In the early 1990s, Kernan Cross and I opened a photo lab, Main Street Photo, in Damariscotta. Kernan had good knowledge of lab operations and I had some contacts at AGFA, the German film company and photo lab operations group. We were able to purchase a used system for film processing, and a separate unit for printing. The timing was pretty good, and even though we were outlanders from down river, local Damariscotta folk eventually warmed to the convenience of an intown facility.
During the earlier lab years I did some photography for local businesses. I picked up work in the Damariscotta area for Miles Hospital and other institutions, along with a goodly number of artists and commissioned projects. One project involved photography of some local personalities for annual reports and magazines.
That's how I met Mr. Huston Dodge.
I was working with a writer on a project designed to generate support for and interest in local services. We photographed with residents of the area, some more animated than others, who might have considerable history and interesting stories to share.
I had known of Mr. Dodge from astonishing River Road encounters as he transported exceptional loads of boarding atop an old gray Jeep rigged up with front and back support brackets. Sometimes I saw loads that would have stressed a substantial flatbed truck, but I never saw him broken down. I believe he knew what he was doing.
When we met, I asked if he was the guy with the Jeep I had seen hauling old lumber over area roads. When he answered “Yes”! I detected the distinct aroma of garlic. I think he saw me flinch.
Huston Dodge recently passed on, just shy of his 100th birthday. He told us that the secret to longevity was a daily swim in the Damariscotta River and garlic. I'd never considered that. He was an unique individual.