p. beck passed away at his home on tuesday, july 1st,
2003. he was 82.
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
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.
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.
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?"
there's been a murder," a cop yelled.
yes," he said, "there has. you'll find the
bodies in the barn." and he slammed the window
and went back to bed.
by a site visitor
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"....
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.
recommended reading: horace beck's folklore
and the sea.
further reading about horace beck see middlebury