Tuesday, September 13, 2016

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

I recovered this photo from a slide, which my mom had carefully put into an envelope and marked it “Negative - Doc Johnston”.  I guess my mom thought every transparency was a negative. :)  It's by far the best photograph I've found of this memorable character, now long gone.  The slide is dated (by the lab) August '72, and while that's a few years after I last saw him, his appearance in it exactly matches my memories of him.

I saw “Doc” (who wasn't an actual doctor of any kind!) most often in the early '60s, on our annual trips to the cabin in Maine.  I was between about 9 and 12 during that period.  He'd come over to visit fairly often, and we'd sometimes visit other friends while he was there.  I believe it's fair to say that Doc Johnston knew just about everybody in the Lincoln, Maine area – and that they all adored him.

He could have been a character out of a Mark Twain or Hemingway novel.  He was justly famous for his one-liners and snappy comebacks.  One that comes to mind: a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses came to his home, knocked on the door, and told him that they wanted to help him find Jesus.  Doc immediately started searching for his jacket and cap, and said “I’ll come help!  I didn’t even know he was lost!”  Locals up there who knew him could tell you a million stories like this about him, and I'm pretty sure most of them were even true! :)

I remember Doc sitting in an old rocking chair we had in the camp, a wood-framed chair with slung carpet upholstery.  He'd call me over to sit in his lap, where I'd sit listening to him and the other adults telling stories.  He was the only one who didn't dial back the profanity just because a little kid was there – he couldn't have cared less.  He also let me take swigs from his glass of beer or spirits when my mom wasn't looking. :)

That rocking chair is now in my barn.  It will take its place in my office someday soon, when I've got the furnishings more in order.  I'll think of Doc and my mom (who owned that chair for many years) every time I see it.

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