Random thoughts on Star

I’m sitting on my balcony at 3am, thinking about Star Island. I touched on where it was, what it was, and why it was fun being a groundskeeper there, but really, the Island is so steeped in history and interesting stories, you would never be able to record them all.

Yea that’s it … Star Island

Nothing on the Island made sense to me when I was younger – everything from Lovers Cave to the Poop Plant. They shot for a wind turbine, only to have it blow up, and treating their own poop was interesting for a while – Which was fun, because when the poop plant overflowed, it overflowed into Gosport Harbor.

You know those cool streaks of luminescent animals glowing green as the waves hit the rocks? you betcha, poop lights! Flush the toilet (they used seawater) and little green lights would communicate with you from their advanced civilization forty thousand years beyond the Sun.

I must have stood there shit faced for a half hour one night, staring at the toilet trying to figure it out, when Dave Browns voice was heard in the darkness ‘They light when you agitate the water – now go to bed – tomorrow I will explain magnetism’ – except he never did.

The poop plant guys were actually some of the few people out there I liked – I mean the guy walks into the chow hall at lunch, gives you a big hearty handshake and introduces himself as the guy running the plant. I never asked if the gloves were clean, I was honestly afraid to ask.

So there you go, walking by the exploded wind turbine, and hoping you are upwind, not downwind from shit tank central, and you spot another thing both beloved and hated on Star – Yes, I speak of the Sea Roses.

Doing anything on Star was a act of Congress, so sometimes we pulled a Ninja trick or two. I wasn’t joking about the fucking grass – it’s an ISLAND – the grass has snakes, rodents, bugs and other things, the grass should be manicured. It IS a convention center after all but nooooooooo ….

Every year without fail I’d run into some soul who was just impossibly happy – you know, the one who sees beauty in everything.

The one you just want to throat punch, if you could only figure out a way to get away with it. The one who looks with great disdain at the lawn tractor and bitches at you for cutting the lawn. ‘Oh how could you? just look at it will ya? so wavy and beautiful … wavy grass, just so wavy …. look how it waves’ and meanwhile I’m wondering if I can run THEM down without clogging the mower.

It worked the same way with everything else on the Island – The Sea Roses were a fire hazard and everyone knew it. Super happy people would remark how pretty they were, but they were never native to that rock. They were an oily variety, and how they never had a brush fire in my years, I never knew. We sprayed and cut back where we could, but it was no use.

Seagulls? nasty dive bombing shit machines – rats with wings – gull pucky everywhere. You would have to carry a long stick to go to the back of the Island, as they would attack the highest point and let the turds fly. It was their way of protecting their nests, that always seemed to be conveniently placed in the middle of a trail.

Fucker

Want to have fun? tell your friends ‘gulls are afraid of red’ and pass out some red shirts, for your walk (YES, the dreaded Smuttynose Death March but more on that later). The hilarity of watching former friends running for their lives cannot be truly told. How some of us actually made it back to the mainland on the supply ship without being tossed overboard, truly baffles me.

So, I’m rambling about the things that lived on Star, the things we tried to kill on Star, and general Star things but the story isn’t over without talking about the pigs. Yes, you and I call them dinner, but remember, this is Star where I once overheard the cook state ‘What do you mean, of course this counts as meat, see, right on the label ‘Meat of Walnuts'” – and you wonder why Lions eat their young?

The Island kept pigs out behind the Oceanic. The idea was to keep them, and feed them scraps from the Kitchen. Who didn’t love the Pigs? However, I don’t think they thought this one through. You see pigs eat, pigs poop, pigs become tasty pork chops – and you had one very large carnivore roaming the Island.

Didn’t anyone stop to think about what to do with the pigs after the season was over? Did they really just think they went away to a special place where they would live out their lives in a cage free environment, eating non GMO and gluten free veggie diets. I can’t take ownership for any of the post season shenanigans, but I can tell you that they are a bitch to get on a boat, they DO get seasick, and word on the street is they were tasty – or so I’m told

Next time, it’s ghost stories because before the modern day Star, people were dying all over the place, from haunted caves, to winter life in a fishing village, to the Beebe Cemetery. Pass the Apple Sauce


You thought you were a Mechanic, 8 miles out …

Earlier I discussed the Island, and what got us out there initially – yea, they would give us housing, unlimited fishing, food, and we had to mow the lawns – simple – we could handle things they couldn’t, and we wanted to help – it’s a cool place with a ton of history (including us, because we are history *in more ways than one*)

However, that is when the true challenge at Star raises it’s ugly head.

Cash flow was not something the Conference Center had out there, so preventive maintenance was always an issue. It also ate equipment alive that hadn’t been winterized – and it never was. Some just left out for the season.

So cold, we would be keying cars back in Rye with our nipples

So, because of that, we often had to beg, borrow, or steal parts from one machine, to fix another – or even take two or three machines, and build one from the working parts – hence the ‘stone tools’ comment. The supply ship only went into Rye once a day, and even then you had to drive to the Store, so often times it could take a day or so, if you could even locate the part. Everything had to be planned in advance.

On Star, nothing happens quickly except the shits when you ignore the faucet that says ‘not drinking water’ and drink it anyway.

Another issue was donated equipment – now, why anyone would donate a clapped out 64 Ford Stake Body is anyone’s guess – did they really need the tax break that badly?

Carolyn and I were sitting on the deck one day, getting gooned on the Kahlua we had spiked our coffees with, when that truck died at the end of the dock. I just looked at her with a smile, and wandered on down to take a look – I found a few kids under the hood – they had no idea what they were looking at but at least they were trying.

I jumped up (yes not my first time working on this one) and popped the air cleaner. To my amusement, the kid helping exclaims “whoa there is the problem, it has oil in the air cleaner!’ (which was normal since it was an oil bath air cleaner) but whatever. A little fuel down the choke, a screwdriver holding it open and BOOM a big old backfire through the intake, as it came back to life. (this was a day of carburetor’s and mechanical pumps – they ran it out of gas)

Later that night, the Pelicans got together to discuss their day – things like ‘why walnuts are meat’ etc and one states ‘Did you see that guy earlier? He put gasoline in the carburetor – He almost blew the truck up – and there is still oil in the air filter!’ – Carolyn and I just quietly smiled at each other watching the sunset. One thing you have to give Star is the beauty of the place. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I kind of like it and the funny shit that went on.

Night time was always the best time to check out the back rocks – no explanation needed

Star was a place of good lessons for all of us, including the Pelicans.

The Universalist Unitarians who manage Star, actually stocked huge pickle jars with condoms, available in the bathrooms on each floor. They knew shit was going on, so why not address it.

Working Star gave the kids a purpose, a schedule, and a work ethic – which made it particularly fun to fire up the un-muffled tractor at sunrise and wake the little bastards – rise and shine campers, it’s GROUNDHOG DAY – oh they never looked happy, as I mowed big giant crop circles into the wavy grass (the wavy grass, so pretty, wavy grass, WAVY grass … as I’m thinking ‘lady get out of the way’)

I’d say the only time people were more upset, was when we all dressed as ghosts and attacked the Folks coming out of Mass one night – horry sheet!! run Phil, run Dave! YES, there may have been alcohol involved. Luckily, the ghost count on Star didn’t increase that night.

At some point, the equipment and vehicles beyond salvage started to pile up, and everyone knew of it, but nobody spoke of it – talk about an elephant in the room, except this one was a Chevy, maybe a GMC.

It eventually led to Seamus, and “We came, we saw, we torched” – to this day I won’t get into specifics, but we spent weekends on the backside of the Island slicing bread trucks into plate sized pieces with cutting torches, and the borrowing the little harbor boat would make them go away.

If you knew how paranoid the Island was about a fire, you would have been asking ‘They let you do what?’, but again, I think most just wanted that shit gone. No open flames are allowed on the Island, and there we are cooking a steak tip with a cutting torch, as we slice up cars – figures.

Fire out there was NO joke, and the ground scrub made it worse than it had to be (read all the pretty ‘Sea Roses’). We used to discretely spray defoliant along the trails when no one was looking, only to have people notice two weeks after we made our escape that somehow the trails just look much larger than before. Someone had to do it – and to this day we are all questioning that new mole on our shoulder.

Yes it is haunted as fuck – bad news is they are noisy – good news is they don’t eat much

In the end, we brought what we could to work with, used parts from several sources to make one good tool, ran over the tulip beds with the sickle mower (seemingly year after year), sliced my own face open with an industrial weed whacker as I fixed it while it was still running because I was pissed, disrupted angry sea gulls who shit relentlessly, complained that walnuts are not meat, and that it isn’t dinner if it didn’t have a face – the back rocks had the best fishing, the caves each had a nightmarish story including one of a woman suffocating her own child to escape detection by people trying to kill her, and lovers cave where you occasionally saw more than you wanted (and sometimes saw everything you had hoped for)

And there was Jack quietly digging with his backhoe – “leg” he says, and up comes a thigh bone, hopefully a cow, I think the dog stole it.

So where to go next? I’m thinking the Smuttynose ‘Death March’ … for now, here is a great article on Appledore Island, right across from Star.

If you love History, you will enjoy this read. Star itself is beautiful, as Star’s Sister should be —

Welcome to Star Island – We came, we saw, we drank beer

Looks quiet and innocent right? … Hold my Beer

I spent the weekend, wondering how I could structure the stories I had on my 6-month getaway back in early 2016. Riding every day, meeting new people, doing cool shit, and I thought …. Nah, let’s start with the basics.

The place that got it all started, the place where I had sex  in a monsoon delivering a lawn tractor on a Lobster Boat more aptly named the “Vomit Comet” – The place with the Ghosts, Lovers Cove, the Vegetarian Pelicans, Blackbeard’s Hidden Gold, and blood thirsty Indians in a fishing Village named Gosport. A place ready to burn to the ground, giant chests of delicious meat burning just right, so everyone knew we were savages – Cute little muskrats, because nobody wanted to admit we had a rat problem, and a VERY busy Jack Russell Terrier.

Where Sea Roses were a death sentence, drinking alcohol was forbidden, despite the fact the cases of beer outnumbered suitcases for our crew, and why the toilet sparkled green when flushed at night. You see, eight miles out of Rye NH Harbor is … THE ISLE OF SHOALS.

So, this may take a few postings, actually more than a few, so I am going to categorize them under STAR ISLAND. It’s been more than seven years now, and the statute of limitations has run out – that being said, I’m pretty sure if the Universalist Unitarians caught wind of my return, they would burn the dock down to the waterline (I mean *I* would)

To start, I belonged to a small group of guys and girls named the LRA (Liberal Religious Adults) – Yes I am NONE of those ^^^ things. My buddy asked for help with the computer systems on the Island back in 2000. The Universalist Unitarians ran a Conference Center out there, and in reality, it was open to anyone. The joke UU meant “anything goes” was pretty much true – but super nice people.

When someone looses a flip flop, we didn’t screw around – it’s about saving the turtles

The LRA was the Adult Conference, but early each year before the Oceanic Hotel opened, a small group of us would go out in early June, fix all their equipment, help with whatever was needed, spray toxic weed clearing mixtures from jugs with skulls on the sea roses, widen the paths before anyone accused us of destroying nature (because look at the wavy grass – so pretty filled with snakes and ticks – waaaaavy grass, look how wavy, so pretty) Jesus, just fucking shoot me.

We would freeze our asses off in our unheated cottages, and steal all the blankets from the surrounding rooms so we didn’t drop dead overnight from hypothermia. We generally stayed a long weekend, and just before Island Management saw the damage (I didn’t know that was a tulip bed I ran over with the mower), we were back on the boat having cocktails.

This went on for years, and in many ways I’d love to go back, but I’m sure the Island Manager never forgave us for the liberties we took – que sera sera – or Joe screaming across the dinner table, that it’s not dinner unless it had a face – good times.

The first year gave birth to the work group getting a formal name …. Hmmm LRA ZERO? We came, we saw, we mowed? Sounds legit – it would eventually become “We came, we saw, we torched” – no comment. Phil Stanway, would perch over the bow of the ship with his Bud Light, sailing into Gosport Harbor looking all Pirate-y and such, glorious to behold actually, to the chants of the Pelicans.

Now the Pelicans were the “slightly more conscious than a bowl of pudding” crew who worked the Island Staff while on Summer Vacation from College (i.e.rich kids)

So what about that chant? You see, there was a tradition based on superstition here, and once you read all there is to read, you may want to go explore this haunted little gem yourself (yes it was featured prominently on Ghost Hunters).

When coming in to dock, the rope handlers will chant “S,T,A,R,S,T,A,R you DID come back, you did come back, you did come back” and with that the ship will return the chant saying ‘S,T,A,R,S,T,A,R We did come back, we did come back, we did come back”.

When leaving the Island it was a little different – the ship would chant “R,A,T,S,R,A,T,S we WILL come back we will come back we will come back” and the dock personnel would return it as “R,A,T,S,R,A,T,S you WILL come back you will come back you will come back”

You can’t just still a Virginians Cocoa – not cool

Why the chant you may ask? Well legend has it Blackbeards Wife, Mary Ormond would walk the rocks near East Rock at night, calling out to sea “He will come back’ – of course he never did and she was left abandoned. At that point in time Captain John Smith had declared the Isles of Shoals as the “Smith Isles” and his monument? At the top of the original obelisk were three carved faces, representing the severed heads of three Turks that Smith lopped off while in mortal combat during his stint as a soldier of fortune in Transylvania (now really, I want to party with this guy) – Blackbeard? He was in deep shit for capturing two French Ships full of sugar and cocoa. The Governor of Virginia, who wasn’t a gutless turd, ordered Blackbeard (Edward Teach) captured and took his head. On moonlit nights on Star, Mary is still reportedly seen walking the rocks in white, waiting for Blackbeards return.

In any event let this serve as the primer for the stories that follow – from working with Stone Tools, to using the hot shower in the Nurses Station (because screw that cold, collected off the roof out to sea water – shower in it you peasants, but the Nurse is letting me use her private shower and I’m not saying no – at least my soap foams up in this water) It was nonstop hilarity with a serious purpose. Just file it under ‘Someone had to do it’ – more to follow …

Did I mention we had a Radio Station?