A Maid in the Woods

Back to that Twitter hashtag about first jobs…The summer after my sojourn on the lake in upstate New York,  I sought a job in Old Forge, the gateway to the Adirondack Mountains. As a family, we always went “to the woods” in the summer. This summer, after my freshman year in college, I lived with my gram, in a funny green shotgun house behind the laundry she and my grandfather used to own.

Old Forge is a resort town, full of summer vacationers and fun-seekers. Many visited The Enchanted Forrest, a resort that featured circus shows, reenacters, rides and animals. A statue of Paul Bunyon lorded over everything in the park. To my fascination, Gram rented a cabin behind her house to a man with a long white beard. In the winter, he lived in LA and played Santa Claus. In the summer, he was a gold rush prospector. The Flying Walledas also summered at the Enchanted Forest. But that’s another story.

 

enchanted-forest-old-forge-ny-1956
The Enchanted Forest had a storytale/Paul Bunyon theme. It opened in 1956, around the same time as Disneyland

The daytime job I secured was as a maid to a family from Virginia. They owned a “camp” at the very exclusive Adirondack League Club. signFounded in 1890, the Club owns 53,000 acres, with “rustic” camps on private lakes. To this day, the public is not allowed on club land, which is for the use of members who hunt and fish and relax. It is a gated community. I live in one now, but it’s not the same.

Things I learned as a maid in the woods:

  1. A near-perfect house would be like the one I worked in. It was on Little Moose Lake. All the rooms were joined by a long, winding, covered boardwalk. The bedrooms, kitchen and dinning room, living room, guest houses and a huge game room-all were all separate. Bathrooms were attached. Every time you went to another room, you had to go outside.  It was perfect because you always got to see the lake and the loons and the tall evergreen trees.
    leAGUE CLUB
    A typical camp at the Adirondack League Club

    porch

2.Some people are rich enough to afford a house like this AND a cattle farm.
3. A cook is a really good idea if you can afford it.

Their chef was Swiss, but you get the idea
Their chef was Swiss, but you get the idea

5. A separate laundry room with a window rocks.
6. Rich people might ask you to buy your own uniform.
7. You can say no to some job-related requests.
9. Adirondack lakes are mist-covered early in the morning.misty lake

 

7. Loons are fantastic birds. They call each other incessantly and it sounds creepily romantic.loon

10.Adirondack style is a real thing. Handmade furniture and deer antler chandeliers are beautiful. Stuffed heads, not so much.

chandelier
I didn’t know what Adirondack style was then, but now I do

11. Last, Enchanted Forests are sometimes turned in to huge Water Safaris. There are no gold rush prospectors, but Paul Bunyon remains.Paul

Coming up, my Old Forge night-time job, salad girl….stay tuned as I move up in the culinary world.

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A Job on a Lake

Finger Lakes are long, narrow and blue
Finger Lakes are long, narrow and very blue

A recent Twitter hashtag queried “What were your first seven jobs?” Celebrities and common folk chimed in, and got me thinking. Babysitting, check. Nanny-type duties at a house in the Finger Lakes, check. Salad girl, check. Maid, check.
Wait a minute, let’s think about a life lesson or two along the way.

First, I must admit that I was incredibly naive. I mean really unsophisticated, except I read books. Reading, at least, offered a view of the world outside my hometown, which had a total population of 2,000. I was 18.

At the lake house, I was in charge of a family of children. I think there were three or four; some came and went. Their Dad had custody for a month, but he was home at night very occasionally and sometimes on weekends.  Some things I learned:

Tuna Noodle Casserole is best if you turn on the oven
Tuna Noodle Casserole is best if you turn on the oven–I forgot
  1. Actual cooking is hard.
  2. Always keep bread and peanut butter and jelly in the cupboard.
  3. Maggots in the garbage container can be killed with Tide detergent and hot water.
  4. Night thunderstorms are best endured if everyone gets into the same bed.
  5. Some Siamese cats like to sleep under the sheets.
  6. Reading aloud is fun.

    We all loved this book
    We all loved this book
  7. When walking to the beach at night, wear a big hat to protect you from bats.

    My hat wasn't this big, but it worked
    My hat wasn’t this big, but it worked
  8. If your employer’s mother asks you to hide his evening beer supply, do it.
  9. Alcoholism is a real disease.
  10. Families are what you make them, even if they only last a month.DucksStay tuned–coming up: “A Maid in the Woods” and “Tales of a Salad Girl.”

Sunday Morning Bike Mystery

 

I wish this could be a post about the beauties of life. Instead, it’s about my Sunday morning bike ride around my neighborhood, outside the gated community which contains my home. Florida is full of gated communities.  Not sure why…to keep people out or to keep people in? It’s a fair question.

 

Cute, but no actual guard
     Cute, but no actual guard

Exiting, I rode down the public street, on the sidewalk, past other gated communities. On my left, I spied a record. An album. Vinyl. Whole, untouched, cast into the grass between the road and the sidewalk.  Soon came the sleeve, and then the cover.  Then, another and another.  I rode on , thinking what might have unfolded. But it was early, and I was intent on exercise.

Later, I rode back and found the street still festooned with records. Vinyl records.  33 1/2 rpm, unscratched and pristine, so I gathered them up. They could have blown off a moving truck, I thought, but out of the sleeves? And the covers? My mind went wild. An affair gone sour? An attempt at a new life? A musical reckoning?

There were also bottles and cans that I felt sure were clues.  After arriving home and obtaining a bag, I returned to collect all the evidence. Miller Light, two cans of Red Bull and a big can of hard cider. Redd’s Wicked Apple Refreshingly Hard Ale. Not exactly a high to be proud of. But it might have worked if you needed to pitch your past.

I traced the records, sleeves and covers to a nearby apartment complex. My detection senses awoke.  Clues, I thought.  It was not the end of the month when evictions rule, but clearly someone thought it was a time to get rid of irrelevant stuff .

The albums were: Sweet Freedom by Uriah Heep, Elton John’s Victim of Love, Supertramp’s Famous Last Words and the Edgar Winter Group’s Shock Treatment. These are not hit albums. But they might have been important to the thrower. Say around the the late 70ties and 80ties.

Suppose that person wanted to start anew? Throw out old vinyls and move on. A Victim of Love who is now enjoying Sweet Freedom? At least, that’s what I think.

Uriah Heep