Aubrey Young and his fish market stories
One of the most interesting businessmen in Camden for many years was Aubrey Clark Young, who ran Ayer’s Fish Market on Main Street for many years. People traded at his market, not only for fresh fish, but along with it you would get jokes and the latest on town politics and news. Never did you leave without a smile. Aubrey might have a serious look on his face when he was telling you something funny, but the twinkle in his dark brown eyes would give him away, once you knew him.
Aubrey Young was born June 8, 1924, in Rockport, the son of Aubrey C. and Eva Ruth (Miller) Young. His father died in an automobile accident on Spring Brook Hill in 1925, which was very difficult for his mother, with two small boys. Grandfather William Young helped her and Aubrey would spend the summer with him in Lincolnville. Ruth later married Mr. Ayers, who was a nice father to Harold and Aubrey, and later Ruth had three more sons, Ralph, Richard and George Ayers.
He grew up like the rest of us in the Great Depression. He walked to school, home to lunch and back to school. Wherever we went, whether to the movies (matinees for 10 cents), or playing sports, walking was the only way. The Snow Bowl was three miles from town and it was a good cold walk in order to go skating (as skiing was not the thing at that time.) Rockport had a carnival on the waterfront and that, too, was worth walking for. Aubrey would hitchhike to Rockland, with a crowd of boys, to go to the theater there. We all had plenty to eat, clothes to wear and made our entertainment. It was called the “good years” by most people of that era.
Aubrey attended Camden High School with the class of 1943, but went to serve his country in the Navy in 1942, after news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. He crewed on the S.S. Hanover in the Pacific theater of war. He started out on a patrol boat in Bar Harbor, as they were on the lookout for German submarines. He later went out to the Pacific on attack transports and carried marines out to Pearl Harbor. He went to Okinawa to get ready for the invasion of Japan; then back to Oregon for a load of Army troops and took them out there. Thousands were loaded and ready to invade Japan, when the Atomic bomb was dropped; a second one was dropped because the first one did not get the attention needed. The Missouri came in with Gen. Douglas MacArthur aboard and the Japanese surrendered. World War II ended right there in Okinawa. Aubrey took the first occupational troops into Korea. He went back to Hiroshima, and from there to Hong Kong to pick up nationalists of Manchuria to fight the Communists. Finally, Aubrey was on a troop train for Boston and home.
Now that World War II was over, Aubrey went to work in the family business, Ayer’s Fish Market. He had worked there during his high school years on Saturdays, making deliveries and doing anything needed. The business was started in 1859 by Samuel Ayers (a Civil War veteran), then by his nephew, then Aubrey’s step-father, followed by Aubrey and lastly by Aubrey’s son Stuart Young until 1990.
Aubrey Young married a very attractive girl, Dorothea Dyment on Sept. 12, 1947. She worked across the street from Ayer’s Fish Market in Boynton-McKay’s Drug Store. They raised two sons, Stuart and Craig.
One might even say the market was a landmark, as everyone was familiar with it. It was located between The Smiling Cow and Harbor Park. His step-father died of a heart attack and his mother was running the store, so Aubrey took over. He bought the fish, scallops, etc., cleaned them and had many natives and summer people as customers. He always made excellent fish chowder and scallop stew. People bought it by the quart. Some loyal local customers just pulled up anything to sit on and ate down toward the back of the store. More town affairs were talked over the bowls of chowder than any other place.
Stuart Young carried on the tradition and had a sense of humor like his dad. After Memorial Day one year I was in the market and Stuart said,” They put four flags around the Civil War Monument in Harbor Park and didn’t put one on the Spanish American Boulder!” He had a twinkle in his eyes, that read “like what are you going to do about it?” I replied, ”Guess we can remedy that!” So I went the few steps to Harbor Park, removed one flag from the Civil War Monument and placed it in front of the Spanish American Boulder. We both felt better.
After many years and a lot of hard work, Ayers Fish Market went out of business, due mostly to lack of parking space in Camden and because it was becoming much more difficult to get fish. Canada changed their fishing laws and boats from Italy, Spain and Japan came over here fishing, as the United States didn’t put the three-mile limit on.
While being a businessman, Aubrey also was a very active member in the community. He was elected as selectman for several terms and a member of the Lions Club. He served on the Board of Directors for the Camden Outing Club and the Camden Y.M.C.A. His particular interest was helping the youth in the community and founded the Camden-Rockport Summer Recreation program. He was known to feed some of the town people, with little income, many meals with his fish chowder sitting right around the cracker barrel.
Many miss the Ayer’s Market and Aubrey, who died on April 4, 2008. His wife and family miss him, as does his faithful companion, Simon the dachshund. Visitation was at Long Funeral Home and Rev. Raftor of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church officiated at the funeral.