Every now and then something triggers a series of memories that puts me in a dream state that occupies my mind off and on for days. I ran across some names of people and places I knew for a few summers.
Way back, when I had hair, I worked for an older couple on a lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. It was the summers of ’70, ‘71, and ’72 and I was a college student making money for school. I was their “boy” in charge of cleaning, chauffeuring, shuttling guests and goods, laundry, maintenance, occasional shopping and cooking, wood splitting, fire making, and dish washing. The “camp” was built in the 1920’s primarily by a man named Earl Covey who was also a local legend. But he is another story. I got room and board and fifty dollars per week cash plus a day off and use of the car on that day.
From Utica, the last bastion of “civilization” when entering the six million acre park from the southwest, you head up to Old Forge. It’s an artsy, touristy little community not unlike the town I now live near. From there you go on to Eagle Bay, north to Big Moose, and then to the public landing at Twitchell Lake. That is when you start getting all wildernessy. Jump into a boat or canoe and make your way up the lake. The “camp” consisted of the main two story cabin, a small guest cabin that could sleep about six or eight depending on how friendly everyone was. Also, there was a boat house an ice house (mostly used for firewood) and my sleeping cabin. There was no electricity or phone, but we had gas appliances and lights.
I first remembered seeing her zooming down the lake with her motorboat and 150 pound German shepherd sitting in the bow as a counter balance. She was blonde with pigtails and wore a plaid jacket. “These are my people,” I thought. Unfortunately, she was a very private person and about 18 years my senior. I still thought she was hot.
They said her name was Anne Bowes, but she was divorced and changing her name back to Anne LaBastille. She had been married to a resort owner C.V. “Major” Bowes (not the old time radio personality)on a nearby lake. She was a recent Phd. and radical (at the time) environmentalist. She was considered a bit eccentric, but she was in good company on that lake.
Her book, Woodswoman, came out in 1976 and I discovered it a couple of years later. To protect her and everyone else’s privacy she called the lake Black Bear Lake. There were plenty of black bears around, but it was really Twitchell Lake. It was the first in a series of Woodswoman books and the first of at least a dozen written by her.
We never did more than exchange pleasantries at the boat landing, but I did have a bit of a crush on her.
Twitchell was seasonally visited by most, but Anne and a man named Bill Carmen were year round residents. They were political opposites and didn’t get along, but I suspect they probably kept an eye on each other when no one else was there. They both loved the forests and lakes of the Adirondacks. It was the common thread amongst everyone that came there.
Anne died in July of 2011, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. Her cabin is being moved to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. I have been to the museum about three times, but not for over forty years now. It was an amazing place with beautiful exhibits and I am sure they will do a fine job of interpreting Anne’s life. There was much more to her life, but this was the part I knew about. If you enter her name in a search engine you can find out much more.