Sometimes gravity is our friend, sometimes not.

From the 1950s through the 1980s, every Thanksgiving and Christmas were opportunities to learn about my family from what we called the “Gus and Joe” stories.

My father, Gus, born in 1909, and his older brother Joe, born in 1907, lived through the transitional period as Maine went from horsepower to engine power.

Most of their stories involved elements of defiance – of school rules, state laws and laws of physics or various combinations of the above.

On one fateful morning in 1930, as Gus and his helper tried to cross the bridge from Pleasant Ridge to Bingham in a new Model AA Ford truck, it was mostly physics that applied.

As Gus applied the marginal brakes of the truck, loaded with logs destined for the birch mill in Solon, he felt the load and the truck slide as they tumbled toward the Kennebec River. Fortunately, they came to a rest a few feet from the water. Unfortunately, the panicked helper was jumping up and down on Gus, screaming, “We’re gonna die! We’re gonna die!”


Gus replied, “Yer damned right. I’ll kill you with my own two hands if you don’t quit jumpin’! Now, open the door and climb out!”

Since that worked, Gus told him to unload the logs while he went down the road to a farm where the owner had a team of draft horses. By the time Gus and the farmer got back to the truck, the logs had been unloaded.

They pulled the truck back up, thanked the farmer, reloaded the logs and completed the trip – probably receiving just $3, which was Depression-era pay.

It wasn’t so funny that day but now, when my sister and I retell it, we can laugh.

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