Uncle Ted's Cabin I don't have an Uncle Ted. I don't really have any uncles at all. My mother's brothers were all killed in the Second World War and my dad only has a sister.
The Uncle Ted to whom I refer was a man who swept my sister off her feet, taking her away to British Columbia in the late seventies to find their fortunes mining for gold and platinum. She had to be in love. Why else would anyone possessed of even rudimentary intelligence drop everything for such a hair brained plan?
When the inevitable phone call came from somewhere in Alaska asking if someone—anyone, in our family would pick up our sister at the bus depot in Harrisburg a few days from then, my brother Curt and I instantly knew the fate of Uncle Ted's cabin.
Ted had built a rather ornate duck blind on the very last island in a long chain of islands that ran the center of the river where our town is situated. The location was a ballsy move to start with.
Hunting from right there on the end of the island chain meant that every single day the bored employees and patrons of the Liverpool Hardware would surely be watching your every move through binoculars the way they snooped on every person on the water.
Those bored ex athletes and sportsmen had nothing better to do than to keep a scorecard on anyone on the river. I imagine that from time to time they actually worked stocking the shelves, but would come by the large plate glass windows facing the river and ask for a recap of the day's events from whoever was operating the cash register. Sort of the way a soap opera plays in the background and a bored housewife might check in during chores for an update.
The word on Ted was that he did lots of hiding out in his blind and not a whole lot of hunting. His scorecard showed more time building and maintaining a fire in the small stove he had rigged up. Who has a stove in a duck blind? Did he have a wet bar too?
Ted wasn't from our town but several people there knew him, more so because of his dating our sister. Now they also knew he was a lousy sportsman.
When he did hunt, Ted didn't hit anything in the air; he opted to shoot only at the ducks as they were sitting on the water among his decoys. What a Chickenshit. A real duck hunter will spook the birds and then shoot at them as they are in flight; giving the ducks at least a sporting chance to make off with their gizzards intact.
The duck blind itself, Ted's that is, had serious problems as well. First of all, the blind he built was way too comfortable to be taken seriously. A duck blind is supposed to look less like a dwelling and more like a simple shelter to hide a hunter's humanness from his prey. Ted's ornate duck blind looked like a one bedroom shed with a roof, windows, and doors. If you have to open a window to shoot, maybe you're not serious about hunting.
My brother Dave was a supreme duck hunter. He never shot an animal that wasn't in flight and he sure as hell didn't have a roof on his blind. His duck blind was four camouflaged walls draped in brush and painted olive drab. It had a bench seat and a makeshift door for man and dog to come and go.
There was not a roof. There was no glass window. There was no floor for that matter; simply a flattened patch of coal sand where the structure had been parked for that season. A real duck blind is a Spartan place of treacherous seclusion designed to blend in to its surroundings. Who needs a stove?
Ted's cabin was a plywood sided palace of luxury standing out like a sore thumb on the tip of a prominent island in front of our town. It was an eyesore. It wasn't even painted to blend in with the rest of the island! Oh, and he ditched my sister in the wilds of British Columbia, did I mention that?
So when that call came informing us that Ted and our sister had called it quits and he had basically thrown our sister out and abandoned her in the tundra, my brother and I sprang into action. We called our pals Tim and Jeff, also brothers, and told them that we had a mission to go on out on the river and we could use their muscle.
The four of us headed out to the tip of the islands and moored our boat right at the end, in full view of the crowd at the hardware store. We stepped up to the small cabin with wrecking bars and sledge hammers assessing the job at hand.
Within an hour we had the building stripped down to its floor framing. Within two hours there wasn't a single stick of lumber nailed together on the island, and by our third hour on the little sandbar of an island, we had every piece of wood loaded in our boat.
Ted the jerk had built his cabin directly onto the trunks of several water birch trees. He lagged his floor framing into the only vegetation that stood between the island's continued existence and certain devastation at the hands of high waters.
Again, Ted had proved his blatant disregard for the precepts held dear by most duck hunters. A keen regard for leaving the environment untouched by any permanent structure is a mark of thoughtful sportsmanship. Ted wouldn't know sportsmanship if it bolted its floor framing to his ass.
For his sins against the river and our sister we tore the evidence of his handiwork out by the roots. The men at the hardware store later told us that they never imagined a building that size could be razed in such short time leaving no trace of it visible even to their high powered rifle scopes.
Back out on the water, we poled our lumber supply upstream to our cabin. Half an hour later we offloaded the lumber and began to build it into our cabin's loft and into an outhouse—a fitting end for a pile of crap materials that was built by a turd.