He was born Edward O. Harriman but was known to all as Eddie. He was a cartoonist whose “Smile a while” cartoon was a feature for more than a decade in The Courier-Gazette. He also created cartoons that portrayed the outcome of high school basketball and football games for the paper.

Eddie was also an author, with six books to his credit beginning in 1967 with his still popular children’s book “Leroy the Lobster and Crabby Crab,” followed by “Captain Capsize,” “Dingles the Wishing Elf,” “Kimyak,” “Kevin’s Christmas” and “64 Cartoon Jokes.” His final book was released in 1985, just before his passing in 1986.

In an interview for his last book for The Courier-Gazette, Eddie told how as a toddler he would draw pictures on steam-covered windows. At age 5 he began using pencil and crayons and copying cartoons from the newspapers, especially the Sunday papers. He would go through each page, and as he grew older developed his own cartoon style.

For 39 years he was most proud of his role as a clown in the Lobster Festival Parade. His style was like Emmet Kelly. I would always watch for him in particular, along with Yorkie the clown who had a restaurant in Camden by the same name.

I was lucky enough to know Eddie Harriman. I met him and talked to him as he was painting storefront windows on Main Street. He was nice enough to talk to me.

I had been watching him and had known of him for years. I really became interested when he changed vehicles. He always had an old beater he drove up from the head of the bay in Owls Head. He then purchased a Noble Wreck. An early 1950s Chrysler Limousine; black with the long wheelbase and jump seats in the back.

On most days Eddie and two old brothers made the trip to Rockland in the back seat (for something to do). They were known as the Golden Boys, and they wore old suits. Also along for the ride was a big, old, shaggy dog. There was more than enough room inside for all of them and they would be spending most of the day in the car. Eddie painted a red lobster and a cheery message on each of Main Street’s storefront windows. “Welcome to the Maine Seafood Festival.”

Eddie would start by very carefully taking out a ruler and drawing three, evenly spaced, parallel lines to align his design. But never, and I mean never, would he stay within those lines. What he did was some kind of magic. The process would play out over and over; the whole time he had a very small unfiltered cigarette between his index and middle fingers. His cheeks would draw in, pulling the last drag from the stubby butt before letting it go.

God’s gift to Eddie Harriman was his endless imagination. Legend has it that Eddie worked briefly for Walt Disney. I have no way to know, but safe to say the two men were cut from the same piece of cloth.

When I was a small boy The Courier-Gazette had a Santa’s workshop, dreamed up and fabricated by Eddie, assembled on the front steps. It would be illuminated at night with small, animated elves making toys. The elves were made from pieces of plywood and were motorized. Tapper the elf swung a hammer; Dawber a paint brush. Next to the workshop was a mailbox where children could mail a letter to Santa, which through some magic would be printed in The Courier-Gazette.

Although all of that went away in the 90s, there are pictures of it on the Rockland Historical Society’s Facebook, including the elves. I rescued the elves and left them with Wayne Steves shortly before his passing. I am sure they are still in the care of his family, safely tucked away… for now.

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

Photo from Eddie Harriman’s obituary, July 22, 1986 Courier-Gazette.

Cover of Eddie Harriman’s most famous book, “Leroy the Lobster and Crabby Crab.”

Eddie Harriman cartoon celebrating Rockland Tigers basketball team victory over Gardiner, on to Ellsworth. January 5, 1960 Courier-Gazette.