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Wilderness Camps in Maine | An Allagash Love Story

“It was a Thursday, his 75th birthday,” she says. “I was frying molasses doughnuts that morning. Nuge was hauling wood and he came back in for some doughnuts. They were his favorite. We talked awhile, then he went back out. After a bit I realized I couldn’t hear his tractor anymore. We found him sitting right there in the tractor. It was a massive heart attacked. Nuge never had a chance to call for help.

“They didn’t want me to fly out with the body,” she says, her eyes taking on the memory, “but I said, ‘I am flying with Nuge.'”

It was the biggest funeral they ever had in the church in East Millinocket. Patty wore the otter coat to the funeral, and when it was over, she took it off, put it back in her closet, and hasn’t worn it since. People from way downriver and up in Aroostook come to look at the stone Patty got, and as she says, “to call on Nuge.” There’s a tree-lined pond on the front and a lone fisherman and both their names, one on each side, and their nicknames, and in the middle the words, “JUST RIGHT”…

“Everywhere I go people tell me I’m a legend,” she says. “A movie man wanted to come and make a movie of me. It don’t make me feel any different. It’s just my home. You know something,” she says, stepping out onto the ice for the first time that week, “I’d give everything back in a minute for just one night to do over, the night me and Nuge pushed off and floated so slow up this lake, and in the dawn I looked across and saw that little green knoll.”

Mel Allen


Mel Allen


Mel is the fifth editor of Yankee Magazine since its beginning in 1935. His career at Yankee spans more than three decades, during which he has edited and written for every section of the magazine, including home, food, and travel. In his pursuit of stories, he has raced a sled dog team, crawled into the dens of black bears, fished with the legendary Ted Williams, picked potatoes in Aroostook County, and stood beneath a battleship before it was launched. Mel teaches magazine writing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is author of A Coach’s Letter to His Son. His column, “Here in New England,” is a 2012 National City and Regional Magazine Awards Finalist for the category Column.
Updated Friday, June 15th, 2007

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