History lovers came out tonight for our first Fireside Chat.
Dana Peck, a Biddeford native and entrepreneur, led us on an amazing journey back in time. It was the 1920s. The Depression had set in and there was a need for work and industry. Our local men who lived on Guinea Road and the Old Pool Road (now the Meetinghouse) were skilled carpenters, but work was hard to find. Through ingenuity and collaboration, a boat yard was born. This boat yard was located at the end of Marblehead Lane and was called the Marblehead Boat Yard.
Dana brought us back to the Guinea Road area in the 1920s through the 1940s. It was a true community. He read off the names from the 1930 census – Johnson, Staples and Piper. He mentioned that the only immigrants in the area were his grandparents who hailed from Germany. He enchanted us with stories of local characters. He talked about one man who was in his 80s that would dock his rowboat at what is now the Marblehead Boat Launch and row along the river every morning.
He helped us to discover the early beginnings of Rumery’s Boatyard and to our delight, we had its present owner in our audience.
Dana made it abundantly clear that the true power of history is in its stories. The dates and the names of the people are just the framework. What galvanizes our interest is what people did with their time here – how they struggled, how they triumphed and where it led them.
Paul McDonough, historian and Biddeford Historical Society board member, calibrated our discussion with the backdrop of history. He said we all have to remember that we have inhabited these shores for only 400 years. We must think of the First Americans who were here for 1500 years. Earlier explore Champlain described them as beautiful. The men were tall and muscular and had a salmon or sturgeon tattoo emblazoned across their chests.
Our next Fireside Chat is on September 8th at 7 pm when we explore the magnificent treasure that is Clifford Park. Together, we will uncover the amazing woman who decided to give 140 acres of land to the City. Her only request was that they have a gate with the family name of Clifford on it.