Last week I went on a four day trip “Upta Camp,” as Bob Marley would say, with four fellas who had retired from or had experience in the Rumford paper mill. Three of them reside in Andover, one in Rumford, while I live here in Mason. I happen to be the “elder statesman.” This is the same group I spent a few days with at Ray Cooley’s camp on Loon Lake four or five years ago. We had so much fun at Loon Lake we wanted to try it again but at a spot a little closer to home.
Richard “Dicky” Merrill opened his camp on Roach Pond to the four others, Arthur Hutchins, Norm Weston, Gary Marston and me. We all did a little fishing and enjoyed many philosophical discussions about how to solve most of this country’s problems, using a lot of descriptive four letter words: words like camp, fish, beer and rice, which Dicky wouldn’t eat with his share of chili! I even surprised Arthur when I used the word “persnickety,” which he claimed he only recently learned from his wife.
The five of us decided on a cooperative arrangement for living together. We each agreed to provide the primary food for one evening meal. Then we stopped at Indian Hill Market and purchased the ingredients to provide all the rest of the stuff we wanted to eat. Dicky provided eggs, cooking utensils, disposable dinnerware, silverware and towels. Then we divvied up the duties: we each prepared the evening meal that we provided: a casserole, a stew, chili, rice and cheese, and the final evening meal of leftovers from the first three nights. Gary cooked the bacon, eggs and sausage for all the breakfasts, while Arthur was “toastmaster.” Lunch was either sandwiches or baked beans fixed by individuals or groups which came in randomly. We all took turns at washing and drying all non-disposable cookware and utensils.
Dicky insisted that I fix pancakes for our final Thursday morning breakfast, using the Aunt Jemima pancake mix. I fooled him by getting up at 5:30 a.m. and picking blueberries for the pancakes on Thursday morning, but he insisted that I use his method of adding the berries to the mix. You pour the batter on the griddle and then sprinkle berries in the batter before it starts to cook! Everybody agreed that the pancakes were good. Only later did I figure out that the reason Dicky insisted that I make the pancakes was that I brought a jar of homemade maple syrup!
Our conversations were filled with friendly joshes and jabs about every little “screw-up” or setback or method of doing something. It seemed like I got more than my share of “put-downs” because of my Air Force experience as a navigator! I finally got some respect on our final afternoon at camp when I pointed out an Air Force tanker aircraft refueling a large transport airplane, either a C-17 or a C-5, hard to tell which due to their high altitude as they flew over the lake.
Last Sunday, Pastor John Williams gave an unusual presentation to the young people before they went downstairs to Sunday School. It was a story where he compared Christians to Halloween pumpkins! He began by telling how you take a pumpkin from the garden, wash off all the dirt and then clean out all the “yucky stuff” inside; then you discard all the yucky stuff and make a beautiful new jack-o-lantern with a smiley face and a whole new outlook. Then he said God does the same thing with Christians; he helps them discard all their old yucky habits, and replace them with new positive ones.