Perfect casting for the role of a lifetime ~
bringing Lord Timothy Dexter to life ...

Throughout generations, Lord Timothy Dexter remains the epitome (or as Lord Tim would spell it out, "A pitty me") of Newburyport's enduring entrepreneurial spirit. And for the past two years ~ Newburyport native, Amesbury High School history teacher and local history enthusiast Paul "Jance" Jancewicz has been the embodiment of Dexter ~ providing the form for one who is certainly "one of a kind."

What kind? Dexter was unquestionably one of the Knowing Ones. Amongst the waves of the Waterside people throughout the generations, he proved a unique strain ~ captivating, but difficult to capacious. Needful was the right vessel to capture the "sole" of Dexter.

Wonder of Wonders! After his audition on the afternoon of the Full Sap Moon, Paul "Jance" Jancewicz was cast in this role of a lifetime ~ bringing Dexter to life in time to entertain, enlighten & enliven the throngs during Yankee Homecoming 2004 ~ just as the Waterside marked a new generation with a Once in a Blue Moon opportunity. It would prove to be perfect casting.

That year, the Yankee Homecoming festival's theme was "Welcome to my hometown!" which would be the height of irony since (though widely identified with Newburyport) Dexter himself was not a native. Yet still, in so many senses, Lord Tim is a distillation of the Spirit of all generations of the Waterside people ~ be they born here or drawn here, to spend some time or a Lifetime.


(c) 2004 Bright iDear

This image captures the form earlier in the spring of 2004, during Jance's first outing in Lord Tim attire ~ getting into the spirit of the role. The Knowing Ones took him to commune at the Dexter's graveside~ to Awaken the Spirit ...

During that Yankee Homecoming festival, Jance cum Lord Tim was to partake in a parody of the very "fake funeral" the Kelley School children mention in their "big book" ~ in a (very) loosely translated spoof on the mock funerals which Dexter himself had held during his lifetime (and mentioned in his "little book") ...

Portraying Jonathan Plummer, John Brennan1 recited an Elegiac Ode to the nearly departed ~ and all toasted to his Lordship's memory, in a Motion of Comity. One of the Knowing Ones quoted the essence of Dexter with his expression: "The 'sole' is the thinking part" ...

Then, when asked to speak their piece ~ some of the children ~ who had been giving out token rings to participants and spectators of the mock "mock funeral" ~ poignantly interpreted the symbolism to signify: "There is no end to Lord Timothy Dexter." How profound.2

Seeking solace and solitude after the event, a small gathering mounted the knap of Old Hill Burying Ground where Dexter rests and joined in a conversation which centered around beginnings and endings ~ the Circle of Life ... and coming full circle.


1 At the time, actor and historical interpreter John Brennan of Newport, Rhode Island brilliantly portrayed Lord Timothy Dexter's poet laureate Jonathan Plummer. Rejoining his onetime friend and patron for a time before Yankee Homecoming 2004 (Come Wot May!) ~ the itinerant preacher, solicitous poet laureate and erstwhile fishmonger could be seen out and about the Waterside ~ on some occasions in the company of his Lordship ~ other times on his own ~ proffering his broadsides to passersby ~ engaging in an extemporaneous, extraordinary oratory or fabulous confabulation.

John's soul mate Michelle fulfilled the part of "Mrs. Dexter" in the aforementioned mock "mock funeral"~ and three generations of the Brennan family ~ including a son (then a "tween" now teen) and a younger daughter and paternal grandparents ~ sojourned to Newburyport to enjoy Yankee Homecoming ~ helping to remark a new generation during by building a cairn during a Once in a Blue Moon opportunity. And while "Jonathan" was gamming with a group of local teens, Madam Hooper overheard the group ask his young daughter if he was her father ~ and when she nodded, they all proclaimed, "Your dad is so cool!" Naturally, the little one was beaming with pride. Cool teens calling her dad cool. Phat, that.

A post script in a communication added that the Brennans have started a new tradition based upon the old German custom of hanging a glass pickle ornament on the Christmas Tree:

"We altered the tradition to suit our needs and the children were very excited to hang a 'Pickle for the Knowing Ones' as the final ornament on the tree this year. I was glad to see how much of the story of Lord Dexter and Jonathan Plummer was still strong in their memory for having experienced it in such a personal and physical way at Yankee Homecoming! History is alive and kids never forget that if you take it out of the books and put it into their hearts.

Do sense that somewhere Lord Timothy Dexter is smiling ~ for (along with an increase in "entourism") ~ this is exactly what Lord Tim and (an earlier generation of) the Knowing Ones had hoped to engender with the ever-changing montage of monuments comprising his "mouseum" of historical "wodden figgers" ~ an exploit which Dexter expressly expressed in the opening passage of "Pickle" itself. And something we hope to continue with a new generation ~ adopting and adapting old to new. Coming full circle. In a Motion of Comity.

Perhaps the children were correct in their interpretation of the mourning ring's representation of the Circle of Life: That there is no end to Lord Timothy Dexter ~ or any one or any thing we try to keep alive in its best light and afterlight ...

2 One had the occasion to be very much a part of this event ~ hoping against hope to introduce an "old friend" to the wider audience. Many had forewarned that setting one's cap to recap (and rehab) Lord Timothy Dexter during a madcap Yankee Homecoming event was foolish.

While there would be plenty of tongue- in-cheek during the mock mock funeral ~ there proved an opportunity to shed some light. Unfortunately, one (long aspiring to be one of the Knowing Ones) was totally misquoted by the Fourth Estate in the news coverage of the event.

For, while given the opportunity to remark (during the feigned mourning, for of course, Dexter's "mock funerals" were said to be simply a ruse for a party) ~ one extemporized with sensitivity and sensibility, "One will always recall Lord Tim's words of inspiration, 'the sole is the thinking part' ... but believe the children said it best." Then prompting the little ones who had been given rings to hand out to the participants and spectators (as tokens to symbolize the Circle of Life ~ "Madam Hooper" having explained the significance) ~ the children added their own interpretation (as mentioned above) remarking, "There is no beginning or end to Lord Timothy Dexter."

Seeing a member of the press was covering the event, then later interviewing the Little family, one thought that the article might include their poignant remark. Instead, the article published in the next day's edition of the paper of record, one was quoted (by name) as saying, "Let's go have an ale!" No mention of that which was imparted to participants ~ stage to page.

Needless to say, it followed that on day, the phone rang continuously with exclamations: Those individuals who were there at the event rightly (ex)claimed, "You didn't say that! Why ever would that be quoted ... and why attributed to you?" And those who did not attend ~ asked incredulously ~ all the philosophical things one might said about the man, the myth and the motif ~ why did one chose to make that remark ~ especially given one of the motivations for reviving the Waterside movement anew.

When speaking with the reporter about this, as well as an incorrect factoid concerning Dexter, one was told the newspaper could correct the record to indicate that Dexter was a tanner and not a tailor --- and would state that one was not the individual who made the remark (suggesting we all go have an ale) --- however, the paper could not quote what one did say ~ nor (more importantly) could the paper state the children's comments. [Incidentally, one was informed that the attribition had been made (capriciously) in order to mention one's name in the article ~ (with no consideration of the accuracy.)]

Then asked who actually did call out, "Let's go have an ale!" ~ one replied that perhaps it was someone in the crowd or one of the pallbearers ~ but that one really did not recall ~ for that was not what one would take away from the event, and one was disappointed that was what impressed the reporter.
The following day, the correction attributed the remark to "someone in the crowd" (or other vague reference). Thoughtless (if not soulless) ~ this was little solace for the Knowing Ones, this one in particular.

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