Two if by sea

By Daniel Dunkle | Apr 04, 2019
Source: The Courier-Gazette

A few weeks ago I brought you the story from 1919 of a special gavel made of 62 different kinds of wood that C. Clifton Lufkin of Glen Cove presented to the Knox Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rebekah Woodworth responded, writing, "I clicked on your column today and nearly fell out of my chair. C. Clifton Lufkin (the "C" stood for Claud), was my great-great-great-uncle. My family has lived on the same property in Glen Cove since Uncle Clif's parents moved here from Matinicus in the 1880s, and I live in the house he himself built in 1946-47. I have many of his diaries, but alas, the volumes from ca. 1919 are missing, so I can discover nothing more about the gavel, but it was a great pleasure to learn about it through your column."

Like me, she would love to know whatever became of the gavel in question. If anyone knows, we would love to get a look at it and get some photos for the paper.

Later the same week, Susan Reider was in my office and we got talking about the column and the academy, and she later emailed me an article on Norman Wallace Lermond from historian Scott M. Martin published in the "Northeastern Naturalist" in 2004 by the Eagle Hill Institute.

Lermond (1861-1944) founded the Knox Academy of Arts and Sciences and the associated Knox Arboretum in Thomaston, according to Martin. He was also the managing editor of "The Maine Naturalist."

He was one of the foremost amateur naturalists in the state, an expert on the plants, animals and geology of Maine, Martin writes. The academy and journal were well-respected and brought together scientific minds from around the state.

There was a museum building housing the library and natural history collection and the arboretum in Thomaston.

"Sadly, the Knox Academy folded, and its exquisite natural history collections and library were dispersed, following Lermond's death in 1944," Martin concludes. The museum property was later purchased by a local dentist, Terry Sokoloff, and that information goes back to 2004.

Like many stories in old newspapers, much of the real backstory is just out of reach, being lost bit by bit like sands pouring away into the abyss.

Having spent quite a bit of time in 1919, I decided to check in on more recent history this week and found an exciting story from April 1989.

Rockland public safety crews were busy one spring weekend dealing with a man hanging from a radio tower and two kids attempting to steal a ferry.

On a Friday at 6 p.m., a man climbed the WRKD radio tower next to the Maine State Ferry Terminal to a height of 70 feet and then was unable to get down. He was brought down safely with the use of the fire department ladder truck and arrested.

The following evening, police received a call that the North Haven ferry was adrift. Sgt. Daniel Brown boarded the ferry and found two boys, age 8 and 12, playing pirates. They even had their scooters with them.

The boys said they were running away from home. Their names were never released, and my guess is they're probably walking around town among us today!

This Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn duo managed to turn on some equipment and blow a fuse on the vessel, and ferry officials said they were lucky not to have been electrocuted when they disconnected the power line to the shore. That was reported by Steve Betts for the Courier at the time, and he's still reporting today. The story caught my attention because there was a picture of ad salesman Glenn Billington, also still working in Rockland today, pointing up at the man's jacket on the tower, and that was taken by fellow columnist David Grima. Well, it wasn't that long ago, I suppose. I was in high school up the road in Hampden at the time.

Playing at The Strand in April 1989: "Dangerous Liaisons," and "Fletch Lives."

This column comes to you on April 4, which is a significant day in history for a number of events.

It was on this day in 1968 that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, according to He was shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. He was only 39 years old.

And in 1841, "Only 31 days after assuming office, William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States, dies of pneumonia at the White House," tells us. "At the inauguration ... on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls. Soon afterward, he developed pneumonia. On April 4, President Harrison died in Washington, and Vice President John Tyler ascended to the presidency, becoming the first individual in U.S. history to reach the office through the death of a president."

I'm out of room, but check out's This Day in History. There were a number of interesting items for April 4.

Daniel Dunkle lives in Rockland. He is author of the novel, "The Scrimshaw Worm." Send in your stories, photos and memories via email at:; or snail mail to: 91 Camden St., Suite 403, Rockland, ME 04841. Vintage Ink columns rely on back issues of The Courier-Gazette for source material. Other sources will be cited specifically.


C. Clifton Lufkin in his front yard in Glen Cove, overlooking Route 1 toward the hospital. He was the presenter of the 62-wood gavel. (Courtesy of: Rebekah Woodworth)
(Photo by: Rebekah Woodworth)
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