In 1976 I took a job at a lobster shop in Spruce Head. It would begin a ten-year detour in a most beautiful place with a unique culture.

Everything revolved around lobstering. Then as now there were three buying stations and lots of lobstermen. There were two lobster distributors: William Atwood Lobster Company and the one I worked for, Maine Coast Seafood.

Our business shipped lobsters all over the country and sometimes to other countries. Then there was the boatyard, Spruce Head Marine, a full-service boat repair and storage business.

My lifelong friend Ed Collins worked for a while at the boatyard. He had worked one summer at Scheel Yachts in Rockland, where he became proficient in fiberglass. It got him in the door.

If you know anything about fiberglass you know it will ruin whatever you are wearing. Ed distinguished himself by wearing his father’s dress shirts to work in the boatyard. His father being noted attorney, State Senator and Maine Supreme Court Justice Sam Collins. He was the best dressed boatbuilder on the coast of Maine.

Everybody knew everybody. Everybody waved to each other. Spruce Head is its own separate place, set off by a few miles of Route 73. (Still one of my favorite roads to drive.) It is even miles from The ‘Keag. We felt we had the place to ourselves.

In some quarters a sign of accomplishment was how long it had been since you went to Rockland. I have witnessed showdowns at the Off Island store where the one who had not been in a month came out on top in the boast-off.

Spruce Head, America in the seventies was a Dog Town. Lots of dogs running free in packs. They had almost no rules. The dogs went wherever they pleased all day. The one thing they did all agree on is that the boatyard was the place to be, at least at break time in the morning.

Boatbuilders took a seat and had coffee and opened their lunch boxes. Most had something extra to feed the dogs. There was a tiny dog whose name was Econo-dog or ‘Conno for short. His owner said he did not cost much to feed.

But this story is about a big dog. He was a very handsome German short-haired pointer. A purebred with no papers. All muscle with a spring in his stride.

He got his name from an album by Ten Years After, released April 1, 1970.

Cricklewood Green.

His first owner did not tend to Cricklewood very much. After a while Crick stopped going home. He would roam the island, spending nights with whoever took him in. In fact he was his own dog. He spent his day roaming Spruce Head, sometimes alone, sometimes with the pack. I never got the feeling he was lonely. He visited Maine Coast on his way back from Spruce Head Island. It was like he had a route he followed occasionally interrupted by a distraction.

Like the time a collie was in the mood for love. Crick joined a pack of dogs trying to get in the front door of the house across the street from our shop where the collie had been kept inside. They all tried to get through the flimsy storm door. The smallest dog in the pack ended up bashing his way into the house, using his head.

Econo–dog!

Cricklewood was a boatyard dog in the truest sense, living at Spruce Head Marine until he decided to adopt Scott Appleby. Scott was from Pennsylvania by way of the boatbuilding school in Lubec.

Mr. Green began going home with Scott. The vittles Scott’s wife Kim served up were to his liking. (Kim’s mom had been a Home Economics teacher.) As far as I know, Cricklewood lived out his years with the Applebys.

These days boatyard dogs are celebrated and compete in competitions. It’s a good thing.

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

Mixed media image by Glenn Billington

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