At long last, many of the Hog River Legends have been recounted by those who were there.
The Legend of Chief Running Dummy as recounted by Dave Occhialini
On the first trip north of Connecticut (Bellows Falls to Vernon Dam), while all the participants were all still working for Aetna, we could not find a place to camp on the first night. Bruce Majeski owned a camp about 45 minutes away from Bellows Falls and suggested everyone go there for the night. Everyone wanted to do that except Angelo Gurciullo and me. We decided to stay on the river bank just below the Bellows Falls Dam, on the New Hampshire side, in small grove of trees. We off loaded all the equipment and set up and everyone else left. Angelo and I settled in for the night, started a small fire and were just relaxing. About 9:00 we could hear live music from the Vermont side - somewhere in downtown Bellows Falls. We decided to try and find it, which led to our first trip to Meatland - another story.
The next morning the rest of the group returned to the camp site. While Bob Prokopowicz and I met the guy we were renting the canoes from the rest of the group broke down the site and got ready for the river. While they were working, Ed Carlson (who was several of our boss at the time) and some of the others (very hung over) were talking about the location being an old Indian camp ground. This led to a lot of Indian stupidness including Ed, for some reason, pulling himself up one of the small trees. While about 8 feet off the ground he started shaking the tree in ape like fashion. The tree, which was dead, broke off between his waist and hands. He fell back, still holding the top of the tree, landed on his back on the ground and hit himself in the head with the tree. The resulting cut was worth three or four stitches and, of course, bled freely. Ed, duly embarrassed, refused to go to the hospital. He asked me to do what I could to stop the bleeding, which I was finally able to do. While this was happening, and a significant amount of laughing was going on, someone suggested that Ed's act was really dumb. This somehow led back into the whole Indian discussion and Ed's new title became Chief Running Dummy. Ed survived the trip, the cut healed and on a later trip, while recalling the incident, the Running Dummy Award was born, in honor of really dumb acts. Angelo and I were among the early winners (I have two) - again another story.
And so began the awarding of the Chief Running Dummy Award to the Hog who proves most amusing in a you-stupid-fuck kinda way.
Who was Mark Williams? as recounted by Larry Morin
Although he didn't actually win the Rookie of the Year Award, Mark Williams represented what a great Rookie should be. By an inexplicable twist of fate he only attended one Hog River Canoe Trip (1987) but his impression on the other Hogs was enough to have the Rookie of the Year Award dedicated to him. He was a guy who was so universally liked that he fit in easily with any crowd that he found himself a part of.
On his single trip down the Connecticut it rained like hell the entire time. But during what could have turned out to be a miserable trip, Mark's positive attitude helped to make it a memorable one. He didn't let the weather quash the good times, and his fun-loving demeanor and hard rookie work ethic are the model for what we look for in a Rookie. And he even managed to snatch the Running Dummy Award from Larry!
Unfortunately Mark, who is described by some as being like a brother, passed away before he was able to continue his illustrious Hog River career. He is missed by those he's left behind, and we honor him in our small sort of way by holding our new Rookies to the standard he set so many years ago.
Oh yeah... Mark was the first Hog to actually enjoy the Spodie and he sought ways to get more than one... even by helping another Hog drink his multi-spodie fine!
Mark Williams... April 25, 1957 - November 17, 1987
Whose Idea Was This, Anyway? The Birth of the Spodie as recounted by Dave Occhialini
The first Spodie was consumed on the same trip as the birth of the Running Dummy. Bruce Majesky was the Hog that introduced us to the formula. He learned about Spodies in Vermont during a ski trip to his cabin. On the trip that went from Bellows Falls to Vernon Dam a group of Hogs spent the first night at Bruce's cabin and it was there that he made the first Hog Spodies. Original Hogs Angelo Gurciullo and I were not present for the very first Spodie. I have only missed three in 30 plus years since.
The formula has remained essentially the same since that trip. In the early years only one Spodie was consumed on the first day - the evolution of the daily Spodie came much later - neither Paul or I can remember exactly why or how. Non alcoholic Spodies were instituted to accommodate Hogs, that for various medical and other reasons, could not drink alcohol. Spodie cups came into existence several years later and we are still using the original set.
The ancient tradition of the Spodie is now endured three times each Trip by every Hog.
Why Orange? as recounted by Dave Occhialini
Back in the days before motors at Wilgus the first day of the trip was from Hartland Rapids all the way to Wilgus - a very long float/paddle. On one of the early trips as we approached the highway bridge just above Wilgus, splashing between the canoes started. This escalated into going toward shore and getting rocks that could be tossed to make even bigger splashes. Paul Ducharme and I were in one of the canoes and Mike Lombard and Mike Sears were in one of the others. Both canoes had loaded up on football sized rocks which we were randomly using to soak the other canoes.
As we floated under the bridge close to the Vermont side, Mike Lombard stood up in his canoe to toss at Paul and I. As he made his toss back toward us he flipped out of the canoe. We all thought that this was hilarious. As our canoe drifted next to Mike's we were all laughing and waiting for Mike to surface - which he was not doing. Mike Sears and I realized at about the same time that Mike Lombard was not coming up and we both dove in to try and find him. You have to remember that back then the water was not clear and you could not see very far below the surface. Mike Sears and I both came up without Mike and went down again, both coming in contact with him at the same time. We grabbed him and pushed to the surface where he was choking very badly. We pulled him to shore next to the bridge where he threw up and was finally able to catch his breath. When we asked him what happened, along with being drunk, he told us he could not swim.
This incident resulted in the life jacket rule, which is mercilessly enforced on every trip, and the meeting with every rookie to be sure we know what their swimming status is. The year following this incident was when we decided to get Hog shirts. We thought that red would be the perfect color to be able to see someone better, below the surface of the water, in an emergency. When we were ordering the shirts, Bob Prokopowicz was asked about the club and explained what had happened. The person we were ordering from pulled out an orange shirt and suggested it as a better alternative - case closed.
One of the original and one of the second batch of shirts still exists - thirty plus years later (in spite of Larry Morin setting me on fire).
The Night of the King's Castration not recounted as of yet
There are a bunch of versions of this tale out there, but Moose Lafayette tells a clean and tight version of it... from memory. Absolutely hilarious. Once we have it completely transcribed, it'll be posted in it's entirety here.