Tales My Father Told Me

dad1This is the time of year when people gather around a fire place, drink hot chocolate and swap tales. It always reminds me of my father and his gift of story telling. I guess one could call it a gift or else he was just filled with fertilizer, I’m not sure.

There were many tales of happenings before I was old enough to see with my own eyes, but there were some my mother said were true, and I had to believe her.  One story was of my father’s survival in a winter before I was born.

It seems he was always an outdoorsman from the time he was a young lad. He had snowshoed across Twitchell Pond to the back shore and was returning. According to his story, he had just reached “Elmer’s Bog”, when he went through the ice, snowshoes on and all. He managed to get out, but that part of the tale was never related. Whether he was close to shore and grabbed something or perhaps he went in where the water was shallow, I have no idea. That image of my father’s adventure often came to mind as I grew up and wondered if the ice was thick enough for skating.

There was the time he was blueberrying. Knowing full well that there were bears in that area, he carried a gun. However, he leaned it against a tree and commenced picking berries. A short time later, he heard a “commotion” and looked to see a bear coming in his direction but head to the ground. Dad stood dead still and did not move a muscle. Soon the bear was between him and his gun, but the animal kept moving ahead, apparently unaware that my father was standing motionless a few feet away. As soon as he dared, he inched his way to the tree and the gun. He said he had all the blueberries he needed and came home. At least that is the way he told it.

Being raised in Greenwood Center surrounded by ponds and mountains, I think it only natural that all generations were raised to not only love the outdoors, but also know how to protect themselves. It was not only my father, but his brother, my Uncle Roy who was injured in a most unusal way.

Uncle Roy decided to go fishing with his friend, Gladys on the shore of Twitchell Pond. Gladys was not really an outdoors person, but willing to learn . This particular day Uncle was teaching her the art of casting into the blue waters of Twitchell.  After a few casts, he declared she should try it on her own and he stood to one side for the first solo attempt. Well, Gladys reared back with a mighty backhand, but the line never made it to the water. Instead it had hooked itself into Uncle’s nostril. There was much screaming, according to all reports, and fortunately Gladys extricated the hook from the nostril without any lasting facial scars. I heard the tale several times and each time my father snickered into his coffee cup.

As I grew older and spent time at our Indian Pond camp, my father made his own tales by trying outrageous acts. In spite of my mother’s pleading, he tried paddling a canoe for the first time. He got bold about the third stroke and over it went into the bog. He came up for air, shook the pickeral weed out of his hair and just dog paddled the canoe back to shore.

There was the time he was deep into a novel about old time loggers and decided he should try log rolling . I guess that’s the name of it. We stood on shore while he got on a long log and started moving it with his feet. He was quite successful for a while, twirling it around and around until success went to his head and apparently he thought he could throw in a clog or some step and over he went…again into the bog.

I feel fortunate in that I watched him line honeybees and in the fall he could go directly to the honey tree. I think it was illegal at the time, b ut he always thought anything was fair game if the end product was being used and not wasted. Maybe it was the unwritten law of the Martin family. I have no idea.

That is just a smidgeon of tales I could tell about my father….those I didn’t see with my own eyes I have to imagine were true. Others? Well, it was up to you whether you believed him or not.  Fodder for sitting around a fire and swapping tales.

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