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.

Anytime Finley Clarke's Nephew, that'd be me, David Robert Crews, was living and working at Finley's Katahdin Lodge and Camps, I was happy to be 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:


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

See this website as a book, viewing it a page at a time. Turn the pages by clicking on that OLDER POST button below. 

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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."


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.

See this website as a book, viewing it a page at a time. Turn the pages by clicking on that OLDER POST button below. 

Click on HOME under this to go to the first page.

There is a table of contents over in the right hand column at the bottom of every page - under BLOG ARCHIVE. 

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 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.

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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

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The Mailman's Beautiful Daughter

L to R: The mailman's daughter; lucky me; Jughead McCarty's girlfriend; Arnie Ballard; and Deanna Caldwell--who was my first steady girlfriend up there.

I'm second from the left and right where I wanted to be.

That cozy little scene took place about eleven months after Deanna and I had gone out together a few times. The photo was taken during Deanna's birthday party. She and I had only gone out on three or four dates together. But in the great little Town of Patten, Maine - way up there in Penobscot County - during 1968-69, when you hit that third anniversary mark in your dating relationship, no one else would date you until you and your partner broke up.

On our third or fourth date, I became casually aware that Deana and I were not meant to be together any longer. So during my next Saturday night in town, when I met a different pretty Patten girl, I asked my new female acquaintance to accompany me to the movie show playing in the old, worn out Patten Opera House that night.

Jeeze oh wiz! The way she reacted! Well, shoot man, you'd have thought I had asked her to have my baby! Or to just go get in some real quick practice at it.

That attractive young lady had twisted her upper body up and back away from me, with a dark, harsh frown deeply chiseled into her lovely kisser, and she very tersely said, "NO! You're going steady with Deanna Cauldwell! Aren't you?"

My shocked reply was, "No! We only went out a couple of times! I haven't asked her to go steady yet."

Then the lovely young lady explained Patten's three date rule to me. I told her I had no idea I was supposed to inform Deana that I wasn't planning to ask her out anymore. Let's just say, on that Saturday night, I was glad the new girl understood.

That three date rule actually worked most of the time. The resulting monogamy cut down on wicked-bad arguments, fist fights between jealous boys and such.

Up in that photograph, the long-haired-long-legged-good-lookin' girl all the way to the left was the mailman's daughter. Her family lived on Rural Route 11, near Bumpas Hill, between Katahdin Lodge and Patten. The family had a nice sized, healthy vegetable garden out in their dooryard. The mailman, his sweet and gregarious wife and their attractive teen daughter worked that garden to near-perfection together; all through the short North Woods growing season that serious gardeners are saddled with up there.

On most days, at least once a day, my daily bear hunting guide responsibilities required me to travel by their inviting, well maintained, mid-sized country home. If any of the mailman's family members were out in their garden, when I was briskly motoring past, we exchanged friendly, sincere waves of our hands.

Everyone living on that road waved to any passing vehicles they saw going by, and local drivers all waved back. That was just one such wonderful way that people everywhere up there, in amongst that heavily forested section of God's Country, got along real well.

During 1968-69, for the entire God-given time that I was a resident of Maine, I longed to get to know the mailman's daughter.

Before that evening at the birthday party, she and I had never met each other. And she had one, steady boyfriend, the entire time I was up there, back then. Consequently, whenever I was motoring by her house, when she was out in the garden, I could never slow down and pull into her dooryard, to stop and strike up a flirtatious conversation with her.

When her long time, steady boyfriend was off beginning his first semester at college, on my last friggin night in Maine, before I reported for U.S. Army basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, the next morning, she and I finally met.

Man o' day, was I ever happy to be sitting with her and enjoying our first conversation, which I had so desired for almost a year. Except I had to hold back on the flirtatious part, because it would have been very rude in the company of our mutual friends and acquaintances.

I had to leave the party while it was still going good, because I had an early flight to catch the next day. But while I was saying my so-longs to all of my treasured and lovingly remembered friends there, I couldn't believe it when the mailman's daughter asked me for a ride home.

But alas, even though common sense softly whispered into my ear that her boyfriend was going to hookup with some fine, young college coed and breakup with her real soon, I was a complete gentleman to her that night.

I knew that most boy-girl relationships don't last too long when one of the two goes off to college by themselves. That information could have easily allowed me to circumvent feeling guilty, if I had gotten the mailman's daughter to 'go parkin' with me on the way up Rt. 11 to our separate homes, to stop and get the windows of the pickup truck all steamed up.

Problem was: there were too many small town type nosy witnesses there at Deanna's house. They were sure as I knew 'um gonna snoop around the next day to find out exactly what time that she gotten home that night.

And they probably did it too.

I had to take her straight home, past all of the good, safe 'parkin spots' over in the dark fields and woods roads up there. I made it a short, but oh so intensely sweet, goodnight conversation with her in her family's driveway.

Any other way of conducting myself would have caused her a lot more small town trouble than it would have for me.

The next morning, I was beginning another great traveling adventure, one that could have gotten me killed in Vietnam. Had I chosen the way of the cad that night, she was going to be left there all alone to face the gossip and scorn of a typical small town in America, while I went on my merry way into the U.S. Army.

I cannot honestly say that I have never chosen to be a cad.

I can honestly state that nothing untoward happened on that beautiful night in Maine, when I finally met the mailman's daughter.

If you look at how she is reclined there close to me, you will notice that she had obviously sat down next to me, because her shapely left side is resting slightly, softly over onto my right side. That's all I needed, on that final evening of my youthful, civilian life, that and her request for the ride home, is all that I needed to be quite contented in knowing that she was also attracted to me. That the beautiful young lady and I could have been close friends and lovers, had circumstances permitted us to.

Who was it said, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, if you try sometimes, you'll get what you need?"

Oh yeah, it was that scrawny little limey Michael Phillip Jagger and his Rolling Stones who said that.

That Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stone's song sings about a fact of life that was paramount for blessed little me. Because, even though the mailman's beautiful daughter was never the grateful recipient of the natural pleasures of the complete Dave Crews experience, you can bet your bippy that a goodly little number of other country girls around town sure 'nuff were.

And it was my pleasure to have been of some useful service to the several deserving lovely young ladies of Maine, whom I was blessed to have known well.

Thanks ladies, it was real.

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Ballard's Citco Station On A Saturday Night

That's Arnold Ballard at the left, but I don't remember the other two guys. This was in Ballard's Full Service Citco Gas Station in Patten, Maine. Arnie's father owned it. I took this series of photos to show my family and friends back in Dundalk, Maryland--a suburb of Baltimore--what it was like hanging out in town on a Saturday night.

Now that I see this old photo in this format, it comes to front that the most important historical angle to it is the hair cuts of those two guys. They look like the carefully crafted styles that many of my contemporaries wore through the '60s.

Hey! Don't the guy all the way to the right in the back look like he's figuring on going bald, before he's out of his twenties? He's already training his forward comb over!

If that fellow is still alive and sees this: "Sorry old pal, I couldn't resist".

I just fit right in up there in Patten, Maine. It may look like those fellows in that photo are shutting me out of their inner circle, but I had a comfortable leaning spot in amongst that circle of friends and buddies just off to the left. I had shifted position to take the photograph.

Oh yeah. I definitely fit right in.

Even though I fit right in up there, I was always aware that if at least the past two, no, three generations of a person's family hadn't been born and raised within oh, say sixty miles of the town of Patten, then that person would always be "from the outside."

I respected that.

They had a tough life up there livin' in the woods.

When there were local jobs available, the work was usually fairly hard and often dangerous. If they became injured or ill, it was their family, friend or neighbor who drove them the hour or more it might take to get to the nearest hospital. Those folks up there relied on one another for their survival. Everybody looked out for each other.

The kids from Patten and the other small towns in the area would often go to each other's dances and parties. And I went to most of them too, often with my best friend, Gary McCarthy. He and I picked up some sweet babes together, at those countryfied teenage social affairs.

Early one relaxed, mid-summer's Saturday evening, just before the night's teen fun and country kid style action was about to commence ta' happening in northern Maine, Gary McCarthy and I were sitting next to each other, while sipping sodas, on swivel stools at the lunch counter in the Patten Drug Store.

Gary turned to me and said, "Dave, if you get into a fight with a guy from another town, then by jeeze, it'll be me and you against him back to back; I'll fight any of his friends who try to hit you from behind. But! If you get into a fight with a guy from the Town of Patten? It'll be him, me and the rest of the town against you."

I had no problem with that. I admired them for the way that they stuck together.

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When I Moved From Maryland To Maine, I Went From One Nearly Crime Free Area To Another

If you'll notice, this business card says that the post office for Katahdin Lodge is located in Smyrna Mills, Maine. Not Patten, as is said throughout all of my Northern Maine Adventure writings and is on the painted signs in the dead bear photos on the last page of this digital coffee table book.

Patten, Maine was the original postal address for the Lodge. And in 1969, we had to pick up our mail in town. I enjoyed doing so.

Sometime between 1970, when I was home on leave from the Army, and 1977, when I returned to the Lodge to live and work, mail delivery service to Katahdin Lodge had begun.

My Uncle Finley had changed post offices for his Katahdin Lodge in the early '70s. He claimed that too many people in Patten knew too much of his business from knowing what kind of mail the Lodge was receiving. And then gossiping about it.

I don't know about that. I think that maybe it was just a little bit of paranoia brought on by Finley's Korean War induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In all small town/little village types of populations around the whole wide world, gossip happens.

Small town gossip was one of the aspects of my northern Maine adventures that was quite interesting and entertaining to me. And that aspect of my adventures is all laid out in amongst my published short stories, which are instantly accessible through the links at the top right of this page, under: My Work That Is Published In Maine.

Patten is where we, at the Lodge, went to town for some of our supplies and most of our socialization wants and needs. That little town is 10 or 11 miles south of the Lodge. The town's commercial section is about equal to two city blocks long.

Smyrna Mills is about the same distance from the Lodge as Patten is. Both in mileage and travel time. With a trip to Smyrna taking a few minutes longer. But Smyrna only had one small, country store for a 'commercial district'.

Patten had far more personality than Smyrna. It may still today. I don't know though. I just found a new web site for the Town of Smyrna, and the area looks like it is doing better today than it was when I used to pass through there on a regular basis.

Patten has more than twice the population of Smyrna, and as far as I know, that census number for Patten has never topped 2,000 souls.

I can only speak for the limited time that I lived and worked up in Maine, but, back then, for my own personal tastes, Patten had more good living per cubic inch than anyplace else on earth.

As far as I know, of coarse.

No matter what, for me, in Northern Maine, Patten was where the action was.

In all of those little towns, during the 1968-69 era, the crime rate was nearly zilch, nada', not a problem. And whether I was either in a place of business in one of those towns, or out riding around with some Mainer kids in their vehicle, on a Saturday night, I left the key in the ignition of the vehicle that I had driven to town in. There were no vehicle thieves to be seen anywhere, in or around most of Northern Maine.

In early 1968, when I was still living in Dundalk, Md., crimes did happen, but it was not bad here: people left car windows open all night; this was before everyone had air conditioners, so homes had wooden screen doors that would never thwart just a mildly determined criminal's evil intentions; our homes had screened windows that stayed open all night long, in hot weather; some burglaries did happen and were often somewhat of a fear; but armed robberies, muggings and other violent crimes rarely ever happened in my Dundalk neighborhood.

1968 Dundalk was not a violent or dangerous area, like Baltimore's dank, rotting harbor area neighborhoods were in those days. That is where the world famous tourist destinations of the Inner Harbor and Fells Point are today.

My Uncle Finley K. Clarke, his sister--my mother Doris, my Aunt Martha (nee Thomas), my father--Bob Crews and all of their brothers and sisters grew up together in the Bethlehem Steel owned company mill town of Sparrows Point, Maryland. "The Point" was an easy eight minute drive from my parent's, two sister's and my Dundalk home. During the entire history of that small Town of Sparrows Point, there were virtually never any crimes committed at all.

I spent a lot of time "down The Point" at my grandparents' homes. The Clarke and Crews families were members of the St. Matthews Episcopal Church down there. The Thomas's may have been too. I don't remember whether they were or not, but they went to church on The Point. I was down The Point for most Sundays, on every holiday--except for on the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day when large family picnics were held in my backyard in Dundalk--and I visited my grandparent's homes on many days in between holidays.

The small Town of Sparrows Point was an American community where you could comfortably walk around feeling 99.9999% positively certain that you would never be anywhere near an occurring crime.

Thankfully, the relaxing, nearly crime free life of Patten, Maine was nothing new to Fin, Marty, me or anyone else in our my families.

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My Uncle Finley Surrounded By Family and Friends

I took this photo in the spring of 1969 to show my family and friends down here in Dundalk, Maryland what it was like up there at Katahdin Lodge of Patten, Maine on a typical Sunday afternoon.

Whewee! I luv the sculpted lines of that "Trumpet"—that'd be Triumph 650 Motorcycle to you non-motorcyclists.

That gray clad country gentleman leaning in the doorway is Morris, and the smiling woman on the back of the Triumph 650 Motorcycle is his good wife Marge. Morris and Marge were very close friends to my Uncle Finley and Aunt Martha, and the two couples often spent time together.

Morris and Marge, Fin and Marty, and I were all in the Lodge's dining room playing Cribbage and sharing great conversation, when Gary and Cathy Glidden pulled into the dooryard on their motorcycle. They were just stopping by for a quick visit. Gary and Cathy worked at the Lodge during hunting season—Gary as a hunting and fishing guide and Cathy on the housekeeping staff. They wanted to know when they should start working at the Lodge for that upcoming bear hunting season.

That is Cathy back there in the helmet, of coarse, and you can just see Marty's right shoulder there on the other side of Gary.

One of my nephews saw this photo and thought that Fin looked like he was angry at Gary, but it is just a tad bit of a serious talk going on between them there for a minute or two. They were fairly well matched as working partners and had tracked many a wounded bear or deer through the woods together, often at night, and had shown plenty of paying sportsmen good, safe, successful, memorable times in the vast Maine woods.

The TV reception at the Lodge was limited to about two and a half stations. One was always from over in Woodstock, Canada. And the weather had first say on which ones we could tune in to at any time.

No matter. Listening to Fin, Marty and our Mainer friends, like Morris and Marge, tell stories, some true some not so at all, was far better entertainment than TV any day of the week.

I was setting at the Lodge's Cribbage Board and Yahtzee Game adorned dining room table, one friend filled Sunday, when I was hit with an epiphany of life affirming solidation. This was after having to hold onto to the table and my chair at least once or twice to keep from sliding off onto the floor into a puddle of pained, side-splitting, laughter. I had managed to keep it under control though, because it was 35 to 40 miles to the nearest hospital. And not one doctor in between. Can't be bustin' a gut due to overwhelming hilarity way up there in the woods like that.

The epiphany was: Listening to tall tales told well is no more like being an audience member at the Liars Club Yearly Awards Banquet than watching comedy shows on television is.

You are not supposed to "believe anything you hear and only half of what you see" (Joe Stanboni my Dundalk neighbor taught me that back in '66), which truly applies to TV, and telling tall tales, if anything.

I realized on that Cribbage and Yahtzee game playing, tall tale telling Sunday evening in Maine, that tall tales are a direct ancestor of most movies and television shows.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Sundays spent amongst those finest kind of country folk.

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Splittin' Wood and Workin' Hard

That's me, when I was finishing up with splitting 19 cords of hardwood, for firewood. I worked on that wood pile for 9 or 10 hours a day, for 10 weekdays, during 2 weeks in the late summer of 1969. My Uncle Finley bought the wood and had it delivered to Katahdin Lodge in full length tree sized sections. The Lodge only had wood stoves for heat, and 19 cords was enough to last through the entire upcoming winter. Gary Glidden (Finley's other bear hunting guide) did the chainsawing work to cut the tree length sections up into those short lengths. Then I split 'um up and stacked 'um up good and proper.

According to the way some photographers see it, this is a self portrait. I conceived the shot, directed a helper to stand on the exact spot I had chosen, told them to make sure they could see a certain background object at the left edge of my camera's view finder and also the top of my head in the viewfinder. Then I told them to squeeze the shutter when they heard my splittin' axe kachunck! into the wood -- and it turned out good.

Cleaning up after those two weeks of splitting wood. That's me with my back to you, Finley lookin' at you and two of our paying bear hunters who enjoyed pitching in to help out a little.

Heh, heh, yeah; those other three men were helping me clean up the little wood chips and scraps that were scattered on the ground at the end of my 90-some man hours of wood splitting and stacking; but nobody at all ever got between me and the splittin' axes, mauls and wedges when I was steadily swingin' heavy steel and making small chunks of firewood from great big tree trunks.

Do you see that 1967 or maybe '68 Chevy pickup truck back there, in the photo?

That was my favorite vehicle of all times to drive.

It had: four wheel drive; large sized, heavy duty, all seasons-mud-snow super gripping tires; a flat head type of 290 cubic inch straight six-cylinder engine; a four-speed standard transmission with a "granny gear"; and a stick shifter on the floor.

The granny gear was first gear. It was there to drive real slow with through mud and snow, or to get the truck slowly moving when it had an extra heavy load to haul. We Katahdin Lodge drivers normally used that four speed as a three speed, never employing first gear till the going got really rough--like in a wheel swallowing, mucky, oozing ol' quagmire.

Driving with a standard transmission gives a driver much more control of the vehicle's precise speed. It runs tighter on both the acceleration and deceleration. The deceleration effect also helps slow the vehicle down for curves or going down hills. I knew and had always made good use of the basics of those facts but was actually given a very worthwhile tip for developing better, standard transmission, driving skills by one of the Lodge's paying bear hunters from Massachusetts. The tip was to shift gears less frequently and at slightly higher RPMs than when most people shift. That allows a driver much better control of the vehicle, it is easier to change gears and with much smoother riding--if you do it right. I always had an open mind for learning such things.

The truck had neither power brakes nor power steering. That lack of power assist was best for the way that we had to drive up there in northern Maine in order to get our daily business taken care of. Or when I was just driving around enjoying the wild and wonderful Maine countryside with a girlfriend or other friends.

Having no power assist on the steering makes it much harder to turn the steering wheel, because it gives a lot of resistance to a driver's manipulations of the front wheels. That forces wheel handling efforts to steer the vehicle much more precisely, which was better for driving at higher than posted speeds on Maine's wild and woolly, twisty-turny, hump and downy, two lane tar-topped, gravel or dirt country roads. We always averaged 5 to 15 MPH over the speed limit.

No power brakes made it much less likely that we Katahdin Lodge drivers would brake too hard and fast and bash some passenger's face or head against the dashboard or something. Like when we were carefully traversing the rough old, washed out, rocky, mud puddley logging roads, old overgrown farm fields and such in the back-in-the-woods places where we used to drive when bear baiting. We were constantly, gently applying the brakes in those rough situations. And we definitely did not want to brake too hard and fast and go out of control if a wild animal, domestic pet, pedestrian, stalled vehicle, slow moving piece of humongous farm machinery or maybe a whole herd of milk cows 'suddenly appeared' in the road in front of one of us.

On one late winter, Saturday evening in Maine, just after a cold, quiet darkness had eased on down over Rural Route 11, between the Lodge and the Town of Patten, I was on my way into town for a Saturday night date with my girlfriend, when a whole herd of cows did 'suddenly appear' in front me all across the freezing, friggin road.

To my discredit, this happened at a clearly marked cattle crossing. Cows have the absolute right away at cattle crossings. Cows who have full, uncomfortably expanding udders, and whom are heading for the milking barn, make way for neither man, beast nor fast moving motor vehicle.

Oh jeeze! The plump and pretty little dairy farmer's wife was standing there in the middle of Rt. 11 next to her herd of crossing cows and she was all-a-jumping up and down, frantically waving her arms up in the air and forcefully holding out a tightly gripped, lit kerosene lantern at me.

Fortunately, I knew how to tap brakes like them ABS brake systems do for most of you.

Consequently, instead of plowing into the farmer's wife and a half a dozen or so udder swollen milk cows, I slid sideways and over into the snowbank a bit--whilst skillfully tapping down on the brakes till the truck came to a safe stop.

That was my fought. I was thinking about where my girlfriend and I could go 'parking', after going to see a movie, instead of paying my usual full attention to the road.

If we don't respect the farmer's rights, how in the hell are we gonna' eat?

Man o' day! I was embarrassed and ashamed at making that nearly tragic mistake!

One mistake like that, and I'd have been sent packing back down to my parents' house in Dundalk, Maryland. I'd probably have never seen Patten, Maine again.

But nothing like that ever happened.

Anyways, the point is that I prefer the precise handing capabilities of a standard-shift-it-yourself transmission and no power steering or brakes for when I really wanna' Rock n' Roll out on some good old country roads.

But, then, come to think of it now, for most of you's ("you's" is my Baltimore accent showing through), you's had best stick to power everything and ABS brakes for your vehicles. You may own a big-ass SUV with four-wheel drive and all that lot, but ya' gotta' be able to drive Northern Mainer style to do it how we Katahdin Lodge drivers done it.

That's a well earned bit of braggadocio for sure.

Those barely visible, nice and neatly stacked, piles of firewood over in the woodshed there to the right are just the 'tip of the iceberg' from all that firewood that I split and stacked in the late summertime of 1969. I loved doing it.

And you see those piles of wood there that are not covered? Well they got covered with tarps later that day. I can't stand seeing firewood being stored uncovered. Leaving a firewood supply go uncovered wastes the wood by allowing it to get wet from rain and snow and to rot. That makes it very difficult to get a home heating fire burning good with the moist, partially rotted wood.

There were two things at Finley's lodge that were never left out in the yard uncovered.

One was firewood, the other was tools.

Fin stored his rakes, shovels, mauls, picks, mattocks and other garden type tools in a building or tucked up under a building's eave and hanging from some nails--in order to keep rain and snow off the wooden handles and metal heads. Finley K. Clarke never in his life owned a wooden handled garden tool that had any rust or rot on it.

I appreciate that. Makes sense to me to take care of the equipment right. You never know when you're really gonna' need it.

I believe that splitting wood is better exercise than pumping iron--lifting free weights. Like when using the weight lifting equipment that was set up in the weight room down in the basement of the old YMCA, in my home town of Dundalk, Maryland. During my early teenage years, I lifted weights "at the Y" several times a week.

Neither of those two physical endeavours, though, weight lifting or wood splitting, are as good exercise as swimming.

During four summers of my youth, from 1961 to '64, I attended Red Cross swimming courses, including a life saving course, and swam many laps every summer at Baltimore County's Merritt Beach, in Dundalk. The beach was right down the street from the home that I grew up in. I was still swimming there regularly in 1965, when Baltimore County closed the beach to swimmers; it was closed due to water pollution from Bethlehem Steel Mill in Sparrows Point, Maryland.

Those Red Cross water safety and swimming qualifications made me somewhat more valuable as a professional outdoorsman, a Maine Guide; because I had the ability to save drowning fishermen or fisherwomen, canoeists, boaters, swimmers or somebody who accidentally fell into some deep water.

As a teenager, I also used to get plenty of exercise while being paid to mow and trim lawns in the summer, and to shovel snow from sidewalks and driveways during the winter.

So ya' see, that 1969 wood spitting and stacking experience was my type of preferred exercise. And that "wood chopping" (a quote from my city kid days) work, like the swimming, mowing and snow shoveling, was all done outside, where I enjoy spending my time the most.

Before I started that wood splitting and stacking job each day: I had to water seven hound dogs, two Bobcats and one ornery horse; and I had to help Fin and Gary load some 250 to 450 pound 55 gallon drums full of rotting, stenching, maggot covered bear bait onto Katahdin Lodge trucks.

Then Fin and Gary went out riding 'round the beautiful Maine countryside bear baiting. While I worked steady at the hard labor task of splitting and stacking firewood.

Later, during each evening: I had to feed and water the animals; and like every other evening during bear season, I had to go out and gather up a few of our paying bear hunters from the woods; I had to track any bears that our hunters had shot at--sometimes with Finley and/or Gary and sometimes by myself; even through the deep, dark woods at nighttime, but always unarmed; if any of our hunters killed a bear, we had to carry it out of the woods to the truck; then we guides had some bear skinning to do, when we finally made it back to the Lodge.

Fortunately, during those two weeks, when I was working on that 19 cords of firewood, Monday thru Friday, Fin and Marty only made me mow the lawn and trim the weeds, on their large piece of cleared ground around the Lodge, on Saturday or Sunday.

And I was responsible for cleaning up the dog crap. About twice a week, I had to shovel up what the five hound dogs who were chained to five individual dog houses dropped on the ground. About twice a month or so, I had to scrub out the wooden floored dog pen where two Beagles lived.

The Bobcat pen got cleaned out about twice a month too. It's a dirty job, but someone had to do it. Animals who rely on human care deserve that kind of good treatment.

Except for during those 10 days of building up those humongous stacks of firewood, I performed all of the afore mentioned morning, evening and weekend tasks plus went out bear baiting and guiding bear hunters 6 days a week. Just like Gary and Finley did. I had a lot of fun while doing it all, too.

During the entire time that I worked for my Aunt Martha and Uncle Finley, at their Katahdin Lodge and Camps of Patten, Maine, I never worked less than 9 hours a day, 6 days a week.

In fact, at the beginning of bear season, in June of 1969, I worked no less than 14-15 hours a day, for 2 and 1/2 weeks straight. Without a break at all.

And that 14-15 hours a day is what it figures up to after deducting meal times.

Working at the Lodge was quite a broad based challenge to take on and do well at. I was, and still am, proud to have accomplished what I had at Katahdin Lodge.

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The Center of the Katahdin Lodge Universe

Down there at the far end of Katahdin Lodge's long, wooden dining room table are: L to R--My Aunt Martha; next to Marty is one of her housekeeping staff, I hope to learn her name again; the goofin' gal down there at the end of the table and pinching her nose up at the camera is Cathy Glidden; the next woman may be Chuck's wife, because that is Chuck Chanadet next to her there.

This beautiful, but serviceable, dining room table was the center of the Katahdin Lodge Universe.

Look at how inviting that area is to human socialization.

Let me rephrase this: Ain't that a peachy-keen spot for hanging out with family, friends, and new acquaintances?

The most obvious thing to all who view this photo is the size and shape of the beautifully grained table. Look at all the room there is for big, full bowls and wide, full plates of food. And look at all the room there is for losta' friendly folk to sit all around that table, and to enjoy each other's company.

Anyone for Cribbage?

How about a game of Yatzee ?

Man o' day! We at the Lodge proved how easy it was to get both those games rollin' on that table, with room to spare for numerous kibitzers too.

Less than half the table is visible here. It was a great place to be when it was surrounded by small groups of gregarious people having the finest kind of times in Maine.

Down past the end of the table to the left is the living room.

Consequently, people in both the dining room and living room could all join in on any hilarious bantering that was bouncing about in either good-sized room. And the undoored entrance to the kitchen was directly behind me, when I took the photo. Anyone working in the kitchen, or just hanging out in there conversing, could easily join in on some conversation flowing smoothly out in the dining room, or vice-versa.

That joint got real noisy at times. But it was usually good and friendly noise.

A lot of that noise was the hearty laughter that always followed some well told joke. At times, that means dirty jokes. Martha Clarke had the ability to remember and effectively deliver lotsa' dirty jokes.

When I was growing up, and Fin and Marty came to visit my parents at our house, Marty couldn't hardly wait till my two sisters and I went to bed, so that she could start telling dirty jokes. She most definitely could probably have been a popular stand up comedian. She could be one in the oft comically rude and crude 21st Century, but not back in the 1950s, '60s, and on into the '70s. Because the potency, and her effective delivery, of her hellacious, ever-ready repertoire of filthy jokes was enough to make Lenny Bruce blush.

Take a gander, up into that photo of the dining room, and check out that long row of uncurtained windows, which are traveling the full length of the dining room and wrapped on around the front of the Lodge's main building there.


Everyone in the dining room had a full, clear view of a large section of the property out there, including the entire horseshoe shaped driveway.

The few times that a large wild animal was seen from inside the dining room, everyone there got a good, memorable view of it at the same time.

If any vehicles entered the driveway, you could see who it was from all over the inside of the dining room area. Nobody had to get up from a scrumptious meal, a good game of cards, or an interesting and entertaining conversation to, "See who that is coming in".


Darn right I did!

Meals at Katahdin Lodge were home cooked and served family style in much heftier proportions than was necessary. Men often gained weight the right way at Katahdin Lodge. Some hunters were returning guests who had come back to the Lodge on another hunting trip just for that healthy food factor. For the hunters it was: no stress from who knows what kind of a job, profession, or business; lots of fresh air; natural, quiet, peaceful time out in the woods alone; and plenty of homemade food. At home, many of them ate carry out and fast food quite a lot. There definitely were guys who were there more for their health than to bag a bear.

We, who either worked at the Lodge or were one of the multitudes of returning guests, always got a kick out of first time guests who didn't know the ropes of the table yet. The rest of us would be happily sailing along and passing around bowls of good food while scooping out healthy, steaming piles of it onto our plates when newbies would be thinking, or grumbling, that there wasn't enough victuals being served to go around.

But they'd get caught at their mistakes quick and informed, in-no-uncertain terms, "To take it easy man; that one bowl of fresh mashed potatoes ya got yur mitts on there isn't for the whole table; take what ya want; look, here she comes with two more bowls of it. They put several bowls of everything out."

Or some friendly newbie would go for the last of some victuals laying in the bottom of a food bowl at the same time someone else did; and it was the newbies first meal at the Lodge; and it was the first time during that meal that a bowl was going to be empty; and the newbie would politely say to the other hungry guy, something like, "Here buddy, there's only enough string beans left for one person to have a second helping of; here, you can have what's left of it."

Which would immediately elicit, from somewhere in amongst the other eaters, "Hold on there my friend! They always keep bringing it out until we can't eat no-mo. Look! There she comes with another full bowl of it. See? Ya don't even have to ask; they just pile it on us automatically."

Most people at the Lodge could only woof down one of the wide, chunky beef steaks served there for supper every Thursday night. One week, five college friends came up to the Lodge together for a week long bear hunt. Great kids they were. Lotta' laughs. Well now. On their Thursday, steak night at the Lodge, one of them college boys asked my Aunt Martha for a second steak. I'd never seen that happen before.

Marty replied, "Why, sure you can have another one. We always cook a few extra steaks. But this is the first time anyone has ever asked for one. We usually end up chopping them up for David to mix in with the dogs' food."

At which one of the other college boys added, "Oh yeah, he can eat! You should see how he piles up his plate in the cafeteria. It looks like feeding time for zoo elephants. But look, (the speaker taps on the beefsteak eater's flat, six packed tummy) ya see that? He's captain of the junior varsity wrestling team, he's plays on the lacrosse team, and he's a pretty good gymnast too."

Marty gave Captain Beefeater one of the steaks she already had cooked for such an unlikely event as this.

The cap'n ate it; then she gave him another one.

Woof-woof-woof down the hatch the third steak went.

Meanwhile, Marty was frying up her last two thawed out steaks.

Mighty young Captain Beefeater ate 'um all.

As he was eating, he looked like a graceful gymnast executing a smooth, well-practiced set of moves on the parallel bars.

Meanwhile, Marty was working in the kitchen, cleaning up after supper. And from where she was washing the dishes, she could turn to look backwards and see the beef eater out there in action.

As the mighty young lad was finishing his last few bites of steak, Marty stepped to the doorway between the kitchen and dining room and leaned against the inside door frame.

As soon as the last little chunk of meat came off of Captain Beefeater's fork, into his mouth, Marty picked up his empty plate. And she cheerfully declared, to the comfortably seated group of Cap'n Beefeater's onlookers and well wishers, "Ya know? I only did that to see a good lookin young man eat five steaks at once."

The dining room crowd erupted into hearty laughter.

That healthy food attitude was the main reason why certain ones of the Lodge's guests were return clients.

It's called fishing, not catching. You don't always catch fish when you try to. It's called hunting, not wholesale meat delivery service. There was no guaranteed fishing or hunting at Katahdin Lodge. If you can't be satisfied with only having great times out in the natural environment of the deep woods, don't go hunting or fishing there.

At Katahdin Lodge and Camps, in Moro Plantation--Moro, Maine, at the bottom western edge of Aroostook County, post office address Patten, Maine, there were no guaranteed results for hunting or fishing.

What was guaranteed was, "The best of hunting, fishing, and backwoods hospitality."

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Cathy and Gary Glidden and Sons

Left to right: My younger sister Jeanmarie; the little guy is my older sister Diana's son, Will; that's Gary Glidden holding Will, and Gary's very attractive wife Cathy is next to him; then the guy at the far right is Tony(?), a frequent paying guest at Katahdin Lodge. Tony was about as much friend of the family as he was a paying guest. There were a goodly number of paying guests who stayed at the Lodge once or twice a year for "The best in hunting, fishing and backwoods hospitality".

Gary and Cathy Glidden. These two finest kind of natural born Northern Mainers were mighty good to me.

pssst: hey! is she goosin' him?

Gary Glidden became my mentor, when he came back to work at Katahdin Lodge, for my Uncle Finley, a few weeks before the 1969 summer bear season opened. He is a top notch woodsman. Outdoorsmen like him don't get lost in the woods, and they're never at a loss for telling a good story.

Gary and I spent many hours driving around together putting the bear bait out in the woods, showing the hunters where to sit and watch their bait, coaching them on how to hunt for bear, and making sure that the hunters were safely out of the woods each night, after legal hunting hours were over.

Whilst driving along our bear bait routes: we were always admiring the scenery; talkin' about everything and everybody; and stopping now and then to enjoy doing business with the local merchants.

Gary introduced me to some of the Patten area's most interesting and unique local characters. He taught me a lot about how to live the good life up in Maine.

His wife, Cathy, worked in the Lodge for my Aunt Martha. And Cathy became a treasured friend of mine too.

In the small town, close knit community that I was living in up there, one word from Gary or Cathy that I was any kind of a risk factor to the local folk's safety, or well being, and my Uncle Fin would have had to send me away from there.

During the summer of 1968, when I was visiting the Lodge, while on vacation, Gary had given me my very first introduction into the social life of typical Patten teenagers. He had two of his sisters have one of their boyfriends drive them up to the Lodge to take me out for an evening on the town. The full story of that very memorable summer evening of my life is written out in full, in my short story titled: The Day I Fell In Love With Patten Maine.

Gary 'has a heart' for horses. His father's old, retired, lumberjack's work horse was kept in a cozy, comfortable horse hovel that sat along side of one the Lodge's bear baiting routes. Several times, when I was with Gary, he stopped to visit his father's old, dying friend the horse. Gary would soothingly speak to the animal for a few minutes, then we were on our way back to work.

During our first visit with his dad's horse, Gary explained to me how close a lumberjack and his workhorses grow. He said that his father only had to gently utter certain mild words to his horse for the horse to move long, heavy, freshly cut and limbed logs to where Mr. Glidden wanted them to go.

"David," Gary added, "you sure don't want some untrained or stubborn horse kicking you or bustin you all up with a heavy load of logs way out there in the woods, now do you."

It was so beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing to wait off to the side of that horse's hovel, while allowing Gary time from our busy workday schedule to say a few kind words to his father's old, most trusted friend; while I'd quietly stand looking out over the old, unused summertime farm field there, that was overgrown with beautiful, blossoming wild flowers.

Gary had "love" tattooed on one set of knuckles and "hate" tattooed on the other. The tattoos were inked during Gary's obligated two-year stint in the U.S. Army. Drafted American lads were only required to complete a two-year hitch in the military. Gary had those two tattoos because he had been in what was supposed to have been a motorcycle gang, while stationed at an Army base down in Texas. My guess is that it was just a bunch of goofy-kid military draftee types acting wild and crazy during their first big adventure away from the old hometown.

After Gary received his Army discharge, he returned to live in Patten, and bought himself a hot dang Corvette. For a brief period, after his Army days ended, Gary was the devilish personification of wild and crazy. He drank a whole lot of cases of beer and drove his Corvette like a madman. But very skillfully, I must add.

His teenage brother was warned by their parents to never ride in Gary's Vette, but you know how younger brothers can be. Gary's brother told me that he took one hellacious ride around town with Gary in the Vette, and that was all it took to convince that teenager that parents are usually right. When the brother told me this story, with a very dark, solemn look about him, he ended it with, "By jeez I never got in that car again."

Then Gary met Cathy.

Cathy was the gentlest kind of female human being. She was the kind of person who never makes personal enemies. The only people who could possibly have had anything against her were other women who wanted Gary. Cathy was as wonderful as a woman can be. I'll fist fight any man or talk down any woman who ever says different. And, basically, you can bet your bottom dollar that the entire Town of Patten feels the same way about Cathy.

After dating Cathy for a short while, Gary realized the full extent of the opportunity the two of them had for a long, happily married life together, as fully empowered partners and lifelong soul mates.

Gary instinctively knew he would never find a better woman, or one who was a better match for him.

Gary quit drinking booze, issued a firmly stated cease and desist order to his wild side, and he married Cathy. They lived about as happy and wholesome a life together as any man and woman ever have.

The last time I saw Cathy and Gary, was in 1979. I stepped into their cozy, clean, comfortable home, and there was Cathy tenderly holding their one-week-old son, Enoch, in her loving arms.

Enoch was born with more birth defects than I could ever remember the long list of.

The doctors at the hospital where Enoch was delivered said that Enoch was born with so many medical problems that he didn't stand a chance of making it through the rest of his very first day as a newborn baby. They instructed Cathy and Gary to prepare themselves for upcoming, horrible grief, and to make funeral arrangements for their son.

When feisty little Enoch lived to the following morning, the doctors gave him no more than three more days to live.

When tiny Enoch refused to cooperate with the docs on that deadline, the doctors declared that the baby had absolutely no chance of living out a full week.

It was on the eighth day of Enoch's young life that I met him. I have never witnessed a more loving scene. As Cathy gracefully cradled her sweet baby child in her arms, Gary stood beside them. He stood there, gently, with supreme compassion for the child. He showed a strong, determined will to make his son's life as good and healthy as could be.

"I tell ya now David," Gary said, "after the little guy made it to day eight this morning, we decided that the doctors don't know what they're talking about. And if the little guy could hold on this long, with all he's got going against him, he just might make it. So we brought him home to take care of him ourselves."

I'm trying to think now, but Cathy and Gary were each approximately thirty-six years old when Enoch was born. And I believe that was the first time that they had conceived a child. This was due to the natural fact that Cathy was slowly going blind from tunnel vision. Which is why she drove into a giant moose one time, while she was driving during daylight--she never saw it at the side of the road. Her brother had gone blind at an early age, from the same medical condition. Cathy and her brother's tunnel vision is a hereditary thing. It was either believed, known, or feared that Cathy carried the hereditary genes for that blindness condition. But hereditary genes rarely affect all of a carrier's offspring. So Cathy and Gary were in their late thirties and had been happily married for over ten years, before they finally conceived a child together.

The very first time that I went onto the Internet, my very first search term was "Patten Maine".

During my first time on the World Wide Web, I hadn't surfed the web for very long before this thought popped into my head, "I wonder if Enoch made it."

Then I'll be, pleasantly, damned if I didn't find a list of wheelchair race winners, from up around Portland, Maine, with Enoch's name on it.

Eventually, I made email contact with Enoch. He has graduated from college, drives a wheel chair van, and is doing all right.

And ya' know how I said that Gary was acting around Enoch on that eighth day of the tiny baby's life? And how Cathy held her only child so lovingly in her arms?

Gary and Cathy maintained that loving, dedicated parental vigil all the way up through Enoch's college days; including all during Enoch's fifty-plus, painful, scary operations, and full recoveries. Gary and Cathy telephoned their beloved son at college everyday.

Enoch told me, via email, that Gary and Cathy had adopted a fine young son. Most certainly, the Good Lord was smiling down upon that boy-child, the day that the boy went to permanently live with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gary Glidden, and his brother Enoch.

See this website as a book, viewing it a page at a time. Turn the pages by clicking on that OLDER POST button below. 

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There is a table of contents over in the right hand column at the bottom of every page - under BLOG ARCHIVE.