If you still have any, I should let you know I have now sold all mine. Guru thinks bad news could be imminent.
YOW – WILDCATS!
As you almost surely know, this summer marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of Camp Wigwam. So where would I possibly have been last weekend but South Watuhfud – population six in the wintuh, hundred fawtee in the summah – for the celebration?
I’m not going to take you through every last lobster roll, but let me start with this observation: Mainers are such nice people.
The trip began in frugal comfort on JetBlue to Portland, continuing with Hertz NeverLost (or I would be always lost) to the Vinalhaven Ferry, about 77 miles up the coast, then 15 miles across Prescott Sound on a boat with six or eight other pedestrians and a dozen vehicles. To say that the character of the Vinalhaven Haven ferry experience is a bit different from the Fire Island Pines ferry experience would be to strain understatement. But both are great.
Vinalhaven (population 1,250 or so) and its sister island North Haven (350) have nothing to do with Camp Wigwam; but a friend had been inviting me for years, so I decided to take the detour. ‘Vinalhaven,’ he said as he met me at the ferry, ‘produces more lobster meat than anywhere else in the world.’
‘Oh! Can we get a lobster roll?’
We walked off in the direction of the Gawker, which places both a menu and rules on each table (this is an establishment that serves an amazing lobster roll but doesn’t suffer fools gladly). On the way, my friend pointed out the home of the island’s most famous, if most reclusive, resident, artist Robert Indiana, whose ‘LOVE’ sculpture you have surely seen. I stopped to snap a photo of the house for Charles – and as I was turning to rejoin my host up ahead, observed an elderly gentleman hurrying across the street from the Post Office and opening the door.
‘Joey!’ I stage whispered, ‘could that be Mr. Indiana?’
Joey turned, spotted, and – just before the man had vanished – shouted, ‘Bob! Bob!’
Robert Indiana turned to see who was invading his privacy, and – when he recognized Joey – invited us inside for what wound up being an astonishing private tour . . . not entirely unlike this one a New York Times reporter was treated to in 2003 (absent the cigar, thankfully, and the ponytail).
If we had been 30 seconds earlier or a minute later, we’d have missed him entirely. How cool was that?
My trip to Maine was ‘made’ and had hardly even started.
The Gawker’s lobster role was perfect . . .
The three 400-foot Vinalhaven windmills mentioned here Friday rocked . . .
Dinner at Joey’s with half the Maine Congressional delegation* and her beau made me prouder than ever to be a Democrat . . .
* Maine has two Congressional districts.
And then, in the morning, it was into the dinghy for the stone’s throw over to the North Haven ferry dock and a store where, in the owner’s absence, you take what you want and toss the cash into a large jar on the honor system – I purchased a $35 sweatshirt and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup this way.
A brilliantly gorgeous 70-minute ferry ride back . . .
Two lobster rolls from the shack by the parking lot on the Rockland side (the proprietors wanted to knock $1 off each for my having helped them take down their awning in preparation for the hurricane, but against all my frugal instincts I wouldn’t let them) . . .
Then NeverLost to (just hum along if you don’t know the words) . . .
. . . Wig-wam, your braves will love you
While the moon shines o’er Bear Lake.
We’ll keep your campfires burn-ing,
For each fleet-ing’s mem-ry’s sake . . .
Oh, sure, you laugh. But do you know who wrote those words? Richard Rodgers, that’s who (as in Oklahoma? and South Pacific? and The King and I? – that Richard Rodgers). A Wigwammer.
Another? J.D. Salinger (voted the camp’s ‘most popular actor” 1930).
A third? My dad – best camper, 1933.
Einstein came and visited for a week.
So I’ll have no chortling, please. There’s no time for chortling anyway, because the camp owner/director – a preternaturally upbeat and energetic man whose first year as a camper was 1965, and whose first counselor was . . . well, me – had a full schedule of activities for the nearly 200 Wigwammers, aged 21 to 84, who had returned.
For the occasion, the old nature shack had been turned into the camp museum. I went up and found a photo of my Dad as a counselor, and, from a few years earlier, his 1933 activity report.
He played baseball six days in July – perhaps even July 6, 1933, coinciding with the first ever All-Star Game (the American League defeated the National League 4-2 in Chicago’s Comiskey Park) and nine days in August; was out on the lake in boats and canoes 29 days, swam 48 days, played tennis 40 days, football, 16, was down on the riflery range five times – perhaps including July 14, 1933, the day Germany banned all but the Nazi party – went on 3 golf outings and a canoe trip – perhaps even as Will Rogers’ pal Wiley Post was completing the first ever solo flight around the world. Not to mention basketball, handball, and horseback riding (or that this was also the summer Congress passed the nation’s first minimum wage – 33 cents an hour). He arrived at camp weighing 131 pounds, left at 132.5, ‘did all his work without having to be asked, and what is more did it well . . . an excellent sportsman in every sense of the word.’
I’m not sure a single eye had perused that loose leaf page from the day it was typed, but it sure meant a lot to me.
And perhaps a good stopping point for an already overlong report. (I may or may not inflict the tale of Saturday’s mini-color war on you. Gray won but Red was robbed on the cheer. Which is where the ‘Yow – Wildcats’ comes in.)
I hope your summer was equally wonderful.
Quote of the Day
Money is a singular thing. It ranks with love as man’s greatest source of joy. And with death as his greatest source of anxiety. Over all history it has oppressed nearly all people in one of two ways: either it has been abundant and very unreliable, or reliable and very scarce.~John Kenneth Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty
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