Below is a short story I wrote for a book I’m writing titled, “1957 Chester.” Sal is a character I created as the handy-man. He represents real and fictional events.
Sal Monella was a disaster waiting to happen. He did odd jobs around town that quite often turned into hilarious disasters.
One Saturday Sal decided to go fishing at Herrick’s Cove on the Connecticut River. Sal loaded his aluminum boat in the back of his pickup truck. The bow of the boat rode on the top of the truck cab. The back of the boat rested up against the closed tailgate. He tied a rope through the handle of the bow. Each end of the rope was tied off to the front bumper. Everything seemed secure so he headed down Rt-103 to Bellows Falls.
As he left Chester he picked up speed to 50 mph. He didn’t get very far before he heard a loud swooshing sound. When he looked in his rearview mirror he saw his aluminum boat tumbling through the air and landing in the road. A trailer truck tried to avoid the boat but couldn’t. Ka-thump, ka-thump and his boat was as flat as a pancake.
Another time he had a job building a small addition on Thelma Whitcomb’s place. He had bought all the materials to frame the floor, walls and roof. Concrete blocks for a footing, 2”x6”s for framing and nails. This all went very well and rather quickly. Then he framed the sidewalls and the roof. Again it went very well. Sal was on a roll.
Well he went to Wiggins in Springfield and bought 18 sheets of sheetrock. Sal loaded the sheetrock in the back of his truck and headed back to Chester. Now there was a 3-way blinking amber caution light at the intersection of Routes 11 & 103 by the Catholic Church that hung over the intersection.
Sal was coming up to the intersection from the south. The car ahead of him stopped to allow a tractor trailer coming south on Rt-103 safe passage through the intersection.
Sal was in a hurry so after the trailer truck passed Sal blew his horn at the car in front of him. Well the driver of that car gave Sal the single finger salute and refused to move. Sal backed up so he could go around the idiot.
As Sal pulled out to pass he saw an ambulance approaching the intersection with its red lights on. Sal floored it in an attempt to get through the intersection before the ambulance.
Whoops! All of the sheetrock slid out of the back of the truck onto the pavement. Of course the sheetrock broke up into small pieces with white dust all over the road. Now Sal had a real problem.
The ambulance couldn’t get through and Chester Police Chief Bill Clemons showed up on the scene. Not only did he lose his sheetrock but he lost his license for 30 days.
Another job he took was moving the contents of a house in Gassetts to Bartonsville. He used his pickup and a trailer and made several trips. On the last trip he had tied a piano along the side of his truck bed. Now that piano was much taller than the side of his pickup and top heavy. As usual Sal was in a hurry.
Coming down North Street at 40 mph he rounded the curve onto the gristmill bridge. He had tied the piano on the driver’s side of the truck. The centrifugal force caused by the extra speed and the sharp turn broke the ropes and the piano fell out of the truck and into the road smashing into hundreds of pieces.
Police Chief Bill Clemons showed up soon after. Chief Clemons told Sal to hurry up and clean up the street. Clemons then wrote Sal a ticket for “Driving to endanger.”
Sal went to court with attorney Mordecai Mason. He was found guilty and fined $25.
Another time he agreed to take down a massive dying Maple tree on Grafton Street. Sal had some experience at cutting trees. He walked around the tree several times to determine which direction to best drop the tree without any property damage. He was now ready to cut the tree down.
Well he cut the directional notch about of a third of the way through the trunk. This notch would direct the tree where he wanted it to fall. Then he came around the other side and cut through to the notch.
The tree started to fall in the prescribed direction when it suddenly turned on the stump, changed direction and fell on Erline’s house crushing her slate roof and caving it in.
Erline came out the house boiling mad and was screaming at Sal. He told her not to worry he had insurance. “You better have,” Erline said. “When my husband gets home and sees what you’ve done, you’re gonna need it!”
The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society is Thursday, April 26, 7 p.m., upstairs at Chester Town Hall. The monthly slideshow will be Chester photos to be included in our new book to be published this summer.
This week’s old saying is from my mother. “The bigger your kids get the bigger your problems get.”