Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Hoppy" Caswell

"Hoppy" Caswell, a Sutton original

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
They call him "Hoppy" because he walks with a loping gait like a friendly brown bear. His real name is Donald Caswell and he has never painted a painting, wrote a book, created a sculpture or ran for office. But everyone in the town of Sutton likes Hoppy because he is one of those really really nice originals, everyone's friend, an engaging speaker with many memories of this town and the best lawn care provider for those who cannot afford a contract with one of the big firms who tend to the local glitterati.
Born 66 years ago in Stanstead, Hoppy had a pretty straightforward life. He spent years working at a Bedford canning facility, married, got widowed, moved to Sutton 30 some years ago ("I don't exactly remember when") and has been at his present apartment next to the railroad tracks for at least 15 years. Does the sound of the railroad which roars through town twice or trice nighly with whooping horns and window rattling vibrations bother him? "I don't hear it any more" Hoppy states. "In the beginning it used to bother me a bit, but I got so used to it, I sleep right through the noise".
After moving to Sutton, Donald worked for Yardex, exactly 35 meters from his front door, he spent nine years working for the Royal Canadian Legion and helped run the Sutton flea market for ten years. He still proudly shows his Legion membership card and is a most welcome member there.
"I never travelled much" he muses. "The farthest I get is when me and my girlfriend of nine years, Isabel, get a ride to the Brome County Agricultural Exhibition every year. This is our annual vacation".

Hoppy's metier for two decades has been the mowing of lawns and the repair of any kind of lawn machinery imaginable. He is happiest on his ancient tractor (rebuilt by him of course)and he has an array of push mowers in a shed next to his house. I personally can attest to his wizardy of doing our lawn, he leaves the place looking like a golf course, does not cut down the flowers and he remembers where the bulbs are in spring. He charges little, smiles a lot and is everyone's favourite "uncle". People stop by when they need advise, when they are bored and need to speak to someone or even to have a cup of Isabel's good coffee. Ever so often, Donald will buy himself a pint at the local pub but most often he can be seen holding court behind his huge picture window on the last house on the left side of Pine street before you hit the railroad track. Without people like Donald Caswell and Isabel, this would just be another town. It is people like Hoppy who make it a home. Thanks old guy!

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