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Mel Hathorn

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Books by Mel Hathorn
Governor Rowland's Footguard
By Mel Hathorn
Posted: Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Last edited: Thursday, June 03, 2004
This short story was "not rated" by the Author.
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Recent stories by Mel Hathorn
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This is based on an incident that happened last Christmas.
Governor Rowland’s Footguard
Mel Hathorn

It was a sunny day as I entered the newly opened museum of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut. Although the building had been opened only a week, I was still impressed with the building’s scope. One entered a long hall that led past the ticket desk and past a large open room on the right, the Great Hall, to a set of gentle stairs that wrapped around itself to a balcony overlooking the Great Hall.

Due to the acoustical properties of the hallway and Great Hall, one could hear magnified whispers on the balcony and those on the balcony could hear the same from the floor below.

A glass barrier about waist-high prevented falls from the balcony into the Great Hall. The upper hallway then ended at the cafeteria that opened to a patio leading to the Mark Twain House, itself.

On this particular day the museum was celebrating Member’s Day. Scheduled events included Patty Rowland, The Governor’s wife, selling her newest children’s book and a silhouette artist drawing silhouettes. Most importantly, a brass ensemble from the Governor’s Footguard was playing Christmas Carols from the balcony.

As I entered the hall, the brass ensemble was just beginning its repertoire. Launching into a selection of Frosty, the Snowman, and a variety of other seasonal music, the Governor Rowland’s Footguard ensemble was amplified beyond the allotted endurance of the human ear. Even more unfortunately, one trombone player was significantly off key.

Many visitors winced at the errant trombone player’s music as the cacophony wrapped around them like water around a rock; the reverberation came spiraling down, roaring like a tornado. Governor Rowland’s Footguard ensemble sensing the audience’s reaction played even louder to cover up Governor Rowland’s Footguard trombone player’s music. Governor Rowland’s Trombone player played even louder. Governor Rowland’s Footguard played even louder followed by an increase in volume of Governor Rowland’s trombone player. As each tried to outdo the other Governor Rowland’s Footguard reached full amplification.

At that moment, a tour group was gathering at the foot of the stairs. The group was to walk up the stairs and around to the hallway overlooking the Great Hall where Governor Rowland’s Footguard was playing. The group would then proceed to the Mark Twain House, itself. An elderly woman with a walker slowly hobbled up the stairs delaying the rest of the tour group that waited for her to catch up. Unfortunately, the group was trapped behind Governor Rowland’s Footguard. One could hear her banging and scrapping her walker slowly and noisily across the floor. When she reached Governor Rowland’s Footguard, the banging of her walker increased rapidly, and her speed increased significantly as she and the group rushed to the patio where they no longer heard the music.

At that moment, Governor Rowland entered the Great Hall. Hearing the off-key music, he looked up to see a large sign hanging on the glass parapet that read, “Brought to you by the courtesy of Governor Rowland.” Horrified, Governor Rowland flipped his palm back and forth, signaling Governor Rowland’s Footguard to end the performance. Governor Rowland’s Footguard misunderstanding what Governor Rowland wanted played even louder.

Governor Rowland, fuming, rushed like a lunatic up the stairs to the rear of Governor Rowland’s Footguard. As Governor Rowland reached Governor Rowland’s Footguard, Governor Rowland collapsed against the wall, panting from exertion.

Governor Rowland, clearing his voice of phlegm, whispered in Governor Rowland's ensemble leader’s ear, but unfortunately Governor Rowland’s leader who was also Governor Rowland’s trombone player could not hear him over the music. It was later found that he (Governor Rowland’s leader and trombone player) was hard of hearing due to excessive loud noises.

“What?" yelled Governor Rowland’s leader and trombone player.

“End it now,” yelled Governor Rowland. His anger bubbled and boiled like a pot of hard-boiled eggs.

“Send it down? The Governor wants us to play more so they can hear it downstairs,” said Governor Rowland’s leader and trombone player to Governor Rowland’s Footguard.

“No, you idiot!” the Governor screeched. His voice sounded like a broom on wet cement. He was clearly out of control. “Stop or I’ll smack ya with my hand!”

“The Governor wants McNamara’s Band,” said Governor Rowland’s leader and trombone player.

Over the years, many groups from different countries have toured the Mark Twain House. At that moment a previously scheduled group from Ireland arrived and stood in the Great Hall as Governor Rowland’s Footguard broke out into a rendition of McNamara’s Band. The Irish group was ecstatic. Flattered that they were being afforded special treatment, they decided to return the favor by singing along with such phrases as, “A credit to ole Connecticut is Governor Rowland’s Band.”


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Reviewed by Eddie Thompson 3/3/2004
it made me laugh...well-crafted story.

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