If you’re a fan of old fishing tales and are in need of some new literature to keep onboard or back on shore, you need to get your hands on a copy of “Adventures and History from Downeast Maine.”
This is an anthology of short non-fiction stories by Arthur S. Woodward that serves as a historical record of commercial lobstering on Beals Island, Maine, between the 1920s and 1960s. Woodward was a teacher at heart, according to his daughter who wrote a foreward for the book, but he returned to Down East Maine each summer to help his father run the family lobster business. While Woodward was never a full-time fisherman, he felt the need to preserve his memories of that fishery in stories he found himself coming back to year after year.
The stories cover a lot of aspects of the business, from building local boats and lobster boat racing to making deliveries to retail businesses and everyday conversations with men on the water.
The best thing about this little collection is you can open up to any page and find a new story. Each chapter is a quick look into the past. They aren’t exactly linear, so no need to mark your spot each time you put the book down. If you have a spare minute and need a good piece of fishing history to hold you over, just flip to any section and jump in wherever Woodward takes you.
Woodward also includes his own original photography and sketching throughout the book so readers aren’t left entirely to their imagination and own experiences. These include family photos that probably were never meant to be published publically, so it’s a genuine look into Woodward’s younger years.
He writes about children on the island that were too young to be out on commercial boats, but pretended to do some serious fishing on their own, trips down to Boston with his father to meet up with Canadian lobster dealers and his memories from the pilothouse.
All fishermen have their memories of how they got started, whether they were raised in a fishing family or joined the industry later in life, but not everyone puts those stories into a book for the world to see.
Adventues and History from Downeast Maine: Lobster Smacks, Lobsters, Lobster Boats, Beals “Lobster Island”
By Arthur S. Woodward
International Maratime Library