Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Very Close Family and An Idiot Stick

L to R: My mother-Doris Mae Crews (maiden name Clarke); myself-David Robert Crews; my father-Robert Edward Crews Jr.; my younger sister-Jeanmarie Crews (married name Little); my aunt-Martha Louise Clarke (maiden name Thomas.

The two photos on this page were taken in early spring, 1969. My family had come up to visit us at Katahdin Lodge during my sister's Easter break from high school. My mother had hoped that I was going to go back home to Dundalk, Maryland with them when they left. But the woods, the young women and the good times up in and around Patten, Maine had quite a solid grip on me.

I never thought of this before, but maybe my mother was trying to take me home because she was worried about me being drafted into the Army and sent to fight and die in Vietnam. My entry into the military was inevitable. It is very possible that she had wanted to spend as much time with me as she could; until my U.S. Army draft notice or my voluntary enlistment took me to where she could not come to stay and visit with me for a week.

She had lived through World War Two, while living in Sparrows Point, Maryland, as a young adult. Then her brother Finley and other young men from her neighborhood had served in the Korean War. She knew plenty enough mothers who had lost sons in those two wars. Maybe she feared not ever being able to spend time with me again, after I either received that inevitable military draft notice or I enlisted into the armed services from up in Maine. And I eventually did enlist into the Army from Bangor Maine. Fortunately though, I got to spend a couple of weeks at my parents' home before I reported to serve my country.

When I did not go back to Dundalk with them, my mother was visibly disappointed.


L to R: Doris; Bob; Jeanmarie; Marty; and in the back that is my uncle--Finley Kenneth Clarke.

You see that wide, old style, heavy metal snow shovel hanging on the outside wall over there at the right?

That idiot stick and I were very close companions.

Finley once said that shovels--and industrial strength push brooms--are often referred to as idiot sticks, because any idiot can operate one.

Most men who ever worked for Katahdin Lodge were highly skilled idiot stick operators.

First off, there was a lot of snow to be shoveled in the wintertime.

Second, during 1969, then all through the early 1970s, Finley often had dirt digging projects going: like expanding the small cellar under the main building of the Lodge; putting in a well and water pump; and installing an underground bulk gasoline tank.

The hunting business is a very serious and dangerous profession to be involved in. Very few, if any, of the Lodge's hunting guides were ever even close to being considered being an idiot. That includes the large number of deer hunting guides who worked for Finley over the years. If any of Fin's male employees had ever done anything idiotic, it would have been their last day at Katahdin Lodge. And their sorry keysters would have been dressed down, chewed out and tore up by Mighty, Mighty Finley The K.

That idiot stick hanging on the outside wall of the Lodge and I were sometimes like brothers-in-arms, battling snow beasts of magnificent proportions.

Other times, that snow shovel and I moved a lot innocent minded snowflakes out of harm's way. It is downright dangerous for unsuspecting, gentle snowflakes to be allowed to lay around on driveway and walkway surfaces. Those individually, uniquely designed works of natural art could have gotten themselves squished, if Brother Shovel and I hadn't been there to lift them over to safety.

I shoveled off the roofs of every single building there at least one time. And as you peruse the pictures on this web sight you'll see a fair number of old buildings.

The roof over top of the Lodge's dining room leaked in several places; every time it rained, and when any snow on it was melting. So I shoveled off that section of roof after every snowfall, before any of it could melt and leak in on us.

My aunt and uncle made it my full responsibility to try to plug those leaking holes in our roof. I was issued a grease gun full of "Monkey Dung".

After receiving that gift of an unexpected, but welcomed, addition to my professional powers, every time we could figure out exactly where a leak might be coming from, I climbed up on the roof and Dunged it.

Trouble was, though, that we could usually only vector in on the source of any of those awfully aggravating water trickles while it was raining, but the Dung don't stick when the roof is wet.

Every time after it snowed: Fin, Marty and I were loathe to allow that innocent, docile, beautiful white snow on the dining room roof to eventually morph into tiny droplets of falling water that could possibly be forced to endure some extremely foul language being bombasted at them, as they fearfully fell from the dining room ceiling.

Pure and driven snow on the roof; all that its H2O molecules wanted in life was to seek out a safe and smooth, gravity guided path of least resistance.

Instead, for any snowflakes melting on the dining room's roof, it oft was an eventual, frightful fall into any of the three to five buckets, pots or pans being used to catch leaks.

To save the snow from such a falling fate, and to protect its delicate little ears from some awful cursing, I went up there on the dining room roof and shoveled it off after every single time it snowed, no matter how light the coverage may have been.

Actually, we wanted the snow shoveled off right away because those leaks were causing more structural damage to the building's framework than we were willing to allow by our own laziness or lack of respect for the natural resources that made up the timber and nails of the Lodge's buildings.

Through the years, before, during and after my times at Katahdin Lodge, I have made darn good use of my idiot stick operating abilities.

Especially during a year working on the labor gang in Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces.

Sadly, those hard shoveling days of mine are over.

It has taken quite a few re-injuries of an original back injury that prevents me from using any shovels for more than a minute or two anymore. My back was first injured in 1973, when a man in a speeding 1966 Pontiac Bonneville ran a red light, broadsided me and knocked me off my new Yamaha 650 motorcycle. For two decades after that, it took quite a few re-injuries, which lead to one lower back operation along with 5 1/2 total months in veterans hospitals, to destroy my beloved abilities with an idiot stick.

But I'd be glad to stop on by over to your place to coach you on how to properly and safely use an idiot stick anytime ya' wanna' give me a call. The number is: 555-1-800-877-have-a-cold-glass-of-homemade-iced-tea-ready-for-me. Have that glass of iced tea, served with a tad bit of real sugar already in it, sitting next to a comfortable lawn chair and have an attractive, single, young forty-something-year-old woman there to rub my neck, shoulders and back, while I watch you work. And I'll be happy to come over anytime.



David Robert Crews Copyright 2008









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