Working: Wayne Marshall

By Patrisha McLean | May 30, 2009

Camden — One day the loons are calling and the lake is like glass and the next day Wayne Marshall is still cold in a turtleneck, flannel shirt, hoodie, vest and hat. As someone who’s sometimes in the same boat as he is said: “There are days when everyone wants to have this job and then there are days when no one does.”

Wayne is in charge of setting up the floats for about 130 summer cottages, most on Megunticook Lake. On a recent morning, he reported back to headquarters from the middle of that body of water: “We’re hooking up Hanson right now. I was going to do Rockefeller then Kelly. And Dickey wants to get in the river sometime today. He came back from Florida earlier than I was told.”

A jump-start in the routine this spring because of warm weather took some of the pressure off: “Put a few in and everybody wants to be in,” Wayne said. “Usually they like to have them in before Memorial Day.”

Most homeowners also want to keep their floats in the water through Labor Day and that means another rush to get them all out before November when “it gets real nippy out there,” Wayne said. Wayne prefers the spring process to the fall because “every day’s getting a little warmer,” he said.

Most days Wayne is in the Boston whaler of his employer, general contractor Monroe & Goodwin, by 7:30 a.m. One or two men go along to help. One setup can include up to two ramps, a kicker float and the main float, “all according to the distance from the shore they want to be,” Wayne said. “If it’s not too windy we’ll haul them all at once.”

Wind is Wayne’s nemesis: “It makes it a pain in the butt to hook up the floats,” he said. He doesn’t set out in the rain, although he does occasionally get stuck in a downpour when he’s out on a job. As for other extreme weather, “if it’s real cold Sonny [Goodwin] will usually give us something to do onshore,” Wayne said.

Wayne worked for Sonny during high school, went into the service, worked for Sonny again, then “disappeared for 25 years,” he said. In California and Florida he did carpentry and in North Carolina he raised Arabian horses. “Float cowboys,” is how Jamie, one of the men helping Wayne one recent morning, coincidentally described their work, while struggling to rope in a recalcitrant float. “And there’s the wind, right on cue,” he said.

Wayne came back home to Camden about six years ago, joining up with Sonny again and doing “whatever he has” throughout the year. This includes plowing snow and building floats. “I was just going out and helping them [put in the floats] and all of a sudden I got stuck with it,” he said.

Usually, Wayne breaks for lunch at Megunticook Market (“tomorrow’s seafood chowder”), which he eats in the parking lot from his truck. But on the occasional magical Maine summer day, he motors for a picnic lunch over to Fang Island, where his family has owned a cottage since the 1950s.

A day’s work for Wayne this time of year entails setting up a summer’s worth of fun for four or five cottages, “depending on how far from shore the cottages are," he said. "If we go to the other end of the lake it takes an hour and a half."

“And seven minutes to get back,” he said, with his characteristic warm, wide grin. “We open ‘er up when we’re on the way back, especially if it’s quitting time.”
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