What does a wagon prank have to do with a moose? Nothing.

By Joe Talbot, Jr. | Mar 15, 2018

Last fall, as I drove from Belfast toward Lincolnville Center on Route 52, I was keenly aware the “leaf peeping season” had arrived.

The trees, oh the trees, shouted out to me that there is no comparison anywhere else to the quiet loveliness evidenced everywhere I looked. There is a hill I pass over, and the valley leading over to the north side of Megunticook Mountain appears in my windshield, and the rising morning sun from behind me makes the mountain seem as if all the millions of brightly colored leaves have their individual lights on. And small tears well up, and I thank God for his unmatchable skill with a paintbrush, just for me.

Maine in general, and Camden specifically, has drawn folks: artists, photographers, musicians and the like, for a long time. When I was still in school, later in college, and even later in the military, I never gave it a thought. Then when I became old, after marriage and three children, oh say around 32 or so, when I would come home to visit my folks, while driving through and around town the wisps of memories would flood my mind.

I remembered one of those, passing by the Camden Library yesterday. I glanced to my left and I saw what used to be the home of Mr. Fisher.  I remember his name because Dad said he was the grandfather of Dean Fisher, founder of Fisher Engineering, and the famous Fisher Snow Plows in Rockland.

One day, when the Fisher family was in Boston for a few days, the Talbot brothers, my dad, my uncle John, and my uncle Hart, decided to create yet another example of their brand of extreme mayhem. They took Mr. Fisher's horse-drawn carriage apart, and re-assembled it on the roof of his barn. As my Dad often said, "I disremember the year, but I think I was 16, and the youngest of three boys, so that would make it 1927."

The real fun began when Mr. Fisher reported it stolen to the town constable. The town was "a-buzz" with speculation for a few days before the location of the buggy came to light.  I really smiled, when he told me that the prime suspects were discussed with my grandfather at the dinner table the evening of the discovery, and with up-turned eyebrows on my grandfather's face as he peered over his glasses at Joe, my Dad, Johnny and Hart, he pronounced an "edict."

"Wouldn't it be grand," he said, "if you three would be kind to our neighbor, Mr. Fisher, and offer to disassemble the buggy on his barn roof and reassemble it for him?"

That's where the discussion ended. It took them a lot longer to finish it, than it took for it to begin, but it was accomplished, nonetheless. He recounted how the "chore" list became a lot longer for about three months.

Pranks were an art form in those days for young people in Camden. I’m reminded when Albert “Foggy” Bennett, my friend Roy Bennett’s dad, was telling us that he and my dad used to pull on the cable, at the back of the trolley car that stopped on Main Street, in front of what was “Cappy’s Restaurant,” go quickly around the trolley car on the left side of the car, while the operator was going round the other side to put the cable back on the power line that ran above the middle of the street. They would hustle onto the car before the driver started back to the front. All of this to save a few pennies so they could catch a free ride to the intersection of Mountain, Maine, and High Streets. He told us the trolley ran from Camden all the way to Oakland Park in Rockport. At that time Oakland Park was a very popular destination for picnics, promenade walks, and especially Friday and Saturday night dances in the dance hall. Howard Dearborn, another close friend of my Dad’s, once showed me that dance hall years ago, and while it was then currently only used for storage, I noticed the “mirror ball” was still hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the hall.

Speaking of Howard, I recall that he was a basketball referee back in the 1950s, when I sat on the bench most of the games played in the new gym on Knowlton Street. I remember him telling me once when I was home on leave from the military years later, that one time when he was hunting with my Dad and my uncle John, at the family hunting camp in Palermo, he and Dad were sitting together on a log at the east end of Chisholm Pond.

Dad told Howard, “My eyes are not nearly as good as they used to be.”

Howard, who by this time was wearing hearing aids said, “Well, my hearing has really gone south on me, Joe.” After a moment, Howard said, “Joe……you be my ears, and I’ll be your eyes.” The next day Howard was hunting alone, and he came bursting back into the camp just before noon out of breath, obviously in distress, said to my uncle John, “John……Joe…..oh my God……I shot a moose!” “You shot a WHAT!” “ A moose! A moose!” a moment of silence, and then John said “Why’d you do that, Howard? You know it’s illegal to shoot a moose!” “I don’t know, John, I didn’t mean too!” More silence…….too much silence. “Howard, you damn fool, what are we gonna do now?’ My dad said, “OK, boys, (they were all over 75) we’re gonna hafta go back and dress it out, cut it up into quarters, and package it all right here.”

So, they spent the rest of their Saturday and all day Sunday doing just that. Then they took the meat to Camden, and distributed all the packages to friends, and people in town who really could use the meat, and told everybody “We brought you by some meat.” Everyone knew it was deer hunting season, so…………

Walt Bisset may, or may have not been on the list of recipients. For those of you who don’t know Walt Bisset, he was known by all the families in the area, and very good friends with Howard, Dad, and uncle John. He was also the local Game Warden. (Moose hunting was suspended, to preserve the moose population in 1935. It wasn’t until 1980 that hunting moose in Maine was reinstated. )


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


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