Our New House
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A Memory Book
Monhegan Trip 1956
Perfect Weather Marks Monhegan Trip
The clear, cold Tuesday morning of July 17 marked the departure of twenty-four tribesmen for the first Monhegan Island trip this year. With "Bates" in charge, and Mike Smith and Bill Keating assisting, the journey began without a hitch after a five-thirty o'clock breakfast. At nine the campers arrived at Boothbay Harbor, a lovely downeast Maine village, ninety miles southeast of Kawanhee. A short wait allowed the boys to wander through the winding streets and interesting wharves, including the famous gift shop, "The Smiling Cow".
At ten o'clock, we boarded Captain Wade's trim and seaworthy Balmy Days for the short two hour passage out to Monhegan Island. The weather was perfect; long, gentle swells and a warm southwest, off-shore breeze. On the way out, a schooner passed by to port with all her sails set and trimmed beautifully. Hailing from Boston, her name was Windhelm. Just before noon, the Balmy Days docked at the slip on Monhegan; and while Bates took care of the baggage and the camping site, the others went down to the southwest end of the island to see the shipwreck. The battered hulk was formerly the Sheridan from Philadelphia and had been towing two lumber barges when she floundered in the fog and was run ashore. The two barges sank; but the cargo, being wood, was recovered. The Sheridan, however, did not share such a fortunate fate; and to this day she lies on her starboard side, being tossed further inland with each succeeding storm.
After we ate a box lunch at the shipwreck, we hiked back :and stopped at the ..Island Spa ", where the boys purchased the little lobster buoys which are now seen hanging around many Kawanhee-ites. Then a visit to "Fisherman's Beach" produced pieces of green, sea-tossed glass and the usual rift-raft of driftwood, seaweed, and dead fish. By three o'clock,we had moved on to our camping site, situated behind Monhegan Lighthouse, high above the village. While the counselors set up the tents, the boys found an automobile graveyard, and proceeded to make music, rock n' roll style, on the abandoned cars.
A pleasant walk back to the village took us to The Trailing Yew, where we ate a delicious roast beef dinner. The restaurant is named after a plant which grows profusely on the island and can be seen most anywhere. After dinner, the counselors began the famous (?) challenge matches in horseshoes. The boys soon tired of watching, and ambled down to the dock to see the Mail Boat come in. By eight the tribesmen hit the hay after a wonderful and very exciting first day. As the sun set and the light began its constant revolutions, the camp quieted down, and night settled in.
The second day dawned as beautifully as the first - clear, cool, and cloudless. By six-thirty we were at breakfast at The Trailing Yew, with bacon and eggs on tap. We then divided into two groups, and began the day's activities. One group went deep sea fishing, while the other rowed across the small cove and went to Manhana Island. There they climbed the hill, discovered the Coast Guard Station, and visited the hermit, Ray Phillips. Ray is an educated man, being a graduate of the University of Maine and having attended both Harvard and Yale. Twenty-five years ago, he became tired of city life, and holed in on barren Manhana. There he raises sheep and lobsters in the winter. His red sweater and grey beard are famous on Monhegan, and he is quite a tourist attraction; always willing to sit and "shoot the breeze". The boys brought candy and pipe tobacco to him, as a token for his genial hospitality. Meanwhile, the boys who went deep sea fishing found the going fine. Although dog-fish constituted the bulk of the catch, Dint Day's trim craft, the Jo-Ann, provided a lovely setting for an enjoyable morning's fishing. The "Tims" of the trip snagged most of the honors, as they caught about three-fourths of the catch. By noon, both groups gathered at the camp site, and had another put-up lunch.
A brief rest hour preceded an exchange of activities. The afternoon fishermen out-caught the morning contingent, with Dick Goldthwaite pulling in eight himself. Those who went to see the hermit enjoyed his tales about lobstering and how he built his shanties from driftwood. Ray gave Mike Smith some buoys, a fender, a few lobster toggles or floaters, and a trap head for decorating the Sailing Department. Again, when both groups were together, we went back for dinner; and appropriately enough, had a lobster salad. Bates then had the nerve to challenge the Harvardian counselor in a game of horseshoes. While Bates was the overwhelming choice, Harvard pulled an upset and received a milkshake for his titanic efforts; although Bates gave it a good OSU try. The boys went down to the dock, hung out their fishing lines, and proceeded to catch quite a few pollock. The Laura B, the mail boat from Port Clyde, put in; and the Kawanhee tribesmen helped Captain Field unload the ship, removing anything from lumber to a refrigerator to hay. His boat serves as the greatest link between the Island and the mainland. No pun intended!
Bates arranged a treat for us that evening, as he succeeded in getting permission from the lighthouse keeper to visit the beacon. We went up in groups, and saw the old lamp which was made in Paris. It was turned by a generator and was lighted by kerosene, giving the light a visibility of over twenty miles. Monhegan Light serves as the main (again no pun intended) beacon for the Boothbay Harbor region -a bay highly infested with reefs and shoals. After our visit, we walked the short distance back to our camp, and went to bed. The Light's constant beam swung round and round, serving as a reminder of the security about us. Again the sky was clear, and late in the evening the Northern Crown could be seen. Far to the north, a trace of the Northern Lights was visible. It was an end to a perfect day.
An early breakfast allowed the boys to do what they pleased on Thursday morning. Some fished, others combed the beach for buoys and sea shells. More just sat and soaked up the warm sunshine, while the two younger counselors slept on the pier. About ten, a lobster man from New Hampshire passed through; and while he re-fueled and rested, Bates took him to breakfast. This man had worked the sea all his life, and was returning from a ten day trip to Nova Scotia, where he had picked up some lobster traps. His yarns entertained Bates. He was truly an old salt.
The Balmy Days arrived at noon, bearing the second half of the trip, with Herb Yenser in charge. The entire group hiked down to the shipwreck for lunch, and then the first group went back to the camp site, packed their duffles, and set out for home. We returned on Dint Day's fishing boat, the fo-Ann; and the trip in was absolutely beautiful. A cool breeze, clear blue skies, and happy boys made the two hour ride short and pleasant. We ate at a restaurant in Boothbay for supper, clambered aboard the camp truck, and headed for Kawanhee. Ben Bennett whisked us home in fine style. On the way back, we had the opportunity of seeing again the two old clipper ships rotting away in Wiscasset Harbor. These fine old vessels just lie there, masts dangling and hulls deteriorating until the day when they break up and die.
The Monhegan Trip was as successful as anyone could ask for. Bates had planned and executed everything in his usual excellent style. Mother Nature cooperated with us greatly, giving us perfect weather for three days. The tribesmen carried high the reputation of the camp, and the island people returned the favor with real hospitality and friendliness. When the boys returned to Kawanhee, they were tired -but happy.