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Summer 2009 Newsletter

In This Issue:

Jottings About Pretty Marsh, c. early 1900's

150th Anniversary Lobster Bake

Pretty Marsh Cemetery Repairs

The Bear Facts

I Did It!

Emlen Engagement

Jottings About Pretty Marsh, c. early 1900's

The following was written by longtime Pretty Marsh resident Edna Hysom who passed away in 1998 at age 100.

My Pretty Marsh - and Yours, Dear Pretty Marshers
by Edna Hysom

"What is this place that it should bear
so salty-sweet a name --and fair?"

This is dear Pretty Marsh where I roamed barefoot as a child and knew every nook and cranny of the fields and woods. I found the early violets and ladies slippers by a cool spring hidden under the trees. I discovered Indian pipes growing in a mossy glen near the falls. I was afraid they were supernatural.

My brother, George, and I were allowed to go fishing off the bluffs in the cove. It was a high precipice to me and I didn't dare look over the edge. But, with the years, the bluffs seems quite normal. How well I remember the day he caught an eel and little sister was made to hold it while he tried to catch another! It squirmed and it wriggled away in the dirt and leaves. I had to find it and hold on some more! When we finally carried it home and it was cleaned and in the frying pan, each piece jumped - reflex action I'm told -- anyway, I have never cared for eels.

When my mother was a child she remembers that lump fish were caught in the cove. They had a pink meat and were delicious but lumpfish are not in my memory, tho' I did catch hundreds of flounders (and sculpins!) outside the cove over the mussel bed beyond the falls. Many a time I caught twenty five or more in a morning and brought them back and cleaned them on a rock by the shore and then distributed them to the neighbors, some of whom didn't like flounders. I found out later they called them "mud fish".

Sometimes I took a five quart pail along on my morning fishing jaunt and brought it back full of blackberries, picked at the end of the point across the cove (Johnson's house there now). I was always gathering something--if it wasn't blackberries, it was raspberries, or blueberries, or crabapples, or wild choke cherries (they make delicious jelly!), or cranberries, or clams or goose grass--do you know about goose grass? It's tender, salty grass that grows along the shore at high water mark. The older people cooked it as a green with salt pork and ate it with vinegar, but mother simmered it slowly in salted water until tender, drained and chopped it and added butter, pepper and salt.

As I walked through the woods, I ate bunchberries, "two-eyed plums" (partridge berries), upland cranberries, wild pears, chewed spruce gum, spearmint and slippery elm bark and gathered catnip for my cat. Sometimes I would lie down on the moss and look up through the trees and feel how good it was to be right there. I hope my children have had this feeling and that someday my grandchildren and great-great? will also know it too. Dear Pretty Marsh.

My brother was a quiet boy -- and a boys' boy. His head was either in a book or he was roaming the woods with his rifle and bringing home rabbits or partridge for mother to cook -- to my utter dislike and dismay. Once he was punished for running away and sent to his room for the afternoon. He went out the window, walked around the gutter and was off to play, returning the same route and was in his room when Mother came to let him out.

I remember the first bird he shot. He had aimed at it with his new air rifle, not expecting to hit it. When it fell dead he was in tears and I was enlisted to help prepare a coffin. The robin was buried with real ceremony and two mourners.

Father was a sea captain, and my memories of his visits home are very fleeting. By record and chart he had been around the world three times. Sometimes he had an interest in the vessels he sailed but more often he was hired as a Sailing Master to take a cargo ship. I have many of his old log books. A romantic era that passed at the turn of the century -- Romantic? Man against the fury of storms at sea. When the crew were terrified and refused to go aloft to reef the sails, the Captain went alone and ropes snapped off two of his fingers. At 42 during a mutiny at sea he and his 1st mate were knifed in the back and their bodies thrown overboard. That was Oct. 10, 1905. The ignorant crew had thought to get the ship to shore and collect for the cargo.

It so happened that a friend of Fathers (Capt. Taylor) sighted the ship in distress and boarded it and put the ringleaders in irons and brought the ship to port in Norfolk, Va. Mother told of having a nightmare about the time this happened. She saw commotion on deck and knew that something had happened to Father. She lived with this fear for several days and when she saw my uncle coming up the driveway one day, she knew he brought bad news.

Those were grim days. I was seven and my brother ten. Mother was bereft. She sat by the window with her head in her hands or aimlessly tried to move about the house and do for us children. Kind neighbors, the Warners, who lived across the field (the old Pray house), Grandfather and Aunt Lin did all they could. Dear Mother, she picked up the pieces and carried on, like the good, noble spirit she was. The house she owned and that was her security but there was very little in the bank. I think from the moment she got her courage back, her one aim in life was to be due her children get an education; she didn't know how she could swing it--but she was determined and her sights were set.

This little book has been fun and though I am now a grandmother, I can still feel like the little girl lying on the moss, and looking up through the trees and eating "two-eyed plums!"

150th Anniversary Lobster Bake

Lobster Bake
Saturday, August 15 was a beautiful, warm (almost too warm), and sunny afternoon for the lobster bake celebrating the 150th anniversary of our old schoolhouse. We had a great turnout of more than 60 community members, and it provided a wonderful opportunity for both year- round and seasonal residents to "catch up" with each other. There was lobster boiled in sea water, fresh corn on the cob, cole slaw, chips, and a variety of homemade desserts! Yum!

Dave Irvin provided a most interesting timeline of Pretty Marsh history stretching around the back of the entire room and covering every major event from 1761 through the present. In addition, there were many old photos heretofore unseen by most Pretty Marshians!
Ralph Stanley

Special entertainment was provided by none other than Ralph Stanley on the fiddle! Many long-time community residents will remember that back in the 1970's and early 80's, in addition to being a world renowned wooden boat builder, Ralph was a regular at the Pretty Marsh Community August picnics as part of a quartet that included Ruth Grierson on the piano, Floyd Farley on the banjo, and Fred Black on the guitar.

The entire event marked an auspicious kick-off for our capital campaign to restore and preserve the schoolhouse. In the best storybook tradition: "A good time was had by all!"

Lobster Bake Schoolhouse 1909

Pretty Marsh Cemetery Repairs

During the spring and early summer the Pretty Marsh Cemetery Association asked the H.W. Dunn Co. of Ellsworth to repair some of the monuments in the yard. Twenty three stones were raised, straightened, leveled, reattached and/or repaired .

The Cemetery Association is very pleased with the outcome and is grateful to H.W. Dunn for their careful work. The community deserves a well maintained cemetery, and we owe it to the cemetery's residents to respect and care for their final resting places.

The Bear Facts

P.M. Bear P.M. Bear

Pretty Marsh residents and visitors alike often pose the question: "Are there bears on Mount Desert Island?" Most of us would answer: "Perhaps there might be a few over around Western Mountain, but we've never seen one!" Well, now you have! This black bear was photographed on April 18, 2009 by neighbor Bob Thayer and sent along by Bob's wife Linda. He (she) was checking out their bird feeder after a long, cold winter!

Over the past month or two there have been a couple of other reports of a bear in the community, but this is the first photographic evidence.

I Did It!
by your intrepid President, Caroline Felkel.

Half Marathon

My sneakers have a red dust on them that I hope will never wash away. Every time I put them on, I smile. Hanging from my mantle is my medal they placed around my neck when I crossed the finish line- not gold, or silver... or bronze. But its mine and I earned it.

This February I ran the Sedona (AZ) half marathon... and I finished! And trust me - that wasn't a given. There were contingency plans. My sister and niece were in place to drag my body across the finish line.

It was my first half marathon. This body wasn't built for running. It wasn't built for walking! My father died while running at the age of 72, and ever since, I have wanted to run a marathon for him. If I can run a half marathon at an elevation of 4600 ft. - I can run a marathon... just not the MDI marathon.
Not ever.

Would I do it again? Hell yes. And next time I hope to place a time I am proud enough to tell people about.

Oh - a side note. Sedona should be one of those places on your bucket list. Amazing red rocks. Wonderful people. It was my fourth visit, and I will be returning.

Emlen Engagement

Emlen Engagement

Candy and Jay Emlen happily announce the engagement of their daughter, Nina, to Alex Birdsall. They met at Oberlin College and now live in Brooklyn, New York. Nina works for New York Public Library and Alex is a teacher in the Inwood area of New York City. The couple plan to marry summer of 2010 at Pirate's Point in Pretty Marsh.

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