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A new girl arrives at the Sugarhouse, Belle Saint Marie, “a dusky Cajun princess with snapping black eyes and a body no man could ever forget once he'd seen it.” A lovers’ triangle develops, with tragic consequences for local hayshaker Paul Greenfield. The villagers elect a new mayor who fires Bill Rassmussen and hires a real cop. The new mayor and the new cop close down the Sugarhouse and Ma Rudledge and her girls leave town in a brand new robin’s egg blue Cadillac convertible. The author...
The five boys turn 17 and start going to the Sugarhouse “to get some sugar.” They get jobs working for the Otsego County Highway Department, and hang out at the Glimmerglass and the Oaksville Hotel. Donny catches the Monster of Eel Pond, a giant fish coveted for years by locals.
Three years later. Donny begins playing hockey on frozen Otsego Lake with Turk and three other boys who become his closest friends, Wes Cameron, Frank Finocchio and Willy One-Nut. One night the boys skate down a frozen creek that flows past the Sugarhouse. Attracted by music and whooping laughter they approach the Sugarhouse and peek into Emma’s bedroom window. Feverish with excitement, they get into a bloody brawl and Ma Rutledge comes out and shoos them away with her broom.
The boys arrive at Natty Bumppo’s Cave, are caught in a thunderstorm and spend the night in the cave. In the morning they hike on into town and are greeted with a hero’s welcome. The next day, Turk, Donny and Billy walk downtown for a malted milkshake at Withey’s Drugstore. They pass the Glimmerglass, “Otsego County’s most disreputable bar,” and we meet Rory Goodnight the drunken housepainter, Colonel Bob Deveraux the Village Patriarch, and Lummy Haverhill the Village Idiot.
Cooperstown New York, Vietnam Era. The Sugarhouse. We meet Ma Rutledge, the Maple Sugar Madam, her daughters, Bertha and Emma, Bill Rassmussen the town cop, Teddy Granger the singing taxi driver, and hero-narrator Donald O’Donovan. Ten years earlier. Donny and his best friend Turk Monahan, eight years old, pop tar bubbles in the street in front of the Sugarhouse. Two years later. Turk, Donny and little Billy Stamford start out hiking to Natty Bumppo’s cave. They stop to rest near the ruins...