Growing up in a small mid-coastal town in Maine during the 1920s and 1930s, we lived during the “Great Depression” and Prohibition, and thought times were wonderful and fun. We knew there was not much money to be had, but that was true for most families in Camden. We had clothes to wear (mostly hand-me-downs) and plenty to eat. Because there was no zoning here at that time, we raised chickens in the back yard for our food and eggs. Our parents bought a pig, and we spent a lot of time catching “Salome,” when she rooted from her pen. Pigs are not easy to catch, but certainly made for good entertainment. She grew big and fat by eating scraps from the table that we gladly fed her. However, when she was butchered my brother and I would not eat whenever Ma cooked pork chops, bacon, ham or even pork roast for the meal. We always said we were not hungry, but we simply could not eat our pet pig.

Our treats were in the back yard, we just picked gooseberries, blackberries, currents and raspberries. The green apples were wonderful and we just had to climb the tree to get them. Our Dad said not to eat them as we would get “coromobus.” We never knew what that was, and although it sounded dreadful, we continued to munch on green apples. Also we had a duck and drake and one really ugly rooster that chased everyone. My brother taught him that, by putting corn in a paper bag and shaking it, so anyone with a paper bag coming near, that rooster went for them. Everyone had a vegetable garden in the back yard. So we ate well, dressed well and were clean, because Ma always said, “Well, soap and water do not cost much!” It was really an adventure when we were given two cents and would spend much time at the penny candy counter, figuring how much we could get in the bag for that amount of money. The clerk had patience and never hurried us.

Without toys, we made our own enjoyment. Ma had discarded an old worn-out broom and we retrieved it for a bat. Our ball was a discarded tennis ball, left or lost at the summer cottages near the shore. Those homes were closed for the winter so we could go there and find pretty rocks and tennis balls and play in the wooded areas.

We were searching for our treasures one day, when we heard a speed boat headed toward that shore. I asked my brother, “What do we do now?” He replied, as he grabbed me by the hand, ”We must run and hide in the woods; now don't talk or even sneeze!” We ran as fast as we could out of sight, but watched what would happen. The fast boat came to shore and two men each grabbed two or three shiny, square, tin gallon cans and quickly hid them behind the latticework under the porches.

Then they ran back to their boat and quickly left for a bigger boat three miles out in the deep water, where they could not be arrested by the Customs Officers of the Coast Guard. My brother said, ”Those must be the rum runners that people talk about.”

We knew that they were breaking the law. We had heard about the “bootleggers” who picked up the alcohol and sold it for good money. We decided it would be fun to unscrew the caps and empty all the cans. Then we ran as fast as we could for home, just up the hill a short distance. We heard an automobile coming down the street, so we casually stopped running and sat on a neighbor's lawn as if playing, or looking for four-leaf clovers. The large black car passed by us and continued down the hill. We knew the cottages were closed, so they were going to pick up the alcohol. We did not tell Ma, because she would not have let us play our dangerous game anymore. When Ma asked us where we had been, we nonchalantly replied, “Just playing.” Not only would she have stopped our fun, but she would have told the Customs Officer, who was a friend of the family.

When the local paper came out that following Thursday, we heard Ma and Pop talking. “What do you know? They have arrested Howard and Tom for bootlegging, and confessed to getting alcohol from the nearby shores that lead to the water from High Street, and selling it.”

Our secret was out and our game was over, but it was very exciting while it lasted.

Barbara F. Dyer has lived all her life, so far, in Camden and is the official town historian.