Taylor Sinclair died last week. He was my oldest friend. We met (through the good luck of having summer homes next to each other) at Kennebunk Beach when we were around 5, and shared 10 or so Augusts together until his family stopped coming up during our high school days. The last August, I believe, was in 1979. Since then, our paths would cross every few years here in Maine, with the one exception being the funeral 10 years ago of his mom Celia in Pittsburgh – where he grew up and lived most of his adult life.
I’ve kept a diary on and off since the spring of 1975. At the memorial gathering at Taylor’s favorite coffee joint in St. Paul this past Friday, where roughly 40 friends met to share stories, music, and some damn fine pastries, I read excerpts from the summer of ’75. I could describe how important those summers were, how they’ve remained with me ever since, but I think the excerpts speak for themselves. [Clarifying comments are added in brackets.]
I will say this: I was lucky to know him.
June 17, 1975
We are going to Maine in 5 days, on Sunday, June 22. I figured out that we will be up there for 71 days. I have a very good friend up there of mine, Taylor Sinclair. Right now he lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
July 28, 1975
Um…uh…oh yeah! Y’know what? (I bet you don’t!) Taylor (unbelievably) wrote to me today! Incredible! Impossible!
August 2, 1975
Today Taylor arrived. So far we traded cars, painted cars, played cowboys, and had 2 Cokes, 2 7-Ups, and a couple of Sugar Daddies that Taylor found in his house. Next week we’ll probably sleep in the tent.
August 5, 1975
Last night Taylor and I slept in my tent outdoors. We had a great time drawing comics. This morning we had breakfast at the Sinclairs’ house. I made 3 fried eggs. I had 2, the other one for Amy (Taylor’s 10 year old sister). Today Taylor and I did the usual stuff (cowboys) and started chucking rocks and stones at part of the rocks.
August 8, 1975
Last Wednesday at the [KBIA] picnic we played soccer. Taylor and I were all time goalies. We had a great time.
August 10, 1975
Today and yesterday Taylor and I went swimming. Yesterday the water was cool, today it was cooler. I went to Watson’s today with Taylor. It was hot, sunny, and now and then a slight cool breeze. Watson’s [a small convenience store with a soda counter on the spot where Bennett’s Market now stands] is all the way down Sea Road. I got a Coke, 3 Musketeers, a Kit Kat, and a package of Oreos.
Oh! I forgot to tell you that on August 5th Taylor and I bought some new cars. He and I both bought the Boss Mustang and the Lotus Super 7. He also bought the Fandango, a Rolomatic.
August 11, 1975
Taylor and I went swimming together today. To tell you the truth, nothing else good happened, except that Taylor and I got a great car set-up at his house.
August 14, 1975
Taylor and I set up the badminton set of his, but it was too windy today. So we’ll probably play tomorrow.
August 17, 1975
Taylor and I destroyed one of his Matchbox cars. We placed a firecracker in the window, lit the fuse, and in less than 5 seconds, KA-BLAST. No more car.
August 18, 1975
Taylor and I went to Watson’s today. I got a Pepsi, a Starburst, 3 Musketeers, and a pack of Fruit Stripe Gum. Most of the day we watched television at his house. I also had lunch there.
August 21, 1975
Today I was “grounded” because I was out too late with Taylor last night. But you know what? I went in the Coles’ (Taylor’s grandparents) motorboat with Taylor, Amy, Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair. He went all the way down the harbor in Kennebunkport.
Today I also made a great huge sand town at the front beach with Taylor. I also got some fudge and candy with Mom at the Port Candy shop.
You know what? I think I should get “grounded” more often!!
August 23, 1975
Today, Taylor and I made a sandcastle at the front beach. It had 5 walls. But after ½ of an hour, there were only 4 walls!
For breakfast, I had 6 pancakes. I was skipping stones for an hour or so, until I decided to go see Taylor. We watched the Pank Pinther show. (Pink Panther)
At around 6:00, Taylor and I rallied at the KBIA courts. We got there at 5:30 but Peter Rundquist and his sister were there. We rallied for about an hour and a 1/2. We were quite good. Except that when I started cracking up about the Pank Pinther. That’s when we stunk.
Right now, Taylor is sitting across from me in the upstairs porch. We are gonna write a song about the Pink Panther (or rather, Pank Pinther).
August 25, 1975
Today Taylor and I did one thing: draw. We drew from 10 o’clock (after tennis lessons at the Strong Cottage, since it rained last night) to 15 minutes ago when Taylor left for home.
August 26, 1975
Today Taylor and I drew all day again. It was damp, misty, and “blah.” We also had a swim practice from 5 to 6.
August 27, 1975
Today the Sinclairs got their tennis backboard up. It’s quite big. We played on it from morning to tennis lessons. (3:00) Well, tomorrow Taylor and I gotta find the tennis balls we lost today.
August 28, 1975
In tennis, Taylor finally beat me, 4-2 (bummer). Then Taylor lost to Jane Spaulding, 4-1, so Jane is the runner-up for the Class Champion.
August 30, 1975
[in Taylor’s handwriting] Today the weather was crummy. Dana and I went through the woods again today to check out the Muck River Bridge, which we built up yesterday.
Oh yeah, we put our sticks in my shed. [These were walking sticks we used while exploring through the woods that, at that time, extended uninterrupted from Great Hill Road to the Bridle Path.]
[back to my handwriting] Last night Taylor and I slept over at his house. We had a blast. We watched the last half of “Search for the Gods.” It was neat. [A 1975 made-for-TV movie starring Kurt Russell described by imdb as such: “Two young people search for a valuable medallion, which they believe will prove that aliens from outer space visited Earth in prehistoric times.”] We had 2 drinks each, and about ½ a bag of cheese twists. We stayed up until around 11 or 12 o’clock.
This morning we had 10 pancakes each at Taylor’s house. That was the biggest amount of pancakes I ever had.
Well, Taylor’s packing up right now, so I think I’ll try to help him.
Oh, by the way, Taylor and I are leaving for Pittsburgh and Longmeadow tomorrow.
August 31, 1975
Taylor just left. It won’t be until 11 months now before we see each other again. I can’t wait.