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Grandfather Says: The Family Trip to Maine

Original oil painting by: Grandfather’s wife

Grandfather remembers the family trip to Maine.

That was in 1961 and the family was Grandfather-yet-to-be, Grandmother-yet-to-be, a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son.

The son was left with friends and the “Three Remainders” took off, in a 1959 VW Beetle, loaded as follows: 5.5-horsepower Johnson outboard motor on top, a 12-foot fiberglass boat over that, and an ice chest slung with rope from the transom of the boat so it hung down behind the car.

Inside, tent and camping stuff. Parents in front seats; Daughter in the cubbyhole behind the back seat, over the engine.

We started out from Arlington, Virginia, in what was to be a 24-hour steady rain. Near Baltimore, the wipers failed and Grandfather drove the rest of the way with his face a few inches from the windshield, peering through the rain.

Eventually we arrived at our destination in Baxter State Park, where the campground was flooded and we were directed to an alternate site. Grandfather pitched the tent. There were no pop-tents in those days; no siree, Bob. Tent, poles, stakes, and rope.

The tent collapsed on us in the middle of the night, but we just waited inside ’til dawn. There was no dry place anywhere else.

Then, Grandfather got the Coleman gasoline stove fired up and Grandmother started breakfast. Grandfather heard Daughter say “No! I want to go camping!” (Grandmother had suggested she ask Grandfather if they could go home.)

Well, the middle of the trip was as we had hoped. Some native trout fishing. Climbing Mount Katahdin; icy snowbanks up there, in July. Beautiful scenery. The fresh, bracing air only to be found in Northern latitudes and plenty of fiddleheads (look it up) to pick and eat with the trout. That was the middle. Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The Rest of the Story:”

Coming back home, somewhere north of New York City, the engine quit. No spark. On Sunday, of course; remember Murphy’s Law?

Grandfather found a phone booth (no cellphones, in those days) and got the home phone number of a local auto parts store owner in the phone book, who was kind enough to open his store and sell Grandfather the points and condenser the engine’s distributor needed for its restoration. Then Grandfather got the engine running again and that was that.

***

About the Author: RD Blakeslee is an octogenarian from West Virginia who built his net worth by only investing in that which can be enjoyed during acquisition and throughout life, as opposed to papers in a drawer, like stocks and bonds. You can read more about him here.

Photos: Courtesy of the Blakeslee Family

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