National Geographic : 1974 Jan
baby powder, toothpicks, camphor ice, cream deodorant, and five kinds of cologne, including Russian Leather and Avon Bravo. His old house may be falling apart, tar paper peeling off the exterior walls, but he is not. He was a cranberry broker for 37 years, selling berries to canneries in peripheral towns, going around first in a horse drawn wagon, later in a Model T. He worked the woodland cycle, too-moss, blueberries. He raised seven children. He has lived alone since his wife, Elizabeth, died 25 years ago. "Do you wish you had electricity in here, Fred?" "Certainly. I'd rather have it than this here propane. If I could have the electric turned in here, the first thing I'd do is get lights. Then a refrigerator-you can set anything in there and it don't spoil. Then an electric saw for cutting wood. Green wood." His face is covered with lather. "Would you want television, Fred?" "Anything that's fake don't interest me." HE TELLS A STORY about his friend Charlie Loveland, hunting geese by Beaver Run. "He was in by Beaver Run that comes out of the Plains and empties into the Wading River. It starts out of the Plains where there's a hill and a valley and a little spong. This was fifty years ago anyhow and he was using a muzzle-loader. He was wadding the paper down on the powder with the ramrod when he saw a flock of geese coming along, so he lifted the gun and shot the ramrod right out at a goose. The ramrod went right straight through the goose. The goose landed in the creek. Charlie pulled the goose out of the creek and the ramrod had a pike on the other end of it. Sounds like a lie, don't it? Sounds like a lie. Sounds like a damned lie. I used to laugh when Charlie told it. Char lie sat there smoking his pipe, he'd get mad." Fred is a loyal friend. He used to go around with some regu larity to Reevestown Cemetery near Warren Grove and pour whiskey on one friend's grave, an older man who died when Fred was 25. "Hell, that was the old man John Bowers. That was the old man John Bowers that lived over to Sim Place. He was an old man, he was. For some reason, he liked me. One day he said, 'By Gud, Fred, if I die I want you to come to my grave and pour me down a drink.' He did die. He did die. He died. He was buried in the old cemetery by Warren Grove. "One night I was with Lizzie when I passed there, and I started to go into the cemetery and she said, 'What ails you?' and I said I was going to John Bowers' grave. She went with me, and I poured down old John Bowers a drink. Just then an old-fashioned pine pheasant jumped into the air from behind the gravestone. My hat flew off. My hat flew off, from fear. Elizabeth was unafraid. She said, 'That's once you got it, Fred Brown.' That's once you got it, Fred Brown." He wipes his face clean, and returns his mug, brush, and razor to the cabinet. His story has raised in my mind a picture of John Bowers' grave, which I visited once. A small juniper, about six feet high, was growing out of it. Beside the juniper was a rock of bog iron. "John Bowers Died October 19, 1912. Aged 81 Years." A pine pheasant is a ruffed grouse. With everything handy, Fred Brown dines royally in his tar papered cabin on the edge of Hog Wallow, his favorite place in the whole world. The 86-year-old widower says, "I cut cedar, I growed cranber ries, I pulled, I expect, two or three hundred carloads of moss. The developers? Let 'em come. People bring money."