Early last summer the Maine Boatbuilder’s Show was canceled for 2022. I made an inquiry as to if it was possible for me to take over the reins for 2023. I had some changes, but the main one was to do just a two day show in July, which the potential exhibitors I talked with liked for a variety of reasons. Following a couple of meetings with Portland Yacht Services (PYS) in mid-September I felt comfortable, not realizing that I had not analyzed the timeline correctly. Those at PYS figured I should have 30 exhibitors signed up by mid-November or it was not going to work. Between September and well into October we built, mainly Randy Nichols, an incredible mail and email list of potential exhibitors. These did not go out until November and I was behind the proverbial eight ball. The early pay deadline was 1 January and responses did not start coming in until mid-December. I then had Randy start calling potential exhibitors and by 20 December we had 16 solid yeses with checks in the mail and another 15 agreeing to come. I sent out an email to those involved in the show saying where we were and that this was going to work, but it needed more time. Unfortunately, right after New Year’s I received an email saying that they at PYS had decided to cancel the show saying that I had not reached the 30 exhibitors in the timeframe agreed. I was hoping they would see that we were getting the exhibitors to sign up, but just needed more time to make it happen. I believe we should have emailed out the contracts in January with an early pay deadline of 1 March since the show was not happening until mid-July. The end of November and December are difficult due to the holidays. With a proper time, frame, I believe it would have worked and that was my mistake not looking at the logistics a little better. I also knew that the first year was not going to be easy. Portland is an ideal location, especially on the waterfront at PYS. I do not think anywhere to the east’ard would work since it would be difficult getting people from southern New England, New York, and New Jersey to come up, especially if they wanted to do the trip in a day. I also needed to convince the boatbuilders to come, since that is the backbone of the show, and that was going to take some doing. We had a number who had signed up or agreed to. I also asked for help from different sources and this would have gained us more clout with potential exhibitors from their ranks. My whole reasoning for doing this was to help Maine Built Boats and the Maine Marine Trade Association. Both organizations always could use a little more revenue to make their life a little easier and I thought this could have work to their benefit. Unfortunately, I have no alternative, but to step away and let them cancel the show.
The week in between Christmas and New Year’s I spend with my mother, since it is also her birthday, which this year was number 92. Ann and I also enjoy running through the antique and used bookstores in the area. We took one day to make a run around Cape Cod visiting these shops since we had not done it for several years. The first shop we normally stop in is in Sandwich and it was closed for the holidays. I know that the antique business is not great since the younger generation does not like them but being closed when people from away are intown does not help either. I guess if I was running the numbers and saw that it was not profitable, and if help was a problem, it may not make sense to be open. However, Titcomb’s Book Shop was next and they were open. I have always enjoyed visiting since the owners (Ralph and Nancy Titcomb) are from Maine, one from around Ellsworth and the other from the Houlton area. Unfortunately, Ralph passed away a few years ago. Formerly, this was a used bookstore and one that had a great collection of maritime books. Unfortunately, that has changed and they predominately deal with new books. Still a great place to stop. Working our way towards Wellfleet, we found one of our favorite antique stops closed for good. We made a number of stops at several antique stores and I was able to find some interesting books I just had to have. Once in Wellfleet we headed for Hyannis on Route 28 and found a few more shops open and a few more books I needed. The last stop was at Isaiah Thomas’ used bookstore in Cotuit, which I had not visited in years, which I feel was a mistake. He has an excellent collection of used books on all sorts of subjects. Again, I found a couple I did not have that I certainly needed.
What was evident about this trip was the antique shops were disappearing, like everywhere else. I remember making runs on Route 4 in New Hampshire one what was termed Antique Alley. Many of those shops are gone too. I have always wondered if the antique market will rebound when families realize that their family antiques were much better quality than they garbage they build today. I also wonder how many will regret that they dumped their family antiques and if the next generation will try to find them again.
Yes, I am still doing the research, just inputting more and more information and boring many of those that read this part. I am trying to get Version #5 up online, but I need to get the name changes added to the List of Merchant Vessels (MVUS) for 1960. I have entered 20,000 of about 48,500 vessels, but fortunately not all had a name change. This should only take a week to do. Then I got all excited when I began working with the Custom House records that I had already transcribed. What I did was cut and paste each vessel into the list of vessels where they were built. This is making the lists of ships built by town more accurate but is also going to allow researchers to know where that information came from. The argument going on is whether the focus should be on Custom House records or the annuals, such as the MVUS. Unfortunately, I believe it is both.