Dana called yesterday and asked if I was dead. I know a hint when I hear one. Time to answer emails.
M: Regarding the harbor photo, I don’t think it is Jamie Wyeth, though the boat is his Dreadnaught. The Mr. Clean posture looks wrong, and I’ve never seen him wearing neon yellow, though Scott recalled that the Tenants Harbor General Store had some neon yellow beauties in it’s t-shirt close-out sale a couple of years ago, so maybe. And other kayak paparazzi have noted his genial wave as they paddled by the open-ocean side of Southern Island, which I trust after last year’s tip-over, you will think twice about before checking . Clearly, the harbor needs kayak-high investigating when the winds are still and most boats are out, though boaters are rarely a worry now that the rum-running days and druggies are long gone and the jet-skis are still few.
Traci: The best way to get a feel for a Tenants Harbor past and your Bickmore ancestor is to visit the area and spend quality time checking whatever they have at the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum, followed by sitting on the Lighthouse lawn overlooking the ocean and thinking about it. You might want to check the Jackson Memorial Library and the [St. George] Town Offices, too, as they both probably have useful information and practically border Bickmore Creek, the only Tenants Harbor Bickmore that I know.
Before you come, you might want to look at Albert Smalley’s History of St. George, Maine (currently out-of-print), Roy Meservey’s Coaster Days (self-published, only available locally) and James Balano’s Log of the Skipper’s Wife (currently out of print). Materials this local are hard to get from away, but you might try interlibbrary loan from your ever useful local public library. For a quick, more accessible look, you might enjoy “The Seafarers,” part of Maine’s Masonic History;but nothing beats a visit. Road Trip?
Jim: What I know about the Hart/Meservey murder in Tenants Harbor (1878) is little, always questionable, and more than thirty years old, but none of that stops me from opining. Three things I recall:
A) A summer-people couple said they had tried to buy one of the few copies of a self-published book which argued that the real murderer was wealthy, from Camden, and maybe a politician. I have never again heard of this book. They were sure the ABCD Bookstore in Camden had a copy, but the then-owner Lilian Berliawski, wife of Nathan Berliawski who was a key part of Rockland’s Main Street and who was the brother of sculptor, Louise Nevelson, all of whom are now dead but always important in a world of connections) saved the copy in the store’s “inner sanctum” for a “better-dressed” buyer.
B) Probably in either an old Down East Magazine or Rockland Courier Gazette (newspaper), I read that the handwriting expert witness changed his testimony which had been important evidence in Captain Hart’s conviction and which would support a wrongfully-convicted rumor. I used the Rockland Public Library and the Maine State Library and Archives in Augusta, but I never used the Maine Historical Society in Portland.
C) The old-timers I knew to ask about alternative villains have all died, and I don’t recall a summer meeting of the St. George Historical Society devoted to the murder, though maybe one ought to be. (I am only there in the summer.) Friend, Scott (Scotharbor@aol.com) says there were lots of theories, but I don’t think he favors any particular culprit. He is young, but born in St. George and a trustworthy collector and curator of local lore. I didn’t know (or remember?) that Albion Meservey was a possibility, but I’ll bet he was Roy Meservey’s uncle and Roy Meservey built Roseledge, cottage of my perfect summers, therefore the opportunities for front porch speculation are going to be legend. Thanks for the tidbit.
M., M., and D.: Nothing beats back winter woes better than an IDEA BOOK, a book that provokes conversation, checking further, dreams if you are abed, speculation if you are between necessity and invention, quirkiness if platitudes hover, good nature when Debby Downer calls, or quiet in the face of heartlessly loving more the new, replacement appliances the scary storm has wrought. Maira Kalman’s My Favorite Things is just such a treasure. I also loved her Principles of Uncertainty, a memoir of “an inner psyche with an idiosyncratic world view.”
That I am at war with my legs should not affect my typing, but apparently it does. The exciting news is that I am learning to use voice-activating Dragon because, though my knees buckle and my body strains, there is nothing wrong with my tongue. Get ready for stream-of-consciousness diatribes (see above) and weirder, but probably more regular posts. And just hear my diction improve next summer! No longer will “Roy Meservey” sound like “wind the survey.” The other very good news is that Charlie is here, I’m better by the day, though pivoting’s a trial, and my 12th floor cloud array is especially fine when murders of crows fly by.