Monday, March 31, 2008

A Great Day of Snowmobiling in Moro, Maine

This was out on Rockabema Lake in Moro Plantation, Maine, around February of 1969. We were taking turns climbing up that island and hopping onto the top of it. It was about twenty some feet or so straight up the side of the island to the top.

It was a mighty sharp climb, I'll tell ya' that.

I made sure that I had that tree more visible in the next shot, so that maybe people could see how steep and high that the climb actually was.

I was new to sledding and had no idea that a snowmobile could do that. I made it to the top one time, loved it to death, but was just about scared to death to do it again. It could have seriously injured and maybe even killed anyone who fell backwards with their sled falling down on top of them. So I stayed up there on top of the island in the cool, comfy, soft snow and took this series of photographs.

That fellow, I believe, is either Carol Gerow or his younger brother Pete Gerow. I'm prett-near positive that he is a Gerow brother. Carol was married, owned Bear Mountain Lodge and was settled down. So he and I never ran around together all over the Maine countryside going to parties, dances, hanging out in town, drinkin' beer and chasing girls, but me and ol' Pete sure enough did. Pete and I got into a few hellacious and hilarious conversations during Cribbage games at Katahdin Lodge too.

Pete had a tad bit of a kind of a pudgy, Pillsbury Dough Boy look about his face. I had known him all winter long while we all were wearing long sleeved shirts. I'll never forget the first time the next summer when I saw him in a short sleeved shirt. He had arms on him that looked like something from those Charles Atlas bodybuilding adds we used to always see in comic books. But Pete didn't get his impressive muscle structure from using Charles Atlas' Dynamic-Tension miraculous method for total muscular development, Pete got that way from growing up splitting wood for the family's wood stoves, by using a chain saw from the time he was about 14 years old, by shoveling a lot of snow, and doing other hard physical labor to help his family survive and thrive in the, sometimes harsh, northern Maine environment.

My friend Pete didn't look one bit homosexual. And, as far as I know, he wasn't. But I just looked at some old Charles Atlas adds that are on the Internet, and they look real gay to me today. I'm not saying ol' Charlie A. was gay, he may have been one hell of a ladies' man, or a dedicated, monogamous husband, but his adds sure look gay to me today. Maybe that's just my 21st century awareness of the openness of homosexuals in our society. I'm not against the rights and freedoms of gays or lesbians in any way, though I do say that the protections and rights associated with legal marriage should only be for the protection and rights of heterosexual couples and their children.

I want this new series of articles to be like it was you and I comfortably sitting in my home, while looking at these old photographs together. And as when anyone is sharing photos from their past, they would be conversing about things that the photos would bring to mind.

This photo of a Gerow brother brings up my memories of their dad. Their father, Putt Gerow, owned a tiny country store at Knowles Corner, Rt. 11 and Rt. 212. That is a few miles north of Bear Mountain Lodge, and six miles north of where I lived and worked at Katahdin Lodge. Putt and Pete lived in a nice sized house that the store was attached to the front of.

Putt taught me a very valuable lesson one time on how to start a motor vehicle rolling that had been stopped still on a snowy, icy, slippery road surface. He had shown me some very deft and gentle clutch and gas pedal technique. Unless ya' know that technique yourself, you can't imagine how well that driving tip has served me well throughout my life.

I have had a lot of fun with that driving technique while riding friends around in the snowy wintertime or on muddy back roads. I've also made some good money from it, when I was driving professionally.

Especially when I drove a taxicab.

I possessed a Baltimore County Taxi Driver Permit for three years. During that time, when it snowed or there was an ice storm, there I was in an old worn out car, which had been converted into a taxicab, with bald tires on it, and I was just-a-walkin' that cab all over Baltimore City and it's suburbs. Hardly another vehicle was out on the road, because there was four or more inches of snow piling up all over the place, or several inches of solid ice everywhere on everything. The cab was not mine, and if you ask me, it was a crime to have that junker on the road, but it passed the required inspections. I drove a cab during and right after every snowstorm and ice storm that occurred within those three years when I drove a cab.

While those snow and/or ice weather events were happening, many of my northern Maine learned driving technique's were sincerely appreciated by my cab riding customers. I got a lot of people to work when they could not handle the slippery driving conditions themselves. It was always very safe, comfortable and relaxing driving when I was "at the wheel". The entire time, I was very aware of, and thankful for, what Putt Gerow had taught me about easing a motor vehicle across slippery road surfaces.

I'd have never driven a cab if it weren't for my degenerative back disease and severe depression keeping me from working full time as a photographer. Now I survive on a small, monthly, non-service connected disability check from the Veterans Administration. Just thought that I'd throw that in to let you know how important Magic City News is to the work that I do get to do these days.

The last time that I saw Putt Gerow was in 1977 or '79. We sat in his living room talking about all of the old, fallen down hunting camps that he knew of way back in the woods. Some of those camps were from the days when only wealthy men could afford to go on hunting trips to Maine, and they had traveled by train to get to and from northern Maine. Those men were doctors, lawyers and very successful businessmen who brought the best of whiskeys and other liquors along with them to the hunting camps. And then empty, expensive, booze bottles were thrown onto each camp's own dump back in the woods.

Those bottles were valuable antiques, when Putt and I were discussing them. Putt knew where several of those old dumps were located. He had found some of those valuable old booze bottles there and had stashed some of the empty bottles under rotted old stumps or in other places where he could easily locate them again. He had been deer hunting, or something, at the time and did not want to carry the bottles around the woods with him. Putt wanted to hike back in to go get those antique bottles some day. But, in the late 1970s, Putt's health was failing fast; he was just too darned old to go that far back in the woods anymore, where the old hunting camp dumps were.

I had brought up the subject of antique bottles and old dumps. I have wanted to go find some of those buried treasures ever since I had learned about the old camps and their dumps, back in 1968, and also how the rich hunters had brought their highest priced booze along to showoff, enjoy and share. I tried as hard as I could, but I could not convince Putt to tell me where some of those dumps were. I wanted go antique hunting out in the woods. I assured him, and by jeeze I meant it, that he and I would each receive fair splits of the profits of what we sold and also each of us would acquire our own personal antique bottle collections.

Putt was your typical Native Northern Mainer. Putt was an Old Maine Woodsman of the highest caliber. I was no more than an old acquaintance of his, mostly just a regular customer in his country store, who had come "from the outside". Twasn't any damned way that Putt Gerow was going to share any of his knowledge of where those long gone hunting camps had been with anybody but a close relative or friend of his, who was also a Native Northern Mainer--and you can bet that he probly never let anyone at all know there where abouts of those old bottles.

I certainly did enjoy seeing Putt 'stick to his guns' and not ever give up hope of going that far out in the woods again, to where the dumps were. I love them woods and being out in them too much myself for me not to understand how he saw the situation. He never gave up hope to take one last, long walk in the woods.

Putt Gerow was a good man.

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