I was recently asked if I thought “The Curse Of The Flatlander” would ever be broken.
I had to stop in my tracks. It had been a longtime since I had been reminded of it. I had even written about it to some degree on these pages many years ago.
Since then, it has been kept quiet; not many of us like to be reminded of it. With the Chicago Cubs breaking the 108 year “Curse of the Goat” last year, it seems like it is the only “curse” still lingering in the minds of some here in New Hampshire.
If you don’t know the story of the curse, it goes like this.
Back in the 1930s it is believed that the first “Flatlander” from the urban New York City area moved to New Hampshire. (Some dispute this claim, but I have yet to see hard evidence.)
The legend goes that many thought he wouldn’t have what it takes to survive in the Granite State. Sure, in the summers – a time when so many like him came to visit – things were easy. It was the winter and the off season where he would be tested to limit.
Despite all the odds, and the lack of sympathy from natives who were anxious to see him fail, he stood his ground. He adapted nicely and actually flourished; he was no average Flatlander.
His abilities in chopping wood, shoveling (yes shoveling) his roof and showing great courage and proficiency in accomplishing many other winter feats far outshone his neighbors. In fact, his expertise with a shovel, both on the ground and upon his roof, after a vicious snowstorm, earned him the nickname “The Grande Espatula” which was Spanish for “The Grand Shoveler”. (Many question this fact as no one can figure out who the heck in Central New Hampshire in the 1930s would ever come up with such a name.)
It was apparent to natives and Flatlanders alike that this one individual was blazing the trail for others to come after him. He was setting a standard for all to follow. Respect would be immediate.
Of course, this was not to be.
The local factory where the Flatlander worked during the week was remortgaged by the owner who needed cash to finance a summer stock production so as to give his wife a chance at becoming a great actress and eventually find her way to Broadway.
The show was a bomb, as was his wife. The show closed abruptly, the mortgage got behind and the factory eventually closed.
Finding it hard to find other opportunities for work, the Flatlander took a new job in Maine where he moved, along with his exceptional skills.
The legend goes that no Flatlander since that time who has moved to New Hampshire has been able to flourish in quite the same way.
At the same time, it is no secret, that Flatlanders moving to Maine have been much more proficient and continue to succeed by leaps and bounds.
Is this all just coincidence, or is it really a curse?
Many scoff at the very idea, dismissing the ineptness of Flatlanders like myself as a curse. Some point to rare examples of some who have actually succeeded. But have they ever reached that pinnacle that legend describes?
Believers in the curse, like the gentleman who reminded me of this the other day, feel that no matter how well they perform in their new homeland, they will never be able to reach the top of the ladder and be accepted as a true New Hampshireite until the curse is lifted.
Now that the Cubs have removed themselves from their curse, many feel it is our turn. That this coming winter one Flatlander will rise above the rest and flourish beyond all expectations and finally succeed where so many before him (or her) has failed before.
Will this be the year? Will one of us shine and put to rest the scorn and futility? To shut down the noise? Will one of us finally some up to par with those Flatlanders from Maine?
I know one thing for sure.
It’s not going to be me.
Join Brendan as “Real Stories North Of Concord” hosts its second StorySlam at Pitman’s Freight Room in Laconia on Thursday, August 24th. Up to twelve storytellers will be picked to tell their 6-minute story based on the theme “Brush With Fame.” The slam starts at 7:30 and admission is $20 with all net proceeds going to benefit Camp Resilience.