1 in 2000

1 in 2000_editIn that odd space between lunch and dinner I found myself waiting in Paresky, feeling the deep hunger pangs not unknown to journalists (or, for that matter, anyone who has ever had a serious craving for food). To pass the time, I started talking to Amelia Simmons ’13.

So Amelia, where are you from?

I’m from a small town in New Hampshire called Sandwich.

Were you guys the inventors of the sandwich?

No, the Earl of Sandwich actually came from England to Sandwich and named the town after himself. He was the guy who invented sandwiches.

How small is Sandwich? Is it like [I make a gesture about the size of a Subway foot-long] this big?

There’s about 3000 people during the summer, and then it drops down to about 1200 during the rest of the year. It’s pretty remote. Everything takes a half hour to drive to. Half hour to go get groceries. Half hour to get gas, to go to the movies . . .

But not to get sandwiches.

No, we had a general store. It closed. There’s one coffee shop in our town that’s like really kooky and they have live music at Sunday brunches and they have donuts every other Sunday, which I love. [I would love a donut.] Oh, there’s the Sandwich Creamery, a local creamery which is open 24 hours so that’s great. [I picture a 7-11 manned by cows.] We do creamery runs at like three in the morning. It’s the only thing that’s open 24 hours. And there’s an honor system so you just put your money in. [I wonder why Sushi Thai doesn’t have an honor system . . . ] We have a Sandwich Fair.

Do they have sandwiches there?

Everyone thinks that! [Which I guess means no]. It’s like a normal fair, but my favorite thing at the Sandwich Fair is the vegetable creations. You enter with little sculptures of vegetables, like Mr. Potato-Head Extreme, and kids make some really crazy ones. And there’s also the largest pumpkin . . .

How large is the largest pumpkin? They are like several hundred pounds. They’re really big. We had a squmpkin one year.

A squmpkin?!?!

A squash and a pumpkin mixed. So it’s not some sort of Sasquatch excrement . . .

I don’t even know how we moved it. I think my mom says someone with a tractor came and picked it up.

Are there any other stories about major happenings in Sandwich? I heard something about acorns?

Oh, acorns. [She knows what I’m talking about.] Well, in my family no one really likes to rake and we have a lot of leaves so I would pretty much rake every weekend and I was noticing that the whole yard was just covered with a layer of acorns – you’d rake the leaves and there’d be all these acorns left – and then my mom said driving to work one day she heard on NPR that there was a record acorn fall. Our car got dented a lot. You’d be driving along and you would hear a “SMASH” and know that it was an acorn falling.

[This is not the first thing I would guess if I heard a smash – another car, maybe – so I ask.] Do acorns smash? I always thought they made more of a “dink.”

When they’re really big and you’re driving fast they can scare people. But this past year I was raking and I got so frustrated with all these acorns that I decided to get out a shovel and I started shoveling them because I had a huge pile and I actually filled up an entire wheelbarrow. And my family didn’t believe me because I was the only one doing the yard work so I took a picture and showed it to them.

Were you subsequently attacked by large squirrels?

No, I guess they must have been happy with all the acorns. I actually tried to make acorn pancakes once. Really? [She is appealing to my inner squirrel.]

Have you heard of the book My Side of the Mountain?

Yeah.

My cousins and I actually spent a whole day grinding acorns on rocks and mushing it together and we added some eggs – we’re a big pancake family.

Like squmpkins?

No, that was just the one year I think. But anyways, my cousins and I started making these acorn pancakes and we started frying them and they looked a little weird and then we ate them and they were so bitter. Acorns are really bitter. And we convinced my dad to eat one and we loaded it up with yogurt and maple syrup and he ate it just to be a good sport. But we never made those again.

I would imagine the only reason anyone would ever eat them would be because they were stuck on their side of the mountain.

This whole thing’s going to be about food. It’s great!

It’s all about food. It’s making me hungry. [She has no idea.]

Yeah, I really like food. My family is a big food family. There’s a race day where there are all sorts of different dashes and relays and leapfrogs.

Involving pies and sandwiches and squmpkins . . .

No, there’s a big barbecue. There’s a softball game, and then the barbecue, and then the races, tug-of-war and then finally the pie-eating contest. But for our pie eating contest you have to lie on your stomach with your hands behind your back.

So it’s like being water-boarded but with pies. [She does not acknowledge this comment.]

So you’re like leaning and your face basically just wants to fall into the pie. My town is very quiet, and when people ask what is your town like the best description would be like Gilmore Girls-kind-of-esque. Not that crazy, we don’t have that much going on, but we do have some kind of kooky events like Halloween. [I immediately imagine carving a Squmpkin.] We have what’s called the Sandwich Players, a theater group. At Halloween they all dress up in these crazy outfits and go around the town dispersing candy. There’s the angry mob, the homeless family [so far this just sounds like New York City], there are always witches [I resisted the urge to ask about Sand-witches], there are these cloud people . . .

That sounds terrifying.

It really was when I was little, but now it’s fun because I go around. I was a yodeler last year.

[Compared to everything else this seems slightly anti-climactic.] So do the witches ever have to fight with the angry mob?

No, you really just want to avoid the angry mob.

I imagine that’s true no matter where you are, not just when in Sandwich.