A Memory: Maine Winters

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Dave’s love for Maine extended into every season – I don’t think I ever even heard him complain of “mud season” (most of the wet spring and fall that ends up making that whole area a muddy mess). While summers were filled with fishing, boating and kayaking, winters were reserved for snowmobiling.

Our trips always started with a debate about who would ride which snowmobile. My dad ALWAYS picked the Yamaha, which was the fastest, but didn’t have a reverse. When we were younger, Dave and I usually had to share an Arctic Cat two-seater. So, if I was feeling gracious, I’d let him steer first, clinging to the back. Sometimes, I started us up. As the passenger you were pretty much at the mercy of the driver and it could get pretty turbulent back there. Dave would torture me by going too fast and hitting the snowbanks for a little air, till I maniacally slapped him on the back when I was about to fall off. I would torture Dave by taking the curves on the trails too tight, occasionally landing us in a ditch. Somehow, that was my specialty. Once we got older, a third machine was added. From then on Dave landed in a ditch with me much less often and usually just had to help me dig mine out when I got a little too wild.

Our house is right on Mooselookmeguntic lake. Sometime in November or December it begins to freeze over and a few weeks later it’s safe for passage. Earlier in the season, we would take the snow-machines straight to the trails by trailer, but once the lake was safe, we would jump on the snowmobiles in front of the house, take a little trip through the yard, carefully navigate the rocky lakefront and then we’d be free to race over the perfectly flat frozen lake for miles until we’d reach the town, buy a few snacks and finally get on the trails from there. We would ride for hours, stop somewhere with a nice vista, hang out a little, munching on chips and going back and forth about how good or bad the trails were that day or whether some maniacs were riding on the wrong side of the path. Of course, there was always a mandatory discussion about what top speed everyone reached:

— I hit 87 mph!
— Oh yea?! I hit 91!

Sometimes the numbers got a bit outrageous… as in, I’m pretty sure Dave exaggerated!

After our little break, we’d settle on a place to head to for a real meal, eating calorie-laden delicious comfort food, our dad sipping a cold beer. Then we’d gas up the snowmobiles and head right back on the trails. Sometimes we’d be on the trails long enough that we’d have to ride back in complete darkness, which was always a bit disconcerting, but also utterly beautiful with a clear night sky overhead. Sometimes, we’d be hit by an unexpected snowstorm, limiting our visibility to almost nothing and making us slow down to a few mph until the weather cleared again. No matter what, it was always a good story later!

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A Memory: Maine Summers

Dave LOVED Maine. He always enjoyed our family’s house there a lot more than me. He loved that it was away from the madness of NYC. He loved to fish and snowmobile and kayak. He loved to invite his friends for a vacation and have a good time up there together. In fact, he always declared that he’d retire in that house.

There was a while, before Dave and I moved out, when our family would spend most vacations in the Maine house. It would take me a while to stop being annoyed at the excruciatingly slow dial-up internet and the complete lack of cell phone reception (except for on that one rock!), but Dave always settled into his routine quickly. He’d have our parents drive him to Rusty’s to get lures and worms and then he’d set out planning how he’d catch the biggest salmon or trout, right off of the rocks at the edge of our property. He could spend hours on those rocks, despite the black flies and mosquitoes, protected by his fishing shirt and a hat, no matter the temperature.

When he didn’t fish off of the rocks, he and our dad might spend the day trolling the lake with the boat. Usually, if we went on the boat, we would leave at dawn, stopping to get freshly-made, still-warm donuts. On the occasions when I’d decide to fish too, I’d basically cast and hold the fishing rod, panicking the moment something actually bit. At that point, I’d hand Dave the rod and he’d handle it from there. But, it was the company that brought me out there, really. I didn’t care about the fish. There was something beautiful and soothing about just being out there with those two. If our mom joined, we usually didn’t fish. We’d just take a long ride in the boat, enjoying when our dad would go extra fast, loving when our German shepherd Quindy would take her spot at the head of the boat and bop around, completely fearless.

Occasionally, Dave would convince me to take out the kayaks, with all of his fishing gear, to go try to catch something a little further out from the rocks. It was always quite the adventure: loading the kayaks, pushing them out into the water and climbing in without the whole shebang turning over. We didn’t have a dock, the rocks were uneven and slippery, so this was all a lot harder than might be imagined. We’d then row out, position our kayaks right next to each other, kind of securing them to each other by placing the oars over the kayaks. Then, we’d sit there, fishing, chatting, and letting the lapping waves carry us wherever. I don’t remember us catching much like this, but when something did occasionally bite, the whole set-up was precarious enough that the kayak might tip over!

When the mood struck us, we’d sometimes kayak along the shore for a little excursion to this shallow, marsh-y area. There the lake would be completely still, with the trees and sky reflecting brilliantly in the water. It was probably some of the most undisturbed and beautiful wilderness that was easily accessible to us. We’d see bald eagles or moose or other wildlife. By the time we’d head back home, our arms would be tired and we’d alternate between quiet, steady rowing and frenzied competition to prove our rowing prowess to each other.

By the time we’d get home, our mom and dad would have probably have fired up the grill and made some cajun shrimp or blackened salmon, and maybe we’d all watch a VHS rented from the little store in town.

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A Story: Bringing Fireball To The Big City

Remember how Dave and friends discovered Fireball Whiskey in Rangeley, Maine? Well, here’s the current theory about how Fireball then took over NYC.

“Some time after our trip to Maine (and our first introduction to Fireball), I went shopping somewhere and saw a bottle of Fireball. Since Dave was in love with this stuff, I bought him a bottle. The next time we met up I made sure I brought the bottle. This was right after he was done working out at the Crunch in Union Square and before he was a full time Bar None patron; so we went to Forum down the street. Dave met with the manager and someone else who I can’t remember but a friend none the less. Dave had to share his love of Fireball so much that he proceeded to give out samples of it to the Manager and a couple other bartenders at Forum. A few more samples and drinks later we went to Bar None. Of course Pam was there so she also got to try Fireball. Today, there is a cold Fireball shot dispenser at Bar None and you can find it everywhere in the city, so I feel that Dave was responsible for bringing Fireball to the people of New York…one more service he provided to the eight million people who live here and call this city home.”

~ Tim H., NYPD

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Proof of the Maine Fireball Discovery and Dave’s reaction

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Fireball Shot Dispenser at Bar None. Coincidence? I think not.

A Story: Lobster Collaboration

“This was during our first trip to Maine in Winter 2012. One night at the house I had the idea that I was in Maine and should have lobster. So when we went to the store for our daily Fireball run and we grabbed lobsters for everyone at the house (they were IGA lobsters but I didn’t care). After googling a recipe on how to cook lobsters, Dave, Mo, Greg and I set out to get this done. It took four of us to cook the dang things between watching the water and cutting the rubber bands off the claws and whatever other disasters we were trying to avert. However, even with the four of us working on these lobsters we managed to lose track of one of the rubber bands…we found it later when the burner to the stove caught on fire and proceeded to burn the side of the pot permanently…we still haven’t told Mrs. Hofer.

Finally dinner was ready and no one had a clue about how to eat a whole lobster. Everyone had only had a tail before but never the entire thing. Needless to say it was a mess…also we didn’t have or couldn’t find a nutcracker to get into the shell. We ended up stabbing the lobsters with butter knives in order to crack the shells open with shell bits flying everywhere. Eventually, Dave finished his lobster…or so he thought. Upon realizing that there was extra meat in the lobster his face lit up like a kid on Christmas Morning. The look and sight of him trying to get the tiniest bits of meat from the lobsters legs and claws is something that stays with me to this day.”

~ Tim H., NYPD

A Story: A First Winter Getaway With The Hofers

“Dave and I were a perfectly odd couple. I was short, overweight, and obsessed with football, and he was tall, lanky, and obsessed with building computers. I was outgoing, he was introverted. I started to grow facial hair very early on, while Dave was lucky if he could get 3 hairs on his chin.

Sharing mutual interests proved impossible. I retained 0% of the information he shared about computers and gaming, and playing sports was a reach for David. I remember one year even trying to teach him how to play football. At 6’4 and 190 lbs (still in high school) he would be a great safety, I thought! Little did I know he had the coordination of a newborn giraffe learning how to walk. All I can say is that football was clearly never in Dave’s future. It wasn’t hobbies that brought us together, it was support systems and safety nets. He was a very compassionate and trusting friend that provided me a safe space to grow up in. I was social and friendly, so I was a safe space for him to express his social anxieties. Plus, I was affable enough to get beer when I was underage – and I’m still proud of that (FYI – Dave never partook).

For some reason we clicked, and almost as if we had formed a pact, we battled the hardships of middle school and high school together. I had the privilege of growing up with Dave and experiencing a side of him that not many people had the opportunity to do.

My friendship with David really blossomed one particular winter. I forget the exact year but we were still in middle school, and the Hofers were kind enough to invite me to their house up in Maine for a week!

Dave of course was most excited about playing video games, particularly Halo and Dead or Alive 3 in our pajamas, and having tons of eggs, bacon, and steak in front of a fire. Then we would go out to the frozen lake and watch the sunset! It was always the most simple and highly caloric things in life he loved the most.

This was bound to be a good trip – it was my first time with another family for an extended period of time, and this good Jewish boy was about to spend Chanukah with his adopted German family in a town where “a Jew” sounds more like a sneeze than an acquaintance.

I’ll skip over the part of the story where I was stuck on a bus for 9 hours going to bumblef**k Maine next to some obese woman who brought 4 bags of McDonald’s as her carry on luggage, and I sat there as she slurped the salt and grease off her fingers after every bite… Did I mention it was a 9 hour bus ride?

Dave was so pumped! He got a BB gun, which totally freaked me out because, as David reminded me time and time again: I am a p***y. He was very excited about teaching me how to shoot. I was horrible – after a week I still couldn’t hit a can of coke from 10 feet away. Tellingly, he made a joke about my being a terrible partner if we were to be police officers together.

We cut down and decorated a Christmas tree. We watched the sunset on the lake. We rode snowmobiles – and I nearly killed myself. Helmut says that was the day his hair started to turn grey.

We also did as David had planned, and played tons of video games late into the night. He would kick my ass and call me all kinds of vile names – which I never thought I would miss, by the way, and I need not repeat them as it would ruin this wholesome story. It was all he dreamt our friendship would be. My version would’ve included more sports and some alcohol (this was before Dave discovered Fireball) but it was meaningful and beautiful nonetheless.

I had mentioned to Dave’s mom that I would be spending Chanukah with them. Sonja was kind enough to offer her help and make sure I had “that thing you Jews light on Chanukah” – a menorah. Finding a menorah in Maine proved challenging. At long last, we ended up making one out of clay. Sonja was almost more into this activity than I was. She is an artist after all, and I really only consider myself Jew-ish. It was actually Sonja, the atheist, who would yell out the window: “Jesse! Your prayers!” at sunset to remind me to light the candles each night and let me know which day it was. And each night my adopted German family would listen, and Dave would make fun of, my Hebrew prayers. It was a really beautiful and meaningful experience.

At some point during the trip, Helmut thought it would be awesome if he ran in 5 feet of snow around the outside of the house barefoot. And he did, and he looked super cool doing it. So cool, in fact, that Dave thought it would be a great idea to emulate his father… But only once no one was watching, of course. Now it’s 1am, everyone is fast asleep, I just got my ass kicked for the 1200th time in a video game, and it’s negative 20F outside. This was the moment Dave decided that this was the opportune time for him, his sister Meret, and myself to go for a stroll. And so we ran outside in our pajamas, just as barefoot as his father, and did a lap around the house… Only to find out that the door was locked behind us. It was FREEEEEEZZING! You could probably see Canada with binoculars, that’s how far north this is.

After much commotion and many, many snowballs to their parents’ window and not a peep from either of them, Meret decides to take matters into her own hands. Heroically, she scales the side of the house and knocks on the window. Their parents finally wake up and come down stairs. With a grunt, Sonja and Helmut let us back in the house as they muttered “idiots…”

— quick side note, I showed this story to the Hofers beforehand, and Sonja was very quick to point out that I had conveniently left out the part about my body overheating in the cold and throwing up in their sink when I got back inside. So there’s that. See Sonja, I owned it! 🙂

This isn’t exactly about Dave, but the Hofer family as a whole, and who they have been for me. Dave and his family gave me a safe space to grow up when I didn’t feel like my home with my father was that safe at all.

Thank you, Sonja and Helmut, for seeing that I needed the extra support and taking me on as one of your own. Thank you Meret for being an awesome big sister and allowing me to be a part of the relationship you had with your brother. And thank you Dave, for being a genuine and caring friend. We didn’t always get along, but I always knew you cared. Thank you for teaching me that lesson.”

~ Jesse B., Friend

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Dave and Jesse years later.

A Story: Firsts

“I grew up in a household with my mom, my sister, and my grandmother.  I hadn’t had much male influence in my life.  And, I had so many first experiences with David.  When he took me to his family’s house in Maine, I drove a vehicle for the first time.  It was a snowmobile and I was very excited to ride it.  I smoked a cigar for the first time.  Back in the city, I tried dip for the first time with him (it floored me!).  And in Texas, he took me and our friend Jesse to a gun range, where I fired a gun for the first time.

David always wanted to share the experiences he had in his life with me.  He always called me to join him in whatever he was doing.  When I was in college, he asked me to be an auxiliary with him and when he became a NYPD cop he asked me to join the police with him.  I said “No”, but he asked so many times and told me of all the confidence he had gotten, all the brotherhood, all the experiences good and bad, the feeling of making a difference, and that he could make it so we could work together, that I eventually took the police test.  Honestly, the biggest thing that got me to take the test was the idea that I could work along side him… it sounded pretty fun.”

~ Greg T., Friend

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Greg, Dave and Pam

A Story: Puppy-Love

“Dave was such an enjoyable person to be around. We always had fun joking during class, going out for lunch, watching movies, hanging out just talking, and getting drinks with friends. I remember one time during class I told Dave how I missed my Rottweiler because I could not see her during the week.  After class Dave took me to his apartment on Washington Square to play with his dog Quindy.  Dave was extremely thoughtful like that. I always looked forward to my visits with Dave and Quindy.”

~ Diana V., NYU classmate

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Dave and Quindy on frozen Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Maine

A Story: The Fireball Discovery

“My first trip to Maine was in winter 2012. I arrived a day or two after Mo and Dave. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally reached the house.  When I entered, I was given this unknown magical elixir of which I had never seen nor heard of before. This magical potion was none other than Fireball Whisky. At this time, it still wasn’t very popular and none of us had ever heard of it before and the only place we knew of that sold it was the IGA in Rangeley, Maine. Needless to say we wound up drinking what was left of that bottle and much to our dismay had no more. The next morning and every day after we took the roughly 25 minute drive to the grocery store to clean out their supply of Fireball. It was so bad that we actually had to wait for the delivery to come in one day. The entire supply of Fireball in Rangeley was consumed by the six of us staying at the house that week.”

~ Tim H., NYPD