1976: A Time for Forecast
by Bill Conklin

PROFESSOR T. Gerald Foyp, head of the Department of Geopolitics at Mentor College, Mentor, Maine, has just returned from places like Washington and Wall Street, getting what he calls “the heft of things.” We were privileged to interview him in July, 1976, when his information and ideas were still fresh.

Can you tell us, sir, how you see the second half of the year shaping up?

It should move right along from where we are now.  You’ll have your early summer, and then your late sum­mer giving way to fall, and after that the Holiday Season—Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. The idea of a seasonal, or if you will, cyclical year is pretty well established in our society. I don’t foresee any great need or desire to change it, although adopting the metric system may usher in a surprise or two.

No comment on 1976 in terms of the election?

Well, there is this to say, and nobody ever seems to say it: a national election tends to make the end of the year a bit top-heavy, especially here in the New England states. That’s probably due to the enormous numbers of people moving to and from the polling places and so forth. Things begin to tilt. You may find the salt and pepper sliding off the table, minor annoyances of that sort.

And the Bicentennial?

This year, definitely. But to a large extent it’s already been discounted. I don’t think it’s any too soon to consider that next year will be the 201st Birthday of the Republic, and to start planning for that. What you’ve got there is a year you just won’t see again. There are committees to be formed, tours to be organized, medals to be struck. A lot went on in 1777, and kept going on right into 1778.

Will you be making any movies in the coming months?

No. I’ve never made a movie and I never will. There just isn’t the time. I have to walk the dog twice a day, for instance, and I could go on from there.

Could you express an opinion on the economy?

I believe what we’re seeing these days is that Nature isn’t the only one that abhors a vacuum. It may be that like a biorhebic engine—the economy must sometimes contract to expand, and it may of course be something altogether different. Sometimes it helps to visualize an inverted pyramid, the apex resting lightly in the sand. Pointing to what? Oil? Probably. One thing is certain: the letters GNP are being too much bandied about. The rest of the alphabet just sits there, and that’s plainly non-productive. It wouldn’t hurt a jot to talk about the TRF once in a while, or the WBD. Just before they took Uncle Silas away he said, “What this country needs is a good five-cent nickel,” and I don’t see what’s so crazy about that.

What about investments over the next six months? Any advice?

Down on Wall Street they say the best time to buy your snowsuit is in July. I tried that once and was the laughingstock of Lake Winnipesaukee. I’ve also heard a very profitable thing to do is get a corner on the market and squeeze the Big Boys. After that, there’s mutual funds.

How do you plan to spend your own discretionary income this year?

On food, shelter, a good stout pair of boots. The way I see it, you only pass this way once. Why not go first cabin?

Considering Women’s Lib, and the elections, this question may not be the cliché it once was. Do you think a woman will be president?

I’ll tell you something, a woman has already been president. I can’t say which one, but you’d recognize the name. Please don’t press me on this, for obvious reasons of confidentiality.

All right, let’s talk about détente.

Détente is just the tip of the iceberg. So many things are.  The tip of an iceberg itself, for example. But look at it this way: if you turn an iceberg upside down, nine-tenths of it will be above the surface. Which is some tip. Or look at it this way: Neighbor Jones isn’t going to build too big a fire in his fireplace if he knows I’ve got a pair of heat-seeking andirons.

That’s an extremely pragmatic outlook. Do you also have some sort of faith that sustains you?

When I was six years old, I heard a very wise man say, “Tomorrow the farthest mountain will be not one step closer than it is today.” I find that an idea with a lot of mileage in it.

Which might bring us to the so-called energy crunch?

Now there we’ve got to look beyond our fossil fuels, beyond our finite resources, and get our hands onto something big. I’ll tell you where it’s really hot. Up on the sun. You can fry an egg on the sun. That’s simplistic, of course, but heat like that is just waiting to be tapped. Another good source of energy is friction. You’ve heard of rubbing two sticks together, certainly. But four sticks? Eight sticks? Sixteen sticks? Now you’re getting somewhere.

What is your opinion of UFO’s, ancient visits from outer space, things of that nature?

I can take you out behind a certain Vermont cowbarn and show you an impression in the earth that exactly matches the contours of a giant Bermuda onion. Now who is to say that at some time in our civilization we weren’t visited by onion-shaped spaceships? There are rocks in New England, minerals and the like, which geologists never have got a good fix on, maybe with reason. Also, we might want to consider some correlation with the onion-shaped domes of the Kremlin. Or the possibility that in this instance the past has quite literally paved the way for the future. Perhaps people wiser than we have prepared this particular landing spot in the knowledge that onion-shaped ships, or creatures resembling huge Bermuda onions, or even giant Bermuda onions themselves, will one day visit us. It’s easy enough to scoff and mock, but far better to keep our minds—and our options—open.

There seems to be a continuing interest in what you might call frontiers of the mind, too. The feats of people like Uri Geller, for instance.

Listen, nobody can bend nails better than I can. I’ve never driven one straight into anything yet. And take this strange sensation psychologists call déjà vu. Only last night I walked into our old farmhouse kitchen, and had the uncanny feeling I’d been there before. And I have, you know—many, many times. The point is, it might be the same in Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, or the Acropolis, or the Boston Armory. These things are cumulative; you can build on them.

What is your biggest environmental concern at this time?

The Equator. I read recently where they’re taking a whole lot of heavy machinery down to the Equator—rain-making equipment and earth-moving equipment and so on—and this is dead wrong. Now the Equator is where it is, and as it is, because that’s how it’s meant to be. I’m not just talking about latitude and longitude, I’m talking about a whole lot more. You listen to these smart fellows in Washington—politicians, engineers, what have you—and you get the impression what they’re saying is, so what? It’s just the Equator. Well, it’s not. It’s the Equator. Mess it up and nobody’s going to roll in another one. That’s it, boys. That’s all she wrote. So we’re back to the old qualitative-quantitative bugaboo. Do we want more of an inferior Equator—one that’s been artificially rained on, and dug into, and pushed and pulled about—or just the right amount of the Equator Intactus? You figure it out.

On a more positive note, do you visualize any medical or scientific breakthroughs in the immediate future?

I think we’re going to learn a good deal more concerning the curious state we call being awake. Science has determined that on the average we spend two-thirds of our life up and about, but nobody can say for sure why, or how, or exactly what good it does us. We’re already learning there are several different levels of wakefulness, ranging all the way from wool-gathering to being totally alert. What we need now is for Harvard or Yale or Dartmouth to endow an Awake Institute. Then we’ll have some major discoveries. Some people can get by on only three or four hours of being awake each day, while the rest of us seem to require much more. Why is this? We need to know.

One final question, because we see you stuffing things into your briefcase, and generally making leaving motions. If you had to define your philosophy of life in just one word, could you do it?


from "A Little Book of Yankee Humor"