Thursday, April 3, 2008

Katahdin Lodge and Camps of Patten, Maine In 1969



Look at all that front lawn I had to mow down there at Katahdin Lodge and Camps, in the summer of 1969.

(You can right click your mouse on the photographs on this web site, to enlarge them, and see much more detail in them.)

Anytime Finley Clarke's Nephew, that'd be me, David Robert Crews, was living and working at Finley's Katahdin Lodge and Camps, David was the Lodge's sole grass cutter and weed whacker.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

And my Uncle Finley and his wife, my Aunt Martha, both completely agreed with me.

In November of 1968, I moved, from where I grew up in Dundalk, Maryland, a Baltimore County suburb of Baltimore City, to Katahdin Lodge of Patten, Maine, to begin living and working at the Lodge. In effect exchanging the crowded, industrialized sights, sounds and smells of suburban sprawl for the quiet, sometimes gentle/sometimes harsh, natural beauty and fresh air of the heavily forested, sparsely populated Katahdin Valley.

The very first time I had entered that wide, rolling, deep green, mountain and valley landscape, was during summer vacation of 1966. I was a 16 year old passenger in my father's car. Dad, my mother, younger sister, cousin Nelson and I were on our way, up from Maryland, to spend a week at the hunting lodge my Uncle Finley, my mother's younger brother and my father's best friend, had bought the year before. We were driving about 6 miles south of the Lodge, when I was blessed with my first full, sweeping look from the northern Appalachian Mountains to our left, then back across Rural Route 11 and out across the wide, rolling Katahdin Valley to our right.

I felt the very soul of me expand -- powerfully -- outwards in all directions around our moving car -- with such secure, natural warmth that I can not fully express. Something previously unknown to me, from deep inside of my living spirit, reached out and embraced the countryside. It instantly mingled all in amongst the multitudes of tall, healthy green trees. Then slid back inside of me.

For the first time in my life, it felt like I had finally arrived at home.

I had found my most comfortable place on earth. I was destined to love that sweet, rough section of God's Country more than anyplace else I have ever been.

Which is why, at the end of Thanksgiving Day Week of November 1968, after my father and I had spent that week at the Lodge, I accepted my Uncle Fin and Aunt Marty's request that I stay there at Katahdin Lodge to live with and work for them, instead of going back home to Baltimore to join the US Merchant Marines, as I had told everyone in my family that I was planning on doing.

I graduated from Dundalk High School on June 5, 1968, and had planned on joining the Merchant Marines before my official Army draft notice came. That way, I could not be drafted into the US Army, trained as an infantryman and sent to die in Vietnam. At that time in our nation's history, most young Americans thought that all military draftees were sent to Vietnam as infantrymen. And that few ever returned home fully alive.

In November of '68, I figured that I had about another year before my draft notice arrived in the mail. So I stayed at Katahdin Lodge, and my father drove back home to the Baltimore suburbs alone.

And I experienced my first wintertime in northern Maine.

Eventually, after a great winter spent at Katahdin Lodge, with my Uncle Fin and Aunt Marty, a few paying lodge guests, along with plenty enough of the finest kind of Mainers, especially the country girls, and after doing a whole lotta' snowmobile riding, but mostly doing a whole lotta' hard, often dangerous physical labor, I became a Registered Maine Guide--who specialized in guiding bear hunters.

I was the right man for the job.

Especially when it came time for keeping the Lodge's roofs, walkways, parking areas and large horseshoe shaped driveway shoveled or plowed free from the record snowfall of the winter of 1968-69 and for keeping the Lodge's substantial, rocky lawns mowed and looking good.

All through my teenage years, while still living in Dundalk, I had shoveled neighborhood sidewalks and driveways, and had mowed and trimmed neighborhood lawns for money.

My way of viewing doing that work was similar to how some other young men view being on an organized football team.

Participating whole heartedly in football practice and playing football games is a very physically, mentally and emotionally demanding challenge. And in order to be, and feel, successful, and to win any games, football players must love 'tackling' those multiple layers of challenges. They must also learn to understand and respect their opponents.

You already know that mowing lawns or shoveling snow can also be a very physically, mentally and emotionally demanding challenge. Many teens, especially today's computer dependent teens, do not want to mow any lawns or shovel anything at all around their house, or anybody else's. Other teens love working out in gyms and being on sports teams. The average kid thinks of lawn mowing and snow shoveling as being a serious, frustrating hassle. But I approached it from a different angle.

I thought of it all as, "How can I understand the varying challenges of each individual mowing or shoveling job, in order to do each job the easiest and most efficient way, while setting and maintaining a steady pace at working that neither drains my energy and strength too quickly, nor takes me too long? And I want to evenly exercise and strengthen my body as much as possible. But, I must respect my own abilities and limitations, and weigh them against the various degrees of difficulty that each job possesses."

When lawn mowing, I started each lawn by first looking the yard all over, and figuring out how to make the most of the terrain along with the layout of typical yard objects like a swimming pool and a birdbath. It was the challenge of creating a geometric mowing pattern that allowed me to git-'er-done right. A pattern to be used every time I mowed that lawn. I always wanted to make as many passes as possible with the mower facing in the same direction, with the cut grass blowing out from under the mower only one time--to avoid building up too much cut grass under the mower. That meant pulling the mower backwards almost as many times as pushing it forwards. Which also exercised my body more evenly. I have never seen any other old or young mowing pro doing this. I guarantee you that most power lawn mowers cut the same going in either direction. You can use that technique on the fussiest of folk's lawns, and it will look just fine.

But it also means having the common sense to realize that bagging cut grass and putting it out for the trash man to collect is asinine. Because you are taking natural fertilizer away and wasting it. I ask you, so what if a little bit of cut grass gets dragged into your house? It won't kill you or cause cancer in your offspring, but the chemical fertilizers you may use on your lawns can kill by causing cancerous type medical conditions.

For shoveling snow, first I see if the walk or driveway is lower at one end. I always start at the lower end, no matter how slight the angle of the grade is, because it allows for you to not have to reach as far as in reaching downhill with the shovel, and each shovelful will be lifted up a slightly shorter distance. Each snowfall is either dry and light, or wet and heavy, to varying degrees, so I find out how heavy each shovelful of snow feels. I scoop up the same basic amount of snow in each shovelful and set a pace and rhythm that is akin to the rhythm of old time field hand laborers' work songs.

Everything I did to mow or shovel like I have told you counts towards a better outcome, like shaving fractions of ounces off of football players', heavy, protective gear by using lighter, space age materials when making the helmets and padding. The lighter the gear, the faster and further the players can run. And by coming up with separate strategies, 'running different patterns', for each mowing or shoveling situation, it was even more like playing a football game against each and every shaggy lawn or snow covered sidewalk and driveway job that I 'tackled'.

Ya' see what I mean by comparing playing football to mowing and shoveling? It is similar. Unfortunately, mowing and shoveling don't earn ya' any cheers from a crowd of spectators, no scholarships are awarded, and there's no ego boosting or busting attention from the media. But mowing or shovelling still isn't the terrible and unpleasant chore that most kids think it is. It is all about how you view the challenges and overcome them.

After a good snow in Dundalk, when you walked down the street I grew up on, Dunmanway, you could usually tell which sidewalks I had shoveled. My shoveling jobs were almost always wider and straighter than any other sidewalks on the block. When I finished up mowing and trimming a lawn, it looked neat and tidy. I couldn't stand the sight of any blades of grass sticking up above the rest. It all had to be cut and trimmed to a reasonably even level.

It simply makes good sense to me to do the job right. And that personal maxim made me a good employee of my Uncle Finley's, because Fin fully personified that work ethic--every working day of his life.

While I was growing up, my parents had provided me with plenty enough clothing, other necessities of life, toys, model car kits, and then, as I passed age 14, Rock and Roll record albums became my preferred Christmas and birthday presents. My father worked in steel mills most of his life, and my mother usually had a good part time job. My entire extended family lived quite well enough, just about right in the middle of the American middle class.

But I wanted to purchase certain items that my parents could not afford. So I started my own little lawn care and snow shoveling business.

The Baltimore area does not receive a lot of snowfall each winter, but it was enough for me to earn maybe a hundred to a hundred and twenty bucks a winter. That snow shoveling business of mine allowed me to afford plenty of model car building kits (AMT Three In One Kits), record albums and some clothes.

Then all through the spring, summer and into the fall, the money from my lawn care work flowed into my bank account mighty darned good and steadily. Sometimes it garnered me better average hourly wages than those of the Bethlehem Steel Mill and Chevrolet Plant employees whose lawns I mowed.

Using a power mower is one of my all time favorite forms of exercise and outdoors activities. I kid you not.

After my body had matured enough to be nearly through the personal trials and tribulations of passing through puberty, and my brain had begun to achieve some solid degree of common sense and job site safety sensibilities, and I had grown strong enough to mow my family's large 100 x 60 foot yard, with a gas powered lawn mower, my father never had to tell me when to mow the yard. I did it because I was naturally compelled to pitch in and help take care of our home, it's good exercise and it paid well.

From the time that I was 12 or 13, until I moved away from my childhood home, our lawn there on Dunmanway never went for more than a week and a half without me cutting and trimming it to near perfection. It felt so good. And dad paid fair wages too.

After our lawn was done, I went on and mowed and trimmed other neighborhood family's yards for more money.

I can't stand self-propelled mowers. They don't actually make the work any easier. And my well honed, sculptor-style technique of mowing requires unapposing, fully dexterous control of the mowing machine at all times.

My all-time favorite lawn mower was a gas powered Lawn Boy, with a 15-inch blade. That little buddy and I could git'er done. We worked well together, through most of my teen years.

Now, when using a 15 incher, the smallest sized power mower blade I have ever known of, you have to make more passes on a lawn. But anything with a blade over 18 inches wide is too big and bulky for my personal, particular mowing technique. I'd rather zip right along with a lighter 15 or 18 inch mower, but do more zigs and zags, then to push a heavier, lunky darn 20 to 24 incher along for fewer, but slower and much sweatier zigs and zags. It seems that everybody else in America believes that the wider the mower blade, the quicker and easier they can mow a lawn, but that just ain't so. I know, because I'm an old pro.

Never had a power lawn trimmer either, and I've rarely ever used one. I do most of the trimming with the mower. That's why I prefer smaller bladed, lighter mowers that are not self propelled. They're easier to maneuver up against fences, above ground swimming pools and buildings. For me, them old timey scissor lookin' hand clippers were the right tool for doing any small amounts of trimming that I couldn't get done with a mower.

But I was younger and much more supple at the time.

Today, ten minutes work with a pair of those hand clippers, and I'd end up hobbling towards my medicine cabinet, with a screamin' sacroiliac steadily reminding me that those manual tool lawn care days of mine ended when my lower back was operated on.

Yeah, I know, I'm older, overweight and I get in the way sometimes, of those Spanish dudes who do the lawn care work for this rental townhouse and apartment complex I live in.

But I'm still gonna' tell you that my personal motto, concerning lawn mowing, has always been that the job isn't done until the sidewalks and driveways are swept clean.

I hate everything about them thar' new fangled, ear splitting, lung burning, back breaking, heavy darned gas powered leaf blowing machines. It is much easier and more peaceful to use a simple ol' broom to sweep the grass clippings off sidewalks and driveways--if you'll accept my opinion of it.

In my younger days, I mowed a lot of grass in Maryland and in Maine. I actually enjoyed it. But there was one humongous difference between mowing lawns in Maryland and mowing lawns in Maine:

THAT FRIGGIN FOUR FOOT THICK CLOUD OF MAINE BLACKFLIES, MOSQUITOES AND NO-SEE-UMS STEADILY SWARMING ALL AROUND MY BUG BATTERED HEAD!!!!

All I can say here is, "Praise the Lord and pass the Old Woodsman Bug Dope".

Copyright 2008 David Robert Crews

What Not To Do When Dating A Bush Pilot's Daughter



I shot this photograph in July 1969, when I was a passenger in the rear seat of my buddy Bobby's little two seater, bush pilot's plane. That groovy little ol' hedge hopper didn't have lights or a radio.

The shot is looking westward over Rural Route 11, about seven miles north of Patten, Maine, in Penobscot County. It is about three miles south of Katahdin Lodge. We are flying due north into Moro Plantation, Aroostook County.

We are looking out into 90 miles of the Great North Woods. It's all thick forest land with a few woods roads here and there, until you reach Canada.

Today, there are well maintained snowmobile and ATV trails traveling all through that deep, delightful forest. I'd sure like to get back up there and ride those trails. You can easily reach them from Katahdin Lodge's front yard. I mean doorya'd.

One Saturday evening in August 1969, around sundown, I was with Bobby's daughter Barbara, my steady girlfriend, parkin' and sparkin' out in back of a potato field, when Bobby flew over us at treetop level.

Now that'll grab y'ur attention!

Bobby often went up for short flights of that nature just before dusk got dark. He also usually took a passenger along for the ride. His most frequent flying companions were his good wife Jean, my Uncle Finley, or the Maine Guide whom I guided bear hunters with at Katahdin Lodge, Gary Glidden.

Luckily for Barb and I, we were merely just sparkin' and not burnin' up the bench seat in the cab of that pick up truck.

My sweet little munchkins and I were out on our usual Saturday night date. And that generally kicked off with a movie in Patten at the old converted opera house. Sheesh it was hard to find a seat there without busted springs biting your butt. I can't recall one darned detail about that building, but it was definitely just about ready for the wrecking ball. They showed a movie there once every Friday night, and then repeated it once on Saturday night. It was all geared for young teenagers. Weren't no adults willing to put up with that wild crew in there. The show was more about congenial, boisterous, adolescent horseplay than it was about the movie.

Barbara and I maintained a well planned and proven m.o., our modus operandi, for our Saturday dates.

Her younger siblings went to the show every Saturday. They were too young to be riding around in cars and acting wild with other kids yet, and the movie house was the only other entertainment around on most weekend nights.

Our m.o. was go to the movie for at least a half hour, make sure her brother and sister spotted us there, then we high tailed it for the door. We exited the former opera house and entered the world of teenage drivers in Patten, Maine. That consisted off a whole lot of riding around the wide open countryside for miles and miles then going parkin' in the moonlight.

The Saturday we got caught parkin' by her papa-in-a-plane, I had gotten off work earlier than usual, so I picked up Barbara earlier than usual. That meant we had some time to kill, until the movie house opened. So we rode around out in the country for a little while. But I was in need of some rest from driving, because guiding bear hunters entails driving an average of 80 to 90 miles a day. That's the only reason we stopped and parked in the potato field at that particular time.

But I do declare to you that we did not really get to parkin' heavy. That was for after the show and way after it got dark.

Wow! I'm hearing things!

While I'm writing this, I am experiencing audio flashbacks of the distinct bwurrrhherrrring sound of Bobby's single engine plane straining to hop back up over the treeline of the potato field; after he had swooped down below treetop level in the adjacent field looking to spot any deer, moose, bear or other critters who were just strolling out from their daytime sleeping quarters for a night of harvesting their groceries.

Most mammals in Maine eat breakfast at dusk, work the night shift, eat dinner at dawn, and then peacefully snooze all day.

So anyways, here comes Bobby's plane!

And here's how it went down there in the pick up truck:

Barb and I, more or less in unison, "What's that sound I hear? Turn down the radio. Look over there! It's your/my father! Oh crap! Oh no! Who's that in the back seat?"

Barb, "It must be my mother! It has to be! I know it's her! Can you see 'er?"

A mighty shook up me, "I bet it's my uncle in the back seat! Oh man!!"

Barb, "He's comin around behind us. What'll we do? What'll we do? That's my mom in there, I know it, I know it, that's my mom in there. She's gonna kill me!"

Me, "Maybe it's Gary. Oh man I hope it's Gary!"

Barb, "I'll be grounded for a month. She's gonna kill me!"

Me again, "If it's Finley, I'll never hear the end of it."

Barb, "If it's my mother, NEITHER ONE OF US ARE EVER GOING TO HEAR THE END OF IT!"

My maturing, young 19 year old vocal chords were yankin' tight and twangy like four pound test fishing filament being used to pull a truck out of a ditch. My voice was taking on a strangely higher pitch, when I said, "He's waving at us! Oh my gahhhd. He could see right in here on us. Good thing we wasn't doin nuthin."

It sure was a "good thing we wasn't doing nuthin," because from where I was sitting in the cab of the truck Bobby and I could see each other's faces so well I clearly saw that he was laughing at as.

But neither Barb nor I had one iota of a clear clue as to who was in the plane's back seat. The rear side window was too small and the rear seat set too far back for us to see who was in there. But Bobby didn't come back for a second helping of teenage angst. He certainly was eating it up on that first fly-by though.

I cranked up that Chevy truck and headed straight to the old opera house. We stayed for the entire movie that night. After the movie, we made sure to speak to her brother and sister. Well, she yelled at one of 'um for throwing the rest of their popcorn at the other one. Barb was, after all, their older teenage sister, and it's rare to get anything but a bunch of yellin' out of your slightly older teen sister.

Then we two scared love birds drove to the Clam Shop up the street, and got something to drink and eat. We rode around some after eating, but we never drove out past the town limits. All the parkin' spots were outside of town. No matter. The mood had passed.

That was some scary night, especially when I took her home after our date. We were at her family's mudroom door 15 minutes early; it was 10:45 PM, instead of the usual 20-30 minutes late, for Barbara's 11 PM curfew. But not a soul was stirring inside the house. They were all in bed already. We were quietly perplexed and thoroughly subdued.

A little goodnight kiss and off I went--to slowly drive up the North Road to the Lodge, to face my Uncle Finley and Aunt Martha.

Had Bobby been there waiting for me at his house, and had he punched me in my face and knocked me down in the dirt, as I had expected him to do, there would have been nothing I could have done. But apologize for what had happened.

Then drive up to the Lodge to pack my bags and leave.

Not only was Bobby a tough little, top-notch Maine woodsman, who could have easily whupped my young, suburban bred keyster, Bobby was one of Finley's best friends. If Bobby had gotten angry at me, he would have gotten angry at Finley too. Then Fin and Marty would have been angry at me. Plus the whole Town of Patten would have turned against me.

So it's a darned good thing for me that my buddy Bobby had a great sense of humor.

On most Saturday nights, I hung out in Patten or rode around the countryside with friends and buddies, until 2 AM or so. I hung out with other young men who were old enough to stay out that late, but who were still unmarried. We could even drink beer there without fear of any hassles. But vehicular accidents and a better understanding of alcoholism and how it progresses ended that open tolerance of underage and public drinking in Patten a long time ago.

I usually drove Rt. 11 from Patten to the Lodge at 10-15 MPH over the 50 MPH speed limit; but that night I just puttered along doing 45 MPH or so. But when I pulled into the Lodge's driveway, nobody was awake there either.

Now I had to try to get some sleep. It wasn't easy. And the morning wake up was even rougher. But I had to mosey on in and eat breakfast with everyone there.

I ate a quiet, uneventful breakfast with Fin, Marty and some of the Lodge's paying bear hunters.

Still nothing said. Man o' day! What to do?

When Finley Kenneth Clarke got pissed at somebody, he rarely held his anger in or allowed the offending pissee, whomever they may be, to get away scott free. So I knew that he hadn't been in his good friend Bobby's plane the previous evening.

I picked up the Sunday newspaper and headed for the mass of comic strips in the funny section. I needed some cheering up.

I couldn't really read or concentrate on anything well enough to even understand what was going on in the drawings of the comic strips. My psyche was effectively dissolving into the mystery of the plane's back seat passenger, and what was going to happen when Fin got wind of the 'wildlife' scene that Bobby and his passenger had spotted, when they were up there spotting wild game from the air.

Then Gary Glidden stops by at the Lodge.

Gary was rarely ever there on a Sunday, except when harvested bears from the Saturday hunt had to be skinned.

Fin was a bona fide workaholic. He suffered from PTSD that came from him fighting on the front lines of the Korean War. He earned a Silver Star and more. One symptom of PTSD is furious, marathon, perfectionist style workaholism. He often did some kind of work around the Lodge for at least a half day on Sundays.

Gary had gotten himself drafted into one of those Sunday projects once, so he rarely showed himself at the Lodge on Sundays. Can't blame 'im, he only got Sundays off.

As was expected by all who knew that, Gary said that he wasn't staying long enough to sit down. And he didn't accept the offered cup of coffee. You could see that he was in a jolly good frame of mind. He was steadily smiling harder, wider and taller than was his norm. He was talking more energetically than normal too. His arms and hands moving quickly to the beat of his conversation.

All the while, I was stealthily peeking past the newspaper, whilst tuned into all that Gary was saying and doing. Fear, of the words "plane" or "Bobby" or "Barbara" or "David" coming out of Gary's mouth, had my mouth dry, and my teeth worried.

I was worried all over.

As I sat there doing my best version of a b-movie hotel detective sitting in the hotel lobby watching everybody and everything from behind a wide spread newspaper, my very good friend Gary simply eagle-eye peered over the crowd of people sitting or standing around the Lodge's long, wooden dining room table, and he had simply grinned at me. The hugest, most soul shaking grin I ever had aimed in my direction. A very expansive grin, which was very unnerving to me.

It was obvious that Gary had been in the back seat of Bobby's plane on the prior evening. And that the guldang-sun-'uv-an-oar had stopped by just to let me know it.

What a rub that was.

Who coulda' passed up the chance to do something like that?

Gary had done it in the spirit of close, pure friendship, though.

You see something so rib-splitting hilarious as what Bobby and Gary had swooped down upon, during the previous evening, and you simply have to make the most of it.

I never thought of this before: Those two guys must have practically been bouncing around the insides of the plane, due to them laughing so hard their ribs nearly busted open.

Gary, Bobby and I had had some good laughs together.

Gary and I had worked together for a lot of hours. Numerous times, we had tracked wounded bears together, often at night. And we never carried any firearms, because 100% wild Maine Black Bears always avoid humans.

I have tracked wounded bears at night by myself; more than ten times; less than twenty times.

Bobby was the Lodge's plumber, and I was his assigned helper, when he needed one up there. One time Bobby and I worked together all day long, while crawled up under a back bedroom that was not built over the cellar of the Lodge's main building and only had about a three foot high crawl space under it. And crawl a lot that day we did. Bobby let me know that he appreciated me sticking with him all through that dirty job.

Bobby said, "I figured that a city kid like you would be off somewhere goofing off every chance you got."

The reason he said that was, because he had stayed under there in the dirt, every time I was sent to fetch tools or plumbing supplies from his work truck, as he required them. He was surprised that I always came right back, crawled right on back in under the building, with a healthy smile on my face, and got right back into the job and funny conversation that we kept going the whole time.

Bobby's family had spent many a Sunday afternoon visiting at the Lodge. We all knew each other and our families.

I can take a joke, and if those two champeen' friends of mine, Bobby and Gary, had one on me, so be it.

I'm chuckling mildly about it right now myself.

Gary was my friend--genuine and trustworthy. He never told Finley what he had seen from the plane. On that worried Sunday of mine in Maine, after Gary had hit me hard with that grin, he left without mentioning a word about the plane ride to anyone.

But it wasn't time for me to relax a little yet, sitting there in the Lodge's dining room on my Sunday off.

I had no idea of who else knew about the prior evening's bush pilot and potato field incident, besides my champeen' friends Bobby and Gary.

The phone could ring any second with Barbara's mother, Jean, at the other end. She and my Aunt Martha, were best friends, until Marty died. Jean and Marty woulda' been far too much for me to deal with, if they came after me in anger. I'd have been done for at Katahdin Lodge, for sure.

After an uninterrupted, peaceful lunch, the only thing to do was to keep my usual Sunday date with Barbara for a drive somewhere in the beautiful Katahdin Valley.

I drove down to the Barb's house, with tremendous trepidation tickling my innards.

I walked into the house, from through the mudroom door.

In the kitchen, Barb's mother said a normal, pleasant hello to me, as she continued preparing their usual big Sunday supper.

Then, bravely, but a might bit meekishly, I eased on in towards their living room, where Bobby was sitting and reading the Sunday paper.

Ol' Bobby dropped his newspaper down a few inches, looked up at me with a great, wide, glowing grin on his face and said, "Well hellooo theah Dave, ya been in any potato fields lately?"

And that was it!

I never heard a word about it from Barbara's mother.

But miracle of miracles, in the normally faster-than-a-radio-signal small town gossip circuit, it took two weeks before Finley finally heard about it. That was because Gary, Bobby and Jean were protecting me from Finley's war time PTSD instilled brand of anger.

But Bobby and Gary each had to eventually tell someone else the story. So they told a sister or brother, a cousin or friend in town, and that is how it finally made its way to Finley. It was just too freakin' hilarious for them to keep to themselves. Can't blame 'um for that.

When Fin found out, he really rubbed it into me. And for a several weeks running, every new group of bear hunters heard about it sometime during the week.

It sure was embarrassing for me at the time, but it's one of the best memories of Maine that I have today.



David Robert Crews Copyright 2008






Patten, Maine and Dundalk, Maryland-- Two Small, Somewhat Similar American Towns

In order for you to understand what my Northern Maine Adventures truly meant to an eighteen-year-old, Baltimore area, suburban kid you must know a little about where I lived, and what my life was like, just before I moved to Maine.

Throughout this new web site of mine, "The World's First Digital Coffee Table Book," I am telling both northern Maine and Baltimore, Maryland area based, 1968-69 era, fact filled, fun filled historical stories.

For those good reasons, I am going to show you a photo of "downtown" Patten, Maine and a photo of "downtown" Dundalk, Maryland. The photos were taken 40 years apart, but neither downtown area has changed very much during those 40 years.


Nah' folks, there really wasn't a dirt road going through Patten, Maine, circa 1967, when the photo was taken. Main Street was being dug up, repaired and repaved.

They had to dig so deep down under where the surface of the tar topped street had been because there used to be whole logs embedded under it all across the entire center of town there. Whole logs had been installed back in the olden days, to provide road support. I believe I heard it was an aggravating engineering mistake of bone shaking proportions from the 1800s. In wintertime, frost "heaves" up anything solid that is under any tar topped road surface up there in northern Maine. Consequently, every winter, it became unbearably bumpy when driving through town, until the street work shown in those two photos was completed.

Compare the above digital, JPEG file copy of my photo of downtown Patten, Maine circa 1967, with the different JPEG file copy of the same photo that is below this text. The above copy is as good as I can do with digital photograph enhancements.


I am sufficiently experienced and fully capable at custom hand printing photographs in a photographic "wet" lab, but I have no digital photography experience. I need to learn digital photography.

The JPEG copy above shows the lower half of the Patten photo best, with fairly discernible detail in the street and sidewalk areas of the photo. The copy below displays the potential for great looking clouds in a digital, full customization of the photo. I am not speaking about over enhancing, adding anything to or faking anything for a final, really nice digital file version of the photo. I simply desire to bring the late 1960s, historic, subject matter, along with its interesting details seen in the photograph, out past the limitations of those two current JPEG files of it. So that we can all enjoy seeing the history much better.

These two JPEG files were created from a print that was copied from an older print, which was developed by my neighborhood, now long gone, Stansbury Pharmacy photo service; and that older print was printed from a negative that had been exposed using a cheap, little Kodak Instamatic Camera.


This is a recent photo of Dundalk Village Shopping Center, in Maryland. This street is Shipping Place. It is the "Main Street" in the neighborhood where I grew up, and where I live today.

You can see that Dundalk's main street has similarities to Main Street in Patten. Both commercial districts have about the same amount of retail space, with apartments above some of the stores. It's just that Dundalk has all of its retail/residential buildings on one side of its main street.

On the other side of Shipping Place there is the small Veteran's Park, in two separate sections; also, over there is the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society Museum; and the Dundalk Post Office is on that side of the street too.

When I was taking that photo of downtown Patten, the Patten Post Office was to the right and somewhere behind me. But Patten doesn't need any parks, because it is surrounded by miles and miles of farms and woodlands.

In 1969, when most of the photos on this web site were taken, and when most of my written stories about my adventures in Maine took place, the "downtown" areas of both Dundalk and Patten were very lively places of retail commerce. They were very sociable, small American towns. Friendly places where local teenagers had good times hanging out a lot, but did not cause too much trouble. So when I moved from Maryland to Maine, Dundalk's small town type of lifestyle helped me to fit right in up there in Patten.

If you would like to see more photos of Dundalk, Md., click on the link in the upper right side column for Photo Albums of David Robert Crews on Photocamel.com. There is a Dundalk, and a Maine, photo album on there. The full extent of my photography talents are well represented, in eight photo albums, at the other end of that link.

During 1970-71, I was a US Army photographer. Photos and stories from that part of my life are linked to this page over in the right side column. The links are An American GI On Okinawa In 1970-71 and also Lieutenant T. Gordan Barber and The Stolen Marine Corps Property. But, after my honorable discharge from the Army, I was not an active photographer again until 1999.

From around 1999 to 2003, I was a part time photography student at Dundalk Community College. I had full use of the black and white and color photo "wet" labs at DCC. The labs were top-of-the-line; the instructors and lab aids were fully competent at their professions.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the digital photography revolution is winning a modernization war against film photography; and the terms of surrender for old-time film photographers, like me, is that most wet labs must be shut down. The DCC wet labs I worked in are two of those defeated former bastions of film based photography.

The guy who ran the DCC photo labs, Mark Trojan, is my age, and we have much in common. For one, he and I each attended a 1972 Pink Floyd concert at the acoustically perfect Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, separately, we did not meet until 1999 at DCC, but our memories of that stupendous Pink Floyd concert are nearly-exactly the same. Mark kept a rockin' little ol' stereo system in the photo lab's central, lighted work space. He and I both own large libraries of recorded music, which are quite similar. That all boils down to I did a lot of hard, successful work in those wet labs and had a truly great time at it.

There are photographs of Maine and Mainers and me on here that were scanned from 8x10 photographs, which I custom hand printed in the DCC wet labs, from 1968-69 era negatives.

If anyone is interested in paying to use any of my photographs for commercial purposes, know that some of my photos are capable of looking a whole lot crispier through the magic of multiple ones and zeros. some need digital help, but most are excellent as they are.

You can contact me at: ursusdave at yahoo dot com

I am chomping at the bit to go full digital with my photography and to learn how to do custom digital work on the old photographs on this blog.



David Robert Crews Copyright 2008








Two Legged Dear Hunting In Patten Maine

This shot was taken at the end of a fantastic week-long stay at my uncle's hunting lodge in Maine. It was Thanksgiving Day Week of 1968. That good-lookin-like-me fellow there is my father. Dad is getting ready to go back to our home town of Dundalk, Maryland, a Baltimore County suburb of Baltimore City.

I had planned on going back home with him, and then joining the U.S. Merchant Marines. That way the U.S. military couldn't draft me and send me to Vietnam.

But I am staying there in Maine to work for and live with my Aunt Martha and Uncle Finley K. Clarke, at their Katahdin Lodge and Camps in Aroostook County. They desperately needed manpower to help operate their business, and I was it.

At first, I had my bags all packed up and in the station wagon there. We were all exchanging heart felt so-longs and see-ya-laters, when Fin and Marty launched into psy-ops type maneuvers and manipulations that were designed to keep me there. They promised me use of their vehicles for my spending lots of time in town enjoying the finest kind of country-kid style fun and games; the food was always good and plentiful on Marty's dining room table; and then they said, "You like riding the snowmobiles, think of all the fun you'll have doing that."

That were all she wrote, so to speak. I yanked my suitcases back out from the Ford wagon there, and the rest is history, as they say.

For Dad and I, that Thanksgiving Week was a greatest time of our lives. It was the last week of deer hunting season. But I hadn't become interested in big game hunting yet. I was there for the country girls and good times with all them wonderful teenage Mainer kids up in that part of God's Country.

Around Katahdin Lodge, during that week in late November of '68, it was said that my father, Bob, went out to hunt four legged deer during the day, and his son, David, went out to hunt two legged dear at night.



David Robert Crews Copyright 2008


Author's note: This blog is actually part of my poorman's web site.

Links at the top right of this web page lead to the other parts of this 'homemade' web site.

This web site consists of all the linked publishing's under My Work That Is Published In Maine and Some Of My Other World Wide Web Published Works.

This blog site is set up as a digital coffee table book styled web site, with the most newly dated blog post being the first page of the book.

It is read down the web page from the latest dated blog entry through the next three older blog posts/pages of the book.

Once you have viewed one set of four blog entries, hit that OLDER POSTS button, at the bottom of each web page to view the next four blog posts/book pages.

That is how to navigate through and enjoy viewing the "The World's First Digital Coffee Table Book".

Now hit that Older Posts button
right there below this, to
enjoy more pages of
photos and stories.