Phil Grant

Interviewed by Mary Miles, August 22, 2003

SEE summer 2003 Historic Nantucket for piece on George Grant.

Pictures: one when in Navy; one when had fishmarket; one in Philippines with two Filipinos.
YOU'RE A GREAT GOLFER, I UNDERSTAND. He laughs…No, I'm just a hacker, a genuine hacker…at my age? Good lord!

I'm a fifth-generation native. The first one-I think his name was David-he was a sailmaker on a Scottish merchant ship out of Edinborough, and he was shipwrecked here on the Old Man Shoal out east of the island. And being a Scotsman, he decided that he'd best wear his best clothing, so he put on his kilts and so forth and swam ashore. It was quite a swim - it was probably 10 or 12 miles…but he was a good seagoin' guy anyway. Oh gosh, I can't tell you the date - it was 1750 or 60, somewhere along about then. Now this is only hearsay, but they say he swam ashore in his kilts! And the Indians at Wauwinet where he landed thot he was some kind of a god! Laughter. But he squared 'em away on that after a while. Then he had sons, and that's how the name was carried on. There was a whole bunch of whalers in the family. Charles was my great-grandfather, and he was the most successful whaling master in the world, no less. Made more money and had his pick of the crews, because he was very democratic with them. His wife got tired of waiting for him in Nantucket - Nancy Wyer Grant - and she jumped a merchant ship going to New Zealand, because she knew his route, and that in Feb. he would be down in New Zealand. So she was down in Auckland waiting for him when he came in {laughs]…and old Charles, I'll tell ya, was quite surprised. So she was considered one of the first women to go to sea with her husband. She had all three of their children on board…the first one was Charles - he died in Nantucket here in his 40s; and then there was my grandfather George, he was born at Appia, in Samoa. They went ashore there and my grandmother had her child there, and as an omen of good luck, the natives wrapped her [I think he means the baby] in banana leaves. Peter Wilson called it banana skins, but it was banana leaves…[he wrote the piece in NHA mag]. And then my great-aunt Eleanor - but we called her Ellie - she lived to be 102 years old and became blind in the latter years, but she was a great old peach. She didn't weigh 100 pounds soakin' wet! But as wire as they could make 'em. She married into the Pierce family - it's pronounced "Perse" - over just outside of Fair Haven. I get a note from them over there every once in awhile asking about the family tree and all that sort of thing.

DID YOU KNOW YOUR GRANDFATHER GEORGE? Oh, good Lord, yes. I used to help him - I was only 12 or 13 years old, and I used to help him down at the Museum when he was setting it up…he was the one who set the Museum up…

TELL A BIT ABOUT HIS CAREER. Well, he was bawn…oh gosh, I haven't got the date for you [1857; died 1942] …in Appia, and he stayed aboard the ship the whole voyage and went out with their next voyage. In fact, he went to sea from the time he was bawn, you might say. And they called him Captain Grant, but he was never a captain…he made first mate, but he did harpoon his first whale when he was 15 or 16 yrs old. He was what they called a boatsteerer - the boatsteerer handles the big oar back on the after end…and when they come up on the whale, he leaves and runs for'rd and grabs the harpoon and gets the honor of striking the whale. That's what they say, anyway - that part's all hearsay to me. Oh yes, he talked about his whaling adventures. When he was 12, he was on the Mohawk, and that was one of the biggest trips that old Charles [the great-grandfa] ever made financially. His share for the whole thing was fabulous amt of money, because he owned a share in all the vessels that he went skipper of. And George was playin' around, 12 yrs old, you know, on deck, and usin' a dip-net to haul stuff up…something looked funny to him, looked like a bunch of old grease. He took it to his father, and his father says, "Where'd you get that, boy?" He says, "Right there, where they're cuttin' in the sperm whale." And his father says, "Good God," he says. "That's ambergris!" So to make a long story short, they got into the guts of the sperm whale and they got quite a big batch of ambergris. What it is in plain English is whale puke - that's what they called it. And it's caused only in sperm whales because they eat cuttlefish, and cuttlefish have a central bone in them…and the whales swallow the darn things whole, and it gathers in the stomach. I don't know whether they ever actually upchuck it or not. But anyway, they got such a big quantity of it that everybody got quite a bonus that trip. They used ambergris for making perfume - it was very valuable…it was worth more than gold in those days, actually. $30 or $40 an ounce then.

MORE TALES ABOUT YOUR GRANDFATHER? Well, he was out on the stage once, on the side of the ship, cutting out the blubber on a whale, and he missed and cut his big toe with the blade, which was very sharp. And the only thing left on h is toe was a little piece of skin hangin' on the bottom. So he went in, took out a sewin' needle, a sail needle, and sewed his tow back on and packed it in Stockholm tar, and let it go. And within a year or two before he died he showed me the scar - you could see every stitch mark right over the top of that big toe! He was probably only 14 or 15 then. GUTSY MAN! He also used to haul his own teeth with some of the "hospital equipment," they called it - a sort of corkscrew…he'd put the thing in and twist the rotted tooth out. He'd take one out of the medicine chest down at the Whaling Museum and haul his own teeth! Laughs. When they got bad, of cawss. He died just before I went in the Navy - I was 23 or 24.

TELL ME A BIT ABOUT GROWING UP ON NANTUCKET. It was a great place…I came up in the Depression days, you might say. Nobody had a sou. But we were too proud to take alms from anybody… I went first to the first grade on Orange Street - they had the first 3 grades there. Then you went up to Academy Hill after that. I lived at that time on Orange Street - 72, I think, somewhere in that neighborhood. Twas the old Backus house…now, is it Backus or Bartlett? Hmmm. Well, I can look that up. He was one of the veterans who came back from the Civil War, and he lost one eye…I think it was Barrett. He and his wife lived on the first floor and we lived on the second floor. [sticks mike into belt!] I remember my teachers very vividly. And that first grade I'll never forget…laughs… I'm left-handed, and in those days everybody was supposed to use the right hand. And Helen Bartlett was a teacher's assistant at the time, to Esther Johnson - she was the regular first-grade teacher. Well, it was a drawing of a little rabbit on grey paper, and you were supposed to color it with white chalk, and I was doin' a pretty good job, y' know. So Helen came along and snapped the chalk out of my hand and put it in the right hand. I didn't think much of it, and as soon's she turned around I put it back in my left hand. So she came back a second time and yanked it out of my hand and put it in my right hand. The third time she rapped me with a ruler, and I called her an SOB. So then they put a dunce cap on my head and stuck me in the corner, and all the kids were goin' out for recess. Laughs.

SO I GATHER YOU WERE NOT A COMFORMIST TYPE CHILD. No - I've always been independent. But anyway, I jumped out the window - it was on the first floor - and run down the street…in 3 or 4 minutes I was home, and my mother wanted to know what I was doin' at home. I told her, and she gave me a backhander and grabbed me by the neck and waltzed me right back up to the school! And you know, that's the only time they ever bothered me about using my left hand. I never did learn to use my right hand. I'm a "sqy-paw," write upside down and so forth.

ANY OTHER HI-JINKS? Oh yuh, yuh. Nothin' bad or anything. I 'member…see, we went down to the Crest Hall for the fifth grade, and then in 1929 the Academy Hill School opened, and we went into the sixth grade there. And Mary Mendonca taught the sixth grade. And Marie Kay Swayze taught the seventh grade, and Harriet - we called her Hattie - Williams taught the eighth grade. From there on we went upstairs to the high school. Now, everything went along pretty smoothly in the sixth and seventh grade, but I got into Hattie Williams' class and I started cutting up. She had me right down front, rt next to her desk, after I got actin' up…she says, "Philip Grant, I changed your diapers many a time when you were bawn," and she says, "I think I can still handle ya!" Well, I guess you know, I shut right down…and the whole class laughed! Yep. So I pretty much behaved for her after that. I didn't want another taste of that!
One time we did pull one on her once - caught a little fieldmouse after a rain; I put it in my pocket and took it in, and put it in her desk middle drawer. She opened the drawer, she looked; "Huh!" she says, "I hope you people appreciate what you're doin' here. All you're doin' is creatin' disease. I'm not the least bit afraid of a mouse!" laughter. Picked him up and took him outside.

ANY OTHER STORIES ABOUT YOUR CAREFREE YOUTH? Hmmm - not really. We played all the sports - 'course we didn't' have any football equipment, so it was rough and ready. We played scrub football, you might say. And they played basketball in Bennett Hall. DO YOU STILL SEE SOME OF YOUR NHS CLASSMATES? There's two or three left, yup. CAN I ASK WHEN YOU WERE BORN? 1918…I'll be 85 in 30 more days.

DID YOU HAVE JOBS WHILE YOU WERE GROWING UP? Caddying out at the golf links, out at Sankaty and also at Nantucket links…there used to be an 18-holer out there, out on Cliff Road, way out. DID YOU GET TO KEEP YOUR PAY? Oh yes. We kept it. I was brot up by an aunt, Aunt Madeline…her name was Madeline Norcross. And we lived down on 76 Orange Street, which is rt on the corner of York and Orange - the house has been all redone now… She took in laundry, and she made a barrel of money! Imagine washing a white shirt and doin' it all up, ironin' it, starchin' it…for 15 or 20 cents. She worked night and day.

HOW DID IT HAPPEN THAT YOU WENT FROM YOUR OWN HOME TO LIVE WITH YOUR AUNT? Well, my mother and father divorced, right from New Bedford, and neither one of wanted us kids…there were three of us. So I wound up with Aunt Madeline, and my brother wound up with Nancy Adams - she was the head of the Historical Association at one time; and my sister went to my grandmother Tracy up on 28 Milk Street, but she cdn't handle it, she was getting older, so Betty came down and lived with us at Uncle Ed's house. [Uncle Ed and Aunt Madeline Norcross]


TELL ME ABOUT WHAT CAME AFTER hs. I graduated from NHS. You know, there were 36 in our graduating class - at the time it was considered a pretty good figure - and I think over half of us are still alive. We haven't had a reunion for some time. We had one, and Walter Barrett was gonna take us all over to Tuckernuck and have a beach party, but he backed out of it, so we all went out to my house - well, I have a good-sized back yard, and we had games and a cookout…that was our 50th reunion…and we haven't had one since.
What did I do after HS? Went fishing. Twenty years of it.

COULD YOU SWIM? I KNOW A LOT OF NANTUCKET WATERMEN WHO DON'T. Oh yes, swim like a fish! But a lot of 'em couldn't…those from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, my shipmates, couldn't swim. Good God, no! laughs [discussion about Charlie Sayle, who Phil says wasn't a good fisherman…said CS's story to me about falling off a boat and thinking he was a goner was something "makes the grass grow green, and I'm not talkin' about grass seed!" But "we don't talk about things like that. They wdn't carry him a second trip, because he was worthless as a boatman. I'll tell you, though, you gotta hand it to him - he had delicate, very small hands, and he could carve and make ship models - you wdn't believe how intricate."]

IN YOUR FISHING DAYS, WHERE DID YOU GO, WHAT DID YOU CATCH? Well, we went mostly to Georges Banks; but I never owned any of the big boats…we made pretty darn good money. Gosh, I can remember [laughing] - we'd come in and settle up the next day, the skipper would come down with all the paychecks, and we'd go to the Spa and have a beer. It was always 8, 10, or 12 of the old bums hanging around, you know, just waiting for us to come in with our money. A beer only cost 25 cents, but you never got out of there for less than a five-dollar bill! But we didn't mind…we were doin' well. Those fellows, the clerks in the stores, were only getting' $12 a week, for Lord's sakes, and we were making fabulous money. Really and truly, all jokin' aside - they say these fishermen are all a bunch of bums - well, they are today, but we didn't believe alcohol and salt water mixin', so we never carried it with us…we'd come ashore and after 5 or 6 days offshore, we could get drunk on one bottle of beer! Laugh…You'd go home talkin' to yourself.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SPA. It was a great old place. Two brothers, George and John Anastos, from some path of Greece, started it. When I was a kid, 12 or 13 years old, they had an ice cream parlor and a fruit stand right where the Spa was…I guess it's some kind of an aht place now. Almost down to the Masonic Hall…third building up from the sportin' goods store. Originally it was only on the first floor. John Anastos went back to Greece, and George died, and the Judge Anastos wound up with the business, and he ran it right into the dirt - lack of knowhow! Had no knowhow. But the Spa was a fun place to go.

DID YOU EVER GO TO THOSE PLACES LIKE THE SKIPPER AND THE OPERA HOUSE? Oh sure, anywhere they served booze! Laughs.

TELL ME ABOUT SOME RESTAURANTS ON THE ISLAND. Well, you see, I have a first-grade cook at home, and I can't find any restaurant that can come close to it, so I'm very happily fed at home. And well taken care of. She's a great cook. But I've had a couple of meals at the Opera House…they had an old cook, Lucien Van Viev [sp???] - he was from that little cntry there between Spain and France, on the north shore…can't think of the name of it…you know where I mean. He went back there and retired. Went to the Skipper years ago when Beers used to run it. I went in there just specially to eat the quahog chowder…they called it clam chowder, but…

WHEN DID YOU STOP FISHING, AND WHAT DID YOU DO THEN? In 1952 I bought a boat, a 40-foot lobster smack from old Cap'n Arthur McCleave's boat, and of cawss a shanty went with it, so I got the bright idea to open a fishmarket. Well, I tell you, it was quite successful. Heh heh.

SO YOU CAUGHT THEM AND YOU SOLD THEM. Yeah, but you cdn't do both at once. That's what I found out…I thought I could go out and catch some flounders and just come in and sell 'em, but it didn't work that way. Anyway, I ran that business for 15 years, till Bud Beinecke kicked us out. I was on Island Service Whoff, where all the art colony is now. You know the Angler's Club? I designed that buildin'. Bud came in and says, "Phil," he says, " What would you do if you stayed right here?" I took out a sheet of wrappin' paper, fish wrappin' paper, and I drew it rt out for him…that ell shape right around the corner. I says, We'd have the fish mahkit right here down in the cawnuh, and a restaurant upstairs, and so fawth and so on…" "Beautiful," he says, " I'll take it up to my architect. I like that."

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF ALL THE CHANGES HE MADE? HATED em, really. He, well, now I don't want to go badmouthin' him or so on…just won't say.

WELL, WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER THAT? After 15 very successful years, the fishmarket had to close. I ran one fishmarket right out of business…heh heh heh…that was Miller Brothers…they had a big sign there that said, "If It Swims, We Have It." Great big 8-foot sign. Somebody printed in chalk underneath it, "If It Smells, We've Had It Too Long!" big laughter. Oh, and Frank Miller, oh, he was mad! He died some time ago…they're all gone now.

SO WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER BEINECKE CHANGED THE WHARF AREA? I went carpenterin'. I had worked in the wintertime for Dick Corkish, one of the local contractors, every winter, so I had a pretty good base there, and I knew how to handle tools anyway through Coffin School. Coffin School was mandatory from the 8th grade through HS…one period a week, so I was prty handy with the tools.

WHEN YOU WENT OUT TO GEORGES BANKS, DID YOU EVER SEE WHALES? Oh yes! All the time. No adventures, oh no - you'd see a whole herd of whales out ahead of you, and as you went through them they just [spreads his arms to either side]. Got out of your way.

WHEN DID YOU MEET YOUR WIFE? Her maiden name was Grande ["Grandi"] - Italian…and 'course mine bein' Grant, she didn't have to change too much. In fact, she inherited the family silverware because of the G! laughs. How did we meet? Well, her sister was working here as a registered nurse at the Nantucket Ctg Hospital when it was still up on West Chester Street, and she was pregnant, and her husband, John Meilbye, was in the Coast Guard down here. And I finished a [fishing] trip one day and I went into the Spa around 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and Old John Anastos was standing there, HA HA HA! Laughin' "Johnnie just had a baby!" He cdn't get over it, was tryin' to make a joke of it, y'know. And here's Johnnie, half drunk. Of course she had the baby up in Chelsea, she went to one of the hospitals up there where she'd previously worked, and I said, "Johnnie, aren't you goin' home to see your newborn baby?" and he says, "I haven't got liberty." Well, I says, "That's easily taken care of…" The Nesbitt Inn was Coast Guard headquarters at the time. I says, "You go over to the commandin' officer and tell him you just had a baby and you'd like to go home for 24 or 48 hours." And it worked. He came back and said it was OK, but he was broke. So I says, "So what?" I gave him a ten-dollar bill…'course he traveled on the boat free, and the railroad from Woods Hole to Boston was free for servicemen, and so I says, "Johnnie, when you get up there, you go and buy a pair of baby shoes and you'll have a present for your new son." He says, "Goddamn you, Phil Grant, if you ever come up to Boston, I'm gonna introduce you to my sister-in-law. And if you meet her, you'll marry her!" Well, truer words were never spoken. I went up there to visit him, and I met …a blind date…I met Annie and we had a cpl of dates up there, and that's just when I went up to enlist in the Navy. I didn't have to go, all fishermen were necessary food producers, but I figgered if I didn't go, why some poor married sucker with two or three kids would have to go. So I said, Aw heck, I've been fishin' right along, made good money - I'll just join up. That was during the war, December 42. Yup. We had a couple of dates, and all the time I was overseas - I spent most of the time in the South Pacific - we wrote letters and so forth and so on. When I got out in 46, it took us 5 days and nights comin' across country on a cattle car, as they called it…these cars all rigged up for servicemen…black boys in white jackets and all that, and they treated us very well…but we stopped at every siding. We were sposed to get off at South Station, but at the last minute the news was passed out that we were goint to the Nawth Sation. They announced it over the speaker system at South Station…so golly, we got off and I'm walkin' out there wonderin' what has happened, and all of a sudden, here comes Annie rushin across with her girlfriend! She'd come to meet me.

DID YOU KNOW THEN THAT THAT WAS IT? Yeah…I think so. Chuckled. I got out in April 6th of 46 and we were married in May. And we came right back to the island. Annie had been bawn in East Boston…

DID SHE HAVE ANY OBJECTIONS TO LIVING ON AN ISLAND? Oh, she hated it! Every time I'd have to go out fishing, she'd take Northeast Airlines and go to Boston. But yes, she sure has gotten used to it now…she wdn't trade it now for anything!. Well, I had a house up on Cliff Road, 55 Cliff Road, which I'd bot for practically nuthin, and then sold for a very big price in 85…and she almost wanted to leave me then and there. Well, we'd lived in that house 40-odd years, you see, and I said, "Girlie, you've got grounds for divorce." [ and Annie Beinecke used to come to his house to watch TV with his dtrs because they didn't have one. My dtrs had a thing on the door casing that they used to measure their height, and Deborah and Annwere on there too, the whole bunch.] She said she didn't want to go out there in the middle of nowhere…with nothing around but maybe a bunch of kids and animals…we moved out near the golf course…but now she loves it out there. We were the first house to bld on that street, and I'll tell you, it soon grew up.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD LYME DISEASE, WITH ALL THE GOLFING YOU DO? No…Ticks and bugs don't like me…I've always said if a rattlesnake bit me, he would curl up in a corner and die. Laugh. Really! It seems I'm immune to most everything.

CHILDREN: two dtrs, Doc Collins…Ellen and Nancy. Nancy married Richard Ryder, and lives on the island; Ellen lives in Rochester, NY, where she's a counselor for addicts. Nancy was nursing but helps Richard with the mowing, and all that sort of thing.
WHAT ARE YOUR MAJOR INTERESTS ON THE ISLAND TODAY? I never joined the Angler's Club, though I was one of the instigators at the time, when they were going to get it started, and they held mtgs at Cap'n Toby's Chowder Bowl [sic], but I was too busy at the time, fishmahkit goin' night and day. Know a lot of people; always that nice network of friends on the island. I'm going to be working at the Whaling Museum soon.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE ON NANTUCKET? Prob'ly home! Laughs. Really - but once in a while I go out twd Cisco way and watch the sunsets. I golf Mon, Wed, and Friday, same foursome every week; there's Paul Smith, he's about a year younger than me; and Tony Mello - he has the antique place down on Union Street - and Wes Simmons - he's our retired magistrate…he's the youngest of us all.

AND ARE YOUR WIVES GOLF WIDOWS? Oh no - Annie took it up 20 yrs ago and she's still going at it…in fact, she's out there today, last I knew.


ANY OTHER STORIES ABOUT YOUR FOREBEARS AND THEIR WHALING EXPLOITS? Well, as I said, Charles was the most successful whaling master in the world. I didn't know that until just recently. David Grant, who swam ashore in his kilts, was Charles' grandfather. Aunt Nancy [Grant Adams] is a would-be genealogist, and she has done a complete job on her part of the family - went over to Scotland and everything.

YOU'VE SEEN THE ISLAND CHANGE A LOT…ARE THERE SOME THINGS YOU REALLY LIKE AND SOME YOU DON'T? There's no use to say "dislike," because it's going to happen anyway. It's inevitable. Everybody wants a little piece of Nantucket - you're close to NY and Boston, and if you can have a place on Nantucket to fall back on if things get really bad, …this is gonna be one of the last places they'll bother - you know, a little old sandbar. Laughs. They wouldn't waste any ammunition on that. More laughter.

DO YOU EVER GO OFF-ISLAND? Only once in a great while - I have to go up to the Cape Cod Hospital every once in a while to get…I have a defibrillator - I've had 3 heart attacks.

BUT YOU LOOK VERY HALE AND HEARTY. Well, I AM hale and hahty! I say the doctors are wrong…[takes my hand and takes it to his upper chest, where the device is implanted under his skin] OH- YOU HAVE A SQUARE HEART! Much laughter.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO NANTUCKET IN THE FUTURE? I think it's going to be taken over by big money, and the few ntckters who are left will be caretakers. That's about what it'll amt to. In fact, it's almost that now.


WITH YOUR LITTLE SQUARE HEART AND ANNIE, WHO COOKS WONDERFULLY…AND GOLF 3 TIMES A WEEK. WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE WILL SAY ABOUT YOU IN 50 YEARS? Laughs. What a damn fool he was! SEEMS TO ME YOU MADE ALL THE RIGHT CHOICES. Not really…well, yes, I guess I did. Any regrets? No, no, because if I had it to do all over again, I'd do the same things. I turned down a commission in the Navy - I didn't want any part of that what they call the 90-day-wonder…go to school for 3 months …and 'course I had the jump on them, because I'd been to sea all this time, and I knew all the Morse codes and international codes and all that stuff.

DID YOU SEE ANY ACTION IN THE WAR? We were quite busy, yup. We made the first beachhead in Leyte, right outside the provincial capital of Leyte…and then we went on into the Coral Sea; we made Okinawa, and then we went on up to Japan. In fact, my daughter says that's why I'm baldheaded, because we took one of the landing craft and we went up the river from the sea…Kure [Iyo Sea, Suo Sea, Harima Seas all join, south of Hiroshima]was the Annapolis of Japan, where all the big ships would be - in fact, that's where they scuttled all the ships. It's like a great big enormous pool, and our planes came in and dropped their bombs and ruined that place. We made a beachhead there and that's when we took a landing barge and went up the river to Hiroshima, and this was only about a month and a half after the bomb was dropped. Everything was in complete ruin - it was quite a sight. So Nancy swears that I got radioaction [sic] out of it, because it was too soon afterwards, you know. DO YOU THINK? I don't know…well wait a minute - I'm the first baldheaded Grant - everybody else died with a head of hair. Laughs.

WERE YOU EVER SCARED DURING THE WAR? Not really - I was head of a boat division, 24 landing barges - I used to run salvage - see a boat in trouble, you'd tow him out, or if he got on a reef or something you'd yank him off and so forth.

I'LL BET YOU WERE GLAD TO GET HOME. Yes, I'd had it after 3 years, and the war was over…AND YOU WERE THINKING ABOUT ANNIE.
[lkg at pix] TRY TO GET ONE OF ANNIE.
He says he used to take "an awful lot of shots out at sea" with his 35-mm camera, different vessels and stuff…and he'd take them in to H. Marshall Gardiner's shop and Bertha Chase Gardiner would develop them.

Did you know three Nantucketers went up and laid out the city of New Bedford? You didn't know that? Mark Duff ?? it's in one of his writings…they laid out the city of NB because they could see that Nantucket Harbor wasn't big enough to take care of the growing whaling fleet.

Rip (Ripley - lived up on Vestal Street - his wife is still alive, Barbara Nelson, and she's still as sharp as a razor . Rip lost his first wife, you know, and afterwards he married his secretary, Barbara) Nelson was the guy who started the Pahk & Recreation Commission - he was a guy with a lot of good ideas - there was me, Paul Morris, Charlie Swain, and Phil Murray were members…we were the originators of the Pahk & Rec Commission. We used to have our first meetings in the Nelsons' dinin' room, put a green felt cover over the table; then we'd meet down at the old building that they tore down to make the new Town Buildin'.
[he remembers Holden, MA, 'I come there in a snowstorm, and that big church with the steeple was the prettiest sight I ever saw.']

Tabor ran the old Bon Ton Fish Market on Easy Street - I think Old Man Steve Ryder married a Tabor. I think that's the connection. That fishmarket was quite famous in its day. He sold prob'ly 25 dozen eggs a day- they used to sell eggs like the devil! And they only had 3 chickens and the rooster. Nobody could figure it out. Got away with it for quite a few years. Laughs heartily. Railway Express was delivering them in by the case all that time, and nobody ever really figured out how many he was sellin' - so most people thought the eggs were all from his chickens. We had a Baptist minister did the same thing - and he claimed too much breakage from the REA, so they called him on it, and he very quickly went out of business. [Andy Lowell eggs…Hens ain't layin' today…]

The Bon Ton fish market was a hangout for a bunch of drunks, is what it really was. Yup. Right on Easy Street…near Flo (Deeley)Clifford's little cottage that's just been refurbished.
[lkg at the pic of FDR in the harbor, from NVI, pic which Gardiner took] Got a little story about that visit. He was in the harbor in Nantucket, and course old George Grant, my grandfather, was invited aboard for lunch aboard the Amberjack, bein' the curator of the Whalin' Museum… but George wasn't gonna go emptyhanded, so he had this whale [indicates how long it was] - a sperm whale, and course there were guards all around the yacht, and he went out and had this wrapped up under his arm, and they took it away from him. What it was was a whale that's cut in, the blubber all the way around and how they cut the head casing to get the spermaceti…and all this, and he wanted to present it to FDR. And after they unwrapped it and found out it was OK, he finally took it aboard to give the Pres.

My grandfather - now, Old George has 18 years of service out the Surfside Lifesaving Station, and they used to take turns cooking. Each guy would have a week of cooking. And the boys were complainin' - see, they were allowed 87 or 89 cents a day food allowance, and their pay was a dollar a day - wasn't much, $30 a month plus the 89 cents for the food. Well, boys were complainin' that the Skipper's wife kept comin' in and helpin' herself…she'd bend over and take a big scoop out of the butter firkin, and she had some bacon and eggs, and she helped herself to all this stuff. The guys were very steamed up about it, and Old George says, "Well, by God, when it comes my turn to cook, she won't get away with it!' This is actually a true story! And he went into the kitchen one day and there she is, bent over helpin' herself to the butter out of the butter tub, and she had some stuff on the counter. He says, 'Madam! What do you think you're doin'?' She says, 'I'm getting some butter and some eggs…' He says, "Put that down and get the hell out of my kitchen!" Well, she was scared to death, I guess, but he got court-martialed for that, for being disrespectful to the Skipper's wife. And he had three of the guys - the only one I can remember was Leonard Morris, down on Orange Street - the reason I remember him so well is that Old George lived rt next door to him. And he would never speak to him again. Because he got drilled out of the service, on a bad conduct discharge, because these three guys, who were going to speak up for him didn't! They were afraid they'd lose their dollar-a-day job. WHAT DID HE DO AFTER THAT? He went carpenterin'. But the day of the trial he was goin' down Main Street to the court, and the cap'n of the Lifesaving Station, I won't mention his name, was comin' up the street, and he says, "Good Morning, Grant." And George looked over at him and says, 'Good mornin', and said his name. The Captain said, "Grant, my name's got a handle on it," and the old boy turned around and said, "Yes, and so's a pisspot!' laughed. This is the gospel truth - I'm not kidding about this.

Ambergris is produced in the hindgut of the sperm whale, Physeter catodon L. It is usually associated with the beaks of the whale's principal food, the common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis. It consists of 80% ambrein, a cholesterol derivative which may be either an indigestible component of the squid or a secretion of the whale's gut in response to the constant irritation caused by the sharp beaks of the squid. It is thought that the production of ambergris is pathological in nature but there is limited evidence for this assumption. In the gut of the whale it is a black, semiviscous and foul-smelling liquid. On exposure to sunlight and air it quickly oxidizes and hardens to a pleasantly aromatic, marbled, grayish, waxy, pellucid substance in which the squid beaks are still embedded. When warmed it produces a very pleasant, mild, sweet, earthy aroma. From ancient times it has been used in the West as a fixative for rare perfumes since it has the effect of making other fragrances last much longer than they would otherwise. It is said that a single drop of tincture of ambergris applied to a paper and placed in a book will remain fragrant after 40 years and that once handled, the fingers will smell of it even after several days and several washings.

Before 1,000 AD the Chinese referred to ambergris as lung sien hiang, "dragon's spittle perfume," because it was thought that it originated from the drooling of dragons sleeping on rocks at the edge of the sea. In the Orient it is still known by this name and is used as an aphrodisiac and as a spice for food and wine. The Japanese have also known ambergris from ancient times and called it kunsurano fuu, "whale droppings," a curiously onomatopoeic term to the Western ear! It was used to fix floral fragrances in perfumes. Ambergris was known to the Arabs as 'anbar and was originally called amber in the West It was used by the Arabs as medicine for the heart and brain. The Arabs believed that raw ambergris emanated from springs near the sea. In the Thousand and One Nights, Sinbad is shipwrecked on a desert island and discovers a spring of stinking crude ambergris which flows like wax into the sea where it is swallowed by giant fishes and vomited up again as fragrant lumps to be cast up on the shore.

The Greeks also believed that ambergris came from springs in or near the sea. They believed that it enhances the effects of alcohol when smelled before drinking wine or when it is added to wine. Many a bacchanal profited from a pinch of ambergris, no doubt.

The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology -Originally from the French ambre (amber) possibly initially derived from the Arabic 'anbar (ambergris). The original meaning of the word amber was ambergris. The modern word is derived from the French ambre gris (gray amber, ambergris) in distinction to ambre jaune (Prussian amber, yellow amber or true amber). The English and French confusion over the terms may have arisen early since both raw substances are relatively similar in appearance, with the exception of color, are rare, are costly and are found on or along seacoasts. Oxford English Dictionary -Ambergris From the French ambre gris (gray amber, ambergris). To this substance the word amber originally referred. Spelling variants may owe their origins to confused attempts to describe the substance as greasy