Summertime in the Belgrades
July 21 – 27
More Sightings of the Guide Ghosts of Great Pond
by Rod Johnson
Remember several nights ago when that hellacious fog set in? Well, since that soupy evening there have been three different reports of some strange goings on out there on Great Pond. Remember three years ago, when we told of how Phil Cobb nearly nailed the guide ghosts red handed as they partied on Oak Island. The same night Rod and Doris Johnson, while idling home from a Jamaica Shores cocktail party, almost smashed into an old guide boat as it slithered through the murky night. Since then the trail had gone cold and we all assumed the ghosts would not be so bold again. It appears that we were wrong and here are the reports that make us very suspicious.
Report #1 report came from a camper on the south end of Crooked Island. The man had been caught in the fog and slid his Rangeley boat up onto Whale Rock to wait for the soup to lift. As he sat quietly in the stern of his old green lapstrake craft, the silence nearly overbearing, a muted squeaky noise not far off kept repeating with regular cadence. Actually, the noise was more like the creaking of grandma's rocking chair, but tainted with a bit of splashing water. The combined effect was more eerie than anything the fisherman had ever encountered.
The man's report to Rome police went on to say that within seconds, a long white lapstrake boat slipped out of the fog and one of the oar tips actually touched the side of his own boat's stern. With the one revealing glance that he was afforded, the man swore that a ghost like version of an old man wearing a felt crusher hat and shoulder length white wispy hair was rowing the classic old guide boat. The man's report went on to say that he had also noted a definite whiff of old varnish, and something that reminded him of beer and fish innards as the craft swept by. As of this time, both the police and the Maine Game Warden Service have left the case open, but have little idea of what went on there.
Report #2 came just an hour later, but from half a mile or so south of the first alert. This one was called into the Kennebec County Sheriff's Department (KCSD), and at first was not taken seriously. The dispatcher's report said a young female voice, name not given but quite frantic, said that she and her three friends had made a pact to swim from their camp on Stony Point to the south end of Chute's Island. They had departed on the venture about 7:45 in the evening when boat traffic was minimal and their parents were visiting neighbors for cocktails and dinner. During their epic swim, the fog had come in quickly and left them with no choice but to keep swimming and hopefully hit their destination or at least some shoreline.
Within minutes the girls began hearing voices as they struggled along. Soon the voices became clear as a bell. They all later agreed there were at least four people, all of whom sounded like old men with scratchy voices, as though they had laryngitis or some other affliction. Two of the girls reported smelling cigarette smoke or maybe it was pipe tobacco.
At that point, one of the girls felt a large rock with her feet, then another cheerily announced she was standing on a flat rock only three feet underwater. Relief was apparent now that they were near shore.
As they worked their way up over the slippery rocks, the voices they had been hearing suddenly stopped. The steamy smell of a doused campfire overtook them and they realized that a campsite with live embers in the fire pit was evident, but not a soul was seen.
Soon thereafter, a breeze stirred lifting the fog, and within minutes the stars shown. The lucky girls quickly reentered the water and swam back to camp where they called in the incident to the KCSD in Augusta.
Last but not least, a young honeymooning couple from New York City told Chester Thwing at Woodland Camps about their scare. Here's their story:
They had been paddling a rented Old Town canoe over by Abena Point when the fog engulfed them in less than a minute. During the half hour or so that it lasted, they had "bumped" directly into the pointed stern of what appeared to be a long canoe, only with an engine in the middle. Chester listened just to be polite, but was quite sure that lust and perhaps some strong liquor might have skewed their thinking.
They said no one appeared to be with the boat, but it had been loosely tied to an overhanging branch. They decided to wait out the fog while holding on to the old classic lapstrake boat, soon realizing that the 4 cylinder Gray Marine engine was still emitting heat from recently running. They also noted that the craft was well equipped with seatbacks, long oars and also a picnic basket with some tall bottles in it. One bottle had a Narragansett label and the other said Kruger Ale, neither of which they had ever heard of.
Out of the blue, a rustling of the trees along the shoreline preceded the fog's sudden lifting. They made a beeline from Abena Shore across the cove to tell their story to Chester. Reluctantly Chet called Harold Tukey, the Game Warden, and forwarded the report. Both men agreed that they had better things to do than chase a figment of some flat lander's imagination.
The following morning, the couple paddled back across the cove and found no such guide boat. By noon, they were on their way down the Maine Turnpike to New York City.
These latest reports help give credence to what some of us already know — the Guide Ghosts of Great Pond are indeed in our midst!
Note: Don't run away, we gut sum more gud ones for ya!
Rod Johnson was born and raised in the Belgrade Lakes in the 1950s and '60s.