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Sub Sig Memories
A History Page

table test This history is largely taken from an oral history project which was an attempt to record memories, especially of our oldest members and former members. There are many more people who should be interviewed. This page is an ongoing project. If you have memories, and especially pictures, you'd like to share, please contact Chris Curtiss

Please note that there are many wild and crazy stories here. They are fun to read, but many of the early adventures were downright dangerous. Enjoy the stories, but don't let them discourage you from joining us. We are much more sane these days!

Click on any picture for a bigger view.


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1940's

1950's

1960's

1970's and 1980's

1990's

To present

Beginnings of the Sub Sig Outing Club
Arno Heyn
"The club originated with the Submarine Signal Company during World War II....The group was supposedly organized as an actual club in 1946. By that time the Submarine Signal Company had been absorbed by Raytheon... Yet, the outing group retained the name "Sub Sig"...

more...

Experiments in Transportation
Arno Heyn
"When auto driving restrictions eased off, this bunch sometimes found it pleasant to hire a truck from a renting company and all go off in it." more...

Perhaps the person most responsible for the early activities of Sub Sig was Jabe Whelpton

The Infamous Sub Sig Bus
Sub Sig Bus
December 1948 Sub Sig Bulletin
"This year, we are profiting by our past mistakes, and we now have a roomy insulated bus, with seats, bunks, and cooking facilities, which will accomodate fifteen people easily and twenty people with a bit of crowding." more...

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George Ehrenfried
From text of slide show

"This club is run strictly in accordance with the customs of the tribe, having the least possible amount of organization and "production" consistent with the job it does. Its only membership restriction, for instance, is the unwritten law which was informally stated once in this way,'To be a Sub Sigger you have to be at least half human... more

Early Activities
"Let's now take a look at a typical year of Sub Sig activities. The planning of what to do in what season is based on a good deal of experience, some of it sad. The time we tried to climb Old Speck Mountain up in Maine in the midge season, for instance, - this is an experience no one seems very anxious to repeat. Anyway, we start off the year with skiing, of course.

"Although the bus itself usually sticks to skiing well into May, smaller groups of Sub Siggers are starting to go on other kinds of trips in their own cars... more

Adventures in the Bus
Arno Heyn
"I can recall one occasion when I was driving it to Mad River and we were directed to park it off the driven portion of the road. The plowed shoulder was soft and the bus tipped pretty far. We found some 4x6 beams nearby on a storage pile for some construction, used snow-chains to attach the back of the bus to a car to help pull the bus out, pried with the beam under the front, had everybody get out and push against the side of the bus from the height of the snow-bank, and thus, at 1 a.m. got the bus back on the hard surface." more

Roioli Schweiker
"I led some cave trips for Sub Sig, and one of them was supposed to be a bus trip to the Albany area, but the bus broke down, one of many times."

George Ehrenfried came to the Sub Sig Annual meeting in the fall of 2009, shortly before his death. He entertained us with this song about the bus:Bus Song

Howard LeVaux
"My last trip with the bus was in September of '58. It was a trip to Chimney Pond and Mt. Katahdin.... Arno's daugher was going up and down the corridor of the bus,... singing a song about the wheels of [the bus] go up and down up and down up and down.

"...this should definitely be in any Sub Sig cookbook, the Great Gulf Boiled Red Squirrel".

Geoff Lull
"My dad ... had been a member since the very early ‘50s. ...he was one of the people who pooled their gas coupons to go up to the mountains during the war. ...my dad used to run concert weekend trips out to Tanglewood... "

The Membership Broadens
Tony DiMeo
"Sub Sig was beginning to attract members outside of the technical fields."more...

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Arno Heyn
"Sub Sig ran several large trips to the West: more...

Geoff Lull
"In the early sixties, Joan [Sears] got a lease site from Diamond Lumber or Great Northern Lumber or whatever the hell it was called up on the Carrabasset near a little up-and-coming ski area called Sugarloaf."

Overlook
Geoff Lull
"Overlook was..... sort of converted barn that was leased from the Howe family.... More on Overlook.

Geoff Lull
"And we used to do Sub Sig picnics. I can remember a couple of the Sub Sig picnics out at Cochituate State Park... Jabe had a motorboat and people would go water skiing."

The Demise of the Bus
George Holmes
"About 1960, the bus was beginning to fall apart. In fact we used to work on it every week during the week so we could get it off on the weekends."
The Bus Bites the Dust

The Purchase of Schoolhouse
By 1960 the bus was clearly on it's last legs, and the search began for a more permanent base for activities.
more...

Ruth Lull
"The club was a singing... club, and especially at the Schoolhouse every single trip."

Tony DiMeo
"They did have square dances ... at Schoolhouse."

Dickerman Cabin
George Holmes
"By 1966, the barn we had been using as a base in New Hampshire was no longer available, and we began looking seriously for a place where we could build our own cabin. A bequest from a member, Phil Dickerman, made the purchase of some land in Harts Location possible, and, under the direction of George Holmes, Dickerman Cabin was built."more...

Geoff and Ruth Lull
"I think that having the cabin transformed the club. That previous to that, club trips were motor vehicle to the mountains and then go somewhere - camp, and go somewhere. So there was a lot more backpacking and a lot more ski mountaineering. ...There were Allagash trips, too... And Canoe Trips all over New England, rather than just on the Saco or the Ammonoosuc."

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Electricity comes to the Notch

Sharon Casper
"I started in the club in the '70s.... I went on this AMC hike - North and South Monadnock, and Rusty Gerrish was the leader. A group of us went, and he told us all about Sub Sig and invited us to come up the following weekend. So there was a bunch of us who said 'Why don't we try this?' " Sharon's First Trip

"At that time Forrest Mack was the Huts and Cabin Director, and the cabin was a lot different than it is now. Very casual - I mean it was kind of a wreck." Early cabin

"Oh, the other thing I should talk about is the heater

. "...we did a lot of canoeing....John Twombley was a guy who did a lot of canoeing.

"....the Jackson Ski Touring Center opened up. We said 'Oh, that sounds kind of cool'. And so we went on this AMC Learn to Cross Country Ski Weekend."

Ruth Lull
"...there used to be a lot of backpacking.....

"In the club at that time, just about everybody was in their thirties and it became a kind of singles club. A lot of people actually got married or got together or had relationships. Everybody was always looking around because everybody was young."

Sharon Casper
"And in the eighties I had Leah, my daughter.... in 1980 she was born, and I took her up to the cabin when she was five months old."

Geoff Lull
"I started leading trips in probably 1971 or 1972. The assistant trips director position was created for me originally because they thought I was too young to handle it all by myself. ... – and they may have been right."

Ruth and Geoff Lull
"There are some sordid stories about the '60s and '70s and '80s, I'm afraid."

A sordid story from Katahdin

A Sordid Canoeing Story

A sordid winter story from Cardigan High Cabin

Ruth Lull
"But it was a different time and different culture. And I think part of what's changed is the whole culture of the United States, because you could get away with doing wild and crazy things.

"It could have been bad. We ran a fine line between – well, we many times crossed over the line into really dangerous territory... Drinking and driving is no longer... Well, it never was a good thing... But everyone did it. People don't do it now. ...And drinking and skiing. We all did that, too."

Steve Hayes
"When I came on that first trip with Arno I didn't know what kind of club it was... more...

"[We] skied in to Zealand Hut in the middle of January, bloody cold,...more...


Ruth Lull
"And then were the hot tubs...

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The Trips Continued

Alpine Flower Trip
The Alpine flower trips, originally led by George Ehrenfried,continued under new leaders.

There was the occasional backpack, including a small one to the Resolution Shelter that led to 2 marriages.

Schoolhouse trips continued as well, although less frequently. The traditional Schoolhouse wake-up calls met their demise on one of Arno Heyn's New Year's trips.

There were some mountain-top celebrations as people finished their last 4000 footers. Here's Sharon Casper's last 4000 footer story.

A New Outhouse at Dickerman
Our old outhouse periodically required the unpleasant task of digging out its contents, and moving the whole mess to a new location.

Digging Out the 
 Old Outhouse

So we finally built a new one, which gets pumped out instead. more...

The Fire
On July 6, 1999, lightening struck a tree next to the cabin, burning it down to the foundation. more...

Burned Cabin

Rebuilding
Throughout the fall, many Sub Sig members, past and present, worked every weekend to rebuild the cabin.

Raising the Rafters

We were able to ring in the New Year in a warm and secure, if still unfinished, cabin.

New Years Eve

more pictures...

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We continued to work on the rebuilding of the cabin, although at a slower pace.

Up goes the sheetrock ceiling

The fireplace was the last major piece to be finished. To learn all about it, click here

Meanwhile, the trips continued.

Mark Levine's birthday parties became a regular January event. more...

More and more of the trips were to the Hart's Location cabin. Few trips were being scheduled to Schoolhouse, and the few that were had few participants and often had to be cancelled. It became clear that Schoolhouse, which was always more expensive to operate than the Sub Sig cabin, was no longer financially viable. Reluctantly, it was put up for sale in 2015.

We may not be quite as crazy as we were in those early days, we like a little more comfort, do much less drinking, and are much more safety conscious, but we still have a lot of fun.

For pictures of some of our more recent activities, click HERE.

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©2017. Last updated Oct. 29, 2017.
































The Sub Sig Outing Club is formed

"The outing club started probably when some enterprising engineer at the Submarine Signal Company during the gasoline rationing of World War II found out that trucks could be rented and somehow were able to get gas which would not have been available to private cars. In addition, most of the engineers doing war work were just out of college - or in training - and were not flush with cash. In any case, new cars for private use were unavailable and those who had cars from pre-war days hung on to them, knowing they could not replace them. So, a truck was rented, the engineer and his co-workers, friends, girl friends, etc. piled into the truck and went on outings."
Arno Heyn

"My husband, Wilbur, was a Sub Sig engineeer. Submarine Signal Company in Boston was important during the war. They did sonar and radar. And he did field engineering. The Sub Sig Outing Club began at Sub Sig.... And then over the years, of course, membership was open to anybody who wanted to join."
Vivian Walworth

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Arno Heyn

"the son of an American father and German mother, arrived in the United States from Germany in 1937, joining his father in Detroit. He obtained a B.S.in Chemistry and a Ph.D.in Analytical Chemistry, married an Ann Arbor resident Helen Pielemeier, and did war-related work at Sun Oil Co. in Norwood, PA before joining the Boston University chemistry faculty in 1947. He first became involved with the Sub Sig Outing Club in 1951, taking part in hiking and ski trips, serving as leader for many trips. He worked on the renovation of Schoolhouse, and the building of Dickerman Cabin, and it's rebuilding after the 1999 fire, doing wiring and propane gas plumbing. After his retirement in 1986, he became a locksmith, and contributed his services to the two cabins. At various times he served as president, secretary, data base coordinator, and bulletin editor and mailer of both Schoolhouse and Sub Sig. Many members report that it was Arno who first got them involved in the club. He remained active up until the year before his death. He passed away on December 5, 2004, leaving many big shoes to fill."

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Howard LeVaux 1933-2017

World traveler, to Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Europe, Tibet, and Antarctica, where a mountain is named for him. To Mongolia, Australia, China, Aruba, Baja, and Hungary to watch solar eclipses. Skier, in the Alps, Sierra Nevada, Canadian Rockies, the Laurentians where he met his wife, Jean, and every line of Tuckerman's Ravine. Mountain climber, amateur astronomer who built his first telescope when he was 12 years old, kayaker, marathon runner, conservationist, diver at the Great Barrier Reef, and bungee jumper from the Victoria Bridge in Africa. He was said to have the hardest working guardian angel in the world. The early Sub Sig Outing Club was clearly his kind of club. It was never too late in the day for Howard to start out, which resulted in many adventures in the dark and lost trails.But he firmly believed that it all works out in the end, and it always did. His wife, Jean, didn't join him on his adventures, but was the only one in the family who never worried when he didn't return when expected.

Howard was also a scientist who studied the impact of supersonic jets on the ozone layer as a faculty researcher at Utah State, and earned a PhD in astrophisics at Brandeis.

In 1978 Howard began working in Jean's real estate business. He was a member of many civic and scientific associations, including Harvard's Committee on Microbiological Safety and the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston.

We will all miss Howard's infectious laugh, love of the outdoors and the whole universe, and adventuresome spirit.

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Jabe Whelpton

"Jabe[Whelpton] was a very interesting person. He had a job in the Sub Sig, Submarine Signal Company, that was absorbed by Raytheon. He was an engineer, and he was just gung ho about going hiking and mountain climbing and the rest, and he liked company, he wanted to have a good group of people around him to go, to do these things. ... initially he was getting known as a person to go to outing club activities in the Adirondacks, because of his truck idea. He rented the trucks and he built in hangers so that people could throw sleeping bags on them and sleep in them. It wasn't very comfortable. I remember the first time I went to the Adirondacks for College Week with Jabe I was sitting on the tailgate of the truck, my legs dangling, as we drove through the Vermont countryside in the moonlight."
Myke Simon

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Half Human?

"...that you are accepted in the tribe, for instance, is to receive a phone call some time Thursday evening, somebody who says, "We're getting up a trip to the Adirondacks and we're leaving to-morrow night at six. Want to come along?"

"the whole set-up of our club is completely geared to the idea of helping beginners to learn to enjoy recreation in the woods. Anybody in the world, who happens to see our schedule on a bulletin board, can call up a trip leader and go as a guest on one of our trips. For some people it takes courage to break their routine and go off for a whole weekend with a group of complete strangers, but this happens on many trips. If the newcomer has no equipment, he can borrow almost everything he needs, except his clothes, from the club, and he can keep on borrowing until he finds it worth while to get his own outdoor gear."
George Ehrenfried

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Early Transportation

"An open truck was not too bad in the summer, but in the winter things got tougher: As it has been described, on Friday afternoon they would get the open truck with closed-in canvas cargo area, put in a kerosene heater, benches and bunks, load their packs, groceries, etc. and take off for the hills. Since there were no Interstates, a trip to Stow, Vt., for example, would take at least 6 hours."
Arno Heyn

"For a while the hired-truck arrangement had been fun, but as time went on its inconvenience bothered the members more and more. Finally they got tired of the troubles, cooked up an informal share-buying arrangement by which they chipped in and bought a truck, a bulky, open-at the-rear-end affair, with no view for the riders, and shielded from the wintry winds only by a heavy tarp tied over the opening. Various accessories, bunks, shelves, and so forth, could now be installed, even though they were protected from being stolen only their obvious lack of resale value."
George Ehrenfried


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The Sub Sig Bus

"This has been made possible by the Farnum Body Company, who are responsible for the expert craftmanship on our bus body, as well as many of its outstanding features and design. So our bus represents the best compromise between a trailer home and a bus for transportation which Farnum and we were able to design,"
December 1948 Sub Sig Bulletin

" Apparently a little of this paragraph was still anticipation, for four months later, in the April 1949 bulletin we can read," Our ski Pullman is almost finished. Within the next months we hope to have the seats and bunks in place and even the inside painted...
George Ehrenfried

"The body resembled the body of a moving truck with doors and windows, a bench front-seat with room for the driver and four passengers (one to the left of the driver!), and a heavy superstructure with oak beams, from which bunks were hung on chains. The bunks consisted of steel pipe frames between which canvas was laced. Four bunks were side-by-side, stacked two high with just enough room for lying in the lower bunk and, maybe, for turning over if you weren't too wide in the beam. There was one set of 8 such bunks over the driver's section in the overhanging part, then with a 3-foot space another such section in the middle part of the bus. The back was taken up by a kitchen and a narrower baggage section.

"The kitchen had two 3-hole propane stove tops side-by-side, a kerosene heater, and along the right wall, drawers and a counter-top, and 1-foot deep over-counter cabinets for dishes, staples, etc.

"Under the bunks there were leather-upholstered benches and back-rests along the length of the bus on the outside walls. With its sixteen bunks, and people sleeping on the benches and the backrests (taken off and laid on the floor), and one in the front seat, 21 people could sleep when the bus was parked. There also was a heater which was connected to the radiator so that the back of the bus could be kept warm during the trip. The kerosene heater could put out lots of heat and kept the inside quite comfortable, but with a large temperature gradient from the ice-cold floor to an overheated ceiling.There also were hatches in the front section just over the space between the two sets of bunks and in the kitchen section which could be opened for fresh air at night. Outside, at the back, there was a large rack which could hold skis and similar equipment."
Arno Heyn

"and the only thing it didn't have was a rest room in it. So the green truck that was the Sub Sig Outing Club truck was known at certain rest stops along the highways of New England, and when that truck moved in they knew that the restroom would be busy for a little while before anyone else could use it."
Myke Simon

"Mechanically, the bus was driven by a Chevrolet 6-cylinder 162 cu. in. engine, had a 2-speed rear axle and thus had 6 forward gears and two reverse gears, but the transmission was a truck-grade non-syncro-mesh transmission, making double-shifting necessary. The empty weight was approximately 16,000 lbs. It had only two axles, but double rear wheels. A sanding system was added to provide traction for driving on ice. Actually, with its weight, the vehicle had excellent traction, far better than any car. Aside from a grossly underpowered engine, its weakness was a rather high center of gravity, especially at night when the bunks were occupied. On curves the bus swayed considerably, and one always wondered, whether it would right itself again, but it actually never tipped over, although on many occasions it got on a soft shoulder and tipped pretty far and had to be brought back on the road with prying, pushing, pulling, and on rare occasions, with help of a tow-truck."
Arno Heyn

"When we'd go though villages of course the brakes would squeak and squeal and of course this attracked a lot of attention and the standard maneuver was that the person that was sitting to the left of the driver would just stick his arms out the window and stare out at empty space. Needless to say this would freak out quite a few of the locals as we went through those small Vermont towns."
Howard LeVaux

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George Ehrenfried

Born October 1st, 1913; Died January 5th 2009, aged 96

George Ehrenfried was the most senior caver, outdoorsman, and Geologist that I’ve ever known, and am ever likely to know.

George's parents were from Maine. His father, Albert, was a second generation American whose parents had emigrated from Germany. The George Ehrenfried Dry Goods Company - which was founded in the early 1870’s - became the second largest retail store in Lewiston; this establishment generated sufficient income to send the children and grandchildren to the finest schools in the country and to purchase property in downtown Boston.

Father insured that young George had the best education, attending first the prestigious Buckingham & Nichols School (now BB&N) and graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1931. Harvard College naturally came next, where George’s spirit of joining organizations is first documented – he immediately joined their famous Glee Club and participated all four years until he graduated from the College in 1935 with an AB in Chemistry.

His boyhood interest in geology was further fueled by a minerology class he took while at Harvard, given by noted Professor Charles Palache - an interest he would avidly pursue for the rest of his life.

His chemistry degree earned George a job offer from Eastman Kodak in 1936, at their new Research Labs in Rochester, NY where he worked until WWII; he earned four U.S. patents for photographic chemistry while at Kodak. He was there, also, at the inception of mass-market color photography, helping to develop the science for those early color prints (from Kodachrome slides - which Kodak had introduced the previous year).

While in Rochester George joined the Genesee Valley Hiking Club, whose outings he enjoyed long after he moved away. He participated in GVHC’s annual field trips well into the 1990s, enjoying the company of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations of families of his friends from the Kodak days. With them, he hiked most of the wilderness areas of America and Canada. He also joined yet another local amateur theatrical company, which allowed him to indulge his incurable penchant for being a 'ham.' He loved the spotlight, and slapstick comedy.

At the start of WWII, George moved to Cambridge, MA to work in the 'Receiver Group' at M.I.T.’s famous Radiation Laboratory ('Rad Lab') which helped to developed radar – one of the two secret weapons (along with the atom bomb) that helped to win WWII.

The old Submarine Signal Company had an active hiking club which George joined shortly after moving back to Boston, the 'Sub-Sig' Outing Club. The SSOC stayed together even after Sub-Sig itself was absorbed by Raytheon after the war, George was active with SSOC until well into his ‘90s, outliving his original friends there as well. George was proud to tell me that the Appalachian Trail Conference accepted SSOC’s bid to become the official maintainer of a section of the Trail.

...Edwin Land recruited him to join the fledgling Polaroid Corporation; Land was then working on the revolutionary concept of an “instant” print film product for the mass-market.... Polaroid Instant Film (first only in black and white) was introduced in 1948. Throughout the rest of his career, George worked on a wide variety of the company’s innovative photographic, optical and related products... For his work in imaging science, in 1986, George received the Outstanding Service Award from the Society for Imaging Science and Technology.

All through his career in Boston, George continued to join and contribute to outdoor,conservation, natural habitat defenders and scientific organizations in eastern Massachusetts and the surrounding areas.

George’s interest in Geology and Mineralogy continued to broaden and deepen. He lived so long and attended so many local geology functions that he became an expert on New England geology in general - and the geology of the Boston area in particular.

George helped found the Boston Grotto - originally as a splinter group from the M.I.T. Outing Club. He participated in early trips using primitive techniques for vertical caving – hemp ropes, hoists, double rope techniques, body rappels, etc.; often his stories of the reliability problems with that old equipment made us cringe. When John Evans first organized a cave-rescue call-out list for the Northeast in 1980, George gamely signed up – at age 67! Over time, George managed to rescue a fair number of injured, lost or simply foolish cavers, climbers and hikers.

His favorite mountain was Tumbledown in western Maine, where he liked to hike the old Tumbledown Chimney Trail.

He was always looking for good equipment deals and solutions to hiking and camping problems. When he found one, he would hang onto it, use it and repair it, sometimes for decades. On a trip - whenever we would show off our spiffy new gear and gizmos – George would happily show off his old gear which was now 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years old; he'd exclaim how wonderfully everything worked and what a great deal it had been originally. Little good that did us: we would grumble because his gear and gizmos had been off the market for so long that you couldn’t even find it in a flea market.

In 1957 in the Boston Grotto, George met Joanne Roberts, the love of his life. Although he courted her for several years in the ‘50s and ‘60s, she married a Dutchman and moved to the Netherlands......following a divorce from her husband, her relationship with George was rekindled; she was in the process of moving to back to the US to live with George when she was tragically killed in a hit-and-run car accident in Holland.

He retired from Polaroid in 1985 to his house in Cambridge, near Fresh Pond and the Mount Auburn Cemetery, where he lived alone.

For all of his scientific and historical knowledge, George was woefully ignorant of much of popular culture. For most of his life he never watched TV because he refused to own one, rarely went to the movies or out to lunch or dinner because he hated going places alone and listened to NPR for most of the day. He had a rotary telephone until 2003. He read the newspapers, so he was aware of local and national news, but the obsessions of nerds and geeks of the high-tech era – Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, Frodo Lives, and the latest sitcoms, were entirely foreign to him.

Until he met Linda.

In 2003, when his physical health had begun its gradual decline and he began having trouble getting around, he helped a friend who had recently badly injured her back; they hit it off and rubbed along well together. She decided to stay on with George and brought him - sometimes kicking and screaming - into the 20th and 21st centuries. George was stunned at the speed with which he'd acquired email communication and web access to the outside world - as well as what could be done with 'these contraptions'.

George remained mentally sharp almost to the end.

He died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday January 5th, 2010 at around 8 PM, aged 96...

He outlived many of his friends from the early days of the GVHC and SSOC, but he has touched thousands of lives throughout the years...We’ll miss him, big time.

Excepted from obituary published in the National Speleological Society News, 11 January 2010. Written by Kevin Harris and used with his permission. To read the entire obituary, click here.

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George Ehrenfried's Bus Song

'Twas Friday night when we set out
And we were not far from town
When the engine missed and it sputtered and it coughed
And broke completely down.

Oh the big green bus rolls on, rolls on,
Over roads that shine with snow, with snow,
While we poor skiers crawl up into the bunks,
And the snow bunnies lie down below, below, below,
And the snow bunnies lie down below.

Then up spoke our leader, an engineer by trade
A determined man was he.
"If we don't get it started, we'll push it up to Stowe
But by God I'm going to ski."

Oh the big green bus rolls on, rolls on,
Over roads that shine with snow,
While we poor skiers crawl up into the bunks,
And the snow bunnies lie down below, below, below,
And the snow bunnies lie down below.

Then up spoke our driver, an hour later on
As he tinkered with the points and the coils.
"I checked all over and I can't find what is wrong,
And my clothes are a mess with the oil."

Then up spoke a little girl sitting up in front,
And a right smart kid was she.
"Oh look at this wire, it's dangling on the floor,
And it comes from in back of the key."

"This is a story of a real trip. Not accurate, but It's true that there was a trip which was held up by a loose connection on the ignition switch. And it took a long time to find out what the cause was."
George Ehrenfried

"In reference to George's song about the snow bunnies lying down below below below. The meaning for that was that when we stopped for the night to sleep we were able to accommodate about 14 people sleeping because there were like frames that were attached to the ceiling that could be lowered down and each frame contained about 4 or 5 cotlike structures and the bottom level was of course the seats in the bus which were of course the most comfortable so the snow bunnies were sleeping on the cushy seats and we were up above them on those bunklike structures. Needless to say, going to the bathroom could be a rather awkward maneuver in the middle of the night."
Howard LeVaux


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Early Skiing Activities

"The bus carries its ski rack mounted on the back end from before Christmas up until the middle of May, or so. The ski season is the season of the big crowds, and we try to get a little ahead financially, to make up for the smaller groups who go out later on. Our bus, which some people have claimed to be the best known motor vehicle in New England, is certainly a familiar figure in all the good skiing localities, Stow in Vermont, and Mad River Glen; Pinkham Notch in New Hampshire, Black Mountain, Cannon Mountain up in Franconia Notch, sometimes Mount Sunapee, the newly developed Sugarloaf Mountain ski area in the Rangeley section of Maine. And then, as spring advances, Pinkham Notch and Tuckerman's Ravine over and over again. When we want to pull off a real ambitious project, those of us who can get vacations take a whole week up at Lac Beauport or Mont Tremblant in Quebec, taking skiing lessons from Fritz Loosli or some of the other famous teachers up there. Crosscountry skiing has fewer prople interested, but their interest is strong. The Zealand Falls Hut, in behind Crawford Notch, has been our goal on two of these trips, two years in a row. Sugarloaf is almost cross-country, being well in from the road, and having no lifts, but we don't pack in and camp."
George Ehrenfried

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Other Activities

" ...some of them manage to lay hold of aluminum canoes and they head for the spring freshets of New Hampshire and western Mass., to join the Appalachian Mountain Club in its white-water canoeing trips. Some others dig out their ropes and carabiners and head for Joe English Peak or the Shawangunks to practice up on their alpine rock climbing. These trips are usually prepared for by instruction sessions in safety techniques, which are held at various cliffs and quarry-walls right near Boston. And the spring hikers are also out, trying to get in as many trips as possible before bug season, and finding swollen streams across the trails everywhere they go. On Memorial Day weekend,- and also Labor Day, for that matter, we usually have big trips to Katahdin and Baxter Park, a remote region that many Sub Siggers have fallen in love with,- it's so big and rough and there are so many things to see. After the first couple of trips,you don't bother with Katahdin's popular southern end any more, but you start to discover the other places to the north, Russell Pond, where Ranger Ralph Dolly always makes us welcome at his headquarters, Wassataquoik Notch, Fort Mountain, with the airplane wreck near the top, and especially the great starfish of a mountain called the Traveler. The Traveler has somehow taken hold of our imagination, and we have shown such an interest in it on our several trips there, that the Baxter Park rangers have suggested that we might take on, as a club project, the laying out of a trail up this unmarked mountain.

"In June, when midges and mosquitoes are in possession of the north woods, we specialize on beach and bike trips. The bus is now equipped with a bike rack, which holds a dozen or so bikes by their wheels, standing up on end. Cape Cod, Cape Anne, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket, are the favorite spots of course, and we find that in this season we can stop freely in many places that are commercialized later in the summer.

"In the real summer, July and August, there is a variety of things going on. Canoe trips are popular in this season. We don't usually try to take canoes with us but we hire them on the spot. Lake Winnepesaukee is where we go most, and we've also gone to Sebago, Moosehead, and Lake George. These trips are often easy-going, lazy, weekends, with lots of swimming and loafing on the island where we camp, and often a big evening song-fest around the fire. It isn't just a big picnic every time, however,- if you have to cross the Winnepesaukee Broads in a strong head wind, by the time you land you feel almost as worn out as if you'd climbed Mt. Mansfield with a pack on.

"Besides canoeing, we do a little mountain climbing in the summer, but not an awful lot, and we take some more biking trips from time to time. Sometimes, during the summer or fall, we borrow a trip leader from the Speleological Society and go on a cave-crawling trip.

"Another special summer feature is arranged for the music lovers. About three times each season, while the music festival is going on, the bus goes to Tanglewood, and gives us a chance to mix enjoyment of the symphony with some swimming or mild hiking in the Berkshire Hills."
George Ehrenfried

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Western Trip

"On the 1960 Western Trip, which had a total of 26 people in a number of cars, vans, etc. .... suffice it to say that the trip was full of typical Sub Sig adventures, lots of them unpredictable: One small group skied without registering for it, on Athabasca glacier, were caught and had to appear in court in Canada. Another small group got in trouble climbing on Eagle peak and slid down, roped together, on a glacier, coming to rest on a rock ledge with some broken bones and had to be rescued. Some of the vehicles had the usual mechanical problems with repairs en route, delaying the return for some days."
Arno Heyn

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Boiled Red Squirrel

"And of course finally I should make mention of one of our great gastronamic things that we did. It should be incorporated into any Sub Sig cookbook that should ever be published. It was Great Gulf boiled red squirrel. So this was quite a treat. We were hiking up in the Great Gulf and we were stopping for a lunch and the squirrels were around us grabbing our lunch and the one Dick Schaffer, a member of our group... had enough of this and he took off one of his boots and bashed a few squirrels on the head and skinned them and we boiled them, and so it wasn't terribly tender meat, but anyway it sort of compensated for the loss of our lunches as a result of the depredations of the squirrels..."
Howard LeVaux

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Adventures in the Bus

"We also never had a collision with the bus: With its large size and strange appearance, other cars kept their distance and didn't argue about the right-of-way with us!

"Being grossly underpowered, the engine was prone to failure and had to be rebuilt at frequent intervals.

"There were occasional break-downs on trips.I can recall a burnt-out front wheel bearing on a trip back from Lake George, occasional fuel-pump replacements en route and similar repairs done as a matter of course. Nothing fazed Jabe, and he was very clever in finding places that would have the needed part, even in the middle of the night on a week-end. On one trip to Stowe it became apparent that the connecting rod bearings were going as we drove the last hill into the Mt. Mansfield parking lot on a zero-degree winter night at about 1 a.m. Jabe wasn't along, but we had another car along (a wise precaution on bus trips when the bus was getting old) which was sent for parts into Barre. George Holmes, lying on his back under the bus, dropped the oil pan and installed the new connecting rod bearings using only a head-lamp for light, with a howling wind at zero degrees. Next day, Saturday, we drove the bus to the Chevrolet garage on the Montpelier-Barre road where the motor was rebuilt with new main and connecting rod bearings. Since we were not able to ski at Stowe, we spent the day skiing at a small ski area just outside of Barre, served by a J-lift. The bus made the trip back with its rebuilt engine and lasted some months, until the next break-down.

"One break-down near White River Junction made garaging the bus necessary. It turned out, that the bus was just one or two inches too high to fit under the overhead door of the repair garage, so we had to deflate the tires until the bus would fit, then after completed repairs, re-inflated the tires once the bus was out of the garage."
Arno Heyn

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A Cave Trip in the Bus

"We spent the night at the State Police barracks. We broke down in front of there and Arno meanwhile hitchhiked back home and got his truck..... But anyway, we did go get out there and did explore some caves and had a nice trip. I guess meanwhile some of the other people had to go retrieve the bus."
Roioli Schweiker

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Membership Broadens

"These people from college students and professors they always talked technical and I wasn't a technical and would consider myself more of a down to earth type person... I couldn't talk technical with them but I could talk in my language and I think they liked me for that anyway because I was different from them and they accepted me. So I guess I would call myself an upstart in that group. The type of people has changed. They're more a cross-section of people. They're not the college students and professors like they were before. They're more run-of-the-mill people that you would find anywhere."
Tony DiMeo

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Tanglewood
...we would camp out at my Aunt Evelyn’s. Saturday morning, we’d climb Mt. Greylock and then the adults would go to the Saturday evening concert and then we’d all go Sunday on the lawn. And so it was probably one of those might have been my very first Sub Sig trip. And that ... might have been in like the summer of ’57 or maybe ’58."
Geoff Lull

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Overlook

"It was shared with the M.I.T. Outing Club because an awful lot of the people who were originally Sub Sig people had been members of the M.I.T. Outing Club before they graduated. And it was located up near Black Mountain in Jackson..... And there was a gorgeous view of Mt. Washington from standing about 15 feet up from the front door. We had the use of it up until 1966 when the family decided to move into it while they renovated an antique farmhouse that they lived in, which was next to the barn. It was a big barn with a big central fireplace with a heatilator in it and there was a .... stove for additional heat. ..... in fact, the gas ring from there used to be at the Schoolhouse. There was ..... a gas refrigerator. No running water, and the coldest outhouse in the world out back – very drafty outhouse. And it was separated into rooms with sort of canvas curtains so that if it was a very small trip – there was one main room with the fireplace in it and a little side room.... and it had double bunk beds in it. I guess they were war surplus or something bunk beds. And you cooked and ate and congregated around the fireplace and in a small trip, there’d be one area that would be opened up so heat from the fireplace could get into the sleeping area, and the rest of the barn was closed off by these canvas curtains. And you could open up more sections as you need them."
Geoff Lull

"I remember sleeping on the floor there..... And the mice were everywhere.... I can remember mice running across my sleeping bag."
Vivian Walworth

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Sugarloaf

"It was just down the street from their driveway and on the river side of the road. She built the cabin on the land with a lot of help from Sub Sig people, including Jabe and I don’t know who – George and probably Arno as well and they eventually wound up driving the bus up there and parking it up there in order to have a place to stay while they built the cabin. The bus had become more of a hassle than it was worth, I think.

"[Sugarloaf] was basically a brand new ski area – ..... and I think they were trying out the technologies that didn’t work out so well. I remember going up and .... my Dad had gone off to ski one of the tougher slopes up on the upper left-hand side of the mountain called the Widow Maker. At any rate, whoever I was skiing with decided they weren’t going to ski anymore, and so I set off to go find him and went up and got on this T bar .... the attendant grabs the T and pulls it down and ... slides it under your butt and away you go. ....I was maybe 10 years old on this trip. And it was the year the cabin was finished or was habitable, anyway. ....and I’m going along and ... the T.... is kind of lifting me along, lifting me along, and lifting me along, and lifting me along, and every time they go over a bump, I go up in the air a little bit and then come back down on the snow. And eventually hit a big bump and went up, up, up, up and because there was no shock absorber – it was just a big spring – and I was too light, and it just picked me up and I wound up hanging onto the T .... until I got up to the top and they stopped and pulled the T down and let me off. But I did find my Dad and we did ski the Widow Maker..."
Goeff Lull

"It was a different time. .....I’m thinking about the single chair up at Mt. Mansfield and piling five blankets on Melissa because it was .... below zero and then taking her up the chair and off we went. .... and nobody would do that today"
Ruth Lull

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A Sordid Story from Katahdin

...we were all standing around the campfire. .... We were at South Branch Pond...... And I was going to go to sleep and stumbled towards the fire and so everyone was giving me a hard time, and I finally... I said OK, fine, and I left. And I went down to ......the lake and it was a beautiful night...... Hopped in a canoe and paddled out into the lake and was enjoying the moon and the stars and decided that I’d best paddle up into the wind because it would be a lot easier coming back. And then the last thing I remember was deciding that I’d had enough paddling and that I was going to stop paddling. And I stop paddling and the wind blew the canoe around until I was pointing straight back at the campfire. .....And drifted.....I promptly fell asleep.
Geoff Lull

"And in the meantime, we had no idea where he had gone. I knew he was upset. We were going together. We’d come up together and I knew he was upset and I had no idea where he was. And George had no idea where he was. And finally people decided .... he had gone up the mountain, and so organized a search party to hike up the mountain ..... to go look for him without a flashlight. So I don’t remember how far up the mountain we got before we decided this is absolutely ridiculous and came back to the campground at some late hour. In the meantime, he had drifted back to the campground ...
Ruth Lull

"So I climbed out and hauled the canoe up..... And went up to the tent and tried to get in and I couldn’t.
Geoff Lull

"There’s one little piece of information that people need to know, which is there were two identical tents pitched side by side......Except one was facing frontward and the other was facing backwards.
Ruth Lull

"and I was struggling to get the zipper to work and I couldn’t find the zipper and I was going absolutely crazy and I finally .... in desperation, I crawled under the fly and snuggled up to the.... warm body on the other side and went to sleep...... Now there’s people running around, yelling and screaming and .... calling me and I didn’t notice it. ...... And eventually I guess Bob rolled over in his sleeping bag and thought gee,.....I thought she was on the other side. And then he awoke to all the yelling and screaming and her yelling and searching or whatever and.... And he crawled right out the tent and there was this set of hiking boots sticking out from under the tent flap. He said 'I think he’s over here.'.... At any rate, I was discovered and put in a bed...... In the other tent."
Geoff Lull

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A Sordid Canoeing Story

"I'm thinking of the canoe trip when we inaugurated the blue canoe and.... and broke it? It's first weekend? It folded in half. And as usual the Saco had jumped its banks. Oh, that was the second day.

"It starts out with the first day, we went and put in at the bridge in Bartlett. There’s a gauge on the bridge there that tells you how high the water is. And there’s a huge boulder downstream from the bridge and when we put in, the water was so high, it was off the gauge. The big boulder was underwater and we had to duck to get under the bridge. We were so stupid. Oh, my god.

"So we set off with three – I think it was three canoes and .... It might have been four. And Phil Green, who was a teenager, in an inflatable ... kayak.

"We hadn’t gone very far and we got down to where the river used to make a big sharp swing to the right, and then it went over where the Bartlett dump was. There was a big oxbow, I guess. And I’m looking, and I know the river’s about to go off to the right, and I’m looking. It just looks really funny. There’s like this smooth line. What the hell is that? And I decided that .... we ought to pull over to the right.... and check this one out.

"So I signal for everybody to pull over and the boat’s there coming over, but Dave Murphy and Andy Small were the weakest canoe ... (Were both not experienced canoeists) go sailing right by us. ... I don’t think they could stop..... And they’re headed straight for that weird-looking thing and I’m in the boat. Ruth is .... in our brand-new blue canoe....Andrea and I take off paddling like crazy to try and catch up to them and they just disappear. And we come up and what had happened is the river was so high that it had gone over the gravel bank that formed along the outside of that curve and it was just roaring over the gravel bank and down into the woods. So we wound up doing this class III whitewater in the trees. And Dave and Andy had been upright and they were doing just fine and then they reached out and grabbed a branch..... To slow themselves down.They were over in a flash. And of course the water is going about 80 miles an hour.The water is unbelievable, but fortunately, it’s spread out over this huge area of woods now, so where they rolled over, they were actually able to stand up. It was only a little over knee deep where they were. But the canoe – and we were chasing the canoe – was full of water and in an old channel where the water was deeper. And we grabbed the canoe, and I had it halfway over our canoe to empty the water out of it. And I looked up and there were several trees coming up and trees down between them, making little waterfalls. We needed to get rid of that canoe. So I dumped the canoe back in the water, and we back pedaled like crazy. And the canoe, about two- thirds full of water, ran into two maple trees like this – hit right between them. And it was like a ship being torpedoed. All the water that was in the boat kept moving, but the boat had stopped, so it just went right up to the front and went up about 20 feet in the air. And with a loud 'bonnngg', because it was aluminum.

"This was the club canoe. So we eventually recovered the two people who were stuck out in the middle, got them over to the bank, and got everybody else safely over to the bank, and then managed to rescue the boat. Got it out. It was a little tricky, a little hair raising. It was sleeting....Of course.

"And Dave, bless his soul, I think he went on two more trips after that, and then he retired to write a book, Exploring New England River Bottoms. And he’s never been in a canoe since. He won’t even go in a canoe on a hot summer day in a lake."
Geoff and Ruth Lull

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A Sordid Winter Trip to Cardigan High Cabin

"....we have a friend, Dave Murphy, ... who had gone to the Cardigan high cabin as a kid and told us it was just an easy two-mile walk in the woods. So we probably led that trip. .... and it was in the Bulletin and so we had all kinds of people. I don’t know. There were probably 16 that first New Year's. Yeah, 16 or 18, and of course, the cabin is really – was in those days only designed for eight people. And we got there about 4:30 to the trailhead. And what had happened was, that Dave had told us A, that it was an easy two-mile walk in the woods and B, that it was just like the Schoolhouse, and C, that he and Mike, his roommate, were going to go up a couple of days early and they would track a trail out and make sure that there was firewood and all of this stuff. Well, this is the New Year’s trip, now.... So we put this trip in the Bulletin, and then everybody arrived at quarter to sunset to go in .... with a lot of old club snow shoes that had the original wartime leather bindings on them still....And some people who had never been out in the winter woods ever. And some people who had never been on snow shoes ...Some people who’d never been camping before.

"And gear. Like 125 pounds of gear....Well, we brought our alpine skis and we brought our cross country skis, and of course we brought our snow shoes, too, and that requires another pair of boots. And we brought two woks, I think. .... yeah, there was probably at least a case of beer and several bottles of wine. And lots of champagne. By the time we were all done, I think there was a bottle of champagne for each person on that trip.And we were going to have spaghetti one night and we had the bread, big long loaves.Somebody got like six loaves of bread across the top of the backpack. We were very picturesque. And really well-stocked. But my pack was just way too heavy and we got up there and just as David advertised, ....the ski trails from the bottom of Cardigan up to .....the bridge there are gorgeous. Looking at them, Peter and I decided we were going on our cross country skis.

"And so that meant that I was carrying my downhill skis and my snowshoes. We got on the trail and Peter and I took off and we hit that bridge in about 10-15 minutes and that’s almost halfway, right? And we were hey, this is great. But when we got to the bridge, we discovered that the other side of the bridge wasn’t packed at all and the snow was well above our knees and there’s a steep up right there. We spent probably 15 minutes going about 40 feet before we gave it up and said 'Oh, we’re going to switch to the snowshoes'. And by the time we got our clothes changed and our foot gear changed and everything, people were starting to catch up to us. Oh and of course, by now, it was completely dark and Dave showed up and he led us up there. I still don’t know how the hell he found the trail. There was almost ..... two and a half feet of fresh snow. We wandered around and wandered around and went up and up and ... it was close to zero. I finally took my skis off and left them and left my cross-country skis and people were leaving other things behind. And we eventually got up to the top of the Alexandria Ski Trail and then Dave said 'Yeah, it’s right here.' And he pointed through between two trees and started wandering around and eventually we came out. I was about ready to kill him, but he says, 'Oh yeah, it’s going to be right here.' And there it was....the cabin.

"So we got up to the cabin, and we unlocked the door and we went in. And there was no firewood. And somebody had tried to steal the stove. It was all disassembled. So we went back and started ferrying people up, helping the people who had never backpacked before, lugging these monster loads. Ruth and I slept in our tent. We were warm and comfortable .....

"I went out to answer nature’s call at some point the next day .... and came back in and Lala Schaffer says 'I smell smoke. I smell something burning.' And Erna goes 'Yeah, yeah. Something’s burning. Is there a fire?' And I’m 'Holy mackerel.' I rushed through and back to check in the kitchen and make sure there wasn’t any – there was a shed kitchen on the back. No, there was nothing going on there. And there was a fire in the fireplace. And I come back and somebody’s passing a joint behind the two of them, along the back wall. And it was like 'Oh.That’s what’s burning.' "
Geoff and Ruth Lull

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The Bus Bites the Dust

" It needed a lot of work.... Anyway, it finally bit the dust.

"Since nobody would insure the stupid bus, the only people who could drive it were people who could get their own personal insurance. And there was a limited number of people who wanted to risk their personal insurance driving the bus. About this time there was starting to be a lot of that kind of thing, so I think that’s one of the thing that caused the demise of the bus, besides the mechanical problems, was that it was getting to be more problems with insurance."
Roioli Schweiker

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Schoolhouse

"I just happened to live near Montpelier, Vermont, at the time they were looking for a cabin. And so they would come up and the first time they came, they asked if they could sleep in my barn. It wasn’t a used barn. It just sort of came with the house. We said sure, but the barn was a little chilly. Their winter sleeping bags weren’t quite up to 40 below in Vermont with the wind whistling through the barn. The second night, they were wrapped around the stove in the living room. But they came several more times and finally decided that was a very good area."
Rioloi Schweiker

"Already some years before that we had also started to look for a place for an outing-club cabin or such in New Hampshire (without any luck), near Fryeburg, Maine (also without finding anything affordable), and finally, in the spring of 1960, George Ehrenfried and I were looking in the Stowe-Waterbury area in Vermont. We had thought of a defunct farm which we could rebuild, but when we were driving through Middlesex Center we saw an old one-room schoolhouse which had been rebuilt as a family home. This gave us the idea of looking at all the old schoolhouses which are marked on the topographic maps and, among others near Waterbury and Middlesex, found one in Moretown on Jones Brook Road which, we were told by neighbors, was to be sold to the highest bidder. We contacted the School Board Clerk, Mrs. Ward, who together with her husband owned the one and only general store in Moretown... She came with us the 12 Miles to the school and opened it up for us to inspect, and told us yes, they were receiving bids and that the lowest bid was for $1000. This schoolhouse appeared admirably suited to outing-club purposes. It sat on a half-acre of land in a valley between hills near a brook, Jones Brook, but not so close that it might get flooded. It was about 4 miles SW of Montpelier, and within a 45 min. drive of Stowe and Mad River ski areas.... What we had not noticed were two problems: The foundations were deteriorating, and the water table in springtime at the time of the big thaw is very close to the surface.

"We got a group of people together who were interested in becoming co-owners of the new cabin-to-be and submitted a bid of $1650 (why that amount? We figured if 1000 was the lowest bid, 1500 would be a pretty likely high bid, but that was a round figure, so we upped it to 1650). This was the winning bid (I am pretty sure now, that was the only other bid!), and after our 1960 Western trip in early August we completed the purchase. Since we didn't want Sub Sig involved because Sub Sig owned vehicles (possible liability in case of an accident which could result in real estate being attached), and we hadn't set up a formal group yet, it was agreed that George Holmes and I as President and Secretary/Treasurer of the as yet unborn group would sign the papers. By the start of 1961 we had incorporated "Schoolhouse, Inc." in Massachusetts and George and I sold the Schoolhouse for $1 to this new corporation."
Arno Heyn

"[Schoolhouse] required quite a bit of work because when we bought it the second floor was unfinished, it was just open, and it was framed up there and you could walk, but it was very springy so we decided that we were going to stiffen it up so we could use it as sort of a bunk room...So we worked out a system whereby we hung the second floor from the rafters, and that was quite an engineering feat to do that. But it's held up. It hasn't fallen down, and that was many years ago."
George Holmes

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Singing
"I can remember one night -oh, my god. We would sing and we would drink. And it was probably 3:00 in the morning. But we had been singing since probably 8:00 or 9:00 and we decided that it was time to wake up the people in the cold room. So we went up and sang to them at like 3:00 in the morning."
Ruth Lull

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Square Dances

"It wasn't too often, maybe about twice a year... but when they had them people would go to Schoolhouse to do nothing but square dancing, with a caller. And we sometimes had as many as 50 people at that time, so we were never short of people, going to Schoolhouse. They managed to fit. They were much hardier group in that comfort wasn't the chief thing with them. They wanted to do their activity."
Tony Dimeo

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Dickerman Cabin.
"...when we built the Sub Sig cabin Arno Heyn and I came up here and we met with Mrs. Morey ... she really owned everything here in the Notch here and it was very difficult to buy anything from her... A lot of realtors had come in here to try to buy land and to put up condos and so this was one thing that she did not want but we wanted to buy a piece of land and we came and talked to her and talked to her son. When she found out that we were an outing club and did things similar to the AMC, she agreed to sell us the piece of land... Well, the club couldn't afford all of it so some of us bought pieces of that land.... and then the club took just that one portion and Mrs. Morey was willing to go along with that.

"I came up with the design and we got a lot of people together. ...we first poured a slab and we put a block wall and I still have the plans for the original cabin, which is pretty much what it is today.

"It was always a discussion about whether we should put water into the cabin and whether we should drive a well at Schoolhouse and there was a lot of contention at that time. Some people wanted to spend a lot of money and put water into the Schoolhouse and Sub Sig cabin and others of us didn't really want to spend the money so it's never been done."
George Holmes

"By this time Jabez Whelpton had become less active and George Holmes was the driving force behind building the Cabin, which we named the "Dickerman" Cabin in honor of the late member whose bequest had made the land purchase possible. Every weekend between Labor day and mid-December a group of about 10-20 members gathered on the land, staying in tents, cooking on primus stoves, etc. and helped building the cabin. We had hired the owner of the local Texaco station in Bartlett who had a back-hoe to excavate a pit for the foundations and basement. There was some ledge in one corner, the reason why the basement is stepped in the NW corner. We set forms for a poured concrete footing, than a retired mason from Bartlett helped us set up the concrete-block basement walls. Since there was no electric line on the road, we had borrowed a motor-generator from someone for using power tools. But all nails were driven by hand - at that time nailing guns were not very common... George had made rough plans, which my son Evan (who was taking technical drawing in high-school) converted into blueprints which were approximately followed."
Arno Heyn

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"We all did the basement floor by hand, but the coolest thing is that all the initials are still there in the basement floor because when the cabin burned down, the basement was not destroyed, so the original handiwork is still there... including Melissa’s little hand print... just inside the front door... of the basement."
Geoff and Ruth Lull

"I was especially interested in the floor laying part.... It didn't take too long. I know we were camped out in the area. It started in about Oct. and I remember it had snowed then, and we were just about snowed in in October. We had one person, chief instructor, telling people what to do as a group and they followed. There were more laborers than professional people to build so it was a big labor thing, and the labor was cheap, but it did get accomplished."
Tony DiMeo

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"[Bob Lindgren] was the one who refused to accept the theory..... that the front left corner of the cabin looked to be three inches or four inches low, but we were firmly convinced it was the angle we were looking at it that made it look that way, who came up and said that’s low. And everybody said, no, no, really, Bob. We got the mason. He did it right. Everything’s fine. He says no way in hell. And he went up, back up to his car, and he came out with a spirit level..... and ran around and sure enough, it was four inches low. So if you go into the cabin basement and look in that forward left corner, you can see where the cinderblock goes and there’s concrete stuffed in under the sill to bring the cabin up a level."
Geoff Lull

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Electricity Comes to the Notch

When the Sub Sig cabin was first built, gas lights were installed, as there was no electricity in Harts Location. As reported in the Boston Globe, the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative finally finished laying underground cable from Bartlett 1970, making Harts Location the last town in New Hampshire to have electricity. Power to the 15 Harts Location customers (including the Sub Sig cabin) was turned on July 1.

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Canoe Trips
"There also were a series of trips that went up Chamberlain Lake and Allagash. Those went, I don’t know how many years before me. I went out on one of the last ones...the one I was on was just sort of a really neat, run-of-the-mill canoe trip with the wind in our face for 12 miles ...with, at times, our paddling as hard as we could and barely making any headway whatsoever and saying to George Holmes, who was leading the trip, how far is it? Oh, it’s just around the next bend, at least 100 times."
Ruth Lull

"I don't remember the details of how the canoe was overturned, but there was a rock in the middle of the river, and there was a guy sitting on the rock, stranded, and I remember Jabe tossing a rope to him. And for some reason, nobody was holding the shore end of the rope, so the rope disappeared and the guy was still sitting on the rock. He was pretty miserable. It was quite a cold day. But eventually we got him off the rock.

"And I remember leaving a canoe finally underwater because it got dark and Jabe went back the next week to rescue the canoe. Those canoes took quite a beating. I remember at one point we bought one of the old canoes and it was pretty battered and it was just never a sound canoe, but it had been wrapped around rocks a couple of times. I think one of my Mariner Scouts came along on that trip and we were so delayed by all this trouble with the canoe that it was something like 2 or 3 in the morning when I brought her home. And her father was pretty upset. But that was quite a trip."
Vivian Walworth

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Electricity Comes to the Notch

When the Sub Sig cabin was first built, gas lights were installed, as there was no electricity in Harts Location. As reported in the Boston Globe, the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative finally finished laying underground cable from Bartlett 1970, making Harts Location the last town in New Hampshire to have electricity. Power to the 15 Harts Location customers (including the Sub Sig cabin) was turned on July 1.

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Sharon's First Trip
"So we all went up there. I remember it was May. I had never been hiking in the White Mountains - this was my first trip up there -- and there was still snow, and the hike was to Nancy Cascade, and there was so much snow, we were sinking in up to our knees, --now that I think about it, unusual for that time of year. And there was this one girl, she was very short, she went in up to her hips and we had to pull her out, literally yank her out. And she kept getting stuck in the snow. It was a really hard trip and when we came back we were all very tired. And the next day the trip was to Chocorua and my legs were really hurting from the day before, but I had to do it. And this was the first time I'd ever climbed a peak up in the White Mountains. It was a gorgeous day, clear as a bell, and I just fell in love with the mountains up there, the view and everything, it was beautiful.. So from that time on I started going up to the cabin a lot."
Sharon Casper

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The Early Cabin
"There was a plywood floor. It was not a regular floor. And the furniture was kind of falling apart. The sofa was falling apart. The mattresses upstairs were pretty lumpy and uncomfortable. But it didn't matter what you did. You could make a big mess or whatever. Nobody cared. It wasn't like now where you have all these rules and regulations. I mean Forrest didn't care what anybody did. You just went in. People came in with their rock-climbing gear and threw it on the floor and made a mess in general and it didn't matter.

"Everybody'd be up there. It was sort of like the same people. And after skiing we'd all go to the Wildcat Tavern, have a few drinks, drive home anyway, head back to the cabin. And nobody ever went to bed early .... we always stayed up 11:30-12:00. We played cards. We would drink and have fun. And there were always a lot of people. There'd be like 17 people. All the mattresses would be full. There were a lot of big trips. And it was different then. There were also a lot more people hiking up there. Oh my God, there were like -- well, it was before the Forest Service built those parking lots out back in the woods, so everybody's cars would be lined up on both sides of the highway. It was really kind of dangerous. And there'd be just tons of people on the trails, a lot more than now.

"...when we first started skiing, everybody had wood skis, and you had to wax them. If the weather was warm, you had to put on klister and red wax and it was a mess. But you know, we used to wax our skis right inside the cabin -- right inside the cabin, it didn't matter, because it was such a wreck. It was kind of nice in a way, you know?"
Sharon Casper

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The Heater

"Oh my God! When we first came up there, there was this heater which was in the same place that it is now, but what you’d do, when you came up there, you had to light the pilot. And you'd get down on your hands and knees in the washroom, and reach in there and there was this thing that you had to push on. You'd push on this button, and you'd push on it for awhile, and I guess that was supposed to get the gas going. First you had to turn the gas on, because the gas was turned off in between trips. And there was this lever you would pull up. Then you'd get these matches and you would try to light this pilot..... It would go for a minute, and then you'd have to let go of the button and it was supposed to whoosh. It was supposed to start. But it wouldn't do that. Of course, it was freezing cold in the cabin and you were out there on the floor trying to get this damn thing going. Oh, it was a pain in the neck. It really was.

"And the cabin was so cold.

"The old cabin used to take forever to warm up, so sometimes we would get the heater going and then just go up and go to Bartlett because it was really, really difficult. And we had the old outhouse ..... -- for one person at a time, so sometimes you had to stand out there in the cold to wait to go in. It was just a lot more rugged than it is now, but I guess in a way it was a lot more fun, too. Everything’s always a trade off."
Sharon Casper

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Canoeing Stories
"We went all the way up north, way north of Berlin, north of Errol, and went all the way down the Androscoggin with Liz Levine and her son and Twombley's nephews. We had a lot of fun.

"...one time we went canoeing.....Geoff and Ruth Lull and the Lillys and a bunch of people went to Maine to Limington Rapids. And it had rained really a lot. And there were big rapids. And what you'd do is you could shoot the rapids, come down the bottom, pick up your canoe, walk back up, and do it again. And we just kept doing this all day. All these rocks you could sunbathe on. Well, there's this one big rapid that everybody avoided all day. Nobody went through this one big -- you could just see this big hole right there and a big rock. So finally at the end of the day we were all ready to leave and Goeff said Ruth wouldn't go down with him. He said oh come on, Sharon, come with me. So I decided to do it. Well, God, he went shooting right for that rapid, and of course we went right over, went under the water. The water was very deep, and I banged my leg and I came up way down the river. And the river was very wide, and I was floundering around and thank God, Margo Lilly came out in her kayak -- and threw me a rope and kind of towed me to the shore, because I was wiped out. And the next day I had a swelling on my leg that was as big as a softball. And all I could think of was God, what if that had been my head? Because of course when we went canoeing, we never used helmets or anything like that. That was unheard of. We just did it. Kind of wild.

"And I remember one time John Twombly and I were up there and there wasn't enough water and we had to get out and pull our canoe through the snow to keep going down the river."
Sharon Casper

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Cross Country Skiing Stories
..."there were 125 people....And we split into five groups - people who had done some downhill, people who had never been on skis. Well, we were the bottom group.... and it was a day when the snow was like cement, really hard. And we didn't have that many trails. And we went out in this field for awhile, and then in the afternoon they sent us up behind the Wildcat Tavern. And that now is considered an intermediate trail. And here I was, I'd never been on skis. I must have fallen down a million times on this hard snow, practically ice. And I remember Monday I came back, I was black and blue all over my body. I couldn't believe it. ...... But I went back, I went skiing again.

"We did a lot of skiing. We skied from the top of Wildcat to Jackson. And even in Jackson, they didn't have that many groomed trails. You could go down the Ellis River, and a few things around the golf course, but a lot of the stuff wasn't groomed . The east pasture -- now they've made it like a regular trail, but before it just came straight down and you would just keep going until you'd fall down, and you'd go some more. And we'd climb Double Head, which isn't even a ski trail anymore, and we'd just fall down all the time. We didn't seem to mind. We went up to Nancy Cascade on our skis. We skied down. There again, we fell down a lot. But we didn't seem to mind, because we were young."
Sharon Casper

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Backpacking Stories
"There are a zillion trips ...backpacking trips – that happened that aren’t particularly memorable. Some of them were wet. Some of them weren’t wet. Some of them blew pretty hard."
Ruth Lull

"But backpacking was the best thing, because it was so nice to have the cabin, because I remember in August when I would go backpacking, I'd go up to the cabin and I would wait for the weather to be just right, and then I would start out so that I -- I don’t think I ever really got in the rain that much, that I was able to pack into a shelter and that was so nice.

There were these through hikers. And at Imp Shelter this one guy carried a mouse trap. And we all went to bed, and he set his mouse trap and 'whap!' got one, and threw it out, settled down, a minute or two later 'whap!' again. And I remember he caught like nine or ten mice, and eventually we all went to sleep and the mice stopped coming."
Sharon Casper

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Leah
"And I still have the picture, because we went up Mount Willard. My old roommate Nancy was with us that time, Nancy Burnett. And I have a picture where I took off my down jacket and I wrapped her up. She was in her front pack, and I kind of covered her up with the down jacket and I have this picture of her with her kind of peeking her little head out of this down jacket with her all wrapped up, because the weather got a little wild and snowy. It was November, I think. So that was her first trip up in the mountains.... In the eighties, she'd go up there with me."
Sharon Casper

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Hot Tubs
Back in the ‘80s and ‘70s – there was a public hot tub. Twelve or 14 of us would pile in the hot tub after we would ski and sing and drink and have a really good time and then go back to the Schoolhouse and have dinner. Or we would go to the Major Moose or Sister Kate’s and there would be a whole crew of us who would stop off and dance and dance and dance."
Ruth Lull

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"When I came on that first trip with Arno I didn't know what kind of club it was... he gave me a background of the club and how it had evolved and all that and I thought, this is an interesting group of people, and it doesn't seem like they're very stringent in their rules or organization and that suits me very well so the next morning, on Sunday morning, I crawled out of bed upstairs and I went to go down the stairs and there's this little box on the wall and I kind of looked at it, 'What's this little box?' and it was about a 6" square little box with a glass window on the front of it and it said on it 'In case of fire, break glass' and inside was a nail with a little piece of wire and a marshmallow on it. And I thought, 'Ah,I want to join this club',so I came downstairs, had breakfast, and joined!"
Steve Hayes

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Zealand Hut

"[We] skied in to Zealand Hut in the middle of January, bloody cold, and we were skiing up Zealand Rd. and up ahead about a quarter mile I see this person dragging something. 'What's that person got?' And the person gets closer and closer and closer, and it's Roioli Schweiker, hauling out a sled full of equipment. She had just finished her last 4000 footer in the winter the day before! And she had stayed at Zealand on that Friday night, and there she was hauling out this sled full of stuff, dragging it out, cross-country skiing out.So we stayed in Zealand Hut that night, and it was very, very cold but the best thing was we had 8 people and we had 2 4lb. roast beefs for 8 people. And everybody else sat down to their rice and beans, and we sat down to a full roast beef dinner."
Steve Hayes

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The Wake-up Call

"It was early morning, but I was downstairs, while many others were still asleep upstairs. All of a sudden, loud bagpipe music was blasting in my ears! Without thought I rushed over to the record player and grabbed the arm, accidentally gouging the record as I lifted it. It turned out that, unknown to me, this was the traditional way to wake people at Schoolhouse. I don't know if Arno ever forgave me for ruining the record, but several people thanked me."
Chris Curtiss

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Sharon's Last 4000 Footer Story
"Lafayette was the only 4,000-footer I hadn't done. And so we started up and we got there and oh, that wind was really going. It was a whole group of people. Well, eventually everybody kind of stopped at the hut,... Well, I kept going, and then I would have stopped too, but I knew that Deborah was up ahead and if I didn't keep going, she'd be up there waiting for me. Well, I couldn't very well let her up there by herself, so I kept going. And really, I was getting wacked, falling right over. The wind was so strong you could really hardly stand up. And I just kept going and then the fog came in and you couldn't see anything. And we made it to the top. Winds blowing the clouds, you couldn't see a thing of course, not a thing. So we just went back down. But that was the end. And that was the last 4,000-footer I ever climbed. After that, I just started doing 2,000-footers."
Sharon Casper

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Our New Outhouse

Steve Cuts the Holes Framing the Outhouse New Outhouse
Steve Cuts the Holes Framing the Outhouse Our New Outhouse

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The Fire

"When I got news of the fire, ... I was really angry. Yes, we got a call about 8 or 8:30 at night, and it was a hot, hot, hot night, it was like 90 degrees and the phone rang. It was Joan and she said, 'I got a call, and there was a really bad fire.' and when she first told me there was a fire I thought maybe somebody burned something in the kitchen, but then I thought, 'Oh no, it's substantial damage, totally destroyed. Wow!' And I got really angry, because in about 2 more weeks we were coming here on a week's vacation...

"The next day, the first person I called was Geoff Lull, and I told him what happened, and I said 'Geoff, I need your help. I want to do this but I can't do it alone. I need help.' And Geoff Lull said, 'I'll do whatever I can do.' And the second person I called was Dave Murphy, and he did the same thing. So that got everything moving.Too many people to mention that helped ... way too many. Maybe I shouldn't mention any for fear of slighting some people. It was kind of fun in some ways figuring out how to do it.

The Trailer "Originally when the first cabin was built they had a great big canvas tent... And I said, 'Nobody wants to stay in a canvas tent any more. That's not going to work.' So I had a good friend, a neighbor, who had an old, 1962 school bus that had been converted into a camper....he was using it for his summer vacation, so [I said] 'What are you going to do with the bus once fall comes?' and he said 'I don't know.' And I said 'Can I have it?' and he said 'Sure' and his wife said 'Why don't you take the trailer too?' I said, 'What trailer?' And she said 'We've got a trailer too.We can drag that out.'.... And one day we dragged the trailer out of the woods. It was all beat up, flat tires, dirty and everything, and we dragged it down to our house which is only down the street, an eighth of a mile and we had, one Saturday a whole bunch of people from the club came over and spent a whole day cleaning it out.... We had 5 people. ...and we spent a whole Saturday cleaning the thing out, taking all the crap out of it, and by the time we were done it was pretty good. It was liveable. And so then I thought, 'How are we going to get it up here?' and I tried to find a title for it to see if I could register it and all that...it was just going to be very difficult, and expensive. So I was talking to Arno one day .... and Arno says to me 'Well you know, if it was Jabe, he'd find some guy to haul it up there in the middle of the night.' So I thought about that and I said, 'Well, I've got plenty of people who will do that.' So that's what we did."
Steve Hayes

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More Pictures

table test

Burned Stove Building WallW
Wall Upr
Steve Pointing
Rafters Closeup
Rafters from a Distance
"Looks like we'll
need a new stove."
Building a Wall The Wall Is Up! Steve Directs Rafters Went Up Looking Good!

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Mark's Birthday

Every year features a fun winter hike, followed by food, jokes, and fun from a different country. The Russian year was especially hilarious.
Diane's fabulous Russian feast
Vladimir Putin came to visit,
bringing with him Baryshnekov,
who demonstrated the 5 ballet positions on telemark skis.

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Return to beginnings of the Sub Sig Outing Club

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George Ehrenfried

Born October 1st, 1913; Died January 5th 2019, aged 96.

George Ehrenfried was the most senior caver, outdoorsman, and Geologist that I’ve ever known, and am ever likely to know. When I joined the Boston Grotto in January 1977 at age 24, George Ehrenfried had already been a member longer than I’d been alive! In fact, he was already 7 years older than I am now. This is my meager attempt to celebrate the extraordinary life of a great friend and companion.

The month that George was born in Boston, Pancho Villa was still fighting the Mexican Revolution, the Lincoln Highway (the first automobile road across the US) was dedicated, the modern US Federal income tax was established, and construction was completed on the Panama Canal. I say these things because George had an amazing memory for history. One of his endearing traits was to tell wonderful stories of occurrences at various locations (by car and on foot) which we passed on our trips. I would then often ask, "George, when did that happen?" Often, he would reluctantly admit: "in the ‘50s, ‘40s, or even earlier" – generations before!

George's parents were from Maine. His father, Albert, was a second generation American whose parents had emigrated from Germany. The George Ehrenfried Dry Goods Company - which was founded in the early 1870’s - became the second largest retail store in Lewiston; this establishment generated sufficient income to send the children and grandchildren to the finest schools in the country and to purchase property in downtown Boston. Albert attended both Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, and became a prominent surgeon attached to several Boston-area hospitals in addition to the Harvard Medical School Faculty. Albert married George’s mother, Grace Waterman (a Vassar girl from Bangor, Maine) in 1912. The family first lived in Boston and then in Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA.

George was the oldest; he came along on October 1, 1913. I know that first hand, because on October 1, 2008 - at the regular Boston Grotto meeting - George proudly produced his just-renewed MA driver’s license showing his age of 95. George’s sister Fredricka ('Fritzie') came next in 1916, then Constance ('Connie') in 1919. Sadly, both pre-deceased George by several years.

Father insured that young George had the best education, attending first the prestigious Buckingham & Nichols School (now BB&N) and graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1931. Harvard College naturally came next, where George’s spirit of joining organizations is first documented – he immediately joined their famous Glee Club and participated all four years until he graduated from the College in 1935 with an AB in Chemistry.

His boyhood interest in geology was further fueled by a minerology class he took while at Harvard, given by noted Professor Charles Palache - an interest he would avidly pursue for the rest of his life. One of his summer jobs between college terms was prospecting for economically important minerals north of Moosehead Lake in Maine. Talk about a great job for an outdoorsman! There, also, he helped to found and build a local amateur theatrical group, and often recounted his most favorite role: 'Johnny the Half-Wit;' he would recite all of his lines given the slimmest possible opportunity.

Those were in the days when the cut trees were brought to big sawmills using springtime 'log drives' down the large rivers – the Androscoggin, Penobscot & Kennebec. George loved to tell the story of his 'Big Flood': to control the intensity of the spring runoff and maximize the time available to drive the logs, the timber companies built dams on all the tributary streams in the Maine woods. The collected water from the winter snows was released from the small dams in a careful sequence, to properly maintain the flow in the big rivers.

While George was working alone out of the old construction headquarters of a new dam one spring, he got a phone call from the management instructing him to open the dam's sluice gates for the very first time. As he turned the big control wheel all the water behind the dam was released at once – creating a huge flood downstream. He watched in amazement as bridges and logging cabins were washed away in a great roar.

His chemistry degree earned George a job offer from Eastman Kodak in 1936, at their new Research Labs in Rochester, NY where he worked until WWII; he earned four U.S. patents for photographic chemistry while at Kodak. He was there, also, at the inception of mass-market color photography, helping to develop the science for those early color prints (from Kodachrome slides - which Kodak had introduced the previous year).

While in Rochester George joined the Genesee Valley Hiking Club, whose outings he enjoyed long after he moved away. He participated in GVHC’s annual field trips well into the 1990s, enjoying the company of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations of families of his friends from the Kodak days. With them, he hiked most of the wilderness areas of America and Canada.

He also joined yet another local amateur theatrical company, which allowed him to indulge his incurable penchant for being a 'ham.' He loved the spotlight, and slapstick comedy.

At the start of WWII, George moved to Cambridge, MA to work in the 'Receiver Group' at M.I.T.’s famous Radiation Laboratory ('Rad Lab') which helped to developed radar – one of the two secret weapons (along with the atom bomb) that helped to win WWII. George told me about the semi-automatic aiming systems for anti-aircraft guns that he worked on.

The old Submarine Signal Company had an active hiking club which George joined shortly after moving back to Boston, the 'Sub-Sig' Outing Club. The SSOC stayed together even after Sub-Sig itself was absorbed by Raytheon after the war, and still exists. George was active with SSOC until well into his ‘90s, outliving his original friends there as well. George was proud to tell me that the Appalachian Trail Conference accepted SSOC’s bid to become the official maintainer of a section of the Trail.

He also joined the Photographic Society of America (PSA) at this time, and remained a member until his death. He joined the Boston Mineral Club in 1947, as well, to further his amateur geological interests.

When the 'Rad Lab' was phased out in 1946, George again moved to the forefront of a new photographic technology when Edwin Land recruited him to join the fledgling Polaroid Corporation; Land was then working on the revolutionary concept of an “instant” print film product for the mass-market.

Polaroid Instant Film (first only in black and white) was introduced in 1948. Throughout the rest of his career, George worked on a wide variety of the company’s innovative photographic, optical and related products - including 3-D prints and film. He earned another U.S. Patent at Polaroid for a distance-measuring device; he was one of the founders of the New England branch of the Optical Society of America. For his work in imaging science, in 1986, George received the Outstanding Service Award from the Society for Imaging Science and Technology.

All through his career in Boston, George continued to join and contribute to outdoor,conservation, natural habitat defenders and scientific organizations in eastern Massachusetts and the surrounding areas. I’m sure I’m only aware of a minor subset of them; the ones he mentioned frequently were the Boston Mineral Club, the Cambridge Conservation Commission, the Boston Camera Club, the Photographic Historical Society of New England, the Brookline Bird Club, the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery (which he helped to found), the Boston Browning Society, the Brighton-Allston Historical Society, the Scandinavian Book Club, the Alewife Reservation in Cambridge, the Association of Engineering Geologists and the Explorer's Club.

He taught photography courses for Adult Education programs in both Boston and Cambridge. On one of our Grotto trips, I boasted that I belonged to three river conservation organizations near my home in Nashua, NH; in upstream order: the Merrimack River Watershed Council, the Nashua River Watershed Association, and the Nissitissit River Land Trust.

George just smiled and then topped me: he not only belonged to THOSE organizations, but also to the Beaver Brook Association in Hollis, NH – a tributary to the Nissitissit River! He led cross-country ski trips on the Beaver Brook land into his 70s!

George’s interest in Geology and Mineralogy continued to broaden and deepen. He lived so long and attended so many local geology functions that he became an expert on New England geology in general - and the geology of the Boston area in particular. For over 20 years, he taught a 'Geology of New England' course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.

This course included local field trips, and Boston Grotto members frequently joined in. We especially enjoyed his trips to Nahant, where we viewed volcanic dikes and intrusions, pudding stone, epidote, and Swallows Cave. In 1991, he gave a short lecture on the geology of Cambridge, which has since been posted on the web by the Cambridge Civic Journal as their main resource for Cambridge geology.

If you want a glimpse of what it was like to converse with George, have a look at: http://www.rwinters.com/history/ehrenfried.htm. To the best of my knowledge, George’s last paid employment was in the Geology field: he worked for a Geology consulting company in 1992, and he gave a lecture on New England Geology to the Boston Mineral Club as recently as 2005.

George was first exposed to the fledgling National Speleological Society in 1951, after being recruited at a trade show booth at an Outdoor merchandising show manned by the just-formed MET Grotto (New York City); shortly thereafter, George helped found the Boston Grotto - originally as a splinter group from the M.I.T. Outing Club. I fondly recall him telling stories of the early days of the Grotto – the people and the politics. Many people who became prominent in NSS politics in subsequent years had passed through Boston and the Grotto, and have caved with George.

He participated in early trips using primitive techniques for vertical caving – hemp ropes, hoists, double rope techniques, body rappels, etc.; often his stories of the reliability problems with that old equipment made us cringe. He told us that, to test hemp ropes for rot, the standard practice was for two people to hold the ends and rush apart as fast as possible. If the rope didn’t break, it was OK to rappel on!

Sometime in the ‘50s or ‘60s, George fell in love with the country of Iceland. He made more than a dozen visits there, each of several weeks' duration – corresponding with friends to find the most interesting sites to visit. I accompanied him on one of those visits in July 1983. It was one of the most memorable adventure trips in my life. Of course, he was an expert on the geology and showed our little party all things volcanic, all up and down the Island. We did car camping and stayed in hostels, visiting caves, spectacular waterfalls, lava features, ocean views, glacier views, and all sorts of exotic landscapes, such as Dimmuborgir.

We visited the home of one of his friends when we were in Reykjavik – I was flabbergasted by the size of his rock collection – it rivaled the one at the Harvard Natural History Museum. George was particularly delighted when we discovered a tiny little advertisement on a gas station window for a hostel far up on the Westfjords, north of Holmavik. So we spent all that long afternoon driving on a perilous gravel road that hadn’t quite been finished, back and forth around fjords with a giant mountain on one side and a steep cliff into the Arctic Ocean on the other. In spite of the gorgeous scenery, I was never so glad to arrive at a destination in my life!

In his time with the Boston Grotto, George visited many of the caves then known in NY and New England. He was often aware of the early history of now-famous caves when they were much lesser-known. For instance, he visited Ward and Gregory caves before they were connected in the ‘60s. He visited McFail’s Cave before the old McFail’s entrance collapsed. He visited Knox Cave when the old Ice Rink was still in operation. He was one of the original explorers of Mystery Cave in NY, down near the NJ border; he was on the discovery trip for a major new section of the cave.

When John Evans first organized a cave-rescue call-out list for the Northeast in 1980, George gamely signed up – at age 67! Over time, George managed to rescue a fair number of injured, lost or simply foolish cavers, climbers and hikers. He once single-handedly rescued an inexperienced hiker who had fallen down the side of a cliff and broken a leg. George got him back up the cliff to safety using his ancient, old equipment: he was very, very good.

By the time I knew him, he was already shying away from the tougher caving trips, preferring trips to small caves with significant hiking involved. His hiking stamina was extraordinary – it wasn’t unusual for him to out-climb people 50 years his junior. But he was always patient with us stragglers. He often led combination hiking-caving trips to the mountains of Western MA, northern NH, and northern Maine; these were often joint trips with the Grotto and friends from other hiking clubs in the area.

His favorite mountain was Tumbledown in western Maine, where he liked to hike the old Tumbledown Chimney Trail. The upper section of this trail is actually a 150-foot grade-5 climb up a steep notch, underneath an enormous boulder. So it was, technically, a caving trip. I joined this trip with him twice; the second time he was well into his ‘80s!

One of the interesting phenomena associated with George was the fact that he had been on so many outings in New England that practically every place had some significance for him. It wasn’t unusual, on a long trip, for him to be in mid-story about one place, when he passed another place and started a new story before finishing the old one. Sometimes he would get 3 or 4 stories deep before he could finish them off!

Another phenomenon was his equipment. He was always looking for good equipment deals and solutions to hiking and camping problems. When he found one, he would hang onto it, use it and repair it, sometimes for decades. On a trip - whenever we would show off our spiffy new gear and gizmos – George would happily show off his old gear which was now 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years old; he'd exclaim how wonderfully everything worked and what a great deal it had been originally. Little good that did us: we would grumble because his gear and gizmos had been off the market for so long that you couldn’t even find it in a flea market.

In 1957in the Boston Grotto, George met Joanne Roberts, the love of his life. Although he courted her for several years in the ‘50s and ‘60s, she married a Dutchman and moved to the Netherlands. The two remained friends, however, and saw each other frequently on her family visits back to the states; I met her twice at Grotto meetings - and she gave me a tour of Amsterdam when I visited there on business in 1995. Shortly thereafter, following a divorce from her husband, her relationship with George was rekindled; she was in the process of moving to back to the US to live with George when she was tragically killed in a hit-and-run car accident in Holland.

George was devastated, of course, and he reminisced about his times with Joanne frequently. He retired from Polaroid in 1985 to his house in Cambridge, near Fresh Pond and the Mount Auburn Cemetery, where he lived alone. He hosted several grotto functions there, and we loved to talk about all his old photographic and other memorabilia. He had a full darkroom, and printed his own photo greeting cards every year for over 50 years.

He always chose one of his favorite scenes from a wilderness trip during the previous year as the subject, accompanied by his personal holiday message; he sent hundreds of these greetings each year. Unfortunately, he had major structural problems with the house – two of the basement walls cracked badly and it cost him a small fortune to jack the house up and repair the foundation properly.

For all of his scientific and historical knowledge, George was woefully ignorant of much of popular culture. For most of his life he never watched TV because he refused to own one, rarely went to the movies or out to lunch or dinner because he hated going places alone and listened NPR for most of the day. He had a rotary telephone until 2003.

George knew lots of songs but many were so old that most of us cavers had never heard them. He read the newspapers, so he was aware of local and national news, but the obsessions of nerds and geeks of the high-tech era – Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, Frodo Lives, and the latest sitcoms, were entirely foreign to him.

Until he met Linda.

In 2003, when his physical health had begun its gradual decline and he began having trouble getting around, he helped a friend who had recently badly injured her back; they hit it off and rubbed along well together. She decided to stay on with George and brought him - sometimes kicking and screaming - into the 20th and 21st centuries.

She gave George a digital TV set, DVD Player, touch-tone telephone, answering machine, new computer, all-in-one printer, toaster oven, microwave oven, automatic can opener (which he never mastered), a small army of fiber-optic toys including a 'Christmas Tree/Hanukkah Bush' (George's favorite), a big lady frog dressed in a pink vinyl raincoat singing, 'It's Rainin' Men,' and numerous other things necessary to life today - or just plain fun. Linda took him to the Theatre to see the legendary 'Cole Porter Cabaret,' taught George about Fats Waller, Artie Shaw, 'Doo-Wops,' Etta James, the Ramones and Christina Aguilera; he loved good singers and musicians. She made sure he never missed the latest IMAX 3-D popular movies (i.e., every 'Harry Potter,' 'Happy Feet,' 'Up') and took him every few months; George liked the hamburgers almost more than the movies. They made a weekly circuit of Mount Auburn Cemetery to see how the 'flora and fauna' were coming along, and to hear George's beloved birds in every season.

His friends were glad to see that this arrangement had worked out so well. Meanwhile, George was stunned at the speed with which he'd acquired email communication and web access to the outside world - as well as what could be done with 'these contraptions.' He was, of course, especially intrigued by the imaging and photographic software Linda installed in his new computer and would experiment for hours on end: all of this 'new' (to George) technology, at the age of 94. He ate it up, but did continue to collect hand-me-down electronic equipment for which he often needed help; almost none of it was useable, but it gave him pleasure to try to make it work anyway.

George remained mentally sharp almost to the end, enjoying a Christmas Day 2009 visit with his cousin Albert’s family in Boxborough, MA. He died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday January 5th, 2010 at around 8 PM, aged 96; he is survived by three first cousins: Albert D. Ehrenfried of Acton, MA, David W. Ehrenfried of Lewiston, ME, Eleanor Harris Solomon of Chevy Chase, MD (and their respective families), as well as his dear friend and long-time companion Linda.

All of his old friends from the Grotto and his other clubs and societies will greatly miss him as well, of course. He outlived many of his friends from the early days of the GVHC and SSOC, but he has touched thousands of lives throughout the years, in clubs, trips, and his famous slide lectures. Not to mention the millions of photos he contributed to indirectly, with his work for Kodak and Polaroid. We’ll miss him, big time.

- Kevin Harris, NSS 16868, 11-Jan-2010

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