Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Naturalist by Day, Troubadour by Night

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Naturalist by Day, Troubadour by Night

Article excerpt

AFTER our recent visit to friendly Canada, we returned home by way of the Jackman road, through a wilderness hunting area where "sports" gather in season to restore the jungle man at great expense and to the profit of indigenous citizens known as "Registered Maine Guides." In passing, we saw a sign with an arrow pointing up the side of a mountain:

HUNTING CAMP 4 RENT

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I used to be a comical, and colorful, Registered Maine Guide. It cost me $5 a year to get a license, and I used to practice my eyahs and witty insults all winter so I could amuse the clients who came to hunt and fish under my care. I was noted for my hilarious witticisms and pithy remarks, and for some time was booked full for a year ahead.

The Maine guide did have some useful duties to perform, such as doing the cooking and showing sports how to load their guns, but he earned his money during the long fall evenings as he entertained. When the evening shadows brought the day to a close, and the hunters staggered weary into camp to remove their hunting shoes and relax by the crackling fire, he would start supper and begin his recitations. He ceased to be a woodlands expert and a naturalist, and became a troubadour.

Any Registered Maine Guide in those days could have gone on the B. F. Keith Circuit and become rich and famous. Addie Malm, I remember, used to listen to Fred Allen on the radio and say, "What a great guide he'd-a made!." He had talent. Back when I guided, I did best with my story of the skinny cat that sneaked through a knothole into the dingle and stole food. I could draw that story out if we had a rainy day and everybody stayed in camp, or I could cut it short if folks wanted to get to bed. The cook took care of the cat all right. He tied a knot in the cat's tail so it couldn't get through the knothole. One year I guided a school superintendent from Pennsylvania who went home and tried to sell that story to Reader's Digest. It was his misfortune that the prior year I had guided Burt MacBride, who was a senior editor of Reader's Digest, and Burt had told his crew not to touch that one with a dory sweep. …

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