Ii just couldn’t do it! I just couldn’t express what I was feeling in words. I knew everyone of those people who were condemned to die. I didn’t know their faces, or their names, but I knew them all.

They were husbands and wives of families working to make the people they were responsible for, safe and comfortable. They were the children of families whose hard work and perseverance made them and their families proud. They were the grandparents who were almost ready to live out their lives, doing something they had dreamed they could do.

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Tthe newspapers are filled with things to do, for the people who vacation on the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine. From concerts to sand sculpturing, from beauty contests to fireworks, people are informed that there is an incredible amount to do during this time of year.

In fact, one feels compelled to be perpetually busy on his, or her, coastal vacation. What is never advertised is the ability to do nothing! Webster defines ‘nothing’ as being, “no thing, no part, one of no interest, value, or importance.”

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Oover the past few months I have attempted to stay alive by walking. I don my baseball cap and head out into the town I call home.

For the past few weeks many of the tourists must think I am a bit of a curiosity because they stop me on the road to ask me how to get to some place by the sea. Perkins Cove seems to have become a favorite. In fact, every year more and more people seem to be visiting what used to be a very quiet and artistic community. It is still very artistic with its quaint shops and wonderful restaurants but many forget its origins.

It hasn’t always been called Perkins Cove. In the past it was simply called the Cove or the Fish Cove by the old dory fishermen who moored their small boats there. In the late 1800’s, Mrs. Daniel Perkins and her fisherman husband, whose house overlooked the Cove, started to take in borders. They called their house, “The Cove House”.

This enterprise was so successful that their neighbor, Moses Lyman Staples, decided to open his own house to boarders too. He also called his house the “Cove House”. This made Mrs. Perkins a bit angry to the point that she changed the name of her boarding house to the “Perkins’ Cove House”. The rest is history for the future dubbed this remarkably beautiful part of Maine, Perkin’s Cove.

The history of the Cove started well before the late 1800’s. Josiah Littlefield came down to Ogunquit from Wells in 1643. He built a sawmill by the falls of the little river whose origin is on Mr. Agamenticus. The little river was eventually named in the memory of Josiah. Back then the land over on the ocean side was nothing more than a pile of rubble and rocks with no apparent value to anyone. In fact, there was no harbor at all.

On June 6, 1857, at the first meeting of the Fish Cove Harbor Company, a canal was planned to connect the waters of Flat Pond with the waters of the Fish Cove and give the fishermen of the area easy access to a protected beach. It seemed only natural that the artists and the fisherman formed a community at the Cove. It was the fishermen who created the scene with brightly colored dories in the Fish Cove between the nets and sails and lattice-worked fish flakes that covered the weathered fish houses.

In 1889, Charles Woodbury, a Massachusetts art teacher proclaimed the Cove an artist’s paradise. By 1893, he purchased land on the west side of the Cove and founded the Ogunquit Art Association. From that time on Perkins Cove became one of America’s most important art colonies. Mr. Hamilton Easter Field, a painter, patron, teacher, and critic was credited with bringing in two main new movements of modern art to the Cove, expressionism and abstraction.

Field built the Ogunquit School of Painting and Sculpture in which almost every important painter of the day visited or worked at the Cove and helped to establish its reputation as an early center of progressive American art. Hamilton Field loved the Cove and the fishermen quickly befriended him. He brought town water to the Cove and had a pole installed in the fishing village for a light that he burned all night.

He also built what is still known as the Ice House and filled it with huge blocks of ice for the fishermen. Mr. Field also had his problems. The art school had nude models posing which created a great new sport for the local boys, peeking. After awhile Hamilton had to use guards to keep the kids away. Hamilton Field died from pneumonia in 1922. He was childless but named his ‘adopted’ son Robert Laurent as his sole heir.

Robert and four artists who lived and worked in the Cove established the Hamilton Easter Field Foundation. This foundation was run by artists, in honor of an artist, to aid fellow artists by buying their work. The paintings in the collection can be viewed at the Barn Gallery on Shore Road. The people of the Cove became as colorful as the Cove itself. Charlie Adams, or Captain Tunker as he was known was one.

Everyone knew of him as the fat fisherman. They say he was as broad as he was high but could manipulate his enormous weight in and out of the dories with tremendous agility. Charlie also modeled at the art school. In fact, there is a painting of him and Bish Young by Gaston Longchamps in the Hamilton Easter Field collection at the Barn Gallery. It is said that one day Charlie was posing for a group of ladies in the life drawing class.

It was remarkably hot but the enormous Charlie was managing to retain his motionless pose. Finally a very proper and thoughtful lady asked, “Charlie, aren’t you terribly uncomfortable? What must you be doing to help the time go by?” Charlie answered in his usual matter-of-fact way. “Well, I’m just settin’ here countin’ the beads a’ sweat drippin’ down through the crack a’ my ass.”

Because of the combination of fishermen and artists who lived on the Cove, it was one of the hardest drinking places on the Maine coast. Even in Prohibition times the old fishermen could find something that they could get a kick out of. They used either canned heat or paregoric or hard cider or automobile alcohol, which was supposed to make them blind. Most simply got blind drunk.

The interesting part of this story is that most of them lived into their nineties and most didn’t get sick before they died. They just dropped dead, more than not while working in their boats. A favorite story of the Cove had to do with Prohibition. There was a search and seizure mission on a night during Prohibition because the boat, Dixie III was thrown onto the rocks at Phillips Cove.

The Cove fishermen made up the search party. Word traveled fast that three gallon tins floating in the moonlight did not contain water. In minutes every dory, punt, rowboat, plank, and anything that would stay afloat, was headed toward the scene. The revenuers also heard the same rumor and started their own search.

The fishermen found spots in the woods between Phillips Cove and Perkins Cove to stash what turned out to be hundreds of tins of fine Belgian alcohol, 180 proof. When the search party returned to the Cove they told the officials they just couldn’t find nothin’. It was a wonderful summer that year and lots of fishermen made lots of money watering the alcohol down to 90% proof and bootlegging it to the summer people for $90.00 a can.

The more I read about the Cove the more I respected it for its rich history and stories. I know this for a fact because anyone who stops me by the side of the road to ask where Perkins Cove is I always answer them with a smile on my face.

The End.
A place called Perkins Cove.
By J. G. Fabiano.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine, USA
e-mail him at: james.fabiano60@gmail.com

Copyright reserved. No part(s) of these publications may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system, or translated into any language in any form by any means without the written permission of the author.

 

Iin today’s industrialized society most of us have to drive to work. Ok, I shouldn’t say most because there are people who no longer have to because they have too much money and there are others who don’t have to because there is no longer work to drive to.

I and millions like me are stuck somewhere in the middle. I noticed something the other morning driving to where I knew I had to go. Over the last twenty or so years as I drove the same route at the same time I usually put my mind in auto drive because I never thought there was much to see or remember. Maybe I drank a bit too much coffee that morning or maybe I got a bit too much sleep but I started to observe people who were doing the same thing I was doing.

This doesn’t sound so special but the people I observed were the same people I drove with over the past couple of decades. I didn’t really drive with them but I drove over the same roads they did at the same time every day. I decided to play a game and try and see who these people were. The first person I noticed or I should say I noticed his truck, was a man I peripherally observed every morning.

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Iit was that time of year again. The sun was getting warmer and what little snow we had was no more than a memory. I pulled both of my cars out of the garage so that I could find and clean my garden tools that had been hibernating for the past eight months.

To my surprise everything that was mechanical worked and those that were left were remarkably unbroken. I picked up my shovel, hoe, and rake, and off to the garden I went. The garden looked as though it was asleep. Nothing was growing, not even a weed. Last fall I covered it with a thick coat of leaves and grass-clippings hoping the long winter months would saturate it with natural fertilizers. For the first time in months I stepped on its moist surface ready to turn its soil in order to begin the process of growth.

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Sso it’s been eight months and I am on the scene again! Eight months of sulking and self-pity and now I am ready to play ‘The Game’ – again! I did something that I last did when I was fourteen: I joined the gym.

Actually the gym gave me a three-month trial (maybe they knew) and I graciously (in other words ‘very offendedly’) accepted. I comforted myself with the thought that it is all part of The Plan: new look; new social life and in general, actually, just a life. I have been sitting at home every Friday night for the past eight months, (including New Year’s Eve, when I fell asleep at 17 minutes past eight).

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Mmy wife and I were having a great evening. I actually got out of work early so we could complete some errands in order to prepare for my daughter’s first wedding anniversary.

The night before we studied the wedding disc we were given by my daughter’s friend / photographer in order to build a small wedding album as a gift. It was also a bit of an award for surviving her first year of marriage. The night was going as planned. We purchased the album and had it engraved.

We then went to our local Wal-Mart in order to make prints from the disc we created the night before. Trying to make a decision of which machine to use I was fortunate to be standing next to a person who had a clue as to what to do. He told me I could either use the yellow Kodak machine that would spit out the photos as I chose them or I could have the whole disc copied by using a green machine with a foreign name and pick up the pictures within the hour.

Standing behind the counter was an individual who worked the machine that would print my images. I asked him a few questions in order to not print 118 white images and he assured me all was well. A bit giddy, my wife and I decided to grab some dinner at a new steak restaurant that just opened down the road. The night was going beautifully.

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Iihave always been proud of my students. As a teacher for over a quarter I have watched thousands of talented young men and women work hard to become major contributors of their generation. I guess this is why teachers become teachers.

I also agree there should be specific competencies our students should master before they are promoted to the next stage of their education. But, I do not believe in the governmental policies of today concerning public education. Many believe I am a dinosaur and should retire into the tar pit because of my refusal to sign in on the too many policies of ‘No Child Left Behind.” Maybe they are correct but before I go I have to defend the very reasons why I decided to become a teacher in the first place.

I have never been a fan of standardized tests but realize this is an important part of our public education system in order to make sure all our children have similar competencies when they graduate high school. However, like most bureaucracies, ‘The No Child Left Behind” education reform is getting out of hand and by doing this is losing any of the effectiveness it promised.

For the next few months many of our children will be suffering through these standardized tests calibrating data in order to see if they received a good education. As a teacher I am perpetually checking to see if my students understand what I am trying to teach them. In doing this I clearly understand they are not all the same.

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Aactually, I should say shower. My daughter is having her second child in about a week and my wife and I will be blessed with our first grandson.

We already have the most adorable 4-year old granddaughter on the entire planet but a perfect pair would make our lives almost perfect. I say almost because we first have to survive a baby shower, or as my daughter corrects me, sprinkle that is going to take place very soon. This sounds like an easy task but for the past week, hell I would say the last month, my wife has been planning to create remarkable memories on this day from the food to decorating the house to look like Pixie Hallow.

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Tthere are two major purchases we make in life that change what we are or try to represent. The most expensive of these purchases has to do with our home, some of us do this many times while others, like me, do it once or twice.

The second purchase that defines who we are is the purchase of an automobile. A few weeks ago I bought my third Toyota Tacoma. I really didn’t buy it because I leased it. This is a good thing for me because I don’t put on a lot of miles and after the lease time I never have to pay for going over the mileage limit. Plus it allows me to have a new truck every four years and not have to worry about replacement tires or repairs. While I was waiting for the paperwork to be completed I started to think about all the cars I had in my life.

I also related the cars to what I was during that specific time of my existence. The first car I remember owning was a pale yellow 1961, Ford Fairlane. I actually didn’t own it but took it over from my mother during the latter part of my high school career. It was a great car. It had wide fins and chrome that made it look like a space ship. When I started driving it the car was pristine. After a year it degraded into a beat up old manure box of rusting steel.

I guess this is what happens when one is given a car instead of having to pay for it. The inside of the car looked worse than the outside. I remember a time my father had to borrow it to go to the store. I forgot to tell him a 2×4 was holding the seat in place. My father pulled it out and was immediately lying down looking at the ceiling of the car. This would not have been a problem if he wasn’t driving down the road. I am happy to say no one was hurt but for the rest of my life he reminds me of this particular time of my life.

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