“Bill Torrey is a storyteller too pure to be real and too funny to be believed. Spend a little time with him, though, and you realize he’s that one in a million person who has lived his life fully—felt it, loved it, and knows how to talk about it. Great storytellers and great stories don’t always find each other. With Bill Torrey it’s a head-on collision.”
—Tom Bodett, author, humorist, radio guy
“Bill Torrey is a natural storyteller who’s had the advantage of growing up on a farm, a setting full of stories. By turns wacky, hilarious, or heart wrenching, The Ta Ta Weenie Club will have you reaching for Bill’s tales for years to come, and trying out some unique Vermont expressions that you’ve probably never heard before.”
“Bill Torrey’s laugh-out-loud tales of his childhood in Vermont ring more true than any I have read. If you want to know the real Vermont, don’t miss this wonderful collection. It’s a long gone Vermont, seen and lived through the eyes of a young
Vermonter growing up in it. “
—Bill Schubart, author of I Am Baybie
Bill’s book The Ta Ta Weenie Club published by Green Writers Press is now available through his website in both written and a four CD Audio Book read by the author for the same price! Sit back and read some excerpts from a few of the twenty one stories in the book.
From “Bears and Pink Blankets”
The camp was a place that offered a different ambiance from our home. Hoards of black flies through June. Clouds of mosquitoes and no-seeums in July and August. And let’s not forget the deer flies the size of pelicans. They would arrive in such numbers when we pulled into camp that we were afraid to get out of the vehicle. That is, if we were lucky enough to be inside a vehicle. Most times we would take Dad’s pickup truck. As we were getting ready to go, we would fight to see who would get to ride in the back. Days before a scheduled trip, we’d have called dibs for seats. Dad had strapped some old bus seats in the back bed of the truck. This was the woodchuck version of a child safety seat and the closest thing to an air-conditioned ride we would ever get.
Being the youngest, I would usually lose out and have to ride up front. I would feel better about it as we arrived at camp. I would watch in amusement as the clouds of deer flies descended onto my siblings as we pulled up. In front, we would have the windows rolled up and the doors locked. The Old Man would sit in the truck for a few minutes before he would get out and unlock the camp. By then, most of the deer flies would be off circling and biting the kids running and screaming alongside the camp. “Nothing better than having some deerfly decoys to take the heat off,” he would say.
He firmly believed that deer flies prefer the meat of sweaty, greasy kids. And any deer fly biting a kid was one that wasn’t biting him. If my mom was along, he wouldn’t be able to torture us too long. She’d roll her eyes and sit there for a bit and then declare that he’d abused the kids enough and to get out of the truck.
Food always tasted better at camp. Even a burnt hot dog had more flavor than at home. So did peanut butter sandwiches and Cheesies that left our fingers orange. Cherry Kool-Aid or root beer to wash it all down. My mom would make a large batch of root beer every spring. She would lay the bottles on their sides under my bed to age. Once, for a bit too long. In the middle of the night a couple of bottles exploded with a bang that woke the whole family up. I was gun-shy for a week.
At camp we took full advantage of the natural larder that was free for the taking. Fat native brook trout swam in the beaver ponds and alder-covered brooks that fed those ponds. There were service berries in June. Raspberries in July. Blueberries and blackberries in August. Chokecherries and wild apples in September. Hazelnuts and butternuts that we took home and dried for later. By the end of the summer, I would be crapping like a bear.
And bears there were. Some of the local folks occasionally used an old dump in a ravine next to the road a few hundred yards from camp. One late summer day my friend Kirk Perkins, my dog Smokey, and I were walking by it and heard something grubbing around down at the bottom. Kirk picked up a rock and chucked it down the ravine at the noise. We’d figured it was a porcupine. The biggest bear I’d ever imagined in all the bear-filled stories told at camp stood up and gave us a real mean look.
We stood there gawking for about as much time as it takes for a fart to fade in a high wind. Then we both lit out for camp like somebody’d shot a starter’s pistol. There was a good downhill grade for the last seventy-five yards to the camp, and I swear my heels were coming up by my ears when we heard heavy panting and a galloping pounding behind us. Old Smoke came blasting right up between us. If it was possible for twelve-year-old kids to have a heart attack, consider it done.
From “Turd Grade”
Headquarters for the Resistance was the boys’ bathroom located in the dungeon-like basement of the old school. The stairway went down for about eight steps to a small landing, then turned ninety degrees to the right and descended another three steps. Ol’ Assburn had never invaded this sanctuary, and we’d been lulled into a false sense of security.
To the right side of the small room was a toilet stall. To the left side was a small sink. Straight ahead, across from the bottom of those last three stairs and about six feet away was a long trough urinal that could accommodate three or four guys’ whizzings at once. There came a day late in the school year when a group of us guys were down in the bathroom together for a little R & R. John Cady came up with a brilliant sort of challenge: Which one of us, he wondered, could pee the farthest?
Ray Porter took the first go at it. His shot made it from where he started in front of the trough to the bottom of the stairs as he stepped backward while firing away. Respectable, but we thought we had stronger contestants among us. Hub Roby squeezed out a stream from a perch on the second stair that hit the trough perfectly, probably could have gone farther. We were all laughing and squealing as eight-year-old boys tend to when having fun. And as I got up on the second step and started blasting away, I knew I could do better and backed up onto the third step. Still going strong and adjusting for Kentucky windage, I took another step up onto the little landing and nailed the trough dead center to the cheers of my fellow classmates. Suddenly, a dark shadow loomed over me. Ol’Lady Assburn grabbed me by the scruff of the neck.
From “Woodchuck Wars”
The grandest battle of all occurred in the summer of ’68 when I was eleven. The Old Man had planted darn near half an acre of garden on the back edge of the yard, down near the railroad fence. About the same time he’d started turning up the sod, the woodchucks had turned up, too. By the end of June, we had the woodchuck equivalent of Ma, Pa, and the kids munching on just about everything growing in the garden. Except the weeds. They didn’t touch the weeds. Scarecrows were the first line of defense the Old Man tried.
“Dad,” I said, as he nailed up the first one. It was sporting a yellow flowered sundress and an old blue Easter bonnet, “How are scarecrows going to do any good? We’re not having any problems with crows.”
“Nobody likes a wise ass,” he replied. “First off, I’ll get the woodchucks scared of people. Then these will work just fine. You have to be smarter than a woodchuck to outfox them.”
Apparently, nobody had informed the woodchucks that the Old Man was smarter than they were. He took potshots at them from the tool shed and the back porch with his shotgun. Fortunately for the woodchucks, the garden was just out of effective range. So Dad’s efforts to make them scared of people didn’t pan out the way he’d hoped. It only served to train them to be scared of people who were on the porch or in the tool shed. They were quite friendly with the fake ones permanently planted in the middle of the garden. They would actually eat in the shade of the scarecrows on hot days.
But to my Old Man, this was war. No rodents were going to deprive us of the food we needed to get us through the winter. I was going to suggest he put on the sundress and Easter bonnet and stand out there with his gun under his skirt. But I knew that would go over like a fart in church. Chances were I’d get the “wise-ass” comment again, if not worse. The application of his foot to my ass was not beyond the realm of possibilities. He’d done it before.
When the woodchucks got tired of being shot at, they became nocturnal. Oh, you might see them briefly at first light or just at dusk. But Mom wouldn’t let the Old Man touch off a shot at that time of day. Especially after the time he snapped a shot at one as it was hightailing it across the side lawn for the sanctuary of the gully. He missed the chuck but shot out a window in the barn, which he cleverly used as a backstop, gun safety always being paramount.
“Yes, sir, you need to have a good solid backstop when you’re shooting,” he said while we were fixing the window in the barn. “You can never be too safe. Let this be a lesson to you, Boy”
If you liked what you read, you can ORDER The Ta Ta Weenie Club by scrolling up and clicking on the button to the right and Bill will send you an autographed book pronto. He’ll probably write something stupid in it. You can’t beat that with a stick!
You can hire Bill as your storyteller, and you won’t even have to sell the farm to do it.
Just shoot him an e-mail in the box up to the right.
Or give him a call at 802-434-4293.
He’s in bed by nine, up at five.