Farewell to the pen

By Barbara F. Dyer | May 03, 2014

Many years ago I gave up wasting my time with worry. I had learned that what I worried about never happened, but what did happen I had never dreamed about. It wasn’t long before I knew also that plans do not always work, and I believe whatever happens is for a reason. While going to high school, I knew that I never wanted to work in an office. Yet, that is where I spent 44 years as office manager and accountant at Wayfarer Marine. But that was my first life, and I must have liked it.

Quite by accident, in my second life, I began to write and lecture, but never had a notion that I would do that. While still working, I had kept scrapbook clippings and pictures at the Shipyard about building vessels for the World War II effort and later wooden pleasure yachts. Building had gone on in Camden, off and on, since 1800, yet there was not any history of it at the library not the C-R History Center. So I would put a nice scrapbook together. On my lunch hour I would go to the Camden Herald office and research the Bean Yard and early clippings that told about all the small shipyards at the Head of the Harbor (Camden Public Library property.) I would type it every night, and before I realized what was happening, it became a book, "Grog Ho! The History of Wooden Vessel Building in Camden." It is now out of print and when one is found, it is in the rare book section.

The Camden Public Library Director, Nellie Hart, asked me to give a talk there. One newspaper said it would be on Tuesday evening and the other paper said it would be on Wednesday evening. I was in the generation where you were “seen but not heard,” so oral themes in high school were torture for all of us. I asked Nellie what we were going to do, because the papers made an error. She said, ”I will open the library both nights, if you will come.” I did ... and have been talking ever since. I even taught three sessions of "Local History” in Adult Education for about seven years, as well as one on” Public Speaking” and one on "Antiques." So that launched another field in which I certainly never planned. My high school English teacher was right in the front row for every class I taught, enjoying it all.

I became so addicted to Camden history that I thought my last column in the Camden Herald would be one written that I was now resting with all my Who’s Who at Mountain View friends. However, I am still among the living but because of severe arthritis in both feet and knees, it is too difficult to go to the cemetery, Camden Public Library and conduct interviews with people for research.

My 12th book will be coming out in a few weeks, "Who’s Who at Mountain View, Vol.II." The Walsh History Center at Camden Public Library has all of my books for reference and there is a second copy of each that may be checked out. They are: "Grog Ho!," "Vintage Views," "History of the First Congregational Church," "Images of Camden and Rockport," "Vessel Building," "Home Sweet Home," "Memories of Camden," "More Memories of Camden," "Streets are Paved with Gold," "Remembering Camden" and Who's Who at Mountain View" volumes I and II. Some are still available at The Owl & Turtle Book Shop. Sherman’s Bookstore, Smiling Cow and the Reading Corner in Rockland and I also have some with free shipping. (Contact me at barbaradyer820@yahoo.com or 236-3104.)

I wish to thank my readers for their letters, phone calls, emails and conversation when I meet them. I have not lost interest in Camden history, and really enjoyed writing about it for 30 years in The Camden Herald, The Herald Gazette and 20 years with VillageSoup.

This is my final column and many thanks for your loyal support. As I am reaching another milestone, I can stop and smell the roses, for the first time in my life.

Barbara Dyer is Camden's official town historian.

Comments (7)
Posted by: John Perry | Jul 01, 2014 20:58

Thank you, Ms. Dyer for your chronicles.  With my Camden roots, but a Dad, a Commander in the Navy and WWII Veteran, we lived everywhere but Camden.  With three brothers all born in different states, in fact one not a state at all but in the Territory of Hawaii !  With the help of the Book "The Perry in Maine" my fathers recollections, new found friends and people who actual knew my great uncle George  and Gleason Perry, your factual, insightful, and faultless organization of events helped refill a life not actually lived here but longed for. Your articles concerning my Great Grandfather W.W. Perry and the Sherman family and The Sherman Farm my personal favorites.  Thank You Again, John Sherman Perry

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | May 08, 2014 08:28

Say it isn't so! How much I as well as the other members of Amity Masonic Lodge of Camden enjoyed the articles because Barb always mentioned whether someone was a member or not.  It  was so fun to read about our members before us and the good works they did for us and our town.  Thank you Barbara for what you have given all of us!

Posted by: William Pease | May 08, 2014 00:14

Ah, my dear lady, enjoy your rest and leisure. You certainly have earned it nobly over many years of such productive research and scholarship. How I wish my home town of Rockland had a similar historian of your stature. The wonderful town of Camden has been very, very fortunate, indeed!

If I make it back up to Rockland this summer, possibly for the last time (Alzheimer's is creeping up on me), I've got a lot of your books to buy. Stay well, dear lady, and I hope you do some serious basking in the many honors that are sure to come your way.

Bill Pease, Lancaster, PA (but born and raised in Rockland, RHS class of 1952, and with his heart still in the midcoast of Maine that you have served so well)

Posted by: Lawrence Butler | May 04, 2014 11:28

You will be missed, but your printed words will stay with us.  Thank you.


Posted by: Martha Johnston-Nash | May 04, 2014 11:23

After so many years working at The Yard, at your books and talks and articles, etc., you really deserve to stop and smell the roses! Best of wishes in this next phase of your life, Barbie D. Hugs to a friend and wonderful lady.

Posted by: Catherine Cooper | May 03, 2014 20:20

At first I was a fan and then I was lucky enough to call myself a friend of Barbara Dyer. Her books are rich in local history and the photos are wonderful. I will miss her columns and wish her the best. I will make it a point to come over to her house and say hello to her and her faithful cat Shadow. Thank you Barbie for all that you do!


Posted by: CAROL A SCOTT | May 03, 2014 18:22

Ms. Dyer, although I have just recently become a reader of your  weekly articles (over the last 2 to 3 years) I have come to thoroughly enjoy your style and of course the content .  Thank you very much for your years of contributions to our local history.  Randy Scott

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