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, 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.
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.
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 —