The Exeter News Letter, July 20, 1977, By Diana Barr
Anyone who has read local papers for the last 27 years will recognize the name of Joe Dixx. They will also recognize Uncle Flub, Cousin Lukie and the good information that his backwoods wisdom imparts each week.
Who is Joe Dixx? Is he a real person? Where does his information come from? A good person to ask is Richard Schanda of Grant Rd.. Newmarket. Richard is Joe Dixx.
“Joe Dixx came right out of the air,” says Richard, a slight, young-looking man of 50. When he wrote his first article 27 years ago, he wanted to hide his identity under another name. Joe, his brother’s name and his own name, Dick, became Joe Dixx and has stuck ever since. “I’ve been lucky to know old-timers,” says Richard. All his characters are real people, but he gave them pet names. Uncle Flub, who lives in Dover and Cousin Lukie who lives in Newmarket are just two of his friends who parade in and out of his column each week.
Although his column often has the lighter side of fishing and hunting, Richard is a serious sportsman. Richard has been a licensed guide for the State of New Hampshire for 17 years. Wardens in the area must sign a document stating he is a safe guide and submit the application to the state for approval. When he takes a new hunter out into the woods he will point out interesting types of trees, where moose have been, deer scratching trees, and signs an untrained eye would not see. ”I teach them the ways of the woods, not just hunting,” he says.
Richard and his wife, Priscilla, have been married for 27 years and their house is built on the field where he played baseball as a boy. Their living room is filled with memorabilia from the stories he writes about. For each one of the four deer heads mounted on the wall, he has a fond story. ”Notice the darker color of this one,” he says, patting the neck of a large, eight-point buck (you count the points on both antlers). “I started hunting when I was 9 and in those days didn’t shoot at anything that flew, bullets were too scarce.”
About the same time he found he could hit something with a gun, he read his first book on animals. He has been hooked on wildlife ever since. Much of his additional information on animals and fish and game laws comes from constant reading of wildlife books and bulletins from the legislature.
Many years later, he found he could not only read about animals and the woods, but write about, them, too. ”I wrote my first story for an English teacher some 30 years ago,” he says. Matter of fact, he says he got an A for his effort. Since he has been writing his column, he gets correspondence from all over the country. He has received letters from South Carolina, Alaska, Colorado and once from Japan.
Priscilla hunts and fishes with Richard and they both share the companionship of their faithful dog, Tree. ”This is the best woodcock dog there is,” he says. “Tree is the elder statesman of dogdom.” Tree is a playful golden cocker spaniel and looks as dangerous as a teddy bear. Tree is the last of the line from 30 years of the same breed.
On the other side of the sportsman, writer and family man is Richard, the horticulturist. A large orange tree hanging with tiny green fruit sits in a pot in front of the picture window where he watches and writes about the playful foxes and other critters. He carefully picks up a woodcock feather and with the tip transfers pollen from each blossom.
The Schandas have one son, Richard Frank, who is attending aviation school in Oklahoma. Richard and Priscilla plan to live in the North Country when they retire from Macallen Co. They have a camp in Dummer and many an episode for his column has come from stories spun around the table in the midst of a howling northeaster.
His stories spin on and on about people and animals he has met and his knowledge of the outdoors. His respect for the environment, whether on water or in the woods, deflates the image of the stereotyped hunter who will shoot at anything.
It could well be Joe Dixx has never met. a critter he didn’t like.
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