Smoke on the Water

I searched in vain this morning, looking for a picture of my father and me paddling in the now-defunct “Chief Worumbo Androscoggin River Race.”  The year eludes me; maybe it was 2003.  Uncle Bob put our aluminum canoe in his truck bed and brought us to the Durham boat launch.  Faye Brown organized and coordinated the race; she checked us in.  The race was called “Smoke on the Water.”

Someone had set up a cassette player with Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” blasting in a continuous, albeit scratchy, loop.

Hermie and I were oblivious to the lyrics of this 1972 classic rock and roll flame thrower.  Even today, though, when I hear the intro guitar riff, I think of that day at the boat launch.

What I remember most and best was the time we spent waiting for the starting gun to go off.  Lawrence Barron and his daughter Jane were in a speedy canoe, a few yards ahead of us, treading water.  A contemporary of my father, Larry was an athletic man well into his 70’s.  He died just this year at the age of 89.

He and Jane ended up finishing the race before us, smoking us by three minutes.

Stalled alongside our canoe was also Bob Strout and his son Ryan.  Bob called my father “Hermie” and asked how he was doing.  They talked about work and Bob’s father, Sherwood.  Then the five-minute blast sounded and we prepared to paddle.

This Sunday, the Sun Journal published my article about Bob and Aline Strout and the Lisbon Village Schoolhouse Restoration project.  I am pleased with the story and although there is one tiny typographical error (found after publication by my high school English teacher, Merton Ricker), the article accurately portrayed Bob and Aline Strout.  The article was much-shared via Facebook and the Sun Journal editor told me it was the top-read story on the paper’s website on Sunday, better than any other story in the paper that day.

I’m glad, for Bob and Aline’s sake.  And I loved the time spent researching the building.  It was like the Basilica, except more familiar and cozier.

The headline of the story was Bob’s quote “It’s still here for a reason.”  That was perfect, given Bob’s love of history and preserving the past.

You can read it here.

I have not had much time to think about the story or to contemplate what I might write about next.  As the lyrics to the Deep Purple song say, “Swiss time was running out…” and it’s time to face the business of the day.  There are trolls to confront, things to do, and projects to complete.

Congratulations to Bob and Aline Strout, for doing the heavy lifting of preserving a piece of Lisbon’s history.

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