Back when I worked in a lobster shop on Elwell Point in Spruce Head, it was my good fortune to work amongst some really amazing story-tellers. One of them was Junior Burton, who since passed away.

Junior was a lobsterman who fished around Spruce Head, America. Junior and his wife, Violet, lived on the part of Route 73 between the village and Rackliff Island Road. Junior spent much of his time in his tidy workshop, hosting other fishermen who liked to pass the time.

Junior’s story-telling was classic, as good at entertaining as the best and truly authentic. Junior talked with his hands. Most of his stories wound their way around to the topic of food.

One of his stories was simply about how good one of Violet’s pies were. His huge hands illustrating how big the pie and subsequent slices were.

There were two winters in a row that Junior came to work with us at Maine Coast Seafood. During lunch time and coffee breaks, Junior would regale us with stories about cutting wood to clear a road onto Rackliff Island. Junior always called it Rackliff’s Island. The setups were superb, and the endings often made coffee come out my nose.

One day, I decided to ask Junior to tell a story. I hoped he would tell the one about the man with the wooden leg, who was drinking and stopped to help someone out of the ditch in the dark, then ended up losing his leg. Then, he had everyone search for the leg after it came off.

“Junior, tell us a story,” I said.


After an uncomfortable silence, talk of the day took over. Later on, I asked Gary Post, “Why wouldn’t Junior tell me a story?”

He replied, “You don’t know how to ask.”

Here is where I learned a great life skill.

The next day at lunch, Gary gave me a knowing look, turned to Junior and asked, “Junior, how did you and Delly Phillbrook get along?”

Junior appeared to consider the question and then said, “Delly Philbrook? Always got along with Delly Philbrook, Except for this one time -”

We were off to the races with another wonderful tale, of Delly bartering a saw sharpening for a sandwich… one of his best.

Now, you might ask in what way is Glenn Billington qualified to tell a wooden leg story.

That’s a fair question. The answer? It came naturally.

My father, John Hale Billington, had his left leg removed below his left knee as a result of Burger’s disease, a malady that affected blood circulation.

I grew up with ‘stump socks’ on the clothes line in the back yard. The first time the kids came over to play, they asked what those things on the clothesline? I said that they are stump socks, like it was something that occurred all over town. My dad wore a heavy wool, sock-like thing over his stump before he put his leg on.

My father was well known around town, but most never knew he had a wooden leg. He walked with a rolling gate, and I think people just thought he was lame. He was able to golf every weekend.

There was the time when he had a heart attack. More than one visitor to his hospital room was taken back by the leg standing over in the corner. On a golfing trip to West Palm Beach, he hid some cash in his leg.

My dad got a new leg every few years from Boston Artificial Limb, and he did not always get rid of the old one. When cleaning out my mother’s house, my unsuspecting wife opened a cedar chest to find a leg looking up at her.


Savor this tale, wooden leg stories, are becoming hard to come by.

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.