Introduction

This book is not intended to be an accurate history lesson. The places described are real, and the author has incorporated them into the many adventures that are reflected in the contents. Should readers be inspired to read more about a given area, I refer them to their local library. My main concern in writing this book is to emphasize the joys of sharing personal experiences in the Maine woods. Adventures and treasures from Maine are still out there to be enjoyed by everyone. My wealth of knowledge came from simply using my senses to understand the natural world that surrounds each of us.

As the world and society have moved into the fast paced lane of technology, too often we have lost sight of what has made us a great nation. The advent of television, VCR’s, and personal computers has helped to make many people sedentary. It’s so easy to live for the moment, especially since breaking news is right at the turn of a knob. Most people live in a small world where their actions are dictated to them by this technology. We tend to forget the great happenings in our past that have helped to shape our destiny. Also, we appear to have forgotten the small pieces of history that have helped to shape our character.

Yes, I am talking about our heritage. I felt a need to look back to our early settlers and learn of their struggle. They had a burning desire to survive, and each member of a family had a critical role to perform.

In today’s society, family members tend to go their separate ways. Very seldom do you see families enjoying themselves together. Too often families look to others outside of the family for their enjoyment. Years ago, in researching our genealogy, it appeared to me that the old cliché of “one for all and all for one,” had never been so true. Families were very close; they had to be for survival.

This closeness appears to be missing in today’s family. Fathers in their spare time are off playing golf, bowling, becoming members of a fraternal organization, or participating in a multitude of other activities. Mothers generally are involved in their own occupation and in outside activities associated with their colleagues. Many children appear to be left to “grow like Topsy.” They find their own enjoyment. When their father is home, chances are he is parked in front of a TV, totally zoned out in sports. Their mother is often tired from her many duties; there is not enough energy left to share with the children.

Now, the children are the real losers in this society. They sit in front of their computers, living in a world far removed from personal contact with human beings. I am not being overly critical, and I am certainly not blaming the family members for their inactivity. They are active. This activity, however, is impersonal and directed toward inanimate objects.

This book is intended to help bring family members back together. it is intended to show family members that we, as human beings, can communicate without the use of today’s technology. It’s absolutely amazing how much closer my son and I have become over the years by being placed in situations where we had to communicate. One example will emphasize this bonding.

One day, he and I went on a bottle digging adventure. We were crossing in the middle of a river when the water began to rise. My son jumped safely to the closest side, and I, being too far out, could not make the jump. So I headed back toward the other bank. After several harrowing moments, I made it. I had to struggle in the river. The water tore off both of my sneakers, and I was desperate to survive.

This placed both of us on opposite sides of a raging river with several miles to go in order to walk back to civilization. We could not communicate as the roar of the river was too loud. We had to walk out on our own, each wondering if the other was okay. This was even more difficult as we were not familiar with the area.

We made it, though he was all bruised, and I was still in my stocking feet. Now, I do not recommend this extreme adventure for others to experience. Obviously, after he and I found out that each of us was okay, we had a grand time relating our experiences. To this day, we share this great memory that could have been disastrous.

My point is, that fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters need to get off their comfortable duffs and start developing real life memories with each other. We cannot all become astronauts, scientists, Wall Street financiers, doctors, lawyers and so forth. If that’s your desire then go for it!

However, the members of these demanding professions are also family members. I have often wondered what kind of family members these people are. Are they motivated by money, power or prestige? If the answer is yes, then we certainly need their expertise and our technology will continue to progress because of it. I hope, however, there are enough human emotions left in them to share with their families.

In writing this book, my motivation is that I want to share my experiences with others and to hopefully remind my readers of their human responsibility to the other members of their family. We are told that this is an era of communication. Yet in today’s society, we have more lonely people then ever before. Families do not appear to communicate effectively and simply talking with each other seems to be considered out-dated.

My final wish in writing this book is to help families realize the bond that is created when the members of a family enjoy shared experiences. My life has been a joy thanks to the times I have shared with the members of my family. I wish the reader a happy life, and I’m thankful that others have allowed me to pursue mine. A part of my happy life has been shared in this book.

Message in a Bottle

Early spring 1971 was the time when a great decision was made between my wife and I. We had contemplated whether to build or buy a camping place on a pond or lake that would be available throughout the winter months or to have an in-ground swimming pool installed in our backyard. We were thinking of making this decision in order to enable my wife and I and our young son to have some recreational activity that would be beneficial to each of us. We were a working family, and we needed some sort of activity we could do together as a family. The old adage that a family who works together, prays together and plays together was the driving influence in this great decision. The decision was finally made to install an in-ground swimming pool out behind our old shed and barn. We made the decision as a family, and we have never regretted eliminating deciding not to buy a camping place on some body of water away from home.

As a working family, both my wife and I were very tired when we both came home from work. We had just enough energy to pick up our young son, go home, and do all the things necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including recreation or having fun as a family. Weekends were spent enjoying our son, and we did not feel like going off to camp, cleaning it, and doing all the other chores that go with camp life. Little did we know how this decision would influence the rest of our lives.

Now, it’s appropriate at this time to enlighten readers as to one facet of my mind regarding the extended members of the family and their recreational fun or enjoyment. This enjoyment was the fun of hunting for or digging up old, antique bottles. Others in the family were having a wonderful time going on excursions in the countryside and bringing back these antique remnants of the past.

These years of enjoyment were primarily in the early and later 1960’s. During these years, I was developing a career in education, and I found that I had little time for leisure. Therefore, I was not only uninterested in my family’s bottle finds, but I actually laughed at great length on what they found, how they found it, the value of each bottle, and any anecdote surrounding their trip.

During these years there was also a tremendous interest by many people around the country to hunt for old bottles. It had been said that truckloads of these bottles were being transported out-of-state to antique dealers in the south and west. Many of these bottles were sold at auctions or to other bottle dealers. Other bottles were just collected as a hobby. This actually was a craze that developed for many people. Some people hunted for bottles for only their value. That is, a person would find a bottle, look up its value in bottle collectors’ books, and then try to sell it for the listed price or whatever they could get for it. Money was their motivation. Others hunted for enjoyment, and made an excursion out of the hunt and enjoyed a picnic as a family while studying ancient cellar holes for relics. Some folks studied maps, talked to old-timers in the community, and walked for miles to locate old homesteads long since reverted back to nature. These persons eventually became local historians, archeologists, environmentalists, and then they finally developed an uncontrolled excitement—they became a fanatic “bottle hound.”

Returning to the idea of the swimming pool out behind the shed and barn, we soon found that we felt something was missing. In the meantime, my son was now five years old and as a family we needed a place located by the pool where we could have fun. So, another family decision was made. We decided to convert the old shed into a family room—a rumpus room as it was finally called.

In the spring of 1971 the pool was completed and the work began on the shed. We were all excited about the construction; two old retired carpenters were hired to do the work. Our thoughts as a mom and dad of an energetic five year old were to create an environment where our son could enjoy playing with his friends.

Over the years, he would have a place to invite his school friends to come and swim, play music, dance, have parties, and do all the other things children do for enjoyment. Also, as a family, we could entertain friends and extended family.

During the construction of the rumpus room, an old outhouse was torn down. Little did we know that old outhouses would become of great interest to us in later years. Furthermore, our home was built during the early 19th century and reflected the Big House, Little House, Back House architectural design. Actually, according to records in the Somerset County Register of Deeds, our home was dated to ca. 1812. As a self-appointed US historian, I am well aware of the year’s significance. During the War of 1812, our Capital was burned by the British, Madison was President, and his wife Dolly saved several historical pieces of art. I will not elaborate on history, but only mention the above to place your mind into the 19th century. Most of this book will concern itself with this period of time.

As work progressed on the rumpus room, a decision was made to not only tear down the “old three-holer” (backhouse), but also to install a sliding glass door. The day came to tear out the old doorframe where the sliding door was to be installed. The carpenters tore it out and hung an old drop cloth over the opening before going home for the night. During the process of this work, my wife and I would visit the construction site each evening and make decisions. These decisions were passed on to the carpenters the next day. This particular evening, I was looking over the door opening and was using my hand to feel behind the old beams. All of a sudden, I felt something tucked up behind a beam on the right side of the opening. It was a bottle! In fact it was a Warner’s Safe Cure for Kidney and Liver and Brights’ Disease. The bottle was in excellent condition, and it had its original label, and finding it sent me into a new dimension of excitement—bottle digging. For the next thirty years and even today, I have been and am a devout bottle digger. I am excited about every trip and about every bottle found whole or broken, and I find great joy in discussing all the  facets of being a bottle hound with anyone who is willing to listen. Enjoyment is my motivator and a positive father/son relationship has been the result. A second generation, my son, has picked up the excitement and now asks me to go on trips with him. But, I am getting ahead of myself and must return to telling you about the bottle that changed my life.

Warner’s Safe Cure for Kidney and Liver and Brights’ Disease is considered to be primarily a patent medicine for women. I think the ingredients had a sizable portion of alcohol to cure disease. However, I will let you the reader be the judge. The label says it was to cure: “Brights’ Disease, Jaundice, Gravel Stone, Catarrh of Bladder, pain in the Back, Headache, Dropsy, Impotency, Dyspepsia, inflammation of the Kidneys, Liver and Urinary Organs, tumors, Abscesses, Irregular Period, convulsions, female complaints, change of life. Beneficial in Gestation Disability, Malaria, Heart, Blood, Skin and other diseases caused by deranged Kidneys and Liver. Keep in a cool place and corked. Shake bottle well before using.”

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