Occasions of state

My initial contact with the word “fortnight” was in my early teens, and it was love at first read.

It’s an old-timey word, at this point probably archaic. Certainly, I never hear it spoken, and any current writing that contains it is probably a bodice ripper.

It means a two week period and is a cut word, reduced from “fourteen nights.”

And all that said, this past fortnight was bookended by two magnificent occasions of state. Or maybe more exactly, occasions of town.

The first was the Winter Carnival coronation’s announcement of the king and queen. Frankly, I was gobsmacked — in a good way. Ripping off Will Rogers, I’ll say I’ve never seen a Carnival king and queen I didn’t like, but this year’s was my all-time favorite.

You want a rhetorical question, howz ’bout this: Could anyone be a more deserving king than Bunk Griffin?

Check it out. He’s a fifth generation Saranac Laker, a lifelong resident, a certifiable local character, and the world’s nicest guy. His website, Bunk’s Place is a virtual library of Saranac Lake history, anecdote and unsubstantiated rumor. Arguably, he’s the town’s unofficial historian.

Bunkie has not only studies My Home Town’s history — he’s lived a lot of it as well. He’s no mere archivist, but an archive, of and by himself. In the 60’s he was one of the only witnesses to the night the Hotel Saranac’s sign spelled Hot Sara. He was graveyard shift cook at the town’s foremost greasy spoon, Tyson’s. And last, but certainly not least, he was at the helm of The Half-Assed Watermelon when it ran over one of Baker’s paddlewheel boats and sank it – tourist and all.

Beyond all that, I like the idea of us now having the slogan, “Welcome to Saranac Lake, where Bunk is King!”

As for the queen? Lemme tell ya, when I say my heart skipped at least a dozen beats when Old Lady Hickey was proclaimed Winter Carnival 2019 queen, I mean it.

Old Lady Hickey has been my almost-next-door neighbor for decades. We get along famously and always have, aside from one small tiff when she accused my dog, Phineas the Pug Thug of repeatedly plundering her raspberry bushes, and me doing nothing to stop him. OK, so Phineas and I were guilty as charged, and she caught us in flagrante delicto. But as far as I’m concerned, she could’ve considered it simply creative pruning and let it go at that.

But, to use a nautical metaphor, aside from that one small squall, it’s been nothing but calm seas and smooth sailing for OLH and me. In fact, I’ve grown so fond of her over the years that I’ve featured her in several of my columns. And while modesty won’t allow me to claim her InSeide Dope fame may have been a deciding factor in her rise to royalty, the possibility still exists.

Candles galore!

That was The Great Event Numero Uno of the fortnight. Great Event Numero Dos was another gala happening, but not a public one. Last week Virginia Bristol started rockin’ triple digits.

Now an confession on my behalf.

One of my mother’s ten to twelve thousand cardinal rules was for us never, ever, on pain of death or dismemberment, to ask a woman her age. Nor, if we knew a woman’s age, were we to reveal it.

I may be exaggerating, but only slightly. I can’t remember exactly when I found out my mother’s age, but it was sometime in my twenties.

And when I say I’m uncomfortable writing about Mrs. Bristol hitting the century mark, you can understand why. But it’s something that we all should know. First, anyone who knows Mrs. Bristol but hasn’t been in touch with her, can give her a congratulatory card or call (just be sure to say you read it here first). Second, living to be 100 is an astounding feat. If you want to know the statistics, here they are: In the U.S., population about 330,000,000 there are around 17,500 people 100 or older. That translates as .005 percent of the population, or one out of 20,000.

And third, and most important, Mrs. Bristol is still sharp and friendly, so how can I not announce such good tidings?

I’ve no doubt my egregious lapse of etiquette will surely be forgiven by the gracious Mrs. B.

My mother, on the other hand …

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