Most of us have experienced disasters in our lives, and now, at age 70, I can look back on some of my disasters and find them amusing.

When I was 10 or 11, I was playing in the backyard with two of my friends, both girls, when we irritated a nest of bees and all of the bees flew out and landed on me. Not a single bee landed on either girl.

I ran screeching into the house as the bees stung me. My mom pushed me right through the house and out onto the front lawn, where she started knocking the bees off me with a broom. One of our neighbors saw mom hitting me with the broom and thought, “Wow, George must’ve been really bad!”

And I swear as a kid I was covered in poison ivy just by walking by the plants. When I was in high school, I got covered in poison ivy so badly that I missed two weeks of school. Eventually I had it so much that I guess I became immune — I haven’t had poison ivy in decades.

I was 16 when I got my driver’s license. One night I loaded up the car with my friends and we went to the Manchester drive-in to watch a movie. Before the movie ended a heavy rain started, and when I turned on my lights to head home, I only turned on the parking lights.

I thought it was kind of hard to see as I drove home but halfway there a state trooper pulled me over and gave me a summons for not driving with my lights. When I got home and had to tell my parents, I was sobbing. Dad went with me to court and after I explained to the judge what happened, the state trooper got up and apologized for giving me the summons. But I still had to pay a fine.

Early in our marriage Linda and I headed to Baxter Park, just above Old Town, when my VW bus conked out on I-95. We grabbed our camping gear and hitchhiked a ride. Two great young guys picked us up and took us all the way to our campground where our friends had already arrived.

Our friends drove us around that weekend and even took us home. I called the Bangor garage that had towed my van and discovered that the repairs were going to be very expensive — so I just abandoned the van there and never saw it again.

One year we headed to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado with our kids for three weeks of adventures. Before we left, our son Josh had the chickenpox. But he was over that before we left.

We were only about a third of the way to Montana when Linda and our youngest daughter Hilary came down with the chickenpox. I suggested that we turn around and go home but nobody wanted to do that. Still, Linda and Hilary really suffered for much of the trip. Linda remembers getting out at the Grand Canyon and feeling like they looked like lepers. And on the way home our oldest daughter Rebecka got the chickenpox. Forever after we remember this as the chickenpox trip.

Of course there were plenty of disasters right at home. Twice I backed out of the garage without opening the garage door. The second time I was late for a meeting so I left the pieces of the door all over the driveway. When Linda saw that she was appalled. And twice I knocked off my side mirror backing out of the garage.

One of my best stories is the time we flew back from a trip to Florida with our kids. When we landed at the Portland Jetport, I took Linda and the kids outside the front door and had them stand there while I went and got our vehicle.

I drove up and parked right in front of the front door, left the car running, and stepped out and slammed my door. When I did that all the doors locked and of course I had no other key. Little Hilary, when she heard what I had done, started crying.

Fortunately, AAA came and saved us but it took about half an hour. And all that time we stood there right in front of the airport’s front door with our car running.

Of course, I’ve had lots of hunting and fishing disasters. I used to fish quite often in the Kennebec River below a dam in Fairfield, where brown trout would pile up. One day I waded too far out and started floating down the river. And yes, I panicked. My waders started filling with water, but thankfully, after floating about 30 feet, I came to a shallower place and could stand up.

I quickly turned and walked back to shore, taking off my waders and emptying them of water. I don’t remember if I went back fishing but I probably did.

Late one afternoon I shot a big buck on my woodlot and as I hurried to clean it out, I cut my thumb. Blood spurted everywhere.  I left the buck, paddled my canoe back to my vehicle, and drove home. As I walked through the kitchen and into the bathroom I left blood all over the floor. And I could not stop the cut from bleeding.

So I left Linda a note, saying, “Don’t worry about the blood. I’m on my way to the Farmington hospital because I cut my thumb.”

I don’t think she has ever forgotten that note. I’m sure, even today, she does not find it amusing!

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at

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