Phyllis Washington stuck her head in my classroom on the last day of school in 1975.
“Mitch,” she said. “Do you have any plans for this summer?” Phyllis and I may have had two conversations in all the years I taught at Montclair (New Jersey) High School.
“No plans,” I replied. “What's up?”
“Well,” Phyllis continued, “We have a B & B in Maine and John (her husband) is tied up with some real estate deal. I need help getting opened up and wondered if you might be available?”
I went to Maine the next day and never returned to teaching.
While helping Phyllis at “Treasure Island,” on Little River, I got to know some of the neighbors — Barbara Rumsey and her folks, Mr. Poore (who helped Phyllis, too), The Glaesners, Larry Knapp's
dad, some of the Royalls, and Mr. Winfield Dodge. Some folks called Mr. Dodge “Cooney.” I never did.
Mr. Dodge lobstered out of a skiff and one day he was pulling a trap down on the shore in front of Treasure Island. He coasted his boat up and shut off the engine.
“You're new here,” he said.
“Yes,” I replied. “Helping Phyllis get the place open.”
“Where you from?” Mr. Dodge inquired. “Well,” I said, “I taught with Phyllis in New Jersey but I grew up in central Pennsylvania.”
Mr. Dodge smiled a little bit then said, “My wife was born in Pennsylvania, but in a place I'll bet you never heard of.”
“Oh,” I said, “and where would that be?”
“Punxsutawney,” replied Mr. Dodge.
“I grew up less that an hour's drive from Punxsy,” I said. “We used to scrimmage them in football. Biggest nose tackle I ever saw. John Spinnelli. Took three of us to block him, unsuccessfully.”
Mr. Dodge and I became buddies. He picked me up on Saturday nights to play Bid Wist at the American Legion, with Bessy Cooper, Mrs. Luke, “Ding” Trask, Lucy Machon and a couple other folks. Mr. Dodge was very competitive and hated to lose. Bessy Cooper wound him right up!
In case you were wondering. The stone photographed above saw its shadow, but refused to predict future weather.