt culture he
bought from a guy he met at a truck stop in Virginia, that we would use to set
up a yogurt-making business, with pure Vermont honey (we were back up north
by this point) for sweetener. After that failed (and despite the fact that neither of
them touched seafood) came the clam shack in Maine. In between these projects
there were inventions andthis never changedcountry songs.
The years we lived in New Hampshirewhere I was born in July of
1950represented the only time I can remember in which my father held down
regular employment. I was eight when we moved, my brother, Ray, twelve. But
for years after that, my mother reminisced about the house we lived in therea
place way out on a dirt road that wed actually bought with a five-thousanddollar
down payment given to my parents by my mothers uncle Ted, who had
made some money from part ownership in a bubble-gum company, of all things.
Maybe it was the knowledge that a person could get rich from something
like bubble gum (or if not rich, that he could end up with an extra five thousand
dollars in his pocket, anyway) that inspired Georges own dreams of overnight
fame and fortune. Though, quick as hed earned the bubble gum money, my
mothers uncle had lost the majority of the cash, reinvesting the proceeds, as my
mother told me, in a scheme for edible crayons or something like that.
Perhaps it was a similarity to this uncle of ours that first attracted Val to
George. Though what kept them together was harder to figure. And whatever it
was, it didnt keep them together much. The clearest picture I have of George is
the sight of him with that briefcase of his, walking out the door headed to some
greener pasture, or the twinkling lights of some city where someone had an
amazing deal for him, or some grand harbor where, just over the horizon, our
ship was coming in.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...