Look at all that front lawn I had to mow down there at Katahdin Lodge and Camps, in the summer of 1969. Anytime Finley Clarke's Nephew, David Robert Crews - that'd be me, anytime I was living and working at Finley's Katahdin Lodge and Camps, I was the Lodge's sole grass cutter and weed whacker. I wouldn't have it any other way. And my Uncle Finley and his wife, my Aunt Martha, both completely agreed with me.

This free blog has been converted into a poor man's web site. Read it from top to bottom, then hit the link to the bottom of each page for Older Posts, and keep repeating this as you read on to the end of it.


One Hell Of An Experience.........

In November of 1968,
I moved from the suburb of Dundalk, Maryland
up north to Patten, Maine, where
my Uncle Finley owned a hunting lodge named
Katahdin Lodge and Camps
It was there that I became a
Registered Maine Hunting and Fishing Guide,
specializing in guiding Black Bear hunters.
It was also there where I learned how to live
the good life up in the north country
It was one hell of an experience………

Here’s me on my old Moto Ski out in Katahdin Lodge’s front yard, in 1968 or 69, on the morning after a big snowstorm. Notice the piles of snow in front of the cabins where I had shoveled the snow off the roofs just before and during the first part of that storm to keep the roofs from caving in.


I Graduated From Dundalk High School, In Maryland, On June 5, 1968

After I Graduated high school, I spent the rest of that summer and into the fall wonderin’ if I’d get drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam.

At the time, my father was planning to go deer hunting at my uncle’s hunting lodge during Thanksgiving week of 1968. In early November, Dad had asked me to go along with him on his hunting trip. He knew that I had already put in my two weeks quitin’ notice at the bakery I was delivering bread for, so I was free to go. It was to be my fourth trip up to Katahdin Lodge, and the nearby town of Patten, Maine. My parents had taken my sister and I up to the Lodge for one week vacations during the summers of 1966, ‘67, and ‘68.

On my 1968 summer excursion, as a normal teenage male who was always lookin’ for a teenage female to love, I had become enamored with Patten’s country girls. Patten’s fun loving country boys had made darn sure that I didn’t make the mistake of puttin’ a move on any girl who had a steady boyfriend, but they had shown me where it was safe to take a girl parkin’ and get a car’s windows all steamed up. The people who lived in and around the little town of Patten were very friendly, healthy, and full of life. The town’s folk there didn’t mind if I pursued their unattached, sweet, young ladies.

During that summer of ’68 trip to Maine, I went out with a fine young lady named Deanna Caldwell a few times. We went out for a ride together one evening just after dark to go "spottin' deer." I very politely, quickly asked if anyone else in the Lodge wanted to ride along, but I sure enough did that too quietly for most of them to hear me over the friendly conversations that those Cribbage playing folks were enjoying among themselves. My uncle glanced up at me, waved me on and said that nobody else wanted to go. They all really turned down the invitation because they knew that it was OK for her and I to go be alone together for the first time. Deanna and I drove down an old back road and stopped next to some overgrown farmer's field to look for some deer who mighta' been feeding out there. I took out a flashlight and shined it around briefly to see if we could spot some deer. You never have a gun in the car when you do this, cause the game warden can get ya' for night hunting. There weren't any deer out there in the field, but there was a dear in the car with me. I put my arm around her and looked at her alabaster skin in the moonlight and she glowed soft and oh so beautifully. When I told her this she said, "Oh jeeze, why do all you guys say stuff like that?"

Well I assured her, and I assure you, that she glowed softly and beautifully in the moonlight that was shining down on us and on that dark back road on that fine evening in Maine.

When Deanna was asked by a couple of the other pretty and sweet Patten, Maine girls about me, she replied, "He's quiet, but he's fast."

I weren't all that fast, it's just that they were kinda' old fashioned up there.

I went to my first Northern Maine high school dance over to Island Falls and man o' day did I ever have a good time. I left the dance that night with my dad's big Ford station wagon full of a fairly well balanced mix of teenage girls and guys.

One evening, a couple of the kids showed me where we could by beer underage out at Fifefied's Wildland Store, a place that was so far out the road into the woods that electrical service hadn't made it that far yet--they had propane gas powered refrigeration and lights in there. Fifefield had one of them real old timey, hand crank, glass globed, gasoline pumps that most people have only seen in movies. Just for the fun of it I bought five gallons of gas so that I could use the pump. When I told my dad and uncle about it my uncle laughed and said, "Don't ever buy gas off Fifefield, he waters it down."

On the Friday evening before Thanksgiving Day 1968, my dad and I drove his car up to the Lodge together from Maryland. Then he allowed me the use of the car to run around with the local teenagers.

As they said around the Lodge, Dad went out to hunt four legged deer, and I was after the two legged dear.

Photo by My Former Neighbor Mr. 'Hob' Cox

Here’s me in my back yard in Dundalk, Maryland just before I moved to Maine in 1968.

I Took This Photo With My Inexpensive Instamatic 104

Patten, Maine circa 1967 when Main St. was being repaired and repaved.

Writer's note:

I had a long debate with myself about whether or not I'd write about the underage alcohol drinking aspect of my Maine story. I put it in because it is a part of my story about living in Maine that needs to be in there, or the story would fall short of being a true tale. I am very fortunate that most of my personal experiences as an underage drinker were fun ones. That may be the same for many other former or current underage drinkers, but when the shit hits the fan for an underage drinker it can devastate their life or end it abruptly in an onslaught of horrendous pain. Too many teenage drivers have terrible wrecks when they drive under the influence of alcohol. Too many people who develop devastating drinking problems began drinking in their teens. I do not approve of underage drinking anymore. I am against it all the way.

Copyright 2006 David Robert Crews


My Dad and I Had A Memorable Thanksgiving Day Week At The Lodge.

During Thanksgiving Day Week of 1968, at Katahdin Lodge, there was a nice covering of snow on the ground. The food was good and plentiful at the Lodge, the paying deer hunters were always in a good mood and my aunt and uncle were too. Each day and evening at the Lodge was ripe with interesting conversation, a lot of friendly joking around, and some good, non-gambling, card games and games of Yatzee. My father never even got to see a deer; he was a tad bit disappointed that he didn't get some venison for our freezer back home, but he loved being out in the woods hunting and being with the other hunters and the Maine Guides.

I was somewhat more successful on my dear hunt though. I was out and about with some fun loving local country kids almost every evening.

At the end of my week long immersion into the warm and wonderful social life of Northern Maine, my dad and I were packed up and ready to get in the car and go back to Maryland. We were saying our final good-byes to my Uncle Finley (Fin) and his wife Martha (Marty) when they suddenly started asking and then darn near begging me to stay at the Lodge and work for them.

I kept sayin’ to my aunt and uncle, "Nah, I’m gonna' go join the Merchant Marines, and sail around the world."

I was figuring that I had between six months and a year before the Draft Board would send me a notice to report to Ft. Holabird, Maryland for my Army induction physical, and if I served a couple of years in the Merchant Marines I couldn’t be drafted.

In an attempt to change my mind, Fin and Marty promised that I would have a great time in the snowy outdoors riding the snowmobiles that they owned, have the use of one of their trucks to go to town in, and be well provided with warm winter work clothes if I stayed.

That convinced me to stay for a while to work and play at the Lodge.

Photography by David Robert Crews

My father leaving Katahdin Lodge to go back to Dundalk, Md. without me in November 1968.

Copyright 2006 David Robert Crews


And Work I Did!! A Minimum of Nine Hours A Day Six Days A Week

Here I am at 19 years old splittin’ wood for 9-10 hours a day, Monday thru Friday for two weeks in a row. Look at dee' well defined muskules' on 'dem friggin' arms 'uh mine wouldja'! Then besides that 9-10 hours, each day, I had to feed and water the animals, do some outside maintenance work, etc., and then go track wounded bears for our paying hunters, retrieve any dead ones I found, and then come back to the Lodge to gut and skin them. I was aware of how hard I worked, but never actually felt that it was out of the ordinary.

During the winter of 1968-69, there was lots of snow that needed to be shoveled at Katahdin Lodge and Camps. Even as a kid in Maryland, I liked to shovel snow. It’s great exercise. At the Lodge, I learned how to plow snow all night long during a blizzard, with a farm tractor.

I did all kinds of other stuff that I that I had never done before.

I was pressed into service as a carpenter’s, plumber’s, electrician’s, and mechanic’s helper.

I had to split cords of wood for the wood stove, and I still love to split wood. We only had those wood stoves to heat the Lodge with, so my aunt and uncle had taught me how to pack the wood into a wood stove so that it keeps burning smoothly and for the longest time. The only tip that they taught me about using a wood stove that I can give you without showing you is that it is the hot coals from the burning wood in the bottom of a wood stove’s belly that catches the next higher pieces of wood on fire, not the flames from the burning pieces in the lower part of the stove.

There were nine dogs, one horse, and two caged bobcats who became my responsibility for feedin’, waterin,’ and cleaning up after, and them thar' critters and I got along right famously--'cept fur that ornery horse.

I drove four wheel drive trucks all over Northern Maine, in all kinds of weather, and on every type of old, overgrown, rutted, muddy, flooded by a beaver pond, quagmire of a logging road and roller coaster like dirt, gravel, or tar country road. I'd have never made it through all those wild and crazy driving situations if my uncle and some other highly skilled Northern Maine drivers hadn't taught me some serious driving skills and techniques that the average driver never learns. I only got stuck twice in the snow up there during that winter of 1968-69, but one time it was on the hard packed snow out at the side of the road in front of Putt Gerow's tiny country store at Knowles Corner, and old Putt had just laughed lightly, shook his head slightly, then the old woodsman came out and showed me how to ease a vehicle out of a spot like that. I never got stuck in the mud though, and we had some genuine quagmires to drive through at times. And never once did I have a problem driving at the fast and sometimes furious pace required to get things done my uncle’s way. Ask anybody who was up there then, they'll tell ya.

After all that snow melted, I did all of the lawn mowing at the Lodge, and it was a huge yard. Fortunately, I had mowed lawns for money all through my teen years, and I was very proficient at it. I enjoyed it too, in a physical sports challenge sort of a way. Because not only was it another way that I liked to get my physical exercise, it has always been a fun mental challenge and exercise for me to figure out the most sensible mowing pattern to follow for the easiest way to finish each individual lawn and have it looking real good. In my eyes, that job ain’t ever done till the trimming is done right, and I had ways of deftly handling the gasoline powered push mower, like a chain saw artist, to use it do most of the trimming that all you amateurs and pros alike do with one of them gas powered or electric trimmers.

Eventually, I became a Registered Maine Bear Hunting Guide.

That part of the job required me to handle a lot of stinky bear bait--rotting beaver carcasses and slaughterhouse leftovers like cow guts and pig’s heads. That rotting stuff often had maggots crawling all over it, and on hot summer days I had to dip my gloved hands into 55 gallon drums filled with rotting cow guts that had about a six to eight inch layer of wiggling maggots on the top of the mushy guts and there was steam wafting up from the mound of maggots along with a serious stench from the stuff that the maggots were munching on. It stunk us guides up somethin' terrible--we called it "Leave Me Alone Cologne" because nobody wanted to be near us when we had just been working with bait.

I had to go into the woods and track bears for sportsmen who had paid to bear hunt at the Lodge for a week. It was normal for me to follow the blood trails of wounded bears by myself, after dark, and unarmed. Ain't nuthin’ to it–Wild Maine Black Bears usually run from humans. Besides that, having a firearm along would have violated laws that prohibit night hunting. Ya’ wouldn’t want a big, mean, snarlin’ game warden to get me would ya’? I also had to carry any bears that the hunters had killed out of the woods with the help of one or more of the paying hunters and/or other guides. Then the other guides and I gutted and skinned those dead bears.

During the past 30+ years, whenever I’m telling anyone my stories about my Maine adventures, they always think that tracking wounded bears at night without taking a firearm along with me was the most dangerous part of those experiences. That is not so.

The driving was absolutely the most dangerous part of the job. We Katahdin Lodge hunting guides drove over the speed limit ninety-some percent of the time. I usually drove more than 100 miles each day--including on my days off from work when I was just a happy teenager running around the country side with other happy teenagers.

When I was in the pilot’s seat of one of the Lodge’s trucks, I felt perfectly comfortable averaging 10-15 MPH over the posted speed limit, but if my uncle was riding with me I had to fly along those country roads at 15-20 MPH over the limit most of the time. That extra 5-10 MPH meant that I couldn’t hardly ever relax at all during the driving, because I wasn’t as highly skilled at it as my uncle was.

Those Maine-iac drivers had taught me well though, I assure you that I was very safe to ride with most of the time--nobody's perfect.

But my safe driving sure as hell scared the be-jeezus out of a few paying bear hunters each week when they were my passengers in one of the Lodge's pickup trucks, and they hadn't yet gotten to know that I could definitely handle driving a truck on them roads at those speeds. Then sometimes a couple of fun loving, thrill seeking, city guys, who were at the Lodge on a bear hunt, would egg me on to git-it-on at top speeds when I was just tooling along conversing with them nice and relaxed like while driving at mere high speeds.

I always enjoyed the challenges and the satisfactions of making it from point A to point B to point Z all day long without a mishap while using those finely honed driving skills of mine to be that safe at such high speeds on those rough roads. But, it was still the most dangerous part of the job.

That’s how I earned my keep at Katahdin Lodge and Camps in Patten, Maine.

Photo of Bobby Taken Very Carefully by David Robert Crews

Bobby the male caged Bobcat with a rabbit that I went out and hunted for the Bobcats, so that they could have some natural food.

Photo of Roberta Taken Extremely Carefully
by David Robert Crews
(because she was a lot meaner than Bobby)

This is the Lodge's three legged female Bobcat, poor Roberta. She had been caught in a Fox trapper's leg hold trap, and he did not get there to free her till she had almost chewed her leg completely off. He knew that she'd never survive in the wild like this, so he brought her up to the Lodge to live in the cage with Bobby.

Copyright 2006 David Robert Crews