Alan Abrahamson's Memories of '69 continued….
Well the summer was spent upgrading my culture. Over in the staff lounge there was plenty of reading material to improve your brainpower. My hero's went from John Wayne and Audey Murphy to more down to earth people. These people included; Thor the God of Thunder, The Incredible Hulk, The Swamp Thing, Superman, and the Fantastic Four. I read so many comic books that summer, I even wrote a comic book in my sleep one night. Other than comic books the staff lounge was good for something else. We had a Malt maker and we could make a chocolate malt or what other flavor was available at the time for the cost of a pint of ice cream, 15 cents or get a bottle of pop for a nickel.
My best friend from the canoe base was the assistant cook, Bruce. Actually if you're ever in a situation like this, one of the better people to know is on the cook staff. I have to admit at least when I wasn't on the trail I didn't go hungry.
On one of our days off the staff was going into Minocqua to go to the movies. Bruce and I were accused of being uncultured. We thought we all were going to see True Grit in Woodruff. The rest of the staff actually was going to see Funny Lady. Well Bruce and I were dropped off in Woodruff and we got to see John Wayne and Glenn Campbell in action. After the movie Bruce and I had to walk to Minocqua to meet up with the rest of the staff. Woodruff and Minocqua were two separate towns back then. Now there are more businesses between them than what are in the towns.
On the way back Bruce and I thought about eating at the Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty. We talked ourselves out of it and landed in some restaurant which is now since gone. It would have been cheaper to eat at Paul Bunyon as we both ended up ordering two full dinners each at the restaurant.
Gee it sounds like all I ever did was eat. But that was far from the truth. I was a track star at the time and I weighed 145 lbs soaking wet. Where did those days go?
We were blessed as we had a rock group at the base. They called themselves the CB 3 (Canoe Base Three). Periodically during the summer they would perform. These guys were good. They sounded exactly just like the original groups. I remember the drummer working up a sweat as he pounded out the drum solo to the Iron Butterfly's In God Da Vida. Like I said these guys sounded just like the original groups. But then they had ice cream buckets turned upside down for drums and guitars made from paneling. It must have been the record player behind them that made it sound so realistic.
Base operations threw a party for the whole staff. They said it was their turn to act crazy like the trainers got to do all summer long. Never laughed so long in my whole life. Although a lot of what they did escapes me now, man what I could have done with a camcorder. Some of what I can remember was the CB 3 performing. We also had a Ballerina do a dance for us. He weighed in about 250 lbs and twirled to the music of the song called the Elephant walk. Then there was the striptease act. There were 3 or 4 naked chicks dancing for us. Actually they were dressed (?) chickens on puppet strings, moving around to the music of the Stripper.
Part of Base Operations, we called them BO for short was the Public Relations Department, PR for short. However, PR also stood for the Phantom Rabbit, who invaded our camp on a regular basis. Never could tell whose U trol, underwear to those who don't know what U trol is, would be flying form the flag pole in the morning. The Phantom Rabbit did other things to, to make life at camp interesting. I'm sure he got blamed for a lot of things that he didn't do as well.
The groups that came up to the Base to enjoy the Wisconsin North woods were really just great. I don't remember hearing of any problems with any of the groups. Each trainer got at least two groups per week to work with. There were three sessions per week so sometimes you got three groups. Even though I shouldn't remember the names of any of the groups I worked with, I still do remember one leaders name, Richard Phillips I believe he was from Chicago. Why I don't know, but if he should ever read this, Hello.
One of the groups I taught, we were going through the base equipment, getting that packed up in the number three Duluth packs. When the group representatives came back with the 6 boxes of meals for the week, I went into my speal about how good the food actually is. As we were leaving the area all packed up another trainer was talking about the food to his group. My group's leader made a comment to me about how all the trainers must have been taught the same as the other trainer was saying the same words I did to his group.
The groups that came to the base sent a scout, about four days in advance of the rest of the party. He would be treated to some of the fine training under the guidance of a voyageur trainer, like I mentioned earlier in the story. Some of the trainers should have been allowed to wear Smokey the bear hats instead of baseball caps, as their dispositions were about the same. One such lucky group was picked up at the Railroad and bus stations and brought to the base. There they were relaxing in the Voyager group barracks, when the door was kicked open. In walked in some of our fine trainers who began their basic training routine. After about 30 minutes of this and then teaching the voyageurs several knots they were expected to know by morning a head count was taken. There was one too many Scouts. Every one of them said they belonged there. The mystery was finally solved the next morning when they all had to get up before dawn. The extra person came forth to ask what this all had to do with dish washing. It was finally figured out that he was to go to the local YMCA camp as a dishwasher and he ended up with us.
The outdoor skills we learned at the Base, will stick with me probably forever. I still put the axe sheath in my back pocket when I take it off the axe. It gets to me when I hear someone calling a paddle an oar. I can still go through the rendition of this is a canoe paddle it propels a canoe. It is not an oar and it doesn't propel a boat. The parts of the paddle are the grip, the loom or shaft, the throat, the blade, and the tip. Never put the tip into the ground, otherwise sand and other debris can work its way into the grain of the tip and split the blade. Then there's MABL LABI you know medical check, ability groups, buddy check, lifeguard, adult supervision, bottom check, and intelligent discipline, almost any of the training demo's are still almost second nature to me.
I am sure that I rambled on long enough so I will close for now. If anyone reads this and remembers me drop me an e-mail and say Hi.
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