Chapter Four: One More Look Back

NOTE: "Semi-Rough: A North Country Journal," is now available as a complete book, that includes these on-line essays and more. If you'd like a free pdf to download to your computer, send me a note at symbios@condortales.com and I'll email you a copy.

1997 was the 50th year since Sally's folks bought "Camp," so we decided to have an "open house" to celebrate the occasion. We thought it would be fun to have some of our friends up to see some of the changes we had made in the several years of hard work since I retired. We also hoped to attract some of the few old-timers left around, who knew Camp before we did, to add some stories to our trove of Dummer Hill memorabilia.
Here's the invite we sent out, with Sally's narrative and with a drawing of Camp by daughter Sara.

CampInvite Page 1

We scheduled three weekends, so busy country folks could feel free to wander in whenever they found the time. We also figured that, although September weather can be fantastic at Camp, it was also very likely that we would get stormed out on one of the weekends. In fact, that did happen on the middle weekend.

Saturdays were quiet both of the other weekends, with only a few people stopping by. Those days were great, in that we had the chance to talk uninterruptedly to those who dropped in. But the two Sundays were clearly the highlights. Not only did we have a gang both days, sharing with us and with one another, but we did attract some of the folks who knew Camp long before we did. Their stories were great. Here are a few notes from our journal.

Friday 12 September - While I was gone to town, Sally was visited by Albert Lang and Albert Jr. Albert Jr. lives down near Raymond, NH. Albert Sr. (well into his 90s now) used to come to Camp with Edgar Bacon regularly. On one occasion, they saw a deer near the house. Edgar said he didn’t shoot deer, anymore. Albert said that he did - and did! Albert Sr. showed Sally where the Willy Forbush house and barn had been. He had come up once while the house was still standing, but unused. He was cutting pulpwood. He made himself an “apartment” on the second floor, and stayed there while he was cutting. He cut a number of cords of wood. At that time, all the windows were out in the downstairs. He said there used to be a garage below the field, that had the remains of a Stanley Steamer in it. However, the parts had all been stolen by “wartime”. He didn’t know that Calista had died, so obviously hadn’t been to Camp in some time.


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Sunday 14 September - Except for 45 minutes or so around 1330, we had visitors from just before 1000 to after 1800 - David and Bill Demar; then Dot, Early and Nancy Rich; then Danny Forbush, his daughter Doreen, and granddaughter Meredith; Sarah Cordwell; and finally Ray and Sally Egan. If nobody comes the next two weekends, this was a great 50th Birthday!

Bits and pieces from the various visitors: (1) Demars - Bill hadn’t been on the hill in 20 years or so, and David maybe not since he raked the field in the years just after Camp was bought. They were both thrilled to see the place, and had fun walking down through “the glades”, reminiscing about where the field used to extend (far into the woods, now). We showed them the barbed wire marking the edges of the field, and they pointed out the lack of rocks in “the glades” - because it had all been cleared for farming .

The Demars and Early Rich

Edgar Bacon hayed the field in 1948, but it was time-consuming and difficult to get the haying equipment in and out. He may have cut in 1949, but the hay wasn’t gathered. The Demars hayed 1950-1953. Eddie brought a horse and sickle cutter in to begin with. Then, later, he would come in with the horse and a rake; but the rake was wide and ungainly and difficult to get in the road. So, later, they brought a truck and a bunch of kids (including David and Bill) who hand-raked and gathered the hay.

They used to water their horses up at the spring that we use. David thought he might have known about our north spring, but never used it, as far as he could remember.

One of their horses was struck by lightning while stabled in Llewellan’s barn. The lightning came in the window of the barn, went over the back of one horse, and struck and killed the other.

We talked some about the various old families and houses on the hill. The log cabin at Big Spring was Henry Bodsworth’s, and the Demars were living in it when brother Willy was born there in 1928. Bill was born in the Lovejoy house/Gun Club in 1934. Amy Holt had the big house at Faulkenham’s, that I took all the pictures of, as it fell down over time (see Chapter Three). [LATER: Danny Forbush said that Amy had owned the land - Danny bought it from her - but that her husband (obviously estranged) had always owned the house on the land. That was probably the reason that Mr. Holt wouldn’t let anyone live in or take care of the house, and that is why it fell down unattended.] Demars thought maybe the McLoughlin cellar hole had been a Sullivan house, but weren’t sure. They didn’t know about the early Grapes family, but later Grapes lived with Winston Emery [Sarah confirmed this], and had moved to Island Pond. The Grapes woman allegedly killed one of her children.

They told a story about a local man, in the 50s - probably some years after Harrises bought Camp. He was a notorious poacher [and, according to Danny, a pretty despicable human being - but Becky said she always liked him]. He didn’t know Camp was occupied when he shot a deer there. Slim heard the shot and came out to investigate. Thinking it was “The Law”, the man dragged the deer up into the trees, where he wrapped it close around a tree trunk, and then he climbed the tree. According to the Demars, Slim wandered around for a couple hours, while the poacher hid in the tree. Toward nightfall, he crept up to the cabin, and saw Slim and Cal inside, and he finally was able to get his deer out. [Danny told us this man was eventually shot and killed by a friend of his wife.]

* * * *

(2) The Riches - Early had been on the Hill casually, but not for many, many years. It was the first time Dot had been up since the one time she came with Sally in the early 1950s.

Dot, Sally and Early

* * * *

(3) Danny Forbush - Danny had searched for, and found, a few miscellaneous photos from around the Hill - not any of the field, but it was nice of him to search out and bring them along. The best treasure was a hand-drawn map done by Danny’s mother, that showed the floor plan of the house in our field, including the dimensions and information that it had been built by Willy Forbush (Danny's dad) in 1914.

Sally and Danny

Danny re-told us some of his history. He never lived on the Hill. His folks had already moved off the Hill by the time he was born, and other than living a short time at Neal and Mertie Coates’ house, he hadn’t lived in Dummer. His father was logging in the Thirteen Mile Woods after he and Tena split up, and Danny boarded for school in Errol. Later his father couldn’t keep him, and Tena didn’t want him, so he was put in a home for boys in Lancaster.

* * * *

Sally and Sarah

(4) Sarah Cordwell - She brought fresh corn, which we cooked and ate at 2000, after everyone was gone. We showed her the photos that Danny had brought, and she was very excited to see a picture of the house on Sand Hill [by the Dummer school house, just below their cabin]. She had never seen a picture of it, and would like a copy. [Tena’s info on the back of the photo: Daniel Forbush place where Nancy, Henry and Harrison were born between 1835 and 1845. Spurgeon Lockhart was the last one to own the house; John Livingston family were the last to live in it.] Sarah says the cellar hole is still there to see. [Note: She took me to see it a few days later - lovely rocked-in basement still pretty much intact.]

The House on Sand Hill

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Sunday 28 September - This was the last official day of our Arriba 50th Birthday party, and we had a good pack of visitors. Essentially the whole Vinyard clan came in [Don and Diane, Dodie, Donna, Diana, Marie, and a number of kids], followed by Frank and Marcia Bacon. In the afternoon, Dustin (Leroy Springer’s son) and a hunting partner (Bill ___, who lives in Berlin and sells building materials) stopped by to chat for awhile.

The Bacons, Vinyard Clan, and Sally

Camp story from Frank Bacon: He had hayed the field while his father Edgar owned the property. After “we” bought it, his brother [Ray? Earl? Sally is not sure] hayed it one year. Frank remembered that the Forbush house was 2-story, and “very nice” for the time. He thought that Willy might have liked to outdo his neighbors whenever he could - which he said wasn’t hard, considering how poor everybody was. Frank thought that Willy built a bridge across the Androscoggin River up near the Thirteen Mile Woods; he had a mill on the other side, where he turned out fancier lumber for furniture. [LATER: Danny Forbush says that Willy didn’t build a bridge across the river, that his mill was on this side.]

Frank and Sally regaling the Vinyards with tall tales

As a young man, Frank was up at our spring while on a hunting trip. He saw a fox way down the field. He called it in, and eventually it came within 20 feet or so. He got ready to shoot it, but then decided it wasn’t sporting after all that, and he let it go.

The Vinyard girls all seemed really pleased to be at Camp again. Both Dodie and Donna said they cried when the got our invitations, and saw the picture of Camp.

All in all, a very satisfactory celebration.


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