Thursday, April 3, 2008

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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