Spiked Boots - a rollicking compendium of stories of logging, river drives, hunting, fishing, romance, gem and ginseng hunters, dynamite, ghosts, camping, lost gold mines, lost treasures and a whole lot more in the Great North Woods of northern New Hampshire.
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|Spiked Boots is one hell of a book about the "good old days" in northern New Hampshire. I bought one when it was in print many years ago, and was overjoyed to find it was being re-printed so more folks can get a chance to read this truely great book. The title comes from the spiked boots the river drivers wore on log drives. Below you'll find some excerpts to whet your appetite.|
|On our way home that afternoon we passed an isolated farmhouse. Beyond it, not far from the road
(which it faced), was a backhouse, one of the little wooden cottages made famous by The Specialist. It had two
doors, both of which were open. On one side sat an old man, on the other an old woman, both smoking corncob pipes
and talking vociferously to each other.
Vern drew up with a startled oath. "What in hell does this mean?" he called.
The old lady eyed him for a moment. Then she removed the pipe from her mouth and answered: "This means, young man,
that we're taking solid comfort!"
Click here to reserve your copy of Spiked Boots today! You'll find this and many other great stories of northern New Hampshire within!
| "Can you talk French?"
"Sure! This Canuck kind, anyway. A feller's missed half his life up here on the border if he couldn't parley voo." "Maybe you can teach me a little?"
"Sure. But the best way is to get a nice French girl and sleep with her all night."
"Is that how you learned?" "Of course!"
"And you became fluent in one night?" I demanded.
"Well, some people learn faster'n others, I expect. 'Course you can always take more'n one lesson!"
"Look here," I said, as a sudden thought came to me. "If you've been to Megantic, maybe you've heard about a brass cannon up in Arnold's Bog?"
"Heard about it? Hell! Who hasn't heard about it?"
Click here to reserve your copy of Spiked Boots today! The story leading up to the "French lesson" is even better... as well as the one about the brass cannon.
| "The most unusual thing I ever saw was a dam that blew upstream. '
At this terrible lie, the smoking ceased for a moment, but though every man present knew that no dam ever did or ever could blow upstream they prudently refrained from saying so, for the boss was a man of uncertain temper. But by their loud silence they condemned him. I, too, thought he was prevaricating, but I wanted the story, so I asked innocently: "Is that so unusual?"
Then the men released their disapproval of the boss in a burst of laughter at my ignorance and informed me that a good dam-builder's boast is that his dams never "blow," that is, spring a leak and consequently are torn away by the stream - always down-stream.
Click here to reserve your copy of Spiked Boots and find out how the heck a dam blows upstream.
The inhabitants of the North Country do not spend all of their time in hunting and fishing. A real adventure, --even if it was a small one, befell me one night while I was sojourning in Island Pond and shows another facet of life along the border.
I had tramped down the old roller coaster road from Norton Mills, and as I came into town I saw a sign on a large, comfortable looking house that said: Tourists Taken. So I went in and was took.
That Saturday night, the good woman who owned the place told me that she and her middle-aged husband were going to a kitchen-junket, and if I'd like to go along I'd be welcome, Now a "kitchen-junket" is not a uniquely North Country institution. It flourishes in every rural district -- at least it used to, back in those good old days, when I believed in the brotherhood of man and in kitchen-junkets.
Click here to reserve your copy of Spiked Boots and find out what happened to him at the kitchen junket!
"And you've never had any trouble with a bear?" I asked. "No -- yes, I did too. It wasn't long ago, either. I'd been over calling on Lewis Leavitt, on the Magalloway, and we'd gone out in a big pine burn to pick blueberries. There were a lot of tremendous old-growth punkin pine blown over there and a fire had swept through the section and those great flee trunks were lying just as they'd fallen.
"Well, I got off some distance from Lewis and damned if an old he-bear that was in there berrying just like me didn't rise up from behind a stump and come straight at me. I dropped my pail and fled, and I can flee when I feel like it, even at my age, believe me, but that bruin had blood in his eye, and when I saw a big hollow log in front of me I just dived straight into it, head first, and crawled up as far as I could go.
Did old Vern survive? Well, he must have because he was telling the story. Click here to reserve your copy of Spiked Boots and find out how he got away.
| "Hello Ed, hello Ina," Dick, the manager, greeted them. The couple paused and chatted
a moment before going on. Vern knew them, and as we were sitting in the corner next to the door, he introduced
me to the man. After they had gone along, Vern said:
"I didn't introduce you to the lady because I wasn't quite sure what name to use." "You seemed to know her well enough. You called her Ina." "Of course I know her. Known her ever since she was born, but you see her husband swapped her off the other day to Brown here, and it's a sort of ticklish business introducin' her. You see, I really didn't know what name to use,"
"Listen, Vern," I answered. "I may be a stranger up here, but I know better than to believe any such story as that. Now just what do you mean, 'Her husband swapped her off?'"
"Why," replied Vern in a hurt tone, "I mean just what I said.
A lot of men up here sell their wives just like they would a horse. This fellow bought Ina, I understand, for fifteen dollars, good will thrown in. Isn't that right, Dick?"
"That's what Brown told me himself," said Dick.
"But surely this must be an exceptional case," I protested.
You can't mean 'lots' of men do it." "Well," Dick said, "there's old Harv what's-his-name, down on the back road. He sold his wife for ten dollars and a driving harness."
"And," chimed in Roaring Bert, "there's that restaurant feller and his wife down in Pittsburg village. You must know them both. He bought her for five dollars and a pint of whiskey."
"But do the women always go along peacefully?"
"Sure! Why shouldn't they? They haven't anything to lose, and they kinda like a change, I suppose." While I was meditating on this pleasant North Country custom a stranger, his mackinaw collar around his ears, and carrying a pair of snowshoes in his hand, blew into the barroom. He uttered a vast grunt of relief, nodded dourly to several of the men, put his snowshoes in a corner, and took off his mackinaw.
"What's the matter with you, Mr. Nash?" Vern inquired, and I knew it was the old fire warden from Deer Mountain, far up above Third Lake. "You don't seem to be your usual cheerfule self tonight!"
"By God," growled the tall, wiry old man, "you wouldn't be your cheerful self either if you'd seen what I just saw!"
"What was it?" asked half a dozen voices.
Click here to reserve your copy of Spiked Boots and find out what Mr. Nash saw as well as more stories of the Great North Woods as above.
Below is one of the illustrations from Spiked Boots of a team getting "sluiced". Click here to reserve your copy of Spiked Boots and find out what "getting sluiced" was with the frightening story of the harrowing experience of a teamster and his team.