With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, I am taking some extra time to give thanks. My thanks to all the storytellers along my way who held me spellbound with their stories and tales, like seasoning on a good steak.

Here they are, by no means in any particular order.

HARRY FRENCH: His ashtray started it off for me. Harry was a man of very few words. They were well chosen and delivered with a sly smile and twinkling eyes.

A story would be told, then batted around the room. Harry would seal it all up with the perfect closer, like his gentle touch on the hydraulic lift at the end of an oil change lowering the car to the cement.

JOE LONG: Joe taught me how to work like an old man. In his seventies, Joe came to work with me at Maine Coast Seafood in Spruce Head. I was in my twenties.

We moved around wooden crates that weighed 120 pounds, three at a time. A veteran of Rackliff and Witham Lobsters in Rockland, Joe kept a steady pace all day.

He had one story that sounded like a legend. Joe told us there was a woman up at Moxie Lake who had a very unique skill.

JIMMY ALLEY: A sidekick to Joe Long, Jimmy was a seafood peddler in the golden age of the profession. He had the sweetest operation there ever was.

His work week consisted of stocking up fish, clams, shrimp, lobster and whatever else he could get his hands on. Then he would drive his pickup truck with insulated box to Millinockett, arriving on Wednesday night. He would spend the night at a motel in town (and the night at the bar).

He would be on hand outside the paper mill the next day (PAY DAY). He would sell out and head home.

Jimmy spent lots of time at the Rockland Elks lodge with Joe Long. He was friendly with the lady from Moxie Lake too.

BEAVER STINSON: Wayne “Beaver” Stinson comes to us by way of Stonington. He moved to the area as the bookkeeper for the Shepard Family when they moved their dealership to Thomaston in the early sixties.

He has so many clever sayings they have a name: “Beaverisms.”

His presentation is extra dry. A consummate businessman, Beaver’s advice can be taken to the bank. “You do not make money when you sell, you make money when you buy,” is one example of his wisdom.

Then there is the just plain funny: “How do you double the value of a Yugo? Fill the tank with gas…”

LARRY GODFREY: Larry grew up in South Thomaston. His father was a mechanic. He is survived by his brother Joe who builds amazing houses.

If I sit down next to a fire in front of Cafe Miranda, Joe will appear out of nowhere.

I first met Larry at a party in his apartment over the ‘Keag store. Larry’s stories were on the long side, but that was because he never got through one without breaking down laughing.

He would regroup and then carry on. I am pleased to be able to say I have partied upstairs over the ‘Keag store.

MARSHALL DODGE:  One of Maine’s most famous storytellers, Marshall actually hails from Connecticut. He and Robert Bryant recorded the “Bert and I” stories.

In the seventies, I saw him going from table to table in the bars in Boothbay Harbor telling stories for drinks. His Maine accent and delivery are the gold standard in my mind.

My favorite story by him is the one about the postman who took Essey, a woman in an iron lung, out for a ride in the back of the mail truck. Going up a hill, Essey and the iron lung tumbled out of the back of the truck.

The postman leaned out the window and said, “Steer to the curb, Essey, steer to the curb!”

TIM SAMPLE: An heir to the mantle of Marshall Dodge, Tim Sample could lay the Maine accent down thicker than a double dough pizza at Pat’s in Orono.

Then in the same breath, he would thin it out enough for Alexa to understand.

His stories have a soft jab at the end.

THERON TWEEDIE: Full disclosure; Theron is my cousin. Theron is a natural, and I am not sure to what degree he is aware of the caliber of his storytelling.

He is steeped in the Spruce Head school of storytelling; heavily influenced by Junior Burton.

Theron’s stories wind around the bend and back, and you may not know where he is going with them. Then once you think you are lost, he sticks the landing.

His harrowing story of a trip to Pen Bay Medical Center in an ambulance, followed by a friend bearing a bucket of smelts, is a masterpiece.

Once at the hospital, Theron talks the kitchen staff through the process of “putting a little bake on the smelts” in the oven, because you cannot microwave a smelt.

The staff served them to the nurses who declared them “tasty.” Theron thought they were good too, but said they were the most expensive smelts he ever ate.

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

A tasty smelt. Mixed media illustration by Glenn Billington