Thursday, July 15, 2010
Fool's Gold ...
I'm fixin' to reach way back in time and tell you folks a tale involving Grandpa DooLittle's great grandpappy Amos DooLittle, as recounted to me by the immutable Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt himself ... now Amos DooLittle was a Connecticut provincial and silversmith from New Haven who served under the command of none other than Captain Benedict Arnold ... after crossing the Charles River from redcoat-held Boston, DooLittle, along with scores of other eager militiamen sat idle for weeks anticipating a skirmish that never did take place ... accordingly, most grew tired of waiting and simply returned home ... among those who remained were DooLittle and another young soldier by the name of Ralph Earle from Bolton ... eventually it became evident to military commanders that no battle was to occur, so Amos and Earle were granted leave to visit locales of recent engagements for the purpose of reviewing and recording battle scenes of that day, Amos Doolittle, who was ready to try his hand at picture engraving, directed Earle, a portraitist, to sketch and paint the countryside, filling in the troops and fighting from details Doolittle had collected from eyewitnesses ... at times Doolittle posed on the battlefields with a musket—if "battlefields" is not too grand a word ... back at his shop on College Square near Yale, Doolittle translated Earle's work into metal and was soon ready to sell prints, plain or colored, in sets of four "neatly engraved on copper from the original paintings taken on the spot!"
Now for Virgil's tale ... it seems as though Amos DooLittle's pappy raised chickens, laying hens to be exact, and sold fresh eggs gathered each morning to folks who lived nearby ... now nobody knows who the culprit was, but some hapless prankster had obtained a golden egg about the size of that a large goose might produce ... this mischief-maker believing the golden egg to be no more than a clump of worthless metal thought it would be greatly amusing to place that egg beneath one of Amos DooLittle's pappy's prime laying hens ... that very night, the trickster did just that ... the next morning as Amos' pappy collected the eggs there it was 'neath his best laying hen -- a golden egg! ... Amos' pappy didn't tell anybody about this incredible find, he did however take the egg into town to have the local evaluator take a look at it -- his conclusion being that of "solid, pure gold!" with a weight of approximately sixteen ounces ... very valuable indeed ... Amos' pappy was beside himself ... what to do with this precious object? ... so he came to the conclusion that he would have the initials "AD" engraved on the egg for identification purposes and set it aside for his son Amos, then present it to him on his twenty-first birthday ... so the day came when Amos turned twenty-one and his pappy proudly presented him with the golden egg ... Amos pretended to be extremely pleased with this unusual gift, and although himself a silversmith, he figured that his pappy had never given him anything of real value before, thus this golden egg was nothing more than a clump of worthless metal ... so Amos set it aside and soon forgot about it.