Parker Dorman on the Lake

Parker Dorman died on September 23, 2013. Both of us were Wavus campers, earning our Gold Medals thirty years apart. I knew him for fifty years as the father of my friends, Brad, Joan, and Tom, and as a generous and compassionate friend and neighbor on Damariscotta Lake. This is but one thing I remember.

In the summer of ‘96 I was making a promotional video for Wavus and I asked Parker to help me. I wanted to capture the magic of camp’s shoreline via boat. Parker’s stable, old Whaler was the best bet. The morning was bright and hazy and the Lake was like glass. Calmness was paramount to ensure a smooth take with a minimum of pitch and yaw. We began at the Boys swim dock and, with deliberate speed, motored the length of shore to the end of the Point, and turned into the Cove, a distance of over a mile.

After a second pass, our task complete, we headed back to Hemlock Park. Off Pinewood Cove somewhere, the Whaler’s motor sputtered and died. Hefting the gas tank confirmed its emptiness. A quick inventory revealed not a single oar. The Lake seemed suddenly very big and very flat. And very empty. No boat traffic was visible; the crack-of-dawn fishermen had all gone home to go back to sleep. The haze burned off. We sat chuckling and muttering for what must have been a half hour or forty minutes. Two Gold Medal campers in a nautical pickle.

But we were indeed moving inexorably southward. It was no illusion: a breeze was coming up from the northeast. Well, we agreed, at least we’re headed in the right direction, but the rate we were going it would be dinnertime before we made landfall. How can we capitalize on this momentum? What could we use as a spinnaker? I stood up, faced into the breeze, and held my life jacket open, providing enough wind resistance that our speed increased. Then I took the thing off and lifted it over my head. In a majestic ridiculosity, we coasted to Joan Dorman’s dock at Hemlock Park, too embarrassed to be embarrassed.

2 thoughts on “Parker Dorman on the Lake

leave a comment.