Appendix I to "To Kill a Squirrel"|
A Continuation of
The Unofficial History of the Sudbury Minutemen
By Joe Bausk, John Cheney, Ray Clark, Maurice Fitzgerald,
Les Longworth Ed Schow, Dan Tanona, Leo Zschau
The Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute means so much to all of us that it seemed totally inappropriate not to update To Kill A Squirrel -- the "unofficial history" of our group which was perpetrated in 1975 by John Cheney, Doc "Fitz" Fitzgerald, and a cast of supporting accomplices. What a great collection of writing under such an insane, obscure title! Well, we figured it would be nigh unto criminal to let this group history lapse into total obscurity lest people lie about us without shame. Hell, we can lie about ourselves in a much grander fashion if we put our minds to it.
So, the truth (or a reasonable facsimile) shall follow just as it did in 1975 --- somewhat changed by time and a sense of our significance in the scheme of things on April 19th.
We hope, as did those involved in the original work, that To Kill A Squirrel will be updated on a continued basis. We charge you, then, with this effort and hope you have as much fun as we did working toward that end.
A list of the men who "stood in" as Colonel:
The year reached its peak in January, and slid downhill.
Upon the occasion of Richard Nixon's Second Inaugural, the Minutemen of Concord were invited to march in his parade (recalling, perhaps, the appearance of Concord militiamen in the coronation parade of George III of England). Their attendance left the North Bridge unguarded, to the consternation of upright and right-thinking folks such as -- well, such as the Sudbury Cos., Militia and Minute.
And so it came about that one cold and snowy day, the Colonel led a resolute band to the Bridge, for to guard it against monarchists, teetotalers and others, whilst the Concord troops marched for the TV cameras.
By merest chance, Channel 5 News heard of our presence at the Bridge, and dispatched a camera crew. Few will forget, try though they may, our Colonel's reply when asked why Sudbury wasn't in Washington: "Wal," the large and ruffianly leader said, "we ain't got purty uniforms like those Concord fellers, so we don't get invited to fancy affairs much. And anyhow, most of our men got cows to milk and pigs to feed and couldn't be away so long."
This courtly answer was given considerable prominence on the Late News, which would have only given Sudbury equal time with Concord's TV appearance, except that when the Concord troops were about to show up on camera, the station covered the screen with a promotion for a kiddie show.
Despite our innocence, we received many letters blasting us --- for guarding the bridge, for being on television, even for scheming to have the promo obscure the Concord Minutemen.
Much satisfaction, needless to say, was felt by all us plain country folk.
That selfsame Colonel, ever the diplomat, was approached by a group of soldiers' wives, who wished to form a female auxiliary. He suggested that the ladies adopt some prestigious name -- a name with historical significance that would inspire them properly. "Daughters of the American Revolution" being taken, the Colonel mentioned Jenny Duggan's name as, perhaps, a fit model for the ladies, she being a local woman who supplied comfort and solace to the troops.
The female auxiliary did indeed use this as a working name, until, in their research, they discovered what kind of work Jenny actually did, and exactly how much comfort and solace she did provide. The group disbanded shortly thereafter, and have held it against the Colonel ever since.
Since then, the ladies are even invited to musters, when there is no sewing to be done, or children to be borne.
The Colonel's attempt to bring back the Golden Oldies, when he invited such authorities as John Powers, Forrest Bradshaw and Joe Brown to speak
Bert Mader, the Companie's first Poet Laureate
It has become a tradition for former Colonels to dine at the Wayside Inn before the Great March. This year, a sizeable group gathered, anticipating much intelligent and witty conversation, and the usual Inn feast. John Cheney, convivial as ever, introduced a new beverage, composed mostly of Caldwell's Dark Rum and brown sugar (easy on the sugar), Soon after this liquid was thoroughly tested, rumor arose that the North Bridge had been stolen, and a brave quartet sped to Concord to investigate.
The natives greeted the Colonels with enthusiasm, and showered them with hospitality, not to mention rum, at the Colonial Inn. Discovering that the North Bridge was still in its accustomed place, John Polutchko agreed to purchase it for twenty dollars. He still holds title.
1974 was a sort of trial run for the Bicentennial, and among those groups participating was the People's Bicentennial Committee, with whom not all agreed; some suspected their motive was to disrupt the celebration, by violence, if necessary. Our Colonel, a peace-loving man. met this threat with a gentle rejoinder: "Violence? Violence at my parade? Anybody tries any violence, I'll pin 'em to a tree with my bayonet!"
The Colonel was not to find this force necessary, as the PBC turned out to be more lamblike. He did, however, lose his way in the General Radio parking lot, when the Horse Troop (leading, as is their custom, the parade) went one way, and the former Colonels (misguided, as always) went another. The Colonel was panic-stricken, as he tried to make up his mind. Fortunately, he followed those with the greatest intelligence, and the least resemblance to the wrong end of a horse.
The portrait of our Colonel, presented at the Father's Day picnic
1975 Col Palmer True
Just as the Great and General Court of Massachusetts never seems to know exactly which day April 19 is --- in their view, it often falls on April 21, or April 15, and may some day fall on August 33, for all we know -- so the entire country missed the true Bicentennial, by a nearly a year and three months.
For in the eyes of the Sudbury Cos., Militia & Minute, this nation began that warm April morning at the North Bridge in Concord, and all the Continental Congress did in July of '76 was to recognize what had already happened. (Politicians are almost always a year or so behind the people.)
So '75 was The Year, for us, anyhow. Well over five hundred of us (crowd counts are always chancy, especially when the counters have had a drop or two of Dr. Wiles' Miracle Elixir) lined up, more or less, in Sudbury Center, very early in the dawning, before a mostly bewildered clutch of onlookers. (It all looked a little like the beginning of the Boston Marathon, and the Colonel's quickstep made us feel like marathoners, too.)
We were better prepared than usual, thanks to the maniacal desire of the Authorities to make sure everybody would be as edgy as possible by insisting on such ludicrous events as Musket Training Night at the Framingham Armory. ("One fun idea is a Cartridge-Rolling Party; just make sure nobody smokes or drinks while you're making your cartridges.") Val Greene, fifer and handyman, had crafted a musket with holes strategically drilled in the barrel; when asked -- ordered -- to "sound his musket" (in other words, to drop his ramrod down the barrel to make sure no powder was caked at the bottom), he lifted the gun to his lips and played a little Yankee Doodle. The Authorities began to suspect they were dealing with no ordinary Minutemen.
Anyway, we all got our Qualification Cards, and passed Card Check before we marched off.
The Colonel, a conscientious man, was a touch nervous as we lurched away; no wonder. The President of the United States -- you remember Gerald Ford --- and other dignitaries, including ex-Governor Volpe, along with a bunch of guys wearing trench coats and stern expressions, was going to be at the Bridge, after all. Speeches would be made. And Sudbury men have never been too attentive to pols talking, have they? Sensing that the Secret Service might take a little high-spirited musket fire the wrong way, the Colonel cautioned us to be good boys.
True to Sudbury tradition, though, we broke all the rules -- by obeying all rules. We scampered from Sudbury to Concord, zipped from Barrett's Farm to the Bridge (aided by streets cleared with "NO PARKING" signs authorized by Col. Ezekiel Howe, and posted by certain anonymous ex-colonels) and reached the North Bridge before anybody else. Over the Bridge and past the PBC we went, at last in the proper position: first to march, first over the Bridge, and last in the hearts of the Concord cops. The troops settled down to wait for the politicians to arrive. (We were so law-abiding, we even made the Horse Troop abandon their faithful steeds, as the Concord rules-makers decreed; among the groups that marched after us, strangely enough, was the Concord Horsieback Riders Club, complete with hayburners. Could there be a double standard?)
Imagine the thrill when ex-Governor Volpe finally strode past us! Imagine the eagerness with which we listened to President Ford's speech! Major Gray was so excited, he had to lean against a tree to keep from falling down.
One lad did fire his musket while the President spoke; nobody laughed, and the fellow was drummed out of the cos. Still, you had to wonder whether all the security was worth a Continental, if it was that easy to smuggle a little powder into the crowd.
The Day ended too quickly, as it usually does, and we went home, and then picnicked. By now, we've forgotten what the politicians said, and the single-minded insanity of the People in Charge of Things. But the sharp, sudden emotion we felt when we put our feet on the Bridge won't die until we do.
Frogmen under the bridge... mustering in the dark, thanks to Daylight Saving Time... the magnificent carriage gliding smoothly onto the Fair grounds... the betented Ball, which enchanted us all... the Training Field muster... pancakes and peach brandy for breakfast... sunrise over the high school... triple-loading at Dakin Farm... ambushing the Fourth Regiment of Foot at Barrett's Farm... Sudbury men marking the Charleston, S.C., grave of Nathaniel Cudworth... Air Force One dropping a wing in salute (although some maintain it was actually lifting a leg)
1976 Col Ray Clark
For most people, this was the Year of the Bicentennial; for us, it was the Bicentennial Plus One.
In some ways, it was anticlimactic. Historical excesses sloshed over us in a tacky torrent: skimpy black tricorns with gold acetate bindings; cement trucks with the Declaration of Independence slowly rotating; Bicentennial beer cans, bocci balls and sanitary napkin receptacles; 1776 macaroni; fuzzy monkeys stuffed with straw and dressed in Minuteman costumes. When it came to cashing in, American know-how knew how.
Somehow, the men of the Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute remained above the trash heap, though, mostly by clinging to our twin gospels of history and friendship,
The year began, coolly enough, with the Knox Trail Reenactment in Marlboro. The thermometer read minus twenty Gesundheit, and the winds hustled out of the cold at fifty miles an hour. Fifers and drummers made their music in climates usually reserved for freeze-drying coffee. Sane people stayed home, and drank warming toddies
Lest the troops lose their way to Concord, marching as they were behind a nearsighted Colonel, Les Longworth, Gentleman, and Leo Zschau, Ruffian, prepared a map. Done to a scale of an inch to a foot -- give a fifer an inch and he'll take a foot --- the map was unrolled to reveal such landmarks as the site of the Second Miracle of St. Bacardi. Unfortunately, the map was mostly lost, while the Minutemen weren't.
April 19 was as hot as the Knox Trail event had been cold. Logically enough, the Sudbury Cos. chose this year to make their longest march, trudging from the North Bridge to Merriam's Corner and passing exhausted drum majorettes, out-of-town minutemen and politicians every yard of the way. We did finally reach the Corner, where some event of note was supposed to, but probably didn't, take place, and where we were supposed to be met by busses for the long trip back to Concord Center. Surprisingly, the Sudbury bus seemed to have been mislaid by the Concord authorities -- Jason Korell's career as a mass-transit expert will be long remembered by certain myopic colonels -- and all seemed lost, like Z. and L.'s map, until that selfsame Zschau threatened a big yellow schoolbus with bayonet and a baleful glare that would have made Killer Kowalski vomit with fear. (Nowadays a Sudbury Minuteman can hardly walk past a bus without being offered at least a one-way ride out of town.)
We did get back, however, heroes one and all.
The Sudbury Selectmen celebrated a visit from the mayor of Sudbury, England (who turned out to be an ex-mayor), by contracting Wrong-Day Disease: they scheduled the Fourth of July for the fifth. The Sudbury Cos. ignored this edict, as they do most such foolishness, and marched their parade route in reverse, ending with a huge and hilarious picnic featuring Mrs. Bausk's famous Bicentennial Macaroni Salad, and a little-known, but much appreciated, freedom march: Mrs. Clark's successful attempt to get McKinnon's to free the beer they had under lock and key.
It was a crowded year, all in all, and a happy one. The first stirrings of the E.R.A. were felt when a woman infiltrated the Horse Troop, but she was discovered and ejected. Fifty billion people did not descend on Sudbury, nor did the sun set on the year before each of us had experienced our own special pleasures in being a Minuteman.
The Tall Ships... parading for the Queen of England., watching, hardly able to believe our eyes, the Fife and Drum playing on the same stage as Arthur Fiedler at Symphony Hall and not dropping their instruments out of sheer awe... Frank Koppeis reacting to the calendar-manipulating with the immortal words, "You can have a fifth on the fourth, but you can never have a Fourth on the fifth"... dancing under the Big Top... the waistcoat-splitting slide shows presented at the musters by our Colonel
1977 Col Cornell Gray
It began, appropriately, with the Twelfth Night Ball being danced to the accompaniment of a huge blizzard. Every muster, including the May gathering, was held under a blanket of snow, thus giving our commander the title of Snow Colonel forevermore.
Snow even got in the eyes of the Concord patriots this year, for they joined the Great and General Court in celebrating Patriot's Day on the Monday closest to April 19. Sudbury, of course, obstinately refused to cooperate.
So on a non-holiday weekday, only about 250 Sudbury men answered the call to arms. "Only": most towns haven't gathered that many men to march in all the years since 1775 put together. The Route Committee had scouted various trails, and to prove their diligence they had Dan Tanona document their efforts on film (called "Lost Souls, or Looney Goons", the production didn't win an Oscar). Their work paid off, and we took the same old route we always take. They gave the excuse that this would certainly have been the route the 1775 patriots would have taken if there had been this much snow.
But on April 19, there was no snow: lots of sunshine, though. Early-rising motorists were more than usually mystified by our presence, since nobody else was parading, and probably the few tourists who did see us at the bridge thought we were ragamuffins hired by Concord to entertain them. Still, the men of Sudbury have never needed anyone but themselves to make April 19 a memorable, and meaningful, day. We cheerfully give the lawmakers their Monday nearest. In fact, they can have 364 days of the year, if they only leave us to observe April 19 in our own private way. One suspects that they'd have precious little to say about it in any event.
The debut of the Fife & Drum's record (it didn't win a Grammy, either)... the first After-Fair Party at the Sargents, the firm of Zschau & Longworth's presentation of tokens of their esteem to past colonels, including such cute items as a large rat trap and a chunk of cheese for Col. Powers' pet fox; Col. Cheney's permit to sell fuzzy monkeys; Col. Bump's dandy hat, to go with his ruffles and orange socks; the pewter porpoise presented to Col. (formerly Admiral) MacLean, inventor of the Incredible Sinking Raft; Col. Clark's Sudbury Fried Chicken... the effort by the Fife & Drum to force the Snow Colonel to resign the day before the Fair, thus ensuring fair weather, by threatening to play a concert under his bedroom window (it worked)
1978 Col Joe Bausk
"When I joined the Sudbury Cos., Militia & Minute, ten years ago," wrote one semi-literate soldier, "I never thought much about where it would lead me. Probably would have taken up golf if I'd known."
Where it led us all this year was behind Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. "All" added up, not surprisingly, to the usual 200 stubborn souls who care not a whit for the Massachusetts legislature's notions about Patriot's Day, but who march on April 19 even if it should happen to fall on a Thursday. The spirit persists, friends.
Anyhow, our Colonel, who had recently taken up the barrel drum, demonstrated his fitness for leadership of the Cos. by losing his way behind the High School. We tripped and cursed and stumbled and swore, but never spilled a drop. When at last we emerged from our foray into the forest, we vowed to a man that we'd never leave the straight and narrow again; little did we suspect what was percolating in Lt. Col. Stone's evil brain at that very moment.
At the North Bridge, our trusty Government saved us from ourselves once again, by mandating earplugs and safety glasses. (Clearly, the way to eliminate war and insure peace for all mankind is to get our OSHA to write the rules of warfare.) We ignored them.
Col. (ret.) Fitzgerald made our way easier with his 90-proof Memorial Carillon, which unfortunately met an early demise by Rte. 117; the stuff doesn't last as long as it used to.
After the march came the showers, and the traditional picnic was rained out. The Innkeeper, heedless of the possibilities, invited us one and all into the 1800 Ballroom, where a jovial time was had in spite of -- or perhaps because of --- the close quarters.
The first cancelled muster, caused by the Great Blizzard (ye gods, has the Snow Colonel some unyielding hold on us still?)... the looks on the Italians of the North End when they watched us in our finest array sashaying down the Freedom Trail at 10 a.m., pausing only for a visit to every available pastry shop... Twinkletoes Bausk, and contradancing, and the instructor (from Dedham, where they don't have such people as us) near tears trying to regain control... the Father's Day picnic... the colonels' mugs hanging over the bar at the Inn (though some would have preferred to hang the colonels themselves)
1979 Col Theodore Stone
It was just another no-hum year in the career of the Sudbury Cos., Militia and Minute: a 42-mile trudge through impenetrable forest... a misguided Colonel, led astray by a Polish pathfinder... an angry mob of Concord police... a horse threatened with having its teeth removed at a single blow by an enraged dentist... high public officials meeting behind closed doors to determine the fate of the soldiers... irate promises to lock the doors of Concord to us next year. Just another year.
Having practiced for April 19 in 1978 by getting lost in the woods behind Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, our head of Stone determined to take us by the scenic route in 1979. Perhaps this was so that none but the squirrels and crows would see us going to meet a bunch of busses at Merriam's Corner, said busses to take us to the North Bridge. Although there was some grumbling at this concept of April 19 -- it was easily subdued by bribery and corruption -- the men, as is their wont, trusted the leadership. Bussing! For the first time, many wished a woman would join us: specifically, Louise Day Hicks.
We wandered through such scenic spots as a missile base and a condominium construction site before we crossed North Road, within sight of which our beloved Colonel lost his way. The picture of the Fife & Drum scrambling downhill like a pack of berserk skiers was a memorable one.
The Cos. were finally brought to a rest stop beside a beautiful pond, where good rum was used on aching feet instead of dry tonsils. Shortly thereafter, a horse displayed its wisdom -- the only flash of intelligence seen all day --- by trying to flee, running down our Colonel in the attempt. The beast then rebelled against the weight of its rider, one Healy, a drawer of teeth, pitched him and departed. Healy was miffed, but controlled himself admirably, merely ripping up an acre of trees and grinding them to toothpicks in his jaws.
The march was at length resumed, and we popped out of the woods at Hardy's Hill. A brief ceremony was held; then commenced the events which were to become renowned, and the truth of which are set down here for the first time.
After the ceremony, the troops were ordered to the busses, to be conveyed to the North Bridge. Some men, apparently recalling the Bus Bust of '76, refused to ride, chanting, "Mercy, no, we shan't go!" Urged to march to the Bridge by a certain fifemaker, the weary rebels formed up, mostly by leaning against one another. Perhaps fifty, among them many so-called ..msicians, marched from Hardy's Hill ' toward the Concord town line (the Hill being in Lincoln).
A Concord policeman, on the verge of apoplexy, rushed to the head of the line, and asked a certain nearsighted former colonel who was in charge. Reflecting on the long tradition of the Sudbury Cos., Militia & Minute, the fellow answered in what seemed to him perfect honesty, "In charge? No one's in charge."
The policeman turned an enchanting shade of purple, and rushed back to his radio car, doubtless calling out the National Guard. A State Police officer offered to lead us in his car, which we gratefully accepted.
To the delight of the totally unsuspecting populace, we marched, careful to keep to the right side of the road, and moving aside to let traffic past. We soon noticed that one of the citizens seemed particularly anxious to take our pictures; a somewhat corpulent individual wearing a checkered vest and a badge, he kept clicking his Brownie at us.
We were finally ordered by the Concord gendarme, still resembling an eggplant, to abandon our horses before we reached the Center, a request to which our gallant cowboys acceded. The foot-soldiers, knowing that to stop was to collapse totally, slogged onward.
Just before we reached the famous Tavern just before the Center, the officer leaped in front of us, and ordered us to halt on pain of arrest. He then revealed his awful secret: the "citizen" was actually a police officer taking mug shots! He informed us that these pictures, once developed, would be brought to the Sudbury police, who would instantly identify us and clap us in irons.
We then had a choice. We could fall down in a heap in the middle of the street, as ordered, thus creating either a huge traffic jam or a crushed blob of jelly if traffic didn't stop; or we could move up on the sidewalk and stroll legally to the Bridge. We chose the latter, even being led by a couple of fops carrying flags: foreigners, no doubt.
Not a shot was drunk, and not a drunk was shot; no traffic was held up for more than a moment. No peace was disturbed. No women were raped. (It was beyond our capabilities, if truth be told.)
Thus it happened, and no other wise. Direct threats against our liberties and future rights to visit Concord were hurled at us, and we understand it took several conferences between Boards of Selectmen to extricate us. What lies must have been told on both sides!
So once again, in their blundering, puppylike way, the Sudbury Cos., Militia & Minute, rescued another year from boredom, not only for themselves, but for the Concord police, who must, after these years of peace, be growing torpid, like turtles in the sun. We wonder what use they could be making of all those photographs, and we stay out of Concord postoffices.
The Horse Troop doing the backstroke across the Pond runoff... the hearty welcome and friendly backthumping when the main body of men joined East Companie, who went their own way... Pop McLean being threatened with arrest in Concord, and his complete lack of interest therein... the Fair: off, on, off again, on again. Will the Old Guard show? Will the sun? Will the beer? They all did, and everybody had a wonderful time... the party at Sargent's after the Fair, coffin, wake and all... the Fife and Drum playing for all they were worth in places from Castine, Maine, to Savannah, Georgia, Les Longworth's immortal assessment: "Patriotism isn't dead; it's just under arrest in Concord"