On Tuesday night, my husband took me to the Leicester Historical Society’s annual meeting, where Al Southwick was the featured speaker.
Before I get to the main event, there were a few things of note about the evening:
- My husband and I were easily the youngest people there, barring a couple of teenagers who looked as if they’d been dragged there.
- We sat next to an extremely entertaining couple who’d moved to Leicester from Chicago thirty years ago. Lately, I’ve found that every time I meet people slightly older than my parents, they try to sell me their house. In this case, their house was extremely tempting (farmhouse, five acres, located in a town my husband is a touch obsessed with) but, as always, my response is the same: “There’s no way I could afford it…sorry!” The wife also gave me valuable tips; for instance, you should always order non-cocktail alcoholic drinks at restaurants, because they tend to go heavy on the tonic in a G&T. So, she had Jack on the rocks. (Granted, it’s a tip of limited use since I’ve never had hard liquor, but I’ll store that away somewhere; goodness knows I may need it.) I also gave her some tips on how to request Playaways from the Worcester Public Library, since she and her husband are as passionate about the library and reading as we are.
- The salad dressings on the table had some kind of complicated code. I mean, obviously “I” was for “Italian” and “R” was for “Ranch”, but what exactly were the numbers for? Bizarre…
My husband took numerous papparazzi-esque shots of Southwick, because I refused to let him use the flash because then we’d look like the groupies we are. I especially like the picture of Southwick in between our water cups, in the top left corner of the collage:
Southwick spoke for a bit about certain aspects of the history of Leicester, especially the comparative religious tolerance of the town; see below for an example of a Quaker forebear’s exemption from the taxes paid to support the state church:
Many present were quite impressed with Southwick’s ability to read (at one point he looked something up) without glasses. (I would have been equally impressed, but I haven’t had that ability since I was about six, so I’m impressed with anyone who can see without corrective lenses.) There was a Q&A session in which he had a bit of trouble hearing a question, but he was, on the whole, pretty awesome.
(His sisters were there, and he said that he and his sisters had been residents of Leicester for over 280 years, which drew a lot of laughs.)
The best part of the evening was as my husband and I were leaving. Husband wanted me to say hi to Southwick; I was all “How exactly do I explain that I write a blog in which I discuss my obsession with him without coming off as a stalker?”; then he said, “you’re a citizen journalist”; I pled shyness; I didn’t meet him. (But I really didn’t want to say anything, because I am incredibly shy.)
Anyway, we’re leaving right behind his sisters, whom we have previously identified as the cutest old ladies this side of my 90-year-old grandmother, and all of a sudden, Ann Cutting stopped, looked at the whiteboard on which the restaurant’s specials are written, and erased the extra “m” from “ommelette.”
“I used to be a schoolteacher,” she said as an explanation.