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Punch Bowl Ramblings

Good morning everyone. This postcard was sent to me by Oscar Richardson. Oscar and his great Uncle Jack DuBose sailed with me years ago. I thought the world of Jack and he sailed annually for several years running until declining health forced him to “swallow the anchor.” I will never forget Jack, in his thickest southern gentlemanly drawl, asking, “Capt Barry, can y’all have yaw man build me a fiah in the fiahplace?” “Jack it’s 70 degrees and it’s only 8AM!” When Jack was a child his family summered at Sedgewick on the Benjamin River, a beautiful little “hole” off the Eggemoggin Reach with a well marked but none the less tricky winding entrance. I say “hole” because the harbor is literally a hole in the ground running along a fault line that bisects the Eggemmoggin Reach and forms the Benjamin River. In the middle of this small anchorage is what I assume is a glacial pocket 60′ deep, perhaps a kettle hole created when a chunk of ice broke away from retreating glaciers. But that doesn’t have much to do with the picture on the postcard.

Anyhoo, Jack grew up summering with Havilah “Buds” Hawkins, Mary Day, and Jane Hennings at Benjamin River. Jane told me that Jack once took her out sailing and wouldn’t give her one shoe back unless she gave him a kiss. I wonder what Jack did with the shoe? But that still has nothing to do with the postcard. The picture on the postcard is of a 4 masted schooner loading ice at a place we call the Punch Bowl, a little pocket of a harbor along the edge of the Reach just west of the bridge. Ships didn’t actually tie up in the Punch Bowl. Instead, they tied up along side the granite bulkhead still visible today just outside the Punch Bowl. Ask me to point it out next time we are near the Deer Isle bridge. From the other side of the hill came ice harvested from Walker Pond, another glacially influenced depression in the landscape. The ice was elevated up the east side of the hill and gravity did the rest I guess. The three masted schooner pictured here would have carried quite a few ice cubes which was worth a fair penny on a hot and humid day before mechanical refrigeration was invented, especially in southern climates where cutting ice from ponds just wasn’t going to happen. Warm lemonade on the veranda doesn’t sound all that refreshing. Shipping ice was big business once upon a time keeping many schooners busy and huge ice houses could be seen especially along some of the larger rivers like the Kennebec above Bath.

So there you have it. My version of history with all its inaccuracies as related to me through Jack’s experience. I could probably research the truth about ice harvesting at Walker Pond and the ice industry in Maine. There are entire books about the subject. But history through the eyes of folks like Jack is quite interesting as well.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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