Farewell to the pen
Many years ago I gave up wasting my time with worry. I had learned that what I worried about never happened, but what did happen I had never dreamed about. It wasn’t long before I knew also that plans do not always work, and I believe whatever happens is for a reason. While going to high school, I knew that I never wanted to work in an office. Yet, that is where I spent 44 years as office manager and accountant at Wayfarer Marine. But that was my first life, and I must have liked it.
Quite by accident, in my second life, I began to write and lecture, but never had a notion that I would do that. While still working, I had kept scrapbook clippings and pictures at the Shipyard about building vessels for the World War II effort and later wooden pleasure yachts. Building had gone on in Camden, off and on, since 1800, yet there was not any history of it at the library not the C-R History Center. So I would put a nice scrapbook together. On my lunch hour I would go to the Camden Herald office and research the Bean Yard and early clippings that told about all the small shipyards at the Head of the Harbor (Camden Public Library property.) I would type it every night, and before I realized what was happening, it became a book, "Grog Ho! The History of Wooden Vessel Building in Camden." It is now out of print and when one is found, it is in the rare book section.
The Camden Public Library Director, Nellie Hart, asked me to give a talk there. One newspaper said it would be on Tuesday evening and the other paper said it would be on Wednesday evening. I was in the generation where you were “seen but not heard,” so oral themes in high school were torture for all of us. I asked Nellie what we were going to do, because the papers made an error. She said, ”I will open the library both nights, if you will come.” I did ... and have been talking ever since. I even taught three sessions of "Local History” in Adult Education for about seven years, as well as one on” Public Speaking” and one on "Antiques." So that launched another field in which I certainly never planned. My high school English teacher was right in the front row for every class I taught, enjoying it all.
I became so addicted to Camden history that I thought my last column in the Camden Herald would be one written that I was now resting with all my Who’s Who at Mountain View friends. However, I am still among the living but because of severe arthritis in both feet and knees, it is too difficult to go to the cemetery, Camden Public Library and conduct interviews with people for research.
My 12th book will be coming out in a few weeks, "Who’s Who at Mountain View, Vol.II." The Walsh History Center at Camden Public Library has all of my books for reference and there is a second copy of each that may be checked out. They are: "Grog Ho!," "Vintage Views," "History of the First Congregational Church," "Images of Camden and Rockport," "Vessel Building," "Home Sweet Home," "Memories of Camden," "More Memories of Camden," "Streets are Paved with Gold," "Remembering Camden" and Who's Who at Mountain View" volumes I and II. Some are still available at The Owl & Turtle Book Shop. Sherman’s Bookstore, Smiling Cow and the Reading Corner in Rockland and I also have some with free shipping. (Contact me at email@example.com or 236-3104.)
I wish to thank my readers for their letters, phone calls, emails and conversation when I meet them. I have not lost interest in Camden history, and really enjoyed writing about it for 30 years in The Camden Herald, The Herald Gazette and 20 years with VillageSoup.
This is my final column and many thanks for your loyal support. As I am reaching another milestone, I can stop and smell the roses, for the first time in my life.
Barbara Dyer is Camden's official town historian.