The boy was from a Maine family of three kids, his mother passed away from cancer at thirty one years of age.
His Dad was a cook in the army. But you would not know it from the menu selection served up, brought back stateside. The TV dinners, frozen pot pies and never ending supply of morning cereals of shredded wheat, corn flakes, puffed rice kept them fed.
The oldest and only son decided he would be a self taught cook.
Reached, tied on the apron at meal time. And appreciated his Dad of thirty two taking on the solo responsibility of raising he and his two sisters. A year later the father married a much younger gal, a waitress he connected with at coffee.
In her early twenties, the marriage did not last long.
The son figures because his Dad was still married to a ghost, his deceased Mom. That he never truly got over to move on and begin again to be in love. Make a life to share with another, beyond just his young family.
Working for the public works department in 1964, the pay was not going to make you land on the Forbes top one hundred wealthiest. He was rich, grateful in other ways. And over the childhood moving five times. From rent to rent. Getting the kids raised the best the Dad could in a small Northern Maine community. Where the village all pitches in too. This son’s little league team was O’donnell’s Express and his uniform was more man than child sized.
The son with the cook’s apron on figuring better cuisine started and ended with his stepping up to the plate.
Lamenting his pot roast did not begin to compare with his Mom’s meal time entry. But there was no contest with his baked beans. Which over the years became his signature meal time offering when the dinner bell sounded. Cooked to perfection. To die for meal offering that his stomach roll over the cinched up belt proves hit it’s mark with deadly accuracy.
Soaking the pretty white and splashed with maroon colors Jacob’s Cattle variety. For the bean pot last night as the beat goes on. Memories linger. The years pile up and the seasons change with a sense of urgency. But you gotta eat right?
One Christmas, the corner decorated tree was very sparse in the present department.
The three kids went to sample the sugar plums, get prepared for the roof landing of the red velvet, white fur clad sleigh and flying deer pilot. Not expecting much due to the missing cargo usually already arranged under the colored lights, tinseled trees of past by this late date on the holiday calendar.
The next morning the mood was vastly different. Happy, smiling kids bounding down the old farm house 2nd floor stairway on the Hogan Road spying a tree. Loaded with pretty papered wrapped gifts. Flowing like lava out from under the tree, flooding into the room. Leaving little floor space for the opening family ritual to begin. Starting with the oldest first or was it the other way around? Who’s turn in rotation again?
A pink ribbon guided the way, created a path. From the living room, through the dining room, across the Maine farm house kitchen.
Out into the attached, unfinished back woodshed. The place where periodic discipline was administered. Or just threatened, hinted at would do the trick. Because of success reining in an out of control child with an attitude, nose out of joint early on. Not waiting. For perspective, to bring them back into line to keep the family home happy, calm, quiet.
Parked in the center of the shed was a brand new 1964 Ski Doo or called then Bombardier snow sled. Ten horse power under the bright yellow cowling, perched above the narrow ski stance.
Ready for the recoil to receive a yank. Strong tug from a youngster barely able to pull hard enough to start the snow sled. The machine high school skinny, not barnyard wide for a reason. Because groomed, marked Maine snow sled trails and bridges over, spanning water hazards were not yet invented. Not in vogue.
It was necessary to being a skinny profile in snowmobile width. To squeeze, needle through forest trees. To get anywhere beyond the just the pretty predictable, round and round back yard.
Learning to lean into corners, sledding on one knee standing up. To move and groove, shift weight and guide, throw the light weight sled through new fresh white powder. To keep from becoming bogged down, bogie wheels buried and causing a winter field exhaustive work out. Digging out of a deeper hole the harder you tried to throttle your way away from the stall in the outdoor fun. Settling into quick sand. The new fluffy powder snow as you lose steam heading up a hill incline.
The sled described this morning at coffee at a corner store pit stop, fuel up I can see clearly.
Even though a Snow Jet blue snowmobile experienced driver, my Aunt Ruth had a boyfriend, Freeman Taylor had one that was souped up, modified to churn out twenty two horsepower. Which was pretty unstable at the higher speeds than any stock machine produced. For the narrow stock ski stance unlike snow sleds of today. Where they are sit, point, steer, hang on. Go very fast on the ice rockets on well groomed, marked ITS trails.
No doubt this Christmas snow machine from Willy Lynds was not many if any serial number digits away.
From the one on Freeman Taylor’s yellow winter big boy toy. The fellow with the loud memorable, infectious laugh. The habit of a steady, slow drip of Schaeffer warm beer flowing into his system. Who did his best to keep all the neighborhood kid’s snow machines of all sizes, colors, kinds and ailments moving up and down the local trails.
The best Christmas ever, the Dad went all out. And scratching his head, looking back on what his father, the sole breadwinner did not bring home weekly for wages, the son wonders how he did it. Made the Christmas to remember for he and his two younger sisters as a single parent, a Mister Mom.