Other Cool Pix
August 1973 (I think)
"Doing a Bat Hang!"
At our summer camp on the clear, cool waters of the Saco River in Fryeburg Maine, we spent every single afternoon down at the river when I was a teen. There's a great beach, plenty of shallow water for the tots, plenty of deep water for the swimmers, canoes, a raft, and this awesome rope swing! The bank is at least 20-30' above the water; plus, you could climb another 10-20 feet up a tree before swinging if you wanted to, so the actual arc of the swing was HUGE!
To do a Bat Hang, as soon as you jump off the bank, you swing your legs up over your head and swing over the water back first upside down! My hair usually dragged on the water, it was that close at perigee. But at apogee, you were 20-40' above the water depending on where you took off from! And, if you timed your release just right and swung your legs back over just right as you let go and arched your back just right in the air, not only could you add several more yards to your run in free flight over the water, but you'd also present a gorgeous sweeping arc through the air and enter the water feet first. It was simply beautiful to see it done just right!
My lovely wife grew up to be a geologist who's into sedimentary petrology. (That means she loves sand.) This is a picture of her nearly a decade before I first met her when she was 11.
Here we are together at Camp Blairhaven about 15 years later. I was 26 and camp director. She was 17 and camp dishwasher. And like I said under a photo of us in TREVOR's Hat Parade, "she loved me then, but I didn't have a clue."
And here's us holding up our wedding quilt which my little big sister Laura made for us. She made all the squares, and we got to help arrange them and rearrange them and rearrange them again until we all liked it. Then she sewed them all together. It's a wonderful quilt that we use on our bed Spring, Summer, and Fall. (In the winter when we have a heavy down quilt we use for warmth).
Shawn said casually one night at Fire & Water in Northampton, "I always wanted to learn to walk on stilts!" So I called her on it. We made an appointment and she did great! Learning to walk on strap-on stilts is a lot like learning to ride a bike: you're really unsteady at first and feel like you're going to fall down a lot. But then you get it, and with a little practice it's easy. Notice that first she walked holding on to the railing. Then she walked along the railing without holding on. And then she took off on her own. Yay Shawn!!
South Duxbury MA
At a teen retreat at Camp Blairhaven, we walked up to the nearby Miles Standish Monument on top of a big hill overlooking Kingston Bay. On the way back down, we noticed this sign had been pulled up and was lying on the ground by the main gate. We got a passer-by to click this pic of us standing in the middle of the road. That's me on the extreme right with my brother Lee next to me in the front row. Next to me is the first girl I ever kissed (may she rest in peace). She married the tall guy in the back row. We're still friends.
June 18, 1978
Blairhaven Camp & Retreat Center
South Duxbury MA
This is the landmark tree at Blairhaven. Several major branches broke in a storm decades ago, but they didn't disconnect from the main trunk. Each one rooted where it hit the ground and sent up new shoots. So there's now four places where there's additional growth from the ground up. The main trunk is completely hollow with the front side facing the ocean gone, so there's enough room in there for several people to stand together inside the trunk of the tree!
Me and Mo. Just hanging out at the Mansion with our Rainbow Glasses.
Growing Tree Family Day Care 1989, Northampton MA.
1968 or 1969
Webster Groves MO
This is my all-time favorite picture of me as a kid. We're playing dodgeball. The cameraman is crouching behind a chain link fence with his lens poked through one of the holes in the fence. My target is standing practically right in front of him. That's David Watt behind me and that's his garage behind us. Our little cluster of houses had four homes with 21 kids between them! We played together every single day. We played dodgeball, baseball, kickball, badminton, kick the can, midnight, ring-a-leevio, even golf. We also played cards and board games indoors. We put together several neighborhood plays that were very well attended. We built a six story tree fort! We had an awesome sled run in the winter. The Watts had an apple tree in their yard. We called it the Wapple Tree. They also had a great climbing tree that stretched out over their garage. Each of us had our own "spot" in the tree. We'd all climb up it, get in our spots, and hang out talking for hours. But don't be in the Watt's house at the wrong time or else Mrs. Watt would give you eardrops, too, when she gave them to her own kids!
Greg Gilman photo
Another of my all-time favorite photos of me. This was taken in South Duxbury MA on Kingston Bay on the beach at Blairhaven Retreat Center July 1982 when I was camp director at Camp Blairhaven, a two-month children's residential camp run by my church.
The actual may pole at May Pole, a weekend family camp-out I've been going to for years.
Cats and crossword puzzles. I was just sitting at the table doing my daily crossword puzzle at my sister-in-law's old place in Philly, and their cat Herman jumped up on the table and — as cats so often do — nagged me into petting him. So the left hand petted while the right hand clued. The left hand got tired before the right hand did.
That's a natural object! You may not remove that! Two of my brother Ian' kids.
early 2000something (I think)
When my big sister Jane and her husband Don went to Germany (for their honeymoon, I think), this was a billboard on the side of a barn just up the road from Don's relatives' house. A rough translation is: "Rural Youth living what others dream. Baden Rural Youth Union. Rural Youth of Weiler in the campaign against the boredom... Leisure time is Fun."
St John, U.S. Virgin Islands
My lovely wife and I honeymooned on St John. It was absolutely awesome! The photos above and below are on this little, poorly marked place called Peace Hill. Pull off the road at the little tiny sign and park; hike five minutes up the hill past HUGE catci and century plants; and this former windmill base is at the top. During some war it housed a cannon or two, and the wooden upper part is long gone. But as you can see below, the view from inside is fabulous! Actually, the view from outside is even better. It's more than 180° of absolute gorgeousness over the ocean, and the rest an unrestricted view of the mountains of the island.
By the way, those islands you can see in the distance below are the British Virgin Islands... just as beautiful, I understand, but a different country. The slaves on St John would swim across at night after Britain made slavery illegal. The owners caught on and began patrolling the waters. And then the British caught on and began impounding their boats!
This is a night-blooming epiphylum. It has one of the most amazing blooms I've ever seen. First of all, it only blooms at night. Secondly, the blooms only last one night. Thirdly, blooms only happen on two-year-old leaves. And fourth, their scent is very, very strong... amazingly good, but very, very strong. Oh yes, and fifth, they are stunningly beautiful!
My mother gave me this plant after having it for 8 years without a blossom. Another 8 years went by and she gave me a how to take care of houseplant book for my birthday in March. So I did what the book said: moved nearly all my plants around for optimum light, put little notes on each one about how much to water it and how often, and fertilized the ones that like that sort of thing. All my plants were suddenly noticeably happier.
The next August, we got home from two weeks of camp in Maine around 9:00 p.m. and were greeted at the door by an overwhelming, wonderful aroma that filled the entire house. I walked into our living room where the smell was even stronger, turned on the light, and there were nineteen (19!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) blossoms open all at once! Absolutely stunning. It's bloomed every year since. Not that many all at once, but usually 5 or 6 at a time opening over a period of a few days. What a wonder!
My daughter, Myrrh, the artist, has always been a dancer, too. As a child, while the boys played with trains, she would often be in the background somewhere dancing to music only she could hear. This is one of my favorite pictures of exactly that.
Now she's an adult and is still a dancer. She's taken so many dance classes, I can't remember them all: ballet, modern dance, contact improv, swing, ballroom dancing, African, and more and more and more. I'm pretty sure she goes to more than one regular weekly dance, and is well-known in dance circles in her area. She even had swing dancing at her wedding reception. My daughter the dancer!
This is Myrrh's cousin Anna just a few days after her birth in March of 1979. Shhhh.
And here's Anna again a few days later
Now there's a 60's Christmas card! This was 1968. That's me on the left in the front row.
Before moving to Maine a few years ago, my parents lived in Sharon MA, a suburb of Boston. My father was a huge fan of the New Black Eagles Jazz Band, a local dixieland band. He went to most of their local shows. He knew all the musicians personally. He knew all their substitute musicians. He knew all their wives. He knew all their songs. He knew all their arrangements. He owned all their recordings. In fact, I recently acquired Pop's tape collection and about 20% of it was NBEJB!
The point is, he was a total Black Eagles groupie.
So when Pop turned 80 in 2001, my siblings and I planned a big house party for him at his house. He was all adamant about we couldn't have a party at their house. His first excuse was that the septic system couldn't handle it. So we ordered a PortaPotty. Then he said we couldn't have all those people in the house. So we ordered two big tents. Then he said we just plain couldn't do it. We said, Too bad, we're having a party for you and you're going to like it. He said he wouldn't go; he'd stay in the house the whole time.
But what he didn't know because we didn't tell them, is that we'd hired his favorite band to play in his back yard for his 80th birthday! So when the band showed up and started setting up under one of the tents, Pop came spilling out of the house all smiles and surprise! From then on, he proceeded to have a great time for the entire party!
"Waffles T. Clown sings the Red, White, and Blues"
Performance, walk-abouts, and workshops for all ages. For additional information call
P.O. Box 96, Wendell MA 01379
A political clown who also actually makes awesome waffles for parties!
This man is terrific. He does political actions that are both funny and politically poignant. Once, in full clown garb, he drove a schoolbus to a nuclear power plant, parked it sideways across in front of the entrance gate, hand-cuffed himself to the steering wheel, and threw the keys into the swamp. He goes to jail regularly, but also gets lots of media coverage regularly, too.
Kankamaugus Scenic Roadway
I got my driver's license in 1972, the day after I became eligible. My father's car at the time was this monster-sized, olive green Checker sedan that we affectionately called The Tank. It had a red interior with fold down jump seats between the front and back seats... we are, after all, a family of ten. We all fit quite comfortably, too.
My actual road test when I got my license still amazes me. I drove to the registry in Brockton MA with Pop in the passenger seat and parked directly in front of the registry. Pop went in and got the test instructor who came out and hopped in the car and told Pop, much to his surprise, that he had to wait there.
The guy told me to pull out into traffic, take the first left, take the next left, take the next left, and then turn left into this little alley where he had me do a 3-point turn (which was actually about a 7-point turn because the Tank was so big), then I turned left out of the alley, took the next left, and parallel parked in my original spot directly in front of the registry. He then handed me my license. So basically, I drove around the block, turned around in an alley, and parked in a parking space. That was it. It took less than five minutes.
This photo has me behind the wheel at Passaconway, one of the scenic stops on the "Kank". I was driving a car load of teenagers on Outing Day from summer camp. I guess my Pop trusted me.
So, there's a town named after me in Wisconsin! (There's also a street named after me in Enfield CT.) Pacific Puzzle Company is two of my brothers' old wooden puzzle company. They made great stuff. But they shut it down in the late 90's and have both gone on to other things.
Nancy Thomas took these photos of me in May 2002 in Greenfield MA at the Green Fields Market Grand Re-Opening. I was more than a little surprised to get this postcard in the mail a few days later.
Fryeburg New Church Assembly
This mailbox is not nailed to the tree. It's on a post. Now that's a lot of snow!
Way back in the early 70'so my little big sister Laura made me the Indian headdress on the left based on an authentic native design. She asked me to bring it with me this particular Christmas because she was giving two of her boys these cowboy and Indian get-ups and wanted her youngest to have a headdress for this photo.
May 1987 (?)
Hartsbrook Waldorf School
My son Jason's 2nd grade class photo. (There was also a "serious one.) That's my boy standing at the far left end with his sleeves pushed up.
Here's Jason (and his sister) a few years later in April of 1991 at the Oakes Ames Estate (now Borderlands State Park) on the Sharon/Easton MA town line. I went here regularly when I was in high school in Sharon, so it was fun to take my kids there 20 years later and show them all the cool places at the park I used to hang out at with my high school buddy Sandy Solomon.
Somehow, despite his rubber boots, Jason got his feet soaking wet (he's a Pisces). Notice that first he squeezes the water out of his sock into his boot and then he dumps the water out of his boot!
August 4, 2008
Fyeburg New Church Assembly
Streaming hair, streaming beard, running barefoot across the lawn during Sparks Games. Bliss.
September 5, 2008
Rocky Neck State Park
East Lyme CT
I spent over half an hour watching this baby turtle. It kept swimming ashore (3-5 minutes of effort to overcome the outgoing waves), resting for a few minutes, and then swimming out again (another 3-5 minutes of effort to overcome the incoming waves) and then just doing that over and over and over again. I've never seen anything like it. Was it practicing? Training? Actually just out enjoying the waves? I'll never know. But it sure was cool.
September 17, 2008
Old Newgate Prison
East Granby CT
My nephew and niece, Zander & Claire, in jail in Connecticut.
Thanksgiving Day 1998
Landis Supermarket parking lot
My sister Laura and her husband Harold have 5 boys. As kids, they did some pretty cool stuff. And as they got older, they did even cooler stuff. One of the really cool things they did was build a hovercraft from scratch using a lawnmower motor and mostly stuff they found in their basement. They said it was "really easy to make," and it sure was a blast to drive! I got to drive it for about 20 minutes in this big empty parking lot on Thanksgiving Day. It was absolutely awesome! The hovercraft went really fast (hence the goggles!) but turned really slowly... sometimes waaaay after where you wanted to turn! It took a while to get used to it and remember to start turning way early. Really! It also drove more like a forklift than a car; i.e., the back "wheels" did the turning, not the front. So while I was bombing around this parking lot at 20+ miles an hour, I not only had to remember to turn way early, but I also had to keep thinking in terms of swinging my tail end around instead of pointing the nose where I wanted to go! I only went over the edge once! WHEEEE!!! OOOOPS!!! AAAIIIIEEE!!! YAHOO!!! What a blast!
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory
The Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory is a huge greenhouse with a whole lot of live butterflies of lots of different species. You pay the fee and you can wander the greenhouse at your leisure. Somehow, I remembered that if you wear red (or yellow, but especially red) butterflies will land on you more. So I just wore as much red as I could from the waist up, and withing four minutes of entering, this gorgeous butterfly landed on my wrist bandana! It stayed for quite a while, too. I was actually walking around with it on my arm like a hawk for a while. I love this place!
Fryeburg New Church Assembly
My cousin Sarah sent me this old family photo of all of us at camp gathered in front of our school bus camper: my parents, 5 boys, 3 girls, and a big old schoolbus that Pop made into a camper that sleeps 10! It was awesome. I loved this part of my childhood. That's me on the upper right just below the red light.
PO Box 463, Haydenville, MA 01039