The Old Coot has the last word(s)

Sometime last year, or maybe it was two years ago, I’m not sure. I’m always off when I estimate the passage of time. I usually multiply my answer by two to get it right. Anyhow, Julie Lovelass of the Owego Kitchen gave me the obituary of a fellow old coot that passed away in 2006. She thought, “I’d get a kick out of it.”

It was quite unusual; it was penned by the deceased. I think it was more than something to amuse myself with, I think it was a hint – that I better get cracking on one of my own. Probably, because she’d contemplated “offing” me, especially my coffee klatch didn’t stop driving customers away with loud and outlandish behavior every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. Taking advantage of free refills and spending way too much time occupying space that could be put to profitable use.  

It was a good suggestion, no matter the motivation. I started the process of writing mine several times, but being a cheapskate and realizing how much it was going to cost to publish the slightly (overly, to tell the truth) enhanced story of my life, I’d concluded that the price of ten words was all I could bring my self to spend: husband, father, grandfather, social critic, complainer, roof sitter, old coot.

In the meantime, I’m submitting the obit (slightly edited) that Julie gave me for Daniel Reed Porter. It was published in the Cooperstown Crier on Nov. 21, 2006. I couldn’t do better, even if I wasn’t a cheapskate.  

With trumpets blaring, Zeus, God of Gods, called Daniel Porter to his heavenly pantheon. He, Porter not Zeus) was the 2nd child born in the new maternity ward of Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass., on his father’s birthday, July 2, 1930. His mother, Eleanor (nee Parsons) needed all the help she could get.

Porter was reared on a small farm in Worthington, Mass. Sickly as a child, his parents often contemplated drowning him in Watt’s Brook that flowed behind the house into which (the brook, not the house) they deposited other trash, sewage and cow manure. After being partially educated in local schools, Porter matriculated in the Class of 1952 at U-Mass, formerly Mass. – Aggie. Here he failed to distinguish himself in any meaningful way and to alienate a number of classmates and professors.

Upon graduating without honors, Porter was drafted into the US Army and served in Korea before and after the armistice. There he learned more than at college – never volunteer, be cowardly to survive, don’t circulate petitions, and keep away from indigenous females.

Returning home, ill prepared for an occupation; he was strangely accepted by the University of Michigan graduate School where he tried to prepare for an acceptable, if not respectable occupation.

A 35-year career as museum and historical agency administrator and museum director followed. After moving from state to state five times, to keep ahead of his reputation, he completed his career ignominiously in Cooperstown in 1992. He was a member of no organization, club or charity.

He was survived by – there will be no final rites or any mumbo-jumbo. He will not lie in state at the Farmer’s Museum. His cremated remains will be scattered on Watt’s Brook. Memorial gifts will not be accepted and cards are a waste of money.

Comments? Complaints? E-mail to – mlessler7@gmail or text to (607) 972-6102.

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