Hughie Papworth, the Flat, and Nemahbin Lodge Essay

Hughie Papworth, the Flat, and Nemahbin Lodge Essay

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The being-a-kid part of the summer really got rolling with Hughie’s arrival. I could hear them calling to one another, and playing while I cranked the mulish water pump. It seems that moments of extreme frustration register more vividly in my memory. I confess to banging the gas tank with my fist that morning. I’d have picked up the whole assembly and thrown it in the river if I’d been as strong as the lumberjack folk hero, Paul Bunyan. It took no longer than usual to get the pump going and to raise the water pressure sufficiently, but it seemed like it took three times as long.
I remember hustling next door after finishing my chores to find five boys playing softball on the large flat between the two houses. Hughie said something like, “This is Tad. He lives in the ghost house next door. Let’s play.”
There was no formal introduction other than that. Hughie was the oldest and the leader of the pack. He directed me to right field, which put me last in the batting order. The left fielder turned out to be a cousin named Mickey Bliss. He and I were the same age, and Hughie was a year older. I was big for my age of fourteen and about the size of Hughie, who was bigger than his brothers and cousin. Hughie’s brothers included, John who was a year or two younger than Mickey and I. Eddie was next, and Steve was the youngest.
My recollection about the rules is vague, but from what I recall the guy up only got one out. However, if he made it safely to first base, he returned to the plate and batted again. The rules were immaterial. The challenge was to get that rare hit that sent the ball out-of-play onto the outcropping where the house was perched. The house was out of range, but the icehouse and bushes on either side up on the bank were co...


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... to collect our fishing gear, I remember Hughie informing me, “Our end of the island is known as Nemahbin Lodge.”
I was a teenager, and I’d heard a lot of the island lore before we ever arrived. I knew that there had been a cut between the two islands that was upgraded to a canal with a stone wall liner that followed each side up to the level of the flat. Apparently a dead body floated into the canal around 1890. Great Grandmother Clark was horrified by this development, and she demanded the canal be filled in immediately. A steel peg was driven into a stone at each end of where the canal had been to mark the property line. Hughie pointed out where the shallow cut between the islands had run. I looked where he pointed through an opening across the flat, and I saw the main channel. Next he showed me the iron peg near the boathouse, which marked the back channel end.

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