September 24, 2008
Father tells about Bud Mitchell
I must tell you about Bud Mitchell. His real name was Lewis Mitchell. Bud was, in his younger days, one of these people who would steal just for the sake of stealing. I guess today you would call him a kleptomaniac. Bud used to collect old iron and take it to the foundry in Skowhegan. Bud has worked for me two times in the woods and was a pretty good man if I could keep him. Bud had collected a load of old iron; he had hired a team (one horse) and was loaded to take off for Skowhegan, when Charlie Crowe met up with Bud. Charlie was some younger than Bud, probably fifteen or sixteen. They made a deal; Charlie was to cover himself up with a horse blanket, which was with the team and hide himself in the load of old iron. Bud was to pay him one half of what Charlie would come to after the load of iron was weighed Charlie took off out of sight.
That was not the end of the story. Bud refused to give Charlie what was coming to him. Charlie got nothing, the story got all over town, and Bud’s rating went down a few points. One time about two years after this I asked Charlie which one of the Crowe boys was it that Bud Mitchell sold in the load of old iron. He said that was Charlie. Charlie said I should have blowed on the S.O.B. Both men are dead now, Bud was in State Prison once.
Bud was working for me once up at Michael Stream in the woods after he had been in State Prison. One Sunday night someone woke me up and said there are two men here sent up from Highland Lodge who want jobs. It was late at night and everyone had gone to bed. I said, to whoever woke me up, “Tell them to get into that empty bunk”. The next morning I was washing my face and hands at the sink; when Bud stepped along beside me and said, “Are you going to hire them fellows. “I said, I guess so.” Bud whispered to me, “You don’t want ‘um I knew one of them down at the big house”. So after breakfast I told them I had no jobs for them. I thought if Bud didn’t recommend them there must be some reason for his not doing so.
Once Bud went into Dan Jones hardware store and put some stuff into his pockets. He went out on the street and stood around for awhile then walked back in and took the stuff out of his pockets, laid it on the counter and said to Dan I don’t want this dam stuff anyway.
Bud was in Mont Stanley’s garage once. I never heard what the particulars were, but Roy Macklin knocked him through the plate glass window.
They said when Bud was young he used to steal hens and chickens and someone made up a song about him. He had a nick name Crazy Mitchell. This song carried the tune of Red Wing, which was quite popular around 1916.
And the moon shines tonight on Crazy Mitchell
His hens are cackling, His rosters crowing
And all around the town it is snowing
The wind is blowing his feathers all away.
One time Lindley Lambert and I went into the restaurant in Norridgewock, in the evening. Bozo Blaisdell (Wallace Blaisdell) and Bucky Johnson were in there and so was Bud Mitchell. After awhile, Bud started for the door, but didn’t quite get out of the door when Bozo said, “Now boys you want to look out for your chicken coops”. Bud turned around quick and said, ”you want to lookout for about a yard of your dam yap.
He came up to work for me once in the woods when he had a full beard of thick dark whiskers. A French man said to me, “who is dat” I said, “That is Bud Mitchell from Norridgewock”. The French man said, “Jeme, first I think it was Abraham Lincoln”. I told the boys what the French man said and after that they called Bud, honest Abe.
“Bud used to build himself a camp like house, one room big enough for himself to live in. He would go down to Harry Falls, of Skowhegan, who was a lumber and building supply dealer, and get the materials with which to build his camp; but he never had the money to pay for them. Harry Falls would let him have the stuff and take a mortgage of Bud’s camp for security. It would end up by Harry foreclosing on the house and Bud would be out in the cold.
After a spell he would go back to Harry Falls and get some more materials and build another camp. Bud repeated this procedure probable four or five times. The time that Bud was working for me at Michael Stream, the mail came and went out from Highland Lodge, which was also a general store. Our camp was five miles up in the hills from Highland Lodge. We traveled by horses or on foot to and from the camp to Highland Lodge. Many of the boys would walk out to the store at the Lodge on Sunday to buy things.
One Sunday Bud walked out with some of the boys and mailed a letter. That afternoon some boys came up from Norridgewock thinking they might get a job with me. I probable hired them. Monday morning Bud said to me, “I have got to go out to the Lodge this morning, I have got to get a letter out of the mail”. I didn’t ask him anything about his business. The thought came to me knowing Bud, that this was probable the end of his working for me. I didn’t think I would see him again that winter. But, he was back before noon ready to go to work in the afternoon.
In a day or two it leaked out, that the letter that he mailed Sunday contained money to pay the town taxes on his camp of which the town would be putting a lien on in a few days. These boys that came up from Norridgewock informed Bud that he had lost his house. That Harry Falls had foreclosed the mortgage and had a family living in it. So Bud decided it would be a waste of money to pay taxes on a house he didn’t own. He went after the letter with the money in it and he was successful in getting it back before the mail went out. Bud used to get awful drunk especially in his old age; he died two or three years ago at the age of eighty.