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Archive for the ‘Anecdotal Memories’ Category

Preface

I know little or nothing about my parents’ lives. I know that as a young man my father for a time worked as a lumber jack in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, that he got his doctorate degree from the University of Iowa and earned money there printing and selling business cards. I also know that during WWII he worked for the Navy doing something behind closed doors at Purdue.

I remember his sharing a few tidbits about his experience across the border — that most of the lumberjacks were French, that they were very superstitious and, as such, didn’t venture out of the camp at night, and that he was the one assigned to transport boxes of dynamite on a rickety horse drawn cart.

On a family fishing trip to Canada one summer I also learned that he had picked up conversational French.  Having a need to restock camping supplies, we had driven to a local grocery store.  At the time I took little notice of the two employees speaking French behind the counter and I was taken aback to see Dad step to the cash register, toss a loaf of bread at the taller of the two men, and begin to rattle off a few angry words in French.  They turned white, took a noticeable step back from the counter, and became very apologetic.

I know even less about my mother. In fact — the only thing I think I know about my mother is that she worked as a normal school teacher somewhere in Maine before she married Dad.

Thinking back, it could very well be that my parents did go out of their way to share their stories with me but I may have just been too young or just too self-involved to notice.  Sadly, there’s a bookcase in my brain where those anecdotes should have been stored but it just stands there in the corner – empty, gathering dust.

Hopefully, in sharing my stories my estranged children will come to have a greater understanding of their father.

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As a very young child I vaguely remember standing beneath a clothes line tied to a tether designed to keep me from wandering around the south side of the Purdue golf course. I also remember walking down a small hill onto a nearby green to collect the shiny white balls people had left there. On occasion I’ve wondered if one memory is necessarily related to the other. I also vaguely remember sitting in the living room of the same university owned house wondering what was going to happen to me when Dad got home. Just a few hours earlier I’d climbed into the family car, a black, four door 1952 Chrysler*, and somehow managed to release the hand brake. I don’t think the car was badly damaged when it rolled down the driveway and stopped at the foot of a large tree but I can’t say for sure because I don’t recall being the slightest bit interested in examining its back bumper.

* My brother thinks that it was a Dodge.

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As a third grader, I remember walking to Paul’s Place, a small family owned ice cream parlor located a hop, skip and jump from Morton Elementary School. Long since replaced by some eatery, it’s memorable because Mrs. Neff, our teacher, would take us there to get ice cream when everyone in the class got a 100 on his/her spelling test. That didn’t happen very often but when it did I really enjoyed getting a lime sherbet.

Funny, this memory makes me realize I haven’t tasted lime sherbet in over a half century. I’ll have to do something about that.

The picture to the right was taken at the end of that year. I’m the third kid from the right in the second row, the wide eyed kid with big ears. To my left (your right) there’s Betty Evans, the West Side High School guidance counselor’s daughter, and David Freeman, my best friend. The girl second from the left in the front row is Melody Lane, my first girl friend. As I recall the romance occurred when I was in junior high school and lasted all of a week. (A larger view of the picture can be displayed if you double click the image.)

Regarding my Morton School years I remember attending Cub scout meetings there in the evenings. I remember the dark green and black granite hallway floors, and the squeaky, hardwood floor in the gymnasium where on one occasion I had hoped to win the rabbit a magician pulled out of a top hat.

Then there was my first performance as a musician singing “O Tannenbaum” with my classmates on wooden risers on the gymnasium stage.  I remember standing next to Jeff Carter holding a battery operated candle in one hand and a small evergreen in the other. I wonder where that black and white photograph of the event went.

While I was  in attendance there I had the fortune to become a Polio Pioneer, getting three doses of the newly developed Salk vaccine that essentially put an end to the world wide polio epidemic. I got the last inoculation the morning the family was to take off for Maine to visit our relatives.

I remember that my older brother, Richard, contracted polio and for a time had to be confined to his bed getting fed through a tube in his throat.  The last time I saw him, at Dad’s funeral over a quarter of a century ago,* he still exhibited a barely perceptible strain swallowing food. To this day I’m guessing one can still see the little red spot on his neck where the tube had been inserted.

* Richard was stricken with polio a second time in January 2011 and died on June 19,2012. I will be forever grateful I had an opportunity to spend a week and a half with him prior to his death.

My last Morton memory relates to the day my mother failed to arrive on time to pick me up. I recall sitting alone on the front steps of the school long after the janitor had locked the place up wondering if I’d been forgotten.

*     *     *

My time at Morton ended in 1955 when Burtsfield Elementary opened and we moved to the north side of town. There I recall sitting on the gymnasium floor watching a televised broadcast of President Eisenhower taking the oath of office. On that day I also remember wearing a small “I like Ike” button.

Memories of Burtsfield while vivid are few and far between. I remember playing kickball and always wanting to be on Pamela Highland’s team. She was a hefty lefty and could kick the ball over the outfield fence at will. I also remember looking forward to playing dodge ball in the gymnasium when it was inclement. Unlike Morton’s gym, the floor there was covered with some sort of speckled, rubbery tile.

We attended church in Burtsfield’s gymnasium for a brief period of time. Mom and Dad were of a Presbyterian persuasion and had decided to join a group to build a new church — to be named Covenant Presbyterian — a mile north of Happy Hollow. I remember helping Sunday school teachers take attendance and, as I ran down the hallway and around a corner to carry attendance slips to the office, I couldn’t resist reaching up and tapping a nearby fire alarm cover.

My last memory of services there relates to the occasion I hit the cover a little too hard and set the alarm off.  Those attending services in the gymnasium were forced to evacuate. Needless to say, Dad wasn’t any too happy to find out that I’d been responsible for the incident when it came to his attention a week later.

Once the church was built I remember going to it a time or two but I never really got too involved.  I do remember Rev Tozier being considerably younger than his counterpart at Central Presbyterian in Greater Lafayette and he had a much nicer disposition.

*     *     *

When I was in fifth grade I started studying piano with Mrs. McClellan, a neighborhood lady who offered lessons in her living room. I also started taking trombone lessons with Marshall Howenstein, the high school music teacher. My first piano recital came when I completed the second Thompson book. Between fifth and sixth grade I remember playing trombone in the high school orchestra when it performed at the annual ice cream social just before school started. I also remember being invited to play with the high school dance band midway through sixth grade. I sat third chair behind Larry Isaacson and Bill Butz, the high school drum major, who sat first chair. As a side note, it’s worth remembering that Bill’s father was appointed to President Nixon’s cabinet as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

hadleyThe thought just occurred to me that my brother spent a good deal of his time one summer helping Richard Hadley, a classmate who lived across the street from Mrs. McClellan, assemble a roadster. If memory serves me correctly, they actually got it up and running but the bizillion horsepower engine turned out to be a bit much for the transmission.

Just down the street to the West of Hadley’s was a small woods next to Smitty’s grocery store. The Klinker family built, maintained, and then abandoned a nifty tree house there. Fully enclosed, it had to sit at least twenty feet above ground. I spent a lot of time playing in that treehouse with David Freeman and Cliff Delacroix.

*     *     *

Smitty’s is a interesting success story. The guy who owned it (presumably a fellow named Smitty) initially conducted his grocery business from a small trailer truck not a great deal unlike the street vendors one hears playing annoying merry-go-round music to attract parents to buy their kids ice cream cones near schools and parks these days. Driving the north side neighborhoods every day and keeping a regular schedule, he managed to build a very successful business. In fact, he eventually bought an acre or two of land a block or two north of Mom and Dad’s house and put his trailer on a permanent foundation there. The only grocery store for a couple of miles in any direction, it didn’t take him long to raise enough money to build a permanent facility on the same property. His store served the expanding neighborhood all the time I was growing up.

*     *     *

Back to Burtsfield. The last memory I have of my experience there was Little League. The last season I played I developed a wicked side arm and was not just a little excited to be selected to play on West Side’s Little League All Star Team. Proudly reporting to the diamond behind the school in my Orioles uniform with a copy of my birth certificate in hand, I’ll never forget the sense of injustice I experienced when I was told that I couldn’t play because I was a week too young. My birthday fell on August 5 and the first game was scheduled the last week of July.  I don’t recall Mom or Dad voicing any shared concern about the unfortunate turn of events. I do, however, remember taking my uniform off and throwing it in the trash. I never played organized baseball again.

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I had a great time growing up on Maywood Dr. at least until I entered high school. I spent a lot of time playing baseball with my friends in the large, empty 10 acre field across the street. We played grounders and flies on a makeshift diamond in the northeast corner next to the Fire Chief’s two story, red brick home across from David Freeman’s house. The game was simple. There was one batter and everyone else stood in the outfield. If you fielded a ground ball, you’d get one point. If you fielded a fly you got two. The first outfielder to accumulate five points exchanged places with the batter.

On one occasion I remember sitting on the sidelines watching a pickup game only to get bitten around the eye by the Chief’s dalmatian. I also remember flying a kite or two there and lying on my back in the grass watching cumulus clouds grow and pass by.

*     *     *

I have fond memories of riding in the back seat of the family car and being given running math problems. To pass the time Dad would give out a series of numbers adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing them only to arrive at the proverbial “And the answer is?” As an example he might say 5 + 5 x 5 + 10 divided by 6 +3. What made those problems challenging is that you had to to keep up solving each layer of the problem as it was stated so that you could provide the final answer immediately and without hesitation.

*     *     *

Back in the day I remember having the freedom to ride my bike just about anywhere I wanted. At the time the town itself was only about six or seven miles square so one could make it to just about any part of town in an hour. Greater Lafayette posed a slightly greater challenge but its downtown area could easily be reached riding across the levy and the Brown Street bridge.

For the most part my friends — David Freeman, Bill Lehman, John Ryden, Tim Harden, Craig Shaffer, Steve Tillson, Bob Troyer, Ken Botkin, and David Working to name just a few — and I spent the majority of our time during the summer cruising the Purdue campus — swimming, playing basketball and golf, hanging around the rec gym. When we weren’t there, we’d explore the banks of the Wabash River, the forested area around the Old Soldier’s Home and Happy Hollow.

As a side note, Bob Troyer had two nicknames — Lefty because he was left handed and Squirrel because he was the shortest member of the group. I remember standing in line at a restaurant north of town a dozen years after I graduated from high school when I heard a familiar voice calling my name out from behind the couple standing directly behind me. Turning I was astonished to find myself looking directly in the smiling face of Bob Troyer. He’d actually grown a foot since I’d last seen him. He shared with me that he had decided to return to town to take on a teaching position at West Side High and soon thereafter assumed the role of head basketball coach.

The aforementioned group spent a great deal of time sitting in a booth at Arth’s drugstore which was located on North Western Avenue across from the University field house. The cooks there made the greatest burgers and fries. They also accommodated our special need to create odd drinks — cherry coke mixed with vanilla, strawberry and chocolate comes to mind. There, too, there was a juke box that could be activated using the numerical/alphabetical keypads on the wall adjacent to each booth . We could get it to play all day pushing all the buttons at once using the edge of the metal napkin dispenser.

During the school year on weekends, of course, we’d spend a lot of our time on campus because, as a Big 10 town,  it was an exciting place to be. During the fall the Purdue band could be heard playing in the football stadium a couple of miles south of home. During the winter, of course, basketball was king and I can remember watching a game or two in the old field house before the new basketball arena was built.

*     *     *

A good share of my time on Maywood was spent playing seasonal sports in the Klinker’s sizable back yard — a portion of which was a flat, half a football field sized lot at the end of a grassy hill that slopped down from their rear driveway. Mr. Klinker was a local building contractor. He and his wife had five kids — Don, Gary, Gene, Norm and a sister whose name I can’t recall. Don, Gary, and the unnamed sister had long ago grown up and moved away which left Gene and Norm to hold down the fort.

When it came to the competitive arena, Gene and I ordinarily squared off against Norm and my brother Richard and it was a rare occasion Gene and I didn’t come out on top whether we were playing touch footfall, badmitton, or basketball. Richard and Norm were pretty much contemporaries. Gene was at least two if not three years older than both of them, so he must have been six or seven years older than I.

Gene had an extraordinary work ethic.  Working on paper routes and at Smitty’s for years, he managed to save enough to buy a bright red, 1957 Chevy convertible, a prize possession he washed and polished once a week in the back driveway of his parent’s home. It’s worth mentioning, that a dozen years ago I took Pat, my significant other, back to visit my home town and while we were there I looked Gene up. As it happened, he had just recently retired from his position as a Trustee at Lafayette Bank and Trust and, come to find out, he still had that Chevy in his garage. He reported that he wasn’t taking care of it the way he used to but he just couldn’t bring himself to let it go.

*     *     *

When I was in junior high school a terrible automobile accident took the life of one of Richard’s friends, David Berkshire, who lived across the street from us. Drag racing on Cherry Lane, a road on the West side of the Purdue campus, he lost control and ended up hitting a tree no more than a foot in diameter head on. The tree survived but David died on the scene or shortly thereafter.

Three of Richard’s classmates were also in the car and all were seriously injured. Jim Woods, who lived on the corner of Garden and Maywood, broke nearly every bone in his body and ended up being bed ridden for a year or more. Phil Cadder lay in the hospital in a coma for several months and when he recovered just wasn’t the same.  The third passenger was Jay Losey. While he suffered a number of serious injuries, he fared a lot better. Memory serves me, the Woods family never spoke to the Berkshires ever again. I came to know that because I used to occasionally play with Jim’s younger brother.

The car David had been driving was a V-8 Pontiac Starfire. I remember that because Gene Klinker visited the crash site and pocketed the car’s chrome insignia. When he showed it to me, he told me that he was going to keep it as a reminder that drag racing is a fool’s game.

*     *     *

It was in the Fall of my second year in junior high school that I had my first “date.” I had become quite enamored with Robbie Losey, Jay’s sister, who during the summer had cajoled me into joining a youth group that convened at the church on the corner of Chauncey and South St. a block south of Morton School. I couldn’t remember the name of the church so I checked Google maps and discovered that the land it stood on is now an empty lot. Anyway, in late October of that year the church held a Halloween get together on a farm a few hundred yards from the Wabash along South River Road.  I can remember that we sat around a fire singing songs, roasting hotdogs and being introduced to “smores” [sp?]. The last thing I remember was riding in the back of a horse drawn hay wagon holding hands with Robbie. Shortly, thereafter, I lost interest in the youth group and Robbie and I went our separate ways.

*     *     *

When I wasn’t playing in the Klinker’s backyard, I’d be playing basketball with a friend or two in my own backyard. If we weren’t playing a 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 game, we’d play “Long and Short.” You got two points for a long shot — anything behind the free throw line — and one for a followup shot from wherever you happened to recover the ball. Alternating between long and short shots you continued shooting until you missed. The first player to 21 won.

I remember Dad trying to show me how to do a two hand set shot. I guess that must have been the preferred way to shoot a basketball from the outside “back in the day” but the methodology had long since been abandoned. He never bothered to teach me anything about basketball after that.

I also vaguely recall playing kick the can in the back yard shortly after dark in the summer. The rules were simple enough. One of us would be selected to be “IT” and that person would start the game by standing with his/her foot on the can, facing away from everyone and counting to 30 with their eyes closed while everyone hid behind the garage, adjacent shrubbery,  and the house. “IT” would then venture away from the can to find one us. Once located, IT would run back to the can, step on it and declare   “I see Cliff behind the rose bushes.” If Cliff was there, he’d have to go to jail behind the can.

Whoever was “IT” had to be careful not to stray too far, because when somebody is in jail, the others could free them by running up and kicking the can before they are tagged by “IT”.  If “IT” tagged them before they could reach the can, they had to go to jail too. If they managed to kick the can before “IT” tagged them, then everyone in jail was freed and “IT” had to count to 30 again with his/her eyes closed while everyone went into hiding again. The object is for “IT” to capture everyone. When this happened, the first person captured became “IT”. The game usually didn’t last longer than two “ITs.”

*     *     *

My mother was deeply involved in a number of community organizations.  Apart from the PTA/PTO, band and football boosters, she belonged to a sewing circle and bridge club. I remember the sewing circle because, when I was younger, she’d take me along. If I wasn’t cross stitching some design on a napkin in a circular frame, I would be relegated to sit on the host’s living room floor and listen to the women talk about stuff I wasn’t the least bit interested in. As I recall I was the only kid in attendance. I remember the times Mom hosted a bridge club meeting because she’d set me up with a bottle or two of Coke and a tray of snacks.

*     *     *

My brother Richard played football in high school. During home games Mom worked in the concession stand as a member of the football booster’s club. Games were always played at night and Mom would slip me a hot chocolate a couple of times a night to keep the edge off. I don’t recall being all that interested in high school football though I do remember one time when Richard, playing offensive end, caught a pass making the winning touchdown in the final minutes of a close game. He made the over-the-shoulder catch in the left hand corner of the end zone at the east end of the field. The crowd went wild.  On another occasion I also remember that Rich had to be taken to the dentist one night because some clown had succeeded in loosening his two front teeth.

*     *     *

My middle school years are pretty much a blur but I do remember music playing a big role in my life. The high school marching band didn’t excite me much but I really loved playing in the orchestra and dance band. The latter group consisted of full trumpet, trombone, and saxophone sections, a trap drummer, bassist and vocalist. We only played big band stuff — Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Glen Miller come to mind. Night Train one was of my favorites because it had a great beat and a challenging trombone solo. In addition to playing all of West Side’s school dances, the band also performed as the featured band at a number of high school proms  held by some of the smaller schools in the county.

*     *     *

In the Spring of my 8th grade year, the high school orchestra joined three other school orchestras to perform in the Mid-State Orchestra Festival held that year at Connorsville High School. It stands out in my mind only because upon my return I learned that my mother had undergone surgery to remove a sizable tumor in her abdomen. Confined to her bed and driven to Indianapolis for cobalt treatments once a week throughout the summer, she lost the battle the night before I was to start high school.

For some reason I wasn’t allowed to visit Mom in the hospital  — I guess I must have been too young for when I went there I had to sit on a bench in a distant hallway — and I’ll never forget how I learned of her death. Standing at my bedroom door the morning I was to start high school, Dad told me that I needn’t bother getting dressed because I wouldn’t be going to school. “Your mother died last night,” he said matter of factly. He then turned away without making further comment.

I don’t recall his making meaningful mention of Mom after she passed away. Having lost the love of his life, it was apparent that he wasn’t interested in discussing his feelings about his loss, much less mine.  Rightly or wrongly, the lesson I took away from the next four years living with him was that life is not something to be celebrated but quietly endured.

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As I approached the end of the school year at Morton I remember looking forward to the trips the family would take to visit our relatives in Maine.  Of the four uncles living there I most enjoyed the company of Uncle Fred and Uncle Clair because they loved to play card games and fish.

On one occasion I remember sitting between the two of them in Uncle Fred’s long, dark green, wooden canoe casting for pickerel on Silver Lake.  It was a still morning filled with the sounds of the surrounding forest’s year around residents — a beaver slapping his tail on the shoreline in an futile attempt to scare us away, chattering birds, the occasional fish breaking the surface of otherwise still water, and a barking dog or two.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I heard the distinctive call of some sort of bird obscured by a line of trees adjacent to the shore at the end of an inlet perhaps 30 yards away. “What was that,” I asked.

“That’s the call of the female Woo Woo Bird,” my Uncle Clair responded authoritatively.

“Woo Woo Bird?” I asked looking up into the trees, squinting to get a glimpse of it.

“Yup,” my Uncle Fred chimed in. “She makes that call every time she lays a square egg.”

“Really?”  I asked.

“Yes,” Uncle Clair said. “They’re nearly extinct, you know,” no doubt pausing for effect.  “Do you know what the word extinct means?”

“No,” I answered.

Uncle Clair and Uncle Fred then went on to explain how over time one species after another has disappeared from the face of the earth.

Nothing more was said about the Woo Woo Bird that day but the subject did come up again when my fourth grade teacher asked me to introduce myself and to tell the class about something I learned that summer.

*     *     *

On another occasion when I reeled in a rather large pickerel I managed to get a fish hook embedded through the index finger of my right hand. As I was being “rushed” to the doctor’s office, thoughts of impending doom ran through my head because the only vision I had was some faceless individual pulling the hook back through my finger in the opposite direction it had gone in.

I remember sitting in a chair with my hand in a metal bowl of warm blue water. When the doctor returned to the room and picked up my hand I closed my eyes and bit my lower lip bracing myself for the worst. As I winced I heard a strange click which led me to open my right eye. There the doctor stood, wire snippers in hand. My nightmare came to an end when I noticed  the hook end of the lure sitting in the basin beneath my hand.

When I got home Uncle Fred informed me that he had measured the length of the pickerel I’d caught and told me that I had narrowly missed getting inducted into Bucksport’s Pickerel Hall of Fame. If only it had been an inch longer.

*     *     *

Being the youngest member of the extended family by at least three years, I remember being invited to participate in a snipe hunt in the backyard of Uncle Fred’s house. One by one my brother and cousins would declare they’d found one — making a bit of a ruckus with their paper bags — and return to the house through the back door leading to the kitchen. I can’t recall exactly how long I walked around in the dark before it finally dawned on me that I’d been punked.

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Uncle Ermo, Dad’s brother, had a cabin next to a bay along the coast of Maine a few miles north of Castine and that’s where we spent a good share of our time on vacation every other Summer. A hundred yards north of the cabin on the rocky shore there was a creek that fluctuated in size with the rising and falling tide and along its eastern bank rested the remains of a small brickyard and an old, wooden fishing boat about the size of the family car.

On or about high tide and when it wasn’t raining Richard and I would spend hours throwing sticks in the water only to bombard them with the bricks that had washed back to the creek bank during our absence. When the tide went out, we’d search for crabs and occasionally help dig for clams. At low tide I also remember looking forward to climbing to the top of a large boulder about thirty yards from the shoreline immediately in front of a rickety, wooden, weather beaten, open roofed cabana located slightly above the high water mark twenty yards from the cabin’s back door. The cabana comes to mind because I can remember Dad and Uncle Ermo sitting on a bench there feasting on steamed clams dipped in melted butter.

I remember getting up early in the morning and driving a mile down the road to fill large jars with water from an open well head where ground water poured into a large rusty tub that rested car’s width from the edge of the highway leading to Castine. I don’t recall seeing livestock in the area but I’m sure when we got home the water was purified the old fashioned way — boiling it on the stove in the narrow kitchen adjacent from the back door. I also remember that the facilities were located in a part of the cabin you’d have to go outside to gain access to. In a way I guess it was basically an outhouse built indoors.

When it did rain (more often than not, just drizzle all day) everyone would convene in the cabin’s cozy living room to enjoy the fire, put together puzzles, talk, and play cards.  Weekends we’d be joined by Uncle Ermo, Aunt Molly, and occasionally their daughters (my cousins) Bonnie and Robin and on at one weekend Mom’s side of the family — Uncles Fred and Clair, Aunts Alena and Ellen, cousins Robert, Fred, and David — joined us as well.

I remember one year Uncle Fred bringing along a 12 gauge shotgun. Nailing a beer can or two to the top of a six foot length of cord wood, we all waited for the tide to take it out 50 yards or so before the shooting began. What brings  the occasion to mind is that, offered the opportunity to fire the thing, I failed to follow Uncle Fred’s instructions. Pushing  the butt of the gun away from my shoulder just as I pulled the trigger, I ended up on my fanny with a seriously bruised shoulder.

The annual family reunion was always preceded with a trip to Belfast to buy fresh lobster which led to a stop on the way back at a roadside stand offering fried clams.  When we were in Belfast we would also drop by to visit my Great Aunt Mary, a spirited spinster and retired teacher who lived on the second floor of a modest two story, brick apartment house with a number of other single women. Among them was Charlotte, a thin woman with a large goiter on her neck who occupied the large apartment at the foot of the stairs.  I remember one summer her asking me to cut down a stand of bamboo that had grown in the side yard so I’m guessing she probably owned the place. As I cut it down I had to wonder how it managed to survive Maine’s brutally cold winters.  My reward came in the form of a  large box of candy.

Castine was a neat little place with a two block main street which rested 20 to 30 ft above the dock where the Maine Maritime Academy was located. Of the shops there I looked forward to one particular general store that offered a coconut chocolate bar wrapped loosely in a square envelop. That memory was tainted a bit on my last visit because on the drive back to the cabin I found dead moths in the package.

The real highlight of our trips to Castine though was the visit we’d make to the hotdog stand down the hill and adjacent to the dock. The buns were like small rectangular loaves of bread, split down the middle lengthwise, buttered and toasted on a grill.

*     *     *

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I remember sneaking into a Bridget Bardot movie at the Luna Theater with a couple of my friends one afternoon shortly after it had started. Our anticipation and excitement quickly dissipated, however, when in walking down the right side aisle I heard a familiar voice over my right shoulder.

“Hi, Ron,” he said.

I looked back and there my older brother sat with a one of his friends like a pair of Cheshire cats with broad grins that flickered on and off in the light emanating from the black and white movie projected on the screen behind me.

I can tell you I don’t remember a thing about the movie because the whole time I was thinking about what was going to happen when Mom and Dad found out where I’d spent the afternoon. Of course, I wasn’t smart enough to understand that Richard wouldn’t be bringing the subject up at home that night over dinner because he’d also have some explaining to do.

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