Thursday, July 23, 2020


Every summer I try to spend quality time with my grandchildren and this past week has been filled with that. The girls aged nine and ten are easiest. We go to a pleasant place, talk about the books they’re reading, or just sit on the porch and be together sharing thoughts, stories, and feelings past and present. The boys, however, want to do something adventurous like fish, or ride in the woods on the ATV. They range in age from seven (twin boys) to twenty. The oldest grandson is out on the west coast these days but he comes back to visit regularly. The rest live here in Maine.

Last week the twins visited us at the South Portland house. Fishing is just about all they want to do in summer. They brought their salt-water rigs to do some ocean fishing. I’ve been taking them to various lakes and ponds around Lovell for the last four or five years where they’ve caught sunfish and perch using worms. In the early years I was mostly occupied making sure they didn’t hook one another or me. I was all day baiting hooks, taking fish off of them, untangling crossed lines, and trying to remove hooks and bobbers from tree branches.

Over the years, however, they’ve gotten more skilled. They know how to cast, bait their own hooks, remove fish, and they use lures effectively. Sometimes they put down the fishing rods to go about the shoreline catching frogs and snakes. I’m free to share their excitement and remember how good if felt doing the same things when I was seven with my best friend Philip at our local pond. Now I have time to take pictures of them, one of my favorite things to do.

Anyway, we all went to Willard Beach in South Portland. The women stayed on the sand, the granddaughters collected hermit crabs in some nearby rocks while the women talked. We boys walked over to Spring Point Light to fish off the jetty. I purchased sand worms which do not resemble worms we use in fresh water. Sand worms look more like centipedes and they can bite you with pincers on their heads. The twins used needle-nose pliers to hold them while baiting their hooks.

After loosing several rigs on rock weed and lobster trap lines, we moved over to the Southern Maine Community College pier. Following lots of casts and having multiple sand worms nibbled off their hooks, each of the twins caught a crab. I got a sunburn. The twins were happy and, though tired, I was happy too — because they were. The next day I saw a Boston Globe story about three teenaged boys who caught a giant tuna off the Maine coast in Maine and recorded the drama and their excitement on their smart phones. I posted it on Facebook hoping it would be shown to the twins. Their mother reported their differing reactions. Although hard to tell apart, the twins are not identical and their personalities are quite different as well. One was thrilled, my daughter said, and other “wants to legislate tuna fishing because the population is dwindling.”

Got a crab
Saturday I spent in the woods with my fourteen-year-old grandson. For probably ten years now, he’s been most interested to ride my ATV, so that’s what we do. First he was a passenger behind me. Then I got a smaller ATV that he could operate himself as long as I was right behind him on mine with a kill switch to his in hand. Eventually he outgrew that little one and now operates my big one with me on the back as a passenger where he used to sit. I quickly discovered it’s not as comfortable back there as it is on the driver’s seat. There are lots of trails in Lovell and neighboring Waterford, Maine and we explored most of them — so many that my ass was fairly sore by the end of the day.

In the woods
I brought along some old maps because the trails we traveled were once roads connecting now-abandoned neighborhoods. All that’s left are cellar holes which can be difficult to find when the woods are all leafed out. The first one we spotted on the back side of Sebattus Mountain belonged to a family named Kimball in the 19th century. It’s an old Maine family name and, as luck would have it, it’s also my grandson’s surname, though his branch spells it Kimble.

Posing by the "Hand in Rock" carving
After several hours, it was very nice to get back home and rest in my soft recliner on the back porch and hope I’ll still have enough energy to do it all again next year.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are a wonderful grandfather.

I would like to know more about the abandoned neighborhoods. ???

I am posting anonymously because google is asking for my name etc.


Tom McLaughlin said...

Hi Rhonda,

Go here:

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

It is Kevin (gunk) from round pond area.

Great article, I love these personal one, it's been so long since I've seen you and Roseann, and this is great to see how you and your family is doing.

I really miss Philip and you, make me want to have another reunion again.

Say Hi to Roseann and the family for me. Keep writing family man.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Hi Kevin. I'd be interested in another reunion with you and Philip. I've tried to contact him with no success.

CaptDMO said...

Any plans on teaching "Grandfathering" to your spawn, for when THEIR time comes?
Or is it just....instinct?

Tom McLaughlin said...

I hope it's modeling. My wife and I bonded with most of them early and because they live close geographically, we see them often. It comes naturally. I miss them if I don't see them every couple of weeks at least.

Today one of the twins caught a striped bass on the other end of Willard Beach. He was thrilled. The other twin was disappointed that he didn't get one. To help him process his feelings, I reminded him that a month ago he caught a smallmouth bass in a local lake while the other twin caught nothing. So it goes.

After they go home we're reminded of why we have children when we're young. We are exhausted, but happy to have seen them.