The Mayor of Montague
Ol’ Son brings one home.
Memories from our Tug Hill hunting camp.
The Boiled Dinner
October 25, 1984
Day I The four bro’s in camp for opening week of buck. Ol’ Son stopped in for brek and invited us to his camp for boiled dinner tonite.
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Ol’ son is our nickname for Jim B., the retiree who lives in an old camp down the road, as he calls everyone “Son”. He has adopted us and usually joins us for meals when we are at camp, after checking on what’s cooking at other camps on the road. He keeps us up on local gossip and watches over all the camps on the road. Jim calls him the mayor of the Pitch Road. Son tends to abbreviate words, like brek for breakfast, din for dinner, huck for huckleberries, so naturally that has become part of our camp jargon. Son also knows the schedule for every chik bar-b-q and smorgasbord within a 50 mile radius, and he makes the rounds.
Son’s boiled dinner was not too bad. Ham, potatoes, carrots, onions, turnips…a little heavy on the turnips and light on the ham, but not bad. Kenn found a few hairs of the dog in his, so that turned him off. Son had some neat dinner plates, pewter I think, which he warmed in the oven before serving dinner. He entertained us with stories from the old days; hunts with his father and the Pitcher boys. His camp is a huge old cabin that sleeps about 20 people, once owned by the local county sheriff. He used to bring prisoners up from Lowville to cut wood as a work project. It also housed German prisoners during World War II, they were kept busy planting pine trees in the area, which are tall pine forests now.
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Day II Today we made our traditional annual hunt back to the South 3 miles or so, the country where we all learned to hunt with Pa. Barnes Swamp, Dike Lake, Lookout Mountain. Saw a few deer, no buck.
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When we got back from hunting on day 2, there was ol’ son with his boiled dinner in tow. It seemed to have grown from the night before. Of course, we had to warm it up for dinner. It tasted a little better than the first time, but there sure were a lot of turnips.
Day III On Sunday, while we were doing some work on the camp, the mayor turned up with the infamous boiled dinner again. He was off to a chik barb, but offered to let us finish off the din for him. We told him that we had just filled up on hot dogs and beans, but we would save the ham for later. After he left, we had a hot dog and beer, and discussed what to do. There seemed to be more boiled dinner than before, and we could only look forward to dining on it every day for the rest of the week. It sat there on the table glaring at us as only a bunch of turnips can do. It was us or them. The boiled dinner had to go.
Jim and Kenn drew the short straws. They carried the pot ‘way
back into the Black Swamp, back in deep in the bogs where the sun hardly ever shines, and the snow sometimes stays ‘til July. They buried the dinner in one of those big ol’ holes where the grass never grows. Legend has it that entire teams of horses were lost in those holes back during the logging days. Surely a pot of turnips and carrots could disappear there. They even dragged a couple of logs over the hole, so Son’s dog Trixie would not be digging up the dinner and bringing it home, as she had done with deer parts a few times. Now we could get back to hunting.
Son never mentioned the boiled dinner again, nor did he offer to make us another one. We speculated that someone, maybe his ex-wife, had cursed him with the boiled dinner, and the only way he could remove it was to pass it on to some unsuspecting soul. Or maybe ol’ Trix found the dinner after all, and retrieved it for her master. At any rate, the turnips never turned up again, so the curse must have been broken. Whenever I wandered into that part of the swamp after that, I half expected to see huge turnips growing from the bogs, but they were gone forever. Thus ended the saga of the boiled din.