Friday, January 20, 2012

Harland Hitchings Turns 90!

Harland Hitchings
My Grandfather Harland Hitchings of Princeton, Maine turned 90 years young this past weekend. His party at the Princeton Rod and Gun club was attended by well over a hundred people, ranging from Masonic brethren, ham radio operators, Inland Fisheries and Hunter safety personnel, family and friends. Many in the audience spoke of some of their various adventures with Harland and the many good times that they had. I certainly was no exception.

Below is my account of one particular adventure I had with Gramp that I shared at the event. Enjoy! 

I only have a few minutes to express how I feel about a man that I spent a lifetime with. Not what one would necessarily categorize as an easy task, considering all of the incredible times I was fortunate enough to spend with Gramp. It is likely couldn’t sum up what he means to me if I was given hours to speak instead of the few minutes I am provided. I must start by saying that I am very fortunate to have a Grandfather, who shared my passion for the great outdoors. In our times together, his love of Maine’s wilds and water was always tempered by his “safety” minded disposition and his strict following of all our state’s game laws. It would be rare, if on any outing we were not properly prepared for any cataclysmic event from a finger boo boo to zombie attack. This mindset has certainly served me well on many occasions and potentially saved me from harm or possible incarceration.

In thinking back to some of my favorite memories of Gramp, one particular calamity comes to mind.

It was a bitterly cold February sometime in perhaps 1980. I was about 10 years old and excited because I was about to leave Princeton and embark on an expedition with Gramp to that most famous of ice fishing hot spots, West Grand Lake. Somehow, perhaps through my trickery or his own daring (he was a young man of about 60 at the time!), we managed to get Gramp to drive his GMC pick-up onto the lake surface to the spot we intended to fish at for the day.

As I stated before, it was BITTERLY cold and it wasn’t long before Gramp and I were piled into the cab of the truck with the heater on full blast, playing cribbage, drinking hot coco and watching for a flag. Not to waste any chance at catching a fish, Gramp had rolled down his truck window a few inches and had his jig pole sticking out the window. Every once and awhile he would give the pole a little tug.

Getting eventually bored and restless from sitting in the truck, I decided to go out and check the ice holes, chip out the ice and check the bait. Gramp was busily talking with a few people on his Ham radio and momentarily distracted. I sense this was the perfect time to have some fun with old Gramps, so slowly and quietly, I crawled down under his truck.

As I belly crawled from the passenger side of the truck to the drivers side, I finally reached his ice fishing line, grabbed it and started pulling on it with all of the strength that a 10 year old could muster.

Well, the yelling and shouting that ensued in the cab of the truck had me barely able to contain myself as I continued to tug on the fishing line.

Now, in a horribly erratic and haphazard position Gramp began to simultaneously attempt to exit the vehicle, roll down the window, set down the radio handset, not spill his steaming hot coffee and still fight the WHOPPER fish he thought was on his fishing line.

What I heard form the front of the cab sounded something like this: HOLLY COW I GOT A BIG ONE, I MEAN A HUGE ONE! OUCH, OUCH HOT COFFEE!  WHY WON’T THIS WINDOW GO DOWN! THIS IS K1HHC IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE . . . SOS!

Finally, with Gramps outbursts, I could no longer contain my laughter and I exploded with giggles. As Gramp exited the truck, he saw me flat on my back waving up at him. The look on his face was priceless, as he knew he had been had by a 10 year old. At that moment, on his face grew a HUGE smile and his stomach started to violently shake and suddenly he was laughing harder than I had eve seen him before. It was one of those moments that even 30 years later still makes you smile.

Happy Birthday Gramp! I love you!


  1. I admire your grandfather. He's a patient man. He tried to teach me map and compass. I wasn't getting it and he wasn't giving up. Before we were done I had the general idea. His best advice to me was "stay on the road and you won't get lost." I took that to heart!

  2. Awesome man, love talking to him. He does seem more honest in his stories than you I may add... just saying...

  3. Robin, Thanks a ton for posting! Much appreciate you sharing your memory of my Grandfather.

    "Stay on the road and you won't get lost"! That is fantastic . . . yet another "Grampism" to add to the extensive collection.

    I don't suppose that you ever heard him refer to a person as "tougher than the lips on a woodpecker"!??! HAHAH!

  4. DDH, Thanks buddy I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    Are you saying that my stories are prone to exaggeration? My Gramp once told me he dated Fly Rod Crosby . . . and you say I tell tall tales!! LOL!!!

  5. Very nicely done my friend! Reminds me of how much I miss my Grandfather. I think of him often and remember him as the best shotgun shooter that I ever saw.

  6. Trey, You never know how much they meant until they are gone. I feel fortunate that we had a chance to honor him at such a huge event. None of us know how much time we have left and it is nice to make sure everything is said before it is to late for any of us.

  7. I have known "Hitch" for as long as I can remember. My parents are K1TVT and K1WUS. Every morning as I came down the stairs I would hear him talking ti the 3936 bunch and he would ALWAYS say, "Good morning from the sunny little town of Princeton on the banks of the St Croix River where the temperature is ''" :) He even taught me how to keep bees. Ask him about his dill pickle in a coke bottle lol

    1. Hi Gerry, thanks for stopping by and commenting! HA! I remember sitting in the kitchen at his house when I was little and hearing him say those EXACT words while I was eating my breakfast! LOL! THanks for resurrecting that great memory! HE also taught me how to be a bee keeper . . . I even had a little hive of my own that he set up at my house in Calais and helped me tend and harvest . . . yet another fantastic memory! I REMEMBER growing those dill pickles in the coke bottles! LOL!

  8. I just stumbled across this. Years ago now, sometime back just after the earth's crust had cooled, I knew your grandfater and grandmother (and your mother) very well. It is funny what sticks in your mind (K1HHC - Kath is Harland Hitchings Child). As a teen my uncle was the game warden in Princeton. He followed Dale Speed who, I think, followed your grandfather.

    Anyway, I was tickled to read this and your stories about Harland and was pleased to see he made it to 90.

    Well written.


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