I have lots of great boyhood memories, and I’m going to share some of them with you today.

I was 3 years old when my brother Gordon was born. When Mom and Dad drove into the yard at our Winthrop apartment, returning from the hospital with Gordon, I raced out to see baby Gordon. But Mom threw open her car door and knocked me out. I like to say Gordon has been knocking me out his whole life.

When I was 5, we lived in an apartment on High Street in Winthrop. One day I got into our car and started it rolling down our driveway. The car went into a small field next to our house, and headed for a 40-foot drop, with a house at the bottom of the drop. Fortunately, the car hit a tree on the edge of the drop, and stopped. If I’d gone over the drop and crashed into the house, there would have been no more George.

I spent a lot of time fishing in the woods at the top of High Street. One day when I was 8, Mom got worried that I hadn’t come home for lunch. About 3 p.m., as I emerged from the woods and started down High Street, I saw Mom coming up the street with a lot of people, hoping to find me. I scrambled up to her and said, “Mom, I know these woods a lot better than you do.”

I don’t remember what Mom said, but I do remember standing there and telling everyone my fishing stories.

I was very young when Dad started taking me to a bridge over a stream in Readfield to catch spawning white perch. I would catch five fish at a time, and when our pails were filled with fish, we’d head home. Dad threw the fish we didn’t eat in the garden.

I think I was 13 when I was in our backyard with two girls when we got too close to a bee nest. Neither of the girls were bitten, but I was covered with biting bees, and ran into the house. Mom pushed me out onto the front lawn and started hitting me with a broom. A neighbor saw this and wondered what I’d done. Covered in bee stings, I was miserable for a couple weeks, and I couldn’t go to school.

I was 12 when Dad gave me a gun and sent me into the woods to shoot porcupines. There was a bounty on porcupines, and I would bring the four legs to the town office and get 50 cents.

As a teenager, I had three jobs: mowing lawns, selling my 4-H garden vegetables, and working at Dad’s store, Wilson’s. I have a photo of me at a table in front of Dad’s store with a sign saying “3 tomatoes for 10 cents.”

You can’t buy three tomatoes for 10 cents today, but I still have the sign, because real Mainers never throw anything away.

I loved working at the cash register at Wilson’s because I could visit with everyone. And I loved roasting the peanuts and cashews, but eventually they discovered I was eating all the profits.

In high school, I was in the band and choir, played sports, and was president of my class. One of my best high school memories was a 4-H trip to Washington, D.C., where I spent two hours visiting with Sen. Margaret Chase Smith.

After graduating from UMaine, I got a job with a Rockland bank. One Friday, I asked the manager if I could leave at noon to catch a ride to D.C. on a bus in Brunswick, to protest the Vietnam War, but he said no. I still left at noon and made it to the bus. The march against the Vietnam War was unforgettable.

Returning on Monday to the bank, the manager fired me. And losing that job set me on a course that dominated my life and career. I got a job as Bill Cohen’s driver and personal aide in Bill’s first campaign for Congress, setting me on a career in politics.

I hope you have lots of great memories, and that you are giving great memories to your kids and grandkids.

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


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.