On my way to the outhouse

DSCN7507My Dad, Ezra Smith, was a prolific writer of letters to the editor. After he died, I found every letter he’d ever written to our local newspaper, in files by decade. What a treasure!

He once wrote a letter to the editor about the outhouse at our camp on Nesowadnehunk  Lake just outside the western boundary of Baxter Park. We actually framed the letter and put it up in the outhouse. A couple of years ago, when a new outhouse was constructed, his letter was moved, so it still hangs there.

I thought you might enjoy Dad’s letter. Here it is.

To the Editor:

Although I have lived in Maine most of my life, I had never been to Baxter Park. However, my luck changed when son George purchased a camp near there and I had the good fortune of being one of the first guests.

The water was not turned on at the camp so I had the privilege of trudging to the outhouse back up on the ridge. It was a beautiful morning, in fact every morning is quite special after a person reaches the so-called retirement age and especially meaningful if one happens to be in Baxter Park.

The whole forest seemed to be glistening and I was looking forward to my first try at the native trout in Nesowadnehunk Lake. The sun was just beginning to show over Mt. Katahdin, and it was indeed, as others have said, another wonderful world.

However, a sort of pessimistic haze suddenly overcame my happy thoughts as my mind bounced back to the real world for a moment. Back home in Winthrop, the day before I had received a notice of a large increase in water rates. Town spending had increased a whopping 10 percent. Our Blue Cross rates were up. State taxes were up. The government wants $25 before I can put my old boat in the salt water.

Retirement income is going down daily.

The depressing thoughts could have gone on all morning but upon my arrival at my destination, I saw the old Sears & Roebuck catalog had been replaced by a roll of Charmin. That got me to thinking things are getting better, though I’ll miss the pictures.

I know I should be happy to be alive. God knows it costs too much to die.

Ezra Smith, Winthrop



George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.