Getting It All Together - 1967
The lease was signed. We were excited. Before long the summer of 1967 would be here and we would be heading to Maine to tent on our very own spot on Lower Sysladobsis Lake. Our camping on Dobsie would be limited to one week that year. Although Bob had four weeks of vacation time, two weeks each year were spent on active duty with a Navy Reserve assignment. The third week was spent at Yornoc Lodge near Augusta, Maine. It was at Yornoc that as a teenager, Bob had vacationed with his parents. It was there that the bonds of a life- long friendship with Marguerite Turner Farley and her extended family had been formed. It was at Yornoc Lodge on the shores of Cobbosseecontee Lake that we had honeymooned.
In August 1967 we continued the tradition by spending a week at Yornoc ( that’s Conroy spelled backwards) with Peg and John Farley, the Carltons, Bob’s mother Beryl, Liz, now age 3, and our new infant daughter Annette, age 5 months. Our plans were to head further north to our newly leased camp lot on Dobsie for the next week. The Carlton’s older son, Robbie Scott, had accompanied us the previous summer for our follow up week at a rented camp on Spednic Lake on the Maine-New Brunswick border. Robbie, now 10 ½ years old, was eager to join us again for the new adventure of camping on Dobsie. He was keenly interested in the outdoors and fishing and we were delighted to have Robbie join us.
Over the winter we had made lists of gear that we wanted for our primitive campsite. Many trips were made to Morsan’s, a Long Island camping supply store on Route 110 in Huntington. We poured over catalogs. The specs for various sleeping bags were noted. Did we need a sleeping bag that would keep us warm at -20 degrees for August camping, or would a rating of + 20 degrees be adequate? How many pieces did we really need in a cookware set? What size tent would we need? Should we invest in a screened dining unit? What about a stove, cooler, lantern, tools, table and so on? Soon we realized that it was going to require a significant financial investment to purchase everything we thought we needed. Our budget was being stretched. Could we, or should we pull this off? Were we being foolish, as some of our family thought?
In the spring of 1967, an opportunity arose to purchase a 9 by 12 high wall tent from Tom Bond, a friend from St. Paul’s Church in Glen Cove. For fifty dollars we acquired a spacious two room green canvas home, gently used by the boy scouts in Tom’s troop. We practiced pitching it in our backyard. Neighbors thought a mash unit was about to open. Gradually we honed our original list focusing on needs rather than wants. When gathered together, the combination of camping gear, clothing, baby equipment, first aid supplies and fishing tackle made a substantial pile. Yet to be included were water and food supplies for the week.
Our vehicle at the time was a 1964 Chevrolet station wagon in Tahitian turquoise, a shade more conservative than its name might imply. I have long had a reputation for being an excellent packer. Bob always chided me for my interest in doing jigsaw puzzles. “What’s the point of spending all that time putting a puzzle together when you are just going to turn around and take it apart?” he would say. My response was that the experience with spatial relations acquired while completing a jigsaw puzzle, was directly related to the spatial relations challenge of packing a car. Top notch packer or not, this situation required a car top carrier in order to meet the challenge. So yet another purchase was made.
With careful planning, and not an inch to spare, the car was packed. Finally, on a Friday evening in early August 1967, we were ready to head north. Passengers included Bob, Beryl, Liz, Annette, and me. The first leg of the trip took us from Glen Cove to Braintree, Massachusetts, where we stayed overnight at Peg and John Farley’s house. A minimum of unpacking and repacking was needed for the one night stay. On Saturday morning, John cooked a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. I don’t know how he did it, but his scrambled eggs always had the consistency of custard and I loved them. After breakfast Peg and John packed their car. The caravan pulled out of the driveway and headed north. A stop was made in Seabrook, New Hampshire for liquor and cigarettes. We then crossed the Piscataqua River and continued on to Yornoc Lodge for the first week of our vacation.
The following Saturday we checked out of Yornoc and Bob, the girls, Robbie and I prepared to head for Dobsie Lake, while Beryl stayed on with the Farley’s. Throughout the week many needed items had been unpacked from the car: baby equipment, suitcases, personal items, cameras, fishing tackle and more. This created a new packing challenge. As I surveyed the assortment of gear scattered on the ground around the station wagon, a crowd of bystanders gathered. Other guests, staff members, as well as Yornoc’s owners, Ed and Liz Stetson, circled around. I tried to concentrate on solving the current puzzle, but could not help but hear remarks from the assembly. Is she really going to try to get all that stuff in the car? How is she going to fit that (the tent) in? Where will the passengers sit? She’s never going to manage it. Something has to be left behind. How did it all get here in the first place? Carefully, I continued to place one item here and another item there. I rotated, I inverted, I slid. Occasionally I removed and regrouped the pieces of the puzzle until every item was on board. Nothing was left on the ground. The bystanders scratched their heads. How did she do that? I couldn’t help but think that if they had done as many jigsaw puzzles as I, they would have understood. Perhaps they could even have helped place a piece or two.