In memoriam: Eugene Hutchins, 1931-2011. For photos of Gene visit www.eugene.hutchins.se

Nearly 40 years ago, a remarkable family came upon a remarkable lake in northwest Maine called Mooselookmeguntic. Legend has it that the lake was named for an Indian who rattled that string of syllables while describing his near death experience with a moose and a misfiring gun. The Hutchins(es) were driving their camper inland from the coast of Maine with no particular destination when they came upon the beautiful area of “Mooselook,” near Oquossoc (which is near Rangeley, which is near practically nothing). They saw signs advertising lakefront lots for sale – only $700 – and before you knew it the Cruzan clan had themselves a steep, rocky, heavily forested piece of usually-frozen heaven.

All was nearly lost, however, when Gene drove the pickup/camper over a rain-swollen stream on a bridge made only of logs laid lengthwise, against the advice of his bride. The tires sank down between the logs and got stuck when they were only halfway across. Hours of rain, mosquitoes, and wedging of boards under tires raised on a jack later, Dad had creatively “saved the day.”

Over the course of the next few summers, Gene and Sue would bring their boys up to Maine where they would camp in a flat area across the street from their lot while they worked on the house. Gene was a builder, and sometimes work would take him back to St. Croix, leaving Mom with 3 young and boisterous boys for weeks on end. They roughed it alone in a tent and a station wagon, moose and bear around their campsite, mosquitoes the size of their heads, and cold, cold rain nearly every day. On one such occasion she kept a written list of all their transgressions, including the oft-repeated line she wrote about one of her sons’ misbehaviors: “blowing his nose without the aid of a handkerchief!” It may or may not have been on the list, but Mom also vividly remembers geckos coming to Maine and getting loose on the plane; those that made it didn’t last long, and the familiar sight from St. Croix of lizard skeletons became a part of the Maine landscape as well.

Eric describes the excitement they all felt when the time came to erect the A-frame. Gene enlisted the help of his wife and sons, employing ropes around people and trees as they set up the supports (without killing any small children). There were many mishaps, but none critical. A house was built, and then came the gravy years.

What could be a better life than winters in St. Croix and summers in Maine? Miniature golf courses built through the forest…fishing and water skiing…picnicking on Blueberry Island…clandestine body surfing at Upper Dam…walking home in the dark from dinners with lifelong friends? An overly-sure-of-himself neighbor nearly hydroplaning into the dock…and later waterskiing a little TOO far onto the beach and catapulting himself over his audience and their bonfire…accidentally towing a boat trailer several miles underwater behind their boat (very, very slowly)…saving-up all summer to spend your hoarded dollars at the local auction, only to discover you bought left instead of right-handed golf clubs….lifting weights made of logs, like the Flintstones…

Can you imagine the sense of adventure and incredible courage it took to buy and build this place?  It takes my breath away.  What about you?  Would you have ever bought a rugged, steep lot in the wilds of Maine and lived in a tent to build your own summer house on it?  A house that stands proudly today, proclaiming, “Gene was here.”

I’d love to hear your stories of adventures with Gene.

Pamelot

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29 Responses to Gene was here.

  1. Galit Breen says:

    I love this! Living in Minnesota, but not being a native, I am just learning the passion people have for cabins. The are amazing, aren’t they?
    Galit Breen recently posted..The Red Dress Club: The Night Sky

    • Pamela says:

      These cabins are pretty rustic and they call them “camps” altho that’s selling it short — while it won’t support winter living , there’s running water and bathrooms so that’s good enough for me. It rocks.

  2. No stories here of family summer homes. We did have some cool vacations, though, that involved renting a cabin in the mountains of Tennessee and roughing it for a few days. As teenagers, my sister and I complained the whole time, but the truth is, we really had a good time.
    Loved this post! Thanks for sharing.
    Theresa Sonoda recently posted..Young Soul

  3. Ally says:

    No summer homes here either – our adventure were around my grandparents home or away at summer horse camp. But I do love a good cabin! And the many, many stories that seem to come with them…
    Ally recently posted..Ride A What?

  4. Irene says:

    My parents did. Bought an acre of property on a lake in the late 50’s, built a little tiny one tiny room “cabin” (held two bunkbeds, lower bunks served as seats for the fold down table that was just between them, small tiny area for a portable two burner stove top and you had to go around back to the “outhouse”. That music roll was so noisy at night! Great memories. That got torn down when the garage went up about 10 years ago. The main house was built in the late 60’s(mostly by dad). Stayed in the “cabin” until the house was habitable. It’s still not done. Guess who’s going to be stuck with that dubious job?

    I can SO relate to this story! Dad going back to work, mom stuck with us kids in the wilderness, but what a great way to spend a childhood! I can still smell the wet woodsy scent during a day of rain and the wind that would follow the next day after a front came through. And the BUGS! Gnats are the worst! To this day I still like trolling the shore line for fresh water snail shells. I have a container full of them!

    I have a blog started, “A Sailor’s Blog” but mostly about sailing on the lake. I’m going to start putting more memories of the place up.

    Great post Pam!
    Irene recently posted..Let Your Fingers Do The Typing (Walking is so passe)

  5. Eric Hutchins says:

    I have so many wonderful memories of this place. They are clearer and sharper than any others I have of my childhood. We worked HARD, almost all the time the first 10 years or so, and it was still great. The few hours that we would have off each day of free time were an amazing adventure.
    The place means so very much to me I hope that we will be able to keep it in the family and keep it as part of a tradition.
    and yes, the bugs are terrible and it rains alot, but…. there is simply nothing else like it.

  6. Have not been to Maine, but am a HUGE fan of their lobster.
    For some reason we have been all over Vermont and love me some shopping in Boston – but that is it.
    Now I am at the bottom of the country in South Florida, yes, we have the sun (but we also have the not so natives here)
    😉

  7. Pamela says:

    Yes! I am a huge fan of their lobster too!

  8. lbddiaries says:

    No vacations in cabins – I’m a condo and ocean-view type girl. I lived in a rustic cabin with the ex and that was ROUGH enough for me – we heated AND cooked by woodstove and had to keep the indoor pipes wrapped and heated or they would freeze and we were stuck on one side of the creek or the other when spring thaw came and the creek ran wild with ice and rushing melting water for a week or so. It was beautiful in spring, livable in summer but wowzers, was winter rough. I’m a city-slicker and not afraid to claim it!
    lbddiaries recently posted..More Adventures in Freakiness

  9. Rebecca Nolen says:

    grew up between Bible camp in Cedar Hill Texas that was full of gigantic tarantulas, scorpions, copperheads, and a rough fishing camp at Caney Creek near Sergeant, TX. All good memories.

  10. JennyBean says:

    Winters in St. Croix and summers in Maine–almost heaven!
    JennyBean recently posted..The Keeper of the Phlox

  11. I love this idea. My husband and I have talked about doing this same thing and if we could find something for the deal you guys got, we would be all about it! Only, my hubby’s is no carpenter. I applaud you for your commitment!!! Totally impressed by your ability to tent it for so long in the rain and bugs. But in the end it must be a dream. Can’t wait to see how it looks now!!!

  12. I know how you are feeling the time you visited your loved ones family. I can really see on your faces that you were really having lots of fun during your visit there. I hope you can upload some pictures of the lake that you have mentioned. I’m very interested to see it. 🙂
    Alyssa Martinez recently posted..MLM lead lists

  13. Matt Halk says:

    I love that lake and area of Maine. My childhood best friend and his family had me at their vacation home on Mooselook many, many times. What a magical place! Loved it!

  14. I just came back from reading the comments on the memorial site. Such love and so many memories of a wonderful man. I obviously never knew him but I feel I learned about him in a little way through the eyes of people who loved him. I love this post as a tribute to him. My dad passed away in November 7 years ago and while I still miss him I know he and mom are in a far better place! I am so sorry that your dad (and in-law) moved to a new address (Heaven) but am really glad we can meet up with them again! Beautiful, beautiful tributes.
    nan @ LBDDiaries recently posted..A BAD TO THE BONE WILD THING

  15. Eric Hutchins says:

    This blog is so cool because it captures a piece of the adventure that was my father’s life and the one that I had the good fortune to grow up in. I cannot even begin to express how I feel about how lucky I have been, what I have learned and how blessed I am. The flood of emotions and memories that has washed over me since he passed on Wednesday has got me spinning a bit right now. I am sure after a little while I will be better able to talk about it and write about it and make sense of it all. I simply pray now that he knows how much I learned from him, how grateful I am, and how much I love him.
    RIP Dad you sure earned a good rest.

    • Pamela says:

      I love you and your Dad very very much. I am sure he is tickled how much of him lives on in his boys. And in Petey Gene 😉
      Seriously, you are so much like him. You got the best traits of both your parents IMHO and a few of your worst from your dad for good measure, ha ha.
      Your dad was an adventurer, a worker, a man of faith and love, of no nonsense, and indomitable will. He was a rebel with a cause.
      I will miss him so much, too.

  16. —–Living in Minnesota, we camped EVERY. Single. Weekend as kids.
    I still remember the scent of water, worms, wet tent, & bacon frying in the early hours.
    These were our family trips & weekend adventures.
    –we even brought our siamese cat with us on these outings…It was like a birthday party for her for many years!!

    Xx kIss
    My Inner Chick recently posted..Absolute Favorite Kick Ass Things of 2011

  17. Eric Hutchins via Facebook says:

    The Place is so full of memories.

  18. Barb & Ed Beach says:

    There are so many memories! Playing tennis with Gene never winning except twice! But we had fun. We will miss you

    Much love to Sue and every one. Barb & Ed

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