Yes, you heard that right, Newt or Salamander racing. When you spend 6 to 8 weeks of your summer each year camping at Lake Welch (a State Park), you need to come up with interesting things to do as kids. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have wanted my summers any other way. There was going to the beach each day, square dancing at Bear Mountain once a week, roller skating at Lake Sebago some evenings, campfires, mickies (that’s potatoes stuck into the coals to bake to you in the west). All things to fill the summer. But, there were those days of boredom. The good old “What do we do now” days.
Well, you see, after a good rainfall, all the small red salamanders come out to play. This is when we learned to spring into action. You'd grab your empty milk carton and off you go right away so you could find the best ones. Size didn't matter... it was the speed that was important. After all, they would be running in the drain board races that day or the next.
Now, let me tell you about the races. When you camp at a State Park, the dishwashing sink is public. One large metal sink with very large drain board for every so many tents. After a good rain, the kids would gather with their orange racers. You see, the drain board was a great place to race. Many adult females had been repulsed at the site of what we were doing on that sink where she washed her families food dishes (that will teach you to use paper plates). You would line up the newts at the far end heading toward the sink and it was 1 - 2 - 3 GO! And they were off! The first one to the sink edge was the winner! I must say, I had one of the winners. He had lasted quite a few days now, and he was still going strong. He had lived through a few races, always coming out on top.
Then, tragedy struck. You see, there were a few older teenage girls in the families we camped with. Ones that were just starting the "look at my lipsitck" and "how do you like this nail polish color". The ones that just hated to be camping when they could be making themselves beautiful! Anyway... it was because of one of those beauties that my speedy red devil met his demise. His home (or milk carton) was used as a garbage can for cotton balls filled with nail polish remover. Yes, it was beauty that killed my beast! That was a hard summer.
Newt racing was just never the same after that. Yet, we continued each year to venture to Lake Welch, and each year we found other things to entertain ourselves. Like "borrowing" oars from fisherman that had RENTED a row boat? Large rock down the open latrine? Or your mother suddenly having 2 additional teenage daughters when the police came to talk to her? (she didn't even flinch). Sounds like additional stories to me.