horace beck

horace p. beck passed away at his home on tuesday, july 1st, 2003. he was 82.

horace beck was the man behind the narration of the legend of harry meyers on medicine stone's gauge. beck was a traditional storyteller and a master of folklore who began sailing at age three. he made 28 transatlantic crossings and was the first white man allowed on the whaling ships in the west indies and in tonga in the south pacific. he spoke five languages, wrote a dozen books, and was one of the most popular professors ever to teach at middlebury college. in his youth he wrestled for ten years and had his ear torn half off, but was never pinned. he lived in his mountain home in ripton, vermont, and was a regular presence on national public radio.horace beck with game

horace beck anecdotes

at one point, in beck's hometown, highwaymen had taken to lying in ones and twos in the road to feign injury, and when a driver stopped to offer assistance, others would pile from their hiding places by the roadside, beat the driver to the ground, and steal the car. on the occasion that beck in his snowplowing pickup truck came across two of this ilk lying so spoken, he simply dropped the blade of his plow and plowed the men off the road.

there is no shortage of stories like this. when an ornery highland bull he owned stepped on his foot, he shot it. when a neighbor began to build on beck's land in spite of beck's protestations, he took his john deere tractor over and ripped the frame to the ground.

according to his daughter, at one point his barn was the continual focus of a considerable raccoon visitation. after being awakened at 2 a.m. by the squawking of chickens and a general sort of ruckus, he pulled on his boots, grabbed as many shells as he could carry, and headed for the barn, where the raccoons were like "wall-to-wall carpeting". he loaded and shot and loaded and shot until he ran out of shells. then he stacked the carcasses on the freezer to be disposed of in the morning, and went back to bed.

a half hour later, his front yard was filled with flashing blue lights. he opened the window, turned on a spotlight, and yelled "what the hell do you want?"

"we hear there's been a murder," a cop yelled.

"why yes," he said, "there has. you'll find the bodies in the barn." and he slammed the window and went back to bed.

contributed by a site visitor

i notice that you're one of the fortunate ones who had the opportunity to sit down with horace ("potch"). i am also one of those who got to spend a good deal of time with him growing up with [his children]....to share a "potchism", upon his arrival at my wedding in ogunquit, maine in 1996, his initial greeting was "my boy, you've gotten fat"....

oh, by the way, if you haven't tried "potch" coffee, the recipe is very easy. boil water, throw in the grinds, let it set five minutes, then pour. note: not instant coffee, nor are the grinds strained. it has been proven to allow you to sail the atlantic through your 70's.


strongly recommended reading: horace beck's folklore and the sea.

for further reading about horace beck see middlebury magazine online.


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