Gary Moore: Pudding Hill Pete - 2018

I knocked on Pete’s door, a bottle of 3 Sisters wine in hand. In a bit Pete opened the door and said, I was “spectin you, git in before you let all the heat out.”

So began my 23rd interview with the old curmudgeon Pudding Hill Pete for the Caledonian’s coverage of Groundhog Day.

He opened the bottle, poured a glass, sniffed it, then took a sip. His eyes lit up and he said, “Damn it’s good. Where did it come from?”

I replied that it was from the 3 Sister’s Vineyard down in Bradford and was a very limited edition.

Being an election year politics was very much on Pete’s mind, as I soon learned.

“It’s disgustin that the politicians continue to be paid during a government shutdown but the military who must continue to protect us don’t. Somethin is wrong with that,” he snarled.

“I am so sick of them Washington politicians an especially Trump that I get angry every time I hear the news on tv or the radio or when I look at the Caledonian. What a bunch of egotistic boneheads, Why I don’t believe any of them anymore.”

He took another sip of wine and said, “Why if Trump said the sun was up, I’d be sure to check. How he can lie with a straight face is beyond me.”

“Speakin of lyin with a straight face, how bout Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Now that is a pair that is hard to beat.”

“Remember when Trump was campaignin and said he would not have time for golf and would be too busy to take vacations? He spends more time at his resorts than in the White House and plays more golf than any president in recent history.

“He says he is a stable genius and knows more than any of the generals. That from a draft dodger who got five deferments for a bone spur. Give me a break.”

I said all that was from a long time ago.

“Yeh, well that man has an ego the size of Mt. Washington and is an embarrassment for the U.S. The tweeter in chief needs to shut up and listen before he beats his gums. Our allies are laughing at us and that ain’t good.

“I am so tired of the motor mouth in the White House that I long for Vermont’s own, Silent Cal.”

When Pete stopped for another sip I suggested we stop talking about the president and move on to things that he found less upsetting.

His anger not abated, Pete said, “How bout Bernie Sanders who stiffed the St. Johnsbury Academy grads by failin to show to give the commencement address he had scheduled months before? His European book tour was makin too much money so he backed out just a week before the graduation.

“That old socialist spent his career criticizin the rich and powerful. Now he is one. How many expensive houses does he need anyway?”

I asked what he thought of Governor Scott and Pete replied. “I kinda like him. He weren’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth like Trump and many of the political class. Why he knows hard physical work and how to get his hands dirty. He may just get Vermont back on course.”

What about the Democratic candidate for governor I asked. “He laughed, you mean Jimmy Ehlers? Why when they start diggin into his past shenanigans it will be fun. The Dems can do much better.”

On his wall was a bumper sticker that read STOP. I asked what it meant and Pete replied, “Screw The Ordinary People. That is the Washington motto.”

“Rather than waste our money Congress should go home and play with their fidget spinners. They are such a waste of time, why you can twiddle your thumbs for nuthin.”

I asked if there was anything that happened in the past year that made him happy. “Yup, they banished Steve Bannon. Good riddance.”

Trying to draw him back to the area, I said, “Something other than Washington and politics.” He pointed out the window to Burke Mountain and said, “That. Burke is doing well as is Kingdom Trails and we need both. So is Jay Peak. Too bad I can’t say the same about the Balsams.

“Speakin of sports that Susan Dunklee is one to make us proud. The St. J. Academy and Dartmouth grad is tops in biathlon.

“Burke Mountain Academy has produced many Olympians such as gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin.

“So many who either come from Vermont and New Hampshire, went to college here or trained here are headed to the Olympics it sure makes us proud.

“We have so many great kids in the region’s high schools who are good athletes, smart, and just plain nice people. If only we could keep more of them around.”

My time running out, I asked my usual question. Would we get six more weeks of winter?

“Of course. Don’t we always? If you don’t believe me ask my old friend Mark Breen down at the Fairbanks Museum.”

As I said goodbye and headed out the door Pete had a twinkle in his eye and a smirk on his face. He asked, “What about them judges who ruled we do not need to stand for the National Anthem but expect us to stand when they enter the court? Do you think they would get heartburn if we all took to a knee when they entered the courtroom?”

Gary Moore is an outdoor columnist for The Caledonian-Record.

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