The legal description of the 50-acres of wooded shore front my parents owned noted a huge boulder at one edge and a brook at the other. The watercourse was called Smelt Brook because every spring the smelt – anchovy-size minnows used mostly for bait to catch larger fish – would run into it to spawn.
Fisherfolk from town would show up, as well, and that’s the crux of this tale. They would bring their beer and build small campfires next to the creek, and be sociable. The smelt ran at night when kids my age were supposed to be in bed, so dad and his long-handled, fine-webbed smelting net attended the party alone.
When I was a lad, my bicycle was my best friend. On it, I traveled all over the county, and probably into parts of a couple others. There were, indeed, some hills to climb on the old one-speed Western Flyer bicycle, but coasting down them – especially the mile-long 400-foot drop into town – was absolutely exhilarating.
[pullquote]“(Today’s) children probably won’t live as long as our generation.” – Tom Jolin[/pullquote]A Saturday ride might be a 50-mile loop to Kingfield and Eustis, along the Carrabassett River and other places that, in retrospect, sound almost exotic. In my ’tween-hood, they were simply along the way, sure to include a stop at Mr. Richards’ Shell station for a Mars bar, or Proberts’ store for a tube of Necco candy wafers and a Nehi soda, respectively, the latter pulled from the depths of a red Coke cooler filled with water and melting ice.