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[This speech was written by George Pruden Savage in 1888 (Probably July 4, not Feb. 22). He is the son of Ralph Buckley Savage, grandson of Absalom Savage. The foundation he is speaking of could be the brownstone work on the south side of the barn. The grape vine he mentions was on the south side of the house and its stump was still there when our parents moved into the house in 1956. It came out from a hole built into the porch, and may have died from lack of sun or water or just old age. Scans are provided for those who wish to wrestle with some of the questionable translations. -- David Butler]
Kind friends who come with trusting heart and honest purpose, on behalf of the family here present and in my own behalf, I welcome you to the house of our fathers to enjoy the associations you may meet and a bit (link?) of the history of our fathers may be of interest.
200 hundred years ago a little bark set sail looking to the promised land and on board listed with the passengers was the father of our tribe, Honest John, coming to join the other savages on their native soil and in his wanderings he came to the valley of the blue Conn, and took unto himself a better half and settled and there began the arduous task of wrestling with family cares. We today can see the reward of his labors for throughout this broad land his descendants can be counted by the hundreds.
It is 82 years since our grandfather built the house where we now live and also set a vine of grapes at its side which live and we gather the fruit of his labor.
77 years ago our father was born in that house and later two brothers and a sister which still live (one of whom is here tonight). In the spring of 1843 my mother came here to live and since that time there has been recorded to her credit on the blank pages of the family bible the name of 12, all born in this same house. 11 of which are still living and ___ of us are here tonight. If you wish to find out the black sheep of the flock, ask the first gossip you meet and see how quickly they will take in vain the name of the father of our country (by George).
But what interests you most is what led to the improvements now before you. I will tell you 43 years ago my father built this barn which is over and he built it well and placed it so close to the ground that when his male birds got into a quarrel and one ran in to escape the attacks of the other, he had to send under his smallest boy to pull him out by his tail, by this method he would save the tail at least. Tail hold is a good hold but is not very sure on a good solid brahma. Later on there came to us two little calves, mild eyed bunters, Pinky and Minty. Pretty names. As they grew we trained them to let us ride, but occasionally they tired of us and made a bolt for the underside of that sill and the unlucky rider was the laughing stock of the crowd.
But those calves are of interest to you all for with them sprang the idea which has culminated here and with those calves grew the hole in the earth that undermined the foundation and with the hole grew the idea until it led to the foundation that is around you. Do not look upon it with any fear for I assure you it will not fall upon you this evening.
However these are not all the elements brought into the building of this structure, for while this idea was growing it was my good fortune to be associated with a few that are here tonight and with them and by their aid reached the standard of excellence that entitled us at the hands of the __(blank space)__ of the Middletown high school to a receipt of acknowledgement of the same and with the motto you see before you Fiortiter?, Fidelity, Felicity of B & S (body and soul?) for our guide we went forth to the battle of life. How bravely I entered upon this work you must know when I tell you that I had not only to face dull labor with a pick and shovel, but the stern will of a father who would no more willingly have the landscape under this barn injured or broken than if it was a beautiful picture of the same. How faithfully and successfully it has been carried on, you are here to judge. I have only to say it is finished and with you all as witness and with the flag of our nation over us (unknown word) him of the father of our country whose birth we are celebrating and whose name I am proud to bear and in memory of the dead who bore me, I tonight this my monument do dedicate and bequeath my interest in these surroundings to the sisterhood of the tribe who have not yet sacrificed their good name to the altar of matrimony and to the suffering brute creature that looks lovingly for a home and shelter from the storm blasts of the elements.
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