Boyhood memories

Local History

Sometimes, I’m strapped for time to research my weekly article. When that happens I write about some of my own memories. Below is such a case.

One summer day about this time of year my mother, father and I went fishing up to Lake Amherst on Route 100. I was 5 years old at the time. We parked along Route 100 and walked down the rocky embankment to the water.

It was a nice place to fish, with other fishermen taking advantage of the location. We had fished quite a while without so much as a nibble. I kept getting hung up on rocks. Next to us was a man fishing. All of a sudden he had a fish on. I didn’t want to believe it and said to him, “You ain’t got nothing mister, you’re hung.”

He said, “Come here, young fella.” He handed me his pole and let me reel the fish in. I’ve never forgotten his act of kindness that day.

I was about the same age when this event happened. We had a balsam tree on our front lawn. One early summer day I was outside playing when I noticed a bird’s nest in the tree.  It was a robin’s nest with several chicks. Well, I picked up those robin chicks and looked them over and petted them. Pretty soon I began itching. I noticed these tiny orange bugs crawling all over me. I was scared and went running to my mother. She instantly knew they were bird lice and put me in the bathtub.

She scrubbed and scrubbed me, drained the tub, refilled and repeated the scrubbing. My mother could scrub your scalp till it hurt. She must have had brass knuckles or so I thought. Eventually I was lice free and I had learned a lesson.

I was about 11 years old when my older sister, Norma, and her husband Louie took me to Reptile World in the Adirondacks. I always liked snakes. Reptile World had every sort of reptile imaginable. I remember a man holding a small python for the audience. He asked if anyone wanted to touch it. I stepped forward and petted the python. He could tell I liked snakes and asked if I wanted to hold it. “Yes,” was my reply. The photo with this article is me and the python.

Ron Patch
Little Ronnie Patch holding a python at Reptile World. Photo provided.

One cold winter day, when I was about 13, I was snowshoeing in the woods and spotted a large paper hornet nest suspended from a limb. Boy, was it huge and in excellent condition. I managed to break off the small limb it was hanging from. I admired it for a while and decided I wanted to keep it.

My mother had an Empire secretary with two glass doors in the upper section. In it she had a few books and knick-knacks. I moved her things around and put the nest on one of the shelves. This was great, or so I thought.

A couple of hours later I went to admire it. You can imagine my surprise when I saw the interior of the glass doors were covered with white-face hornets. My mother was furious with me. Thankfully they were still a little groggy from being frozen and I was able take the nest outside and dispatch the hornets in the secretary.

Another time Norma and Louie rented a camp on Carpenters Point on Lake Rescue. I was about 13 years old. I spent most of the week at the camp swimming and fishing.

Late one afternoon I was fishing on the dock and Louie was having a beer. Louie sat there drinking his beer as I fished. Soon Norma hollered from the camp to Louie to come help her with something. Louie went up to the camp and I continued fishing.

I turned around and noticed Louie had left his can of beer by his chair. I picked it up, thinking no one would ever know and took a swig of his beer. Unknown to me a yellow jacket had crawled inside his beer can. That bee sting on the side of my tongue was excruciating. I spit him out and put the beer down. I didn’t dare tell what I had done so I never went to a doctor. The pain in my tongue lasted a couple of weeks.

The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society is *Wednesday, July 26 at 7 p.m. at the Academy building. *Note date change. The monthly slideshow will be recent photos of removing an antique safe from the Williams River near the footbridge. And you can come and see the safe.

Don’t forget our yard sale July 22.

This week’s old saying is from W.C. Fields. “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”


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