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.


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


  1. Hi David
    I remember your Aunt and Uncle well. I spent a few holidays and vacations with them as a young girl. I feel your pain here because I know how cutting sarcasm and labeling can be. It leaves deep scars. I hope you have come to understand that if they had known better they would have done better in the respect and nurturing department. My parents were very close friends of theirs. When I became a teenager their favorite threat when I would misbehave was "we're going to send you to live with Finley!"
    I remember Boy the meanest horse ever! Walks to Hale Pond, Flying with Mr Smallwood, Gary and Kathy, John Birmingham, Maurice Steen oh so many great folks.

  2. Wish I could figure out who you are. Especially because you recall "Boy the meanest horse ever!" That means we may have been there at some of the same times.

    I know my Uncle Finley and Aunt Martha would have done better "in the respect and nurturing department" if they had been raised better. In the Baltimore Suburbs, we were a tight family, and often had good times together at each others' homes, and especially at Fin's parents' - my grandparents' - home. Unfortunately, those two grandparents had a long history of being nasty and uncaring to each other and having had worse parents (my great grandparents) than they were. Fin and his father would fight and not speak to one another for years. Martha's family had its parenting problems too, but I'll let that lay. I know Fin and Marty could have lived above that, though, and are greatly to blame for being the people they were.

    In fairness, on this website, I give Finley full credit for being the hard working, honest to his customers, man he was. And I reveal that he was a victim of PTSD from the Korean War. PTSD is a wicked, evil, sneaky and destructive force in many lives - all throughout the world.

    My aunt and uncle were stupid to treat me without respect, because I could have brought my photography, writing, etc. into their lodge's business, while adding other outdoors activities to what they already provided for at the Lodge - like Katahdin Lodge does today. Finley and Martha could have prospered far better by allowing me to work for them utilizing a wider variety of my talents and skills, and the surrounding community would have done well from it also.

    Don't just read this website, I have that other one - Northern Maine Adventures Photo Album - that is only about the good times that WE all had up at the Lodge. It compares my teenage life growing up in the Baltimore Suburbs to the teen life in the 1968 era Patten, Maine area, because that way readers can know how much I loved being up in the woods of Maine by the way I changed from being a Rock 'n' Roll suburban kid to a young man who fit right in up in the backwoods country life of Maine (ahh!! the home cooked food, fun family times, the friends, including other teenagers I ran around town with, the paying hunters I had lots of good times with, and I enjoyed the hard, steady work, too).

    The second website is where you may find some cool stuff to show to your younger family members and others in your life today about what you did up at Fin and Marty's. It can help you pass on your fondest memories of all the Mainer folks you remember so warmly. And if you ever post some of your photos from up there back then, on any website, I'd love to see them and share the web address with my family. Here's that other website of mine:


    It is a very well thought out and nicely written comment you've given me. I've taken it to heart. Thank you.