TREVOR "The Games Man"

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"84 - 95"

 Characters for an Imaginary Novel *

 
In my frequent travels, I often come across highway signs listing multiple towns that together look and sound like a person's name to me. Over the years I accumulated quite a collection of these. At some point, I decided they all must be characters in a travelog novel set in New England (where nearly all of these sign-derived names occur). Because of the Baroque/Industrial Age era sound of many of these names, and because of the Interstate Highway route numbers where the bulk of these names were found — Rtes. 84, 89, 90, 91, 93, and 95 — range from 84 to 95, this novel is set in a 21 year period of the America Industrial Age from roughly 1884-1895. The book's title is the simple yet somewhat cryptic: 84-95.
 
The rules for the book's character's names are simple:
 
1. The names must appear one right after the other on a road sign, usually one above the other. All the words on each line must be included in the name... no picking and choosing which words to use. That is, it has to look like a name. hence the only middle initials are N, S, E, and W, and there is also the common abbreviation St. (as in "St. Patrick's Day") as part of a few last names.
 
2. It has to be a real-sounding 1800s name. Many are rejected outright because they don't sound like names; for instance, I don't think anyone would ever name their kid Tewksbury!
 
3. I have to like it.
 
The one that started it as was Barnet Peacham, so he is the lead character in this imaginary late 1800s Industrial Age, New England travelog novel that I will never write (hence the "imaginary" part) but thoroughly enjoy discovering new characters for.
 
Mr. Peacham is a kind and gentle soul who is well-liked in the community. Danville Hardwick came right after that and is Barnet Peacham's best friend. Barton Glover is a mechanic who is madly in love with society lady, Bethel Royalton. Unfortunately, due to his low social standing, she is completely unattainable. Miss Royalton's dear friend, society lady Sharon Stratton, however, has no compunctions whatsoever about gleefully, and often maliciously, leading the lovestruck Barton Glover on about Miss Royalton's (non-existant) love for him.
 
Much thanks to my lovely wife Nancy and my best buddy Don and his delightful wife Barbara who in one impromptu brainstorming session helped me flesh out many of the characters with careers and/or characteristics. Some of the characters' professions come from historical data on the towns in their names; for instance, Ayer Harvard: the town of Ayer MA is named for the man who donated the money to build the first Town Hall, hence Ayer Harvard is philanthropist.
 
Cast of Characters
 
Barnet Peacham ----------------------- our hero
Danville Hardwick --------------------- his best friend
Barton Glover -------------------------- mechanic
Bethel Royalton ------------------------ society lady
Sharon Stratton ------------------------ society lady
E. Templeton Ashburnham ----------- gentleman scholar
Marshfield Hanover -------------------- old man
Hingham Rockland --------------------- school teacher
Weymouth S. Weymouth -------------- girl
Barre, Northfield, & Sharon White --- preteen triplets
Milton N. Quincy ------------------------ dog
Barton St. Johnsbury-------------------- clothier
Kingston S. Duxbury -------------------- adventurous teenager
Barton Newport -------------------------- postmaster 
Essex Westbrook ------------------------- wealthy landowner
Randolph Milton -------------------------- mountaineer/woodsman
Freeport St. Dorchester ----------------- grocer
W. Newton Wellesley -------------------- professor
Auburn Worcester ------------------------ industrialist
Waltham Weston ------------------------- farmer
Flynt St. Palmer --------------------------- judge
Gilman Lebanon -------------------------- miller
Bozrah Montville -------------------------- British tourist
Woodstock Rutland ---------------------- stonemason
Gray Windham ---------------------------- stonemason
Douglas Northbridge --------------------- doctor
Lewiston Auburn -------------------------- ferry operator
Lawrence Andover ------------------------ school master
Ayer Harvard ------------------------------ philanthropist
Marion Wolcott ---------------------------- Governor's wife
Marion Milldale ---------------------------- M.W.'s neighbor/best friend

 
*  Jack Bruce and Peter King wrote a song called "Theme for an Imaginary Western" that appeared on Jack Bruce's 1969 album Songs for a Tailor. I, however, heard it on the rock group Mountain's Climbing! album, because Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi co-produced the Jack Bruce album and liked the song enough to get his own band to play it, too. I always thought it was cool that they wrote the theme song but didn't bother with the actual movie, so I've basically done the same thing here: characters, but no book.
 
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trevor@trevorthegamesman.com
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