Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Maine Guide Murdered in 1969

This post is a reply to a comment left on another blog of mine. It is too long for a comment reply. That blog is actually a poorman's website I created using free blogger service, and I don't want to add any more posts to it.

The comment:

shaun said...

    I came across your blog in search information on my uncle who (Leon Roy)was also a hunting guide and was killed in a supposed hunting accident in 1969 as a guide. Any information you may have or have heard may help.

    Thanks. Semper Fidelis.
    November 13, 2013 at 5:09 PM

The page this is on is here:

Here is my reply:

In 1969, in and around the Patten, Maine area, there was one Maine Guide killed. He was buried the day I entered the US Army - November 17, 1969; and though we were but friendly acquaintances, who buddied around a few times, the facts I know of his death hurt me back then, and still do some today.

If you let me know that your Uncle Leon was from Patten and was buried on that day, I will rewrite this with his name used. I'm 999.99% certain it was your uncle, but I can't remember the guy's name anymore.

The evening of Nov. 16, 1969, I clearly recall riding around in Patten and going past a home full of folks mourning the young man's death. I recall the house being on the right side of the Island Falls Road going east. It was a big, old, well kept home with large front windows. The house was lit all up inside, and you could see it was full of family and friends sitting all around the front room.

I had driven past with a pretty Patten girl on the passenger side of the pickup truck. The girl pointed to the house, and spoke of her sad feelings about the tragedy. Neither her nor I were close enough to the mourned young guide - though he and we were all 19 or 20 years old - to feel comfortable walking into the home full of mourners. The truck was moving at about half the in-town speed limit, and we could tell that there were young kids and older folks in there sharing love, condolence and warm conversation for each other.

The young guide and I had enjoyed a few fun times together. He was always happy and full of fun. We mostly talked and joked around in Earl Guiggy's Esso Station (Patten General Store). That was a great place to hang out and socialize. I do know he and I had drank some beers together somewhere else around town, maybe two times or three. Mostly, I've always remembered him this one time walking down the side of Main St. Patten near the post office, smiling, waving and calling to me. I stopped and spent some time there with him, on a real neat Saturday night in town. I'll never forget how his entire face always glowed a great smile.

I also ain't ever forgot the details I heard about the "hunting accident" that took his life, or the half-ass court hearing that let the shooter - an Italian hoodlum type New York greaser - go back to N.Y. City a free man. The Patten teenage boy was guiding three New York Italians - three close friends who may have been a brother or cousin of one of the other. One thing is certain - if any of the three committed a crime that any of the other ones knew about, they'd conspire to help the criminal get away with it. 

In movies and TV shows about life in New York City back in the 1950s-60s, there are usually characters involved who: wear pointy toed, Cuban Heeled (loud on sidewalks), black shoe polished, street hood style shoes; tight, sheeny-shiny slacks; gaudy looking shirts topped by a skinny tie; and their hair is oiled/greased slicked back and up badass style. Petty thefts, major felonies, switchblade knives, cheap pistols, beehive hairdoed dumb bitches they screw and screw over are what they're into. Those male characters are usually sad disappointments to their hard working, church going, good hearted family members. Those slick haired, criminal characters usually get their just punishments by the end of the movie or TV drama.

My Uncle Finley, who owned Katahdin Lodge where I lived and worked, was amazed that the New York City Slickers' lawyer allowed them to go to court in small town life Maine dressed in full, big city hoodlum style regalia. Finley figured the lawyer would have advised them three to show up in front of the judge wearing conservative, unflashy, mens suites. I was in the army at the time, but I think Finley went to watch the court proceedings. Or he just heard about the details from Maine friends of his who had attended the trial.

You gotta take into consideration that Finley and I grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore City, and there is a Little Italy neighborhood in Baltimore. It's basically one of the safest areas in town. Lots of great restaurants. No one gets robbed going to and from Italian businesses there. But you could get robbed and beaten by blacks just a few blocks away. But, in 1968, when Martin Luther King was assassinated and Baltimore Blacks rioted and burned buildings all over town, in Little Italy the residents sat on the front steps of their row homes and businesses with loaded firearms across their laps. No rioters went in there. All us white guys who weren't from Little Italy knew, though, that we were welcomed there to buy meals if we behaved ourselves; but if some guy went in there talking trash, getting drunk and rowdy, or maybe just peacefully trying to meet Italian gals, them Italian guys were infamous for using their Cuban Heeled shoes to stomp some other guy's face and head into the gutter.

Once, when I was about ten-yrs-old (1960), Finley, his brother Nelson, my father and I were in dad's car driving past Little Italy when Uncle Fin told us about some teenage kid he knew who one time was just walking through that area going somewhere else and some street tough teens there jumped that unlucky kid just because he was not from the neighborhood, put his mouth onto a cement curb, kicked him in the back of his head and knocked most of his teeth out. Plus, Finley had served in the army during the Korean War of the early 1950s, had traveled around the world some, had served with Italian toughs from big cities, he never had a direct problem with any, but he sure didn't like them. That's the same kind of experiences with me; so when I was up in Patten, at Katahdin Lodge home on leave from the army, and my Uncle Finley told me about neither of those three Italian New Yorkers receiving justice in long jail sentences for one of them shooting one of Patten's hunting guides, and Finley gave me a brief description of how those three murderers were dressed, I fully knew what they looked like and how slimy they were.

In Nov. 1969, for one week before I reported to US Army Basic Training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, I was visiting my Uncle Fin, Aunt Martha, and me finest-kind-of Mainer friends in the Great North Woods. That was after spending a few weeks here in the Baltimore suburbs, where most of my family and friends lived. I had guided bear hunters in Maine that previous summer and fall season, but I wasn't qualified to guide deer hunters, and during Novembers Katahdin Lodge was full of deer hunters. So I got to go out in the woods everyday hunting four legged deer, and every night hunting two legged dear. Get my drift? I pursued venison from daybreak till sunset, and pursued sweet country girls' affections, along with good times hanging out with my Mainer buddies, for a few hours every evening.

Several days before the young Patten Deer Hunting Guide was killed, I had deer hunted the very place his tragedy happened. It was up on this low, a little bit steep, mountain side. There were some old, mostly unused logging company roads. I'm an ace at four-wheel driving, but the road that the shooting happened on was so washed out - with big rocks sticking up everywhere - that I left my pickup truck down further than I planned on. It was all logged out up that section of the woods, so the lumber company what owned those woods had no reason to maintain that road anymore. The road had two ruts where many logging truck tires had traveled. When it rained or snow melted, those tire track ruts became gushing rivulets and the flowing water carved those previously passable ruts deeper and deeper. It were rugged walking, you stumbled a lot, then made your way off onto the side and into the woods deer hunting. Rocks that rolled underfoot, boulders too big to lift by hand, muddy dirt down in the ruts, loose topsoil in the middle of the road, all made any kind of travel there no fun at all. I love going way up into the wild woods, even when it becomes that aggravating.

The story of the "hunting accident" tragedy given by those three New York City Slickers began with: them and the young guide were drinking beers. This is true.

For some men, deer hunting trips are traditional times of heavy alcohol consumption. Sometimes they don't hardly go out hunting, they stay at a lodge or cabin - way far away from disapproving family and friends - drink booze, eat a lot of food, play cards or dice, often gambling, watch TV, lay about lazily, hang out getting drunk in some bar where no one they know will be, and do bunches of joking and laughing to rude humor amongst their hunting buddies there.

At Katahdin Lodge, as with most professional outfits, there's plenty of joking and laughing, some jokes getting a little rude but not too rude for any women present, there's card playing, dice throwing for Yahtzee and other games, but no gambling, moderate alcohol consumption is allowed, lots of great food gets chowed down on, and there's plenty of relaxing without being outright lazy. No booze drinking at all is allowed in the morning before or all day during hunting times. Absolutely no playing with guns at any time. Clean them, shoot them over at the shooting range, unload them before entering any building or vehicle, show your unloaded guns to others who know how to handle them, enjoy the look, feel and design of firearms, but do not point any gun at anyone at anytime.

Somehow, one of the hunting rifles being used by those three New York City Slickers got pointed at the young Patten Hunting Guide, the trigger got pulled, and the resulting shot put a large caliber bullet right through my Patten town buddy's - your uncle's - head.

The next part of the story of the "hunting accident" tragedy that came from those three New York City Slickers went like this: they and the young guide were shooting at empty beer cans. The kid had walked up the incline of the washed out woods road to place a few more empty beer cans as targets on exposed rocks in the center of the road. The "deer hunters" claimed that one of them was setting down into firing position with his feet in a road rut and placing his butt upon the less washed out center of the road, his foot stumbled on and slipped off of a rock, and as he fell to the ground his rifle "accidentally went off". And the Maine kid fell dead.

I was just a kid myself. He and I were growing into our full manhoods, but his got knocked down dead. Killed by a group of mean-streets minded individuals who were playing with loaded guns - drunken fukin around with firearms - up in the woods where they didn't belong. The kid had maybe done a little beer drinkin' and target shootin' with other Patten Mainers, and they hadn't shot anybody. He figured it was OK. He had lived nearly everyday of his life in Northern Maine, with no serious experience learning about hoodlum types who held not a smidgin of concern for his life. Or the lives of any other country folk. I reasonably surmise that those three stinking slime balls never held any concern for anyone not closely associated with them in their hard core city lives. And they'd be apt to deliver brutal revenge upon any relative, friend, business associate or partner in crime who did not do what any of them three wanted done. That country kid thought he was having a great time being bought beer by his three deer hunters from the city who were lots of fun. They had been joking and laughing all the time, with your uncle not picking up on the fact they were steadily revealing themselves to indeed be slime balls. If that young man had lived a few more years, he probably would have learned to spot such slime ball types - city or country bred - they way most adult Mainers I knew could.

The other professional woodsmen and the women in their lives who I knew up there back then in the Patten area, who I had shared conversations with about our young man being shot by three New York City men, believe this: the Italians from NYC were as full of shit as can be. Their version of this story is pure bullshit.

I had wonderful times up in Maine listening to tale tales told well. No one was supposed to believe it all, just enjoy the telling and companionship of other listeners and the teller. Good, fictionalized stories. One aspect every good exaggerated story told has is a nearly unimpeachable false fact. In a tall tale, it's all for fun and entertainment. "Swattin' flies and swappin' lies".

In a stinking bullshit story, the intention is to get away with having committed some grievous act. The nearly unimpeachable false fact in the NYC Slickers' story is them saying that one of them slipped on a rock in that rough, washed out rut of the dirt road.

Us professional woodsmen and the women in our lives who talked about the shooting possess solid reason to believe that as our young Maine Hunting Guide was setting up those final beer cans as targets, the steadily beer drinking, increasingly intoxicated, worsening hard core city slicker attitude infested shooter - murderer - shot the country kid after either betting the other two city slicks that he would do it or after being bet by the other two city shits that he wouldn't do it. Not necessarily a monetary bet, more likely a macho meat-head, badass Italian, New York low life "you ain't got the guts to" kind of a "I dare you to," or a "I'm gonna show you two just how fuggin badaas I am" kind of "do you dare me to? You think I won't? Watch this, muddafuggas."

Or, possibly, one of them shot without saying anything to the other two. Then they all three made up a story that would get them all out of Maine without doing any penitentiary lockup time. Some city people get way out in the woods and begin to act dangerously and dumb. Ask anyone who works in the Great Outdoors providing services to city folk, and the outdoors folk will tell you that sometimes city folk act crazy and stupid out in the woods.

To be perfectly fair, there is a tiny sliver of a chance that the hunter did accidentally shoot his hunting guide. If he had, it was because of that hunter's negligence in handling the firearm. No one I knew figured it that way, though. I don't. No one I know of ever spoke of those three from NYC being obviously sorry and any kind of apologetic. Their demeanor and dress at the trial showed no indication of honest sorrow, shame, remorse for what happened. The showed little to no respect for those hurt by the death of Leon Roy.

In November of 1969, a really nice kid from Patten, Maine was shot by a man from New York City. The Mainer kid died because he was too nice. I realized this the very moment I heard that he - a buddy of mine - had been killed and how it happened. He was guiding three deer hunters from NYC. Those three individuals didn't have what it takes to be deer hunters in the vast woods of Northern Maine. They got bored at trying to be hunters, influenced the gullible young man guiding them to instead get a little drunk and use empty beer cans for target shooting with high powered deer rifles. He was too nice, not worldly enough, a fellow to understand what kind of people the city men were. A hunting guide can only be nice to his paying hunters to the point where the hunters begin to take control of the day and act dangerously. Then the guide needs to 'step right on them', and set their thinking straight. If they don't straighten up and act right, order them out of the woods and send them back to where they came from. Or leave them out in the woods and go get help from more experienced guides who are plentiful in Northern Maine.

The Patten, Maine man wasn't shot because he allowed three inexperienced hunters to get drunk, handle firearms unsafely and one fell down and accidentally discharged his firearm. He was shot because he had not yet fully learned to spot trouble brewing in the people he was with. As the three New Yorkers became intoxicated, the mean streets of New York City came out in them. Then one of them - most likely along with the other two - decided to kill the one person there none of those three gave a flyin' flip about. It happened because there were no witnesses to testify against a solid bullshit story they knew they could concoct to tell in court to beat a murder rap with.

Young Leon Roy was probably murdered solely for the evil thrill it gave the murderer or murderers.

Shaun, you are correct in saying it was a "supposed hunting accident".

For anyone out there who says this story is full of bull - go shit in your hat. And wear it.