Good Times Of Old

By Joe Talbot Jr. | May 31, 2018

My father, and many other fathers, built the Amphitheatre overlooking Camden Harbor. I often take a right just past the little park so that I can drive past it, and also look at the harbor across the street from it. Somehow in my youth, many times a year, especially winter snowstorms, I would wind up walking all round the cedars across the top, looking down the cascading terraces of granite, with grandiose images of sword- fighting a foe in order to rescue a damsel in distress. Then I would carry her down the steps, across the park and whisk her away in one of the majestic ships below, to a safer place. It’s odd how the same thoughts come to me now, 70 years later, and I remember how I love the scene of beauty that was created for the town to enjoy. Back in the 90s I brought a 55-member choir from Maryland there, and we performed a concert for the town. From those same granite steps, I looked out over the audience seated in white folding chairs, to the windjammers, with dark clouds as a background over the bay, immersed in the golden sunset rays on them only, and the pride in my hometown was in the front of my attention.

Camden Harbor, “where the mountains meet the sea” is a place that afforded me many hours of pure enjoyment. It all started for me back in the mid 1950s when my close friend, John Lyman, who lived on upper Chestnut Street, invited me to go sailing with him and his Dad, Richard “Dick” Lyman. He was somehow connected with Camden Ship Yard, I’m not sure how, but I had my first day on a sailboat with him, and I credit him with being the catalyst that launched me into a lifetime on the water since. He spent many Saturdays teaching Johnny and I how to sail, navigation, rules of the road, and common-sense safety. On some occasions, we sailed his “Finn” in friendly competition with the fleet of them in the Camden Yacht Club. She “the boat” was fast and wet. But we felt like we were in the fastest thing afloat, like lightning, going six or seven knots. I used to have a scooter that was faster than that… downhill anyway.

The movie theater in Camden was another special memory; we could see Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Frank Sinatra and the most beautiful girl in the world, with a singing voice to match, Doris Day. I planned to marry her. We could see all that on a Saturday afternoon for 12 cents.

Then of course, came Payton Place. It was 1957, and the whole town was in awe of that spectacle, except me. I had my heart cut out! My girlfriend, had eyes for Russ Tamblyn who played Norman Paige in the movie. He actually spoke to her, and asked her out on a date. She actually accepted….woe is me. He rode off into the sunset shortly thereafter, so I got healed. There were a lot of movie stars we all knew and a lot of movie stars were born in the movie as well. Farmers, shop keepers, taxi drivers.

Speaking of taxi drivers, John Quigley had a taxi stand next to the theatre. I remember one day in 1961 I came home from military leave to our home at the Fish Hatchery. I went down to see my dad’s sporting goods store on Maine Street. I visited with dad for awhile, took a tour around the town businesses reminiscing with some of the folks I knew, and then dad took me and the store mascot, Gizmo, our Cocker Spaniel, home for lunch. Dad went back to the store, and I went out on the lake for a while, and came home in time for supper. My mother gave me a dollar or so, and asked me to give it to John, who was coming down the walk to our door. I opened the door, and he had Gizmo in his arms. He said “Hello Joey, glad to see you again!” I said to John, “How is it you have Gizmo, John, I brought him home with dad at noon?” He said, “Well Joey, your dad left the store before “Gizzy” got there, and the store was locked. So he came over to my place, and sat outside my front door, so I could give him a ride home. This actually happens a few times a month, when he’s too lazy to walk home up Mountain Street.” I thanked him and laughed thinking that he must be the only dog in the world that can get a taxi ride home whenever he wants. Do you think for a New York minute, that would happen anywhere else?

Did you know that the brick building on Bay View Street, that used to be Peter Ott’s (I think), was once the Bay View Street Garage? When I was in grade school, and I wasn’t going to the Mill, I would go down to the garage and see my Grandfather. I was fully engrossed in the fact that they had an elevator. Well, what’s so special about an elevator, you might say. Answer: This particular elevator was for an automobile. The garage was on the ground floor, and the elevator was for the parking garage on the upper two floors. I could always talk “Gramp” into letting me operate the controls to take the elevator up, open the lift gates at each floor going up, and each coming down. A couple of times, I even got to do it with a car “IN” the elevator. Wow. It really didn’t take much to amuse me, but I used to get a certain amount of thrill just talking to Gramps. He was in World War I, as an equipment operator in the Army in France. He once gave me his army-issue three-part Gillette Safety Razor, which, when I became old enough to use it, was a treasure. I used it well into my own fatherhood, every day. Gramps was a treasure too; he let me use his 1942 Ford Coupe through all of my high school years. He’d invent things that he wanted, but he didn’t need, so I could run the errand to get it for him with the Ford. He called the car “his,” but my parents know he didn’t need it. Wow….memories.


Joe Talbot is a former columnist for Peterson Publications’ Off Road Magazine” and “Four Wheeler Magazine” He lives in Belfast.





Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | May 31, 2018 16:39

A great history lesson to be remembered.

If you wish to comment, please login.