The Gift of Goofy Antics and a Thoughtful Birthday Song

Wipe Dipe and Lawn Stripes written and sung by Richay Joseph

I recently read Ken Cadow’s book, Gather. Ian, the main character, acknowledges the adults who have “gathered for him” throughout his life. I teared up when I read this because almost everyone I know benefited greatly from being surrounded by anchoring adults or having one person who helped them find their way. Bruce and I are grateful for the many people who gather around our children. They are blessed by close relationships with their many aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides. Many of our friends have been surrogate aunties and uncles for our kids. Richay, AKA Rich Joseph, has been one of those people. 

Richay spreads joy and humor with his goofiness, creative expression, and storytelling. One of Richay’s superpowers is making people feel welcome and known, and he often does that through the offering of his songs. Over the years, Richay has become an accomplished guitarist. He also writes and records songs with clever and meaningful lyrics, sometimes for specific friends. On January 2nd, our youngest kiddo Colter turned twenty-two. He was deeply touched to receive a recorded Richay song called Wipe Dipe and Lawn Stripes. When Colter was a wee lad, he carried a little white raggy cloth diaper he called “wipe dipe” that he snuffled while he sucked on his fingers.

As Colter grew up, he developed a wide variety of interests, including playing guitar. Of course, Richay is one of his music mentors. Colter is meticulous about his work mowing lawns, grooming ski trails at the Dartmouth Skiway, driving the Zamboni at the Connecticut College rink, and driving an excavator anywhere he gets the chance. Colter insists that everyone pay attention to the straight lawn stripes he makes when he mows our lawn and other lawns in the neighborhood. On January 2, 2024, Richay wrote and recorded a song for Colter called Wipe Dipe and Lawn Stripes, which captures the wonderful connection Colter and Richay have shared and will share for many more years.

Our family’s connection to Richay and his family started years before he moved to the Upper Valley. Bruce and Richay went to UVM together and share many common interests, as well as a similar zany sense of humor. Richay and Bruce have a particular flare for brainstorming ideas for odd skits and shameless nonsense. Some of their work is rather time-consuming, but Richay’s wife Maggie and I usually forgive them because they spread joy and add spice to our lives. As the Lingelbach-Pierce kids got older, their interest in Bruce’s oddest humor waned a touch, but if Richay was in the mix they got on board.

On Richay’s regular visits to the Upper Valley, he joined us for the morning madness of kids wrangling up breakfast and packing lunches before the bus arrived at 7:10 AM. Watching the kids get on the bus inspired Richay to pitch some ideas that could make the bus stop a more exciting and humorous endeavor. After a cup of coffee or two, Bruce and Richay had generated a lineup of ideas that could freshen up the early morning wait for the bus. 

Bruce and Richay were all in for the first bus stop show the following morning. They got up early to gather the props. When the bus rolled up, Richay was sitting in an armchair behind the kids who were facing the approaching bus as if all was normal. Richay read the newspaper and sipped coffee next to a side table with a janky lamp and an old, broken TV on a crate that had been pulled from the barn to bring the bit up a few notches. As the kids got on the bus, Richay folded the corner of the newspaper down and gave a jolly “cheers” with his coffee cup. Our kids tried to keep straight faces on the bus while Bruce and I laughed hysterically hiding in the shed trying to capture it on film. The expression on the bus driver’s face and on the faces of a couple of befuddled kids who happened to be looking out the window were all that was needed to inspire more ideas. 

The next day, Richay was hanging upside down on Bruce’s inversion table when the bus arrived. The smirking bus driver and more kids’ faces pressed against the bus window with big smiles or confused expressions were enough to launch us into hysterical laughter for twenty minutes straight standing together in our parking lot on a gray morning in Etna, NH all by ourselves.

The following day, Bruce and Richay had the grill fired up early at the bus stop and pulled some burgers out of the freezer so Richay would be grilling up some chow by 7:07 AM. Many of the kids on the bus were sitting next to a window on the right side of the bus, ready for the bus stop show. As the bus chugged off with our kids on board, Richay slapped a burger on a bun and held it out as if to offer a snack before they took off. He broke into a jog alongside the bus, picked up speed with the bus, and was in a full sprint for about 100 yards to the end of our parking lot before the bus disappeared down the road full of smiling kids. We could not contain our laughter, feeling grateful to start the day with such hilarity.

The kids came home that afternoon and informed us that the bus driver thought it was too dangerous for Richay to run so close to the bus, which made us start laughing all over again. Richay had to head back home to Katonah, NY that afternoon anyway, so it was officially time to wrap up the Bus Stop Antics series. Fear not, Richay’s humorous bits and skits still make the rounds in one form or another. 

Read the lyrics and click the link below to hear Richay’s song for Colter. 

Lyrics to Wipe Dipe and Lawn Stripes

​​Wipe Dipe and Lawn Stripes

Two of the favorite things he likes

Out of the womb, he loved to groom

Colter, the ski hill molder

Wipe Dipe and Lawn Stripes

Two of the favorite things he likes

On a Zamboni, he loves to zoom

Colter the ice rink molder

Wipe Dipe and Lawn Stripes

Two of the favorite things he likes

In a backhoe, moving tree stumps and boulders

Colter’s a landscape molder

Hard to believe he is one year older

Happy 22nd Birthday, Colter

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