B A C K T H E N
A Good Vessel and a Good Friend
The legendary Gooden Grant (left) is shown here with his sternman, Minot Conary, of Deer Isle. Born in 1876, Gooden Grant began fishing at age nine and retired in 1961 at age eighty-four. He died in 1975. He spent many years lobstering in Friendship sloops. A “high liner,” he set more gear than most and fished in winter in the dangerous waters off Seal Island, setting traps in seventy-five fathoms, hauling them by hand, and then beating home at five degrees above zero.
In the summer, when winds were fickle and the lobsters were in shoal water, he rowed from trap to trap in a peapod. He was an early convert to gasoline motors, even back when they had to be stopped and restarted by hand at every trap, risking a broken arm when spinning the flywheel. Said Gooden, “It was still better than rowing, although at times I didn’t think so.”
The turn-of-the-century decades were difficult times for most “shore fishermen,” but in 1911 Grant built a fine new house at Head Harbor. He came from enterprising island stock—his father had owned a store that outfitted banks schooners, and also a large farm. Not long before his death Gooden remarked, “I’ve always found a good vessel and a good friend was better than money. . . . Makes me feel bad to lose them one after another.”
Text by William H. Bunting from Maine On Glass.
Published by Tilbury House Publishers, 12 Starr St., Thomaston, Maine. 800-582-1899.
Maine On Glass and prints of the photographs are available through the Penobscot Marine Museum: PenobscotMarineMuseum.org.