Summer 1982, Fourth Debsconeag Lake—Indian Camp.
I had just turned twelve years old and was staying at some sporting camps in the woods of northern Maine with my Grandfather and a close friend of his named Randy. The owner of the camps had asked Randy to watch over them for awhile so he could take care of some personal business, business that would take two to three weeks. Randy had asked my Grandfather if he’d like to spend a couple of weeks in the camps with him and that he should bring me along—this was the custom, I’d been tagging along with these two in this same airplane since my earliest childhood memories. Well needless to say we had an enjoyable stay in those camps that summer. Having spent time in a camp President Theodore Roosevelt had stayed in and another fascinating cabin called the Indian Camp, it was more than I ever could have asked for and it was truly a great experience for my young soul. I could write a good, long chapter in a book based on my twelve year old memories that summer of ’82, but one stands out and has never been told—until now.
I had left the camp one rainy day to go wander in the woods around the area leaving Randy and Gramp in the cabin. This day however, I didn’t go very far like I typically did, this day I headed across the property and the passed the other camps to where the plane lay tied up to the dock. To me Randy’s airplane was mystical. Sure I knew it was a Piper Super Cub, but at twelve years of age I really didn’t know much. I stood and looked at it for quite some time floating gently on the surface of the rain-splattered lake. I’m sure it was quite a few minutes before I worked up the courage to climb up into the pilot’s seat. I vividly remember sitting there looking out over the instrument panel and dreaming this plane was mine…that one day I would have a plane just like this of my own. I remember the feel of the cold metal of the control stick; I remember the sweet smell of the mixing of metal, wood, fabric, oil and fuel. These are the same smells I still associate with old airplanes. I needed to cut this journey of mine short though. You see, I didn’t ask for permission to climb into that plane. Although I’m sure Randy wouldn’t have minded, I still knew enough to know I was supposed to ask and what I was doing was wrong. So with this in mind, I was sitting there no more than five minutes, probably much less, when I hurriedly jumped back down onto the dock…looked back at the green Super Cub and walked away. I had a feeling in that seat. A feeling I couldn’t put words to if I wanted to, but it left an impression on me that has NEVER left.
I fondly think of this memory from time to time but mostly when I’m on some pond in the woods, right as I settle down into the seat and peer over that very same panel, and out that very same windscreen. I knew I would have a Super Cub one day…I just never dreamed it would be the exact one from my childhood. Now when I push that starter button I can hear my Grandfather and Randy’s voices in that cockpit as clearly as I did those thirty-five years ago. I’m sure they are looking down on me and smiling. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they even knew back in 1982 that I’d climbed into that seat. One thing is for sure though, I know that I owe them both so much…and I’m still trying to repay them.