Bob McWilliams of Frankfort, Ky., offered the following as a comment to Joe Ford’s Unexpected Artifacts post. It generated such interest that I wanted to make it more widely available to Clearing the Fog readers.
Pud Goodlett was a friend, fellow Boy Scout and classmate of my father, George McWilliams. As Sallie has mentioned, my dad camped with Pud and others at The Last Resort.
Pud became part of my family when he married Mary Marrs, who was my Dad’s first cousin on his mother’s side. Mary Marrs and my dad were only children and they were the closest thing they had to a brother or sister. They may have even lived in the same house at one point in time.
Growing up I heard stories about Pud and Dad camping and fishing at Salt River. Of course the fact that Pud and Bobby Cole built their own cabin by the river was for me about the neatest thing ever.
In about 1964, my dad took my friends Bob Crossfield and Bill Stewart and me to The Last Resort for a camping trip. We were twelve years old. As was common, my dad let us explore and then left us for the night to fend for ourselves. The Last Resort was still standing then, though the roof had caved in as had most of the floor. The fireplace, chimney, walls, windows, kitchen, and front porch were intact.
I made several return camping and fishing trips to The Last Resort over the next couple of years, camping under the stars and the trees. It was truly wonderful.
On one of the visits I was sitting on the front porch when I noticed something partially concealed under the leaves and twigs on the ground. I picked it up and it was a piece of Masonite, painted chocolate brown. There was a ghost image of lettering on the board. I cleaned it up and could see that it said Last Resort. I knew then that there had been letters attached to it. I sifted through the leaves and found several pieces of straight wood, each cut from a sapling. Each one was approximately one-quarter inch in width and had been split in half lengthwise and varnished. The end of each piece was beveled. Some were longer than others and we took all the pieces and laid them on the porch floor on top of the Masonite board. To my shock, we were able to place every letter in its proper place, clearly spelling out Last Resort. We celebrated when the last piece of the puzzle was laid down. Alas, I left the sign there on the porch, not being able to project just how special this piece of family lore would have been to Mary Marrs, Ginny, and Sallie.
I have tried to recreate the “twig lettering” in pen and ink to no avail. It seems I cannot recall how the curved letters were formed. I thought it would be a nice addition to Sallie’s book but I simply could not replicate it in decent fashion.
When Pud passed away and Mary Marrs and the girls moved back to Kentucky, Mary Marrs gave me Pud’s L. L. Bean Maine Hunting Shoes, his backpack, snakebite kit, and snakebite boots. The latter had leather so thick and tough that a rattlesnake’s fangs could not penetrate the leather. It seems that I was the only one in the family who loved the outdoors to any degree and had feet small enough to wear the boots. Size 7 I think. Truth be known, I probably wore them for a long time after I had outgrown them. They were special gifts. She didn’t give me his machete, which was probably a good thing.