From the Director
Dear friends and members,

I hope this E-News finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.  To ensure the health and safety of our visitors and staff, Penobscot Marine Museum will delay its seasonal opening. Our tentative opening date is now June 30, but we await further health and safety guidance as we make our plans.

Though our museum is not currently open to visitors, our staff members are working both remotely and behind the scenes to care for our campus and collections and to further our mission. We continue to conduct research, develop exhibits, plan programs, and design new educational initiatives to reach beyond our campus.

We invite you to join us from your own homes to explore the Penobscot Marine Museum. Scroll through a  virtual exhibit, follow a  first-hand adventure on a turn-of-the-century merchant vessel, browse our  collections, join our Facebook  reading club, keep up with our timely  Instagram posts, or plan your  visit to Searsport when the time is right.

Karen Smith
Executive Director
Exclusive Offer
Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Magazine is generously providing free access to the May/June digital edition to PMM supporters. MBH&H hopes to provide some entertainment in these difficult times. 

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14 Months in the Klondike
Captain Clifton Curtis, ship captain and gold prospector!

I recently stumbled upon the typescript of the Captain Clifton Curtis' 14 month diary of his time in the Klondike unsuccessfully prospecting for gold from 1898-1899, given by his granddaughter (LB1989.148). In addition to making fun of the sailing and boating abilities of other prospectors navigating the rivers and lakes of the Klondike, he records the temperatures encountered. On June 12, he notes the temperature of 120 degrees in the sun, the air full of mosquitos as they sail Lake LaBarge (made famous in the Robert Service's poem,  The Cremation of Sam McGee.
Captain Clifton Curtis' thermometer and barometer

Landing at his claim a few days later, the mining shaft is solid ice and frozen muck, requiring the men to light fires to sink their shaft, although the temperature on June 30th is 90 in the shade. By December 1, the thermometer at a bunkhouse at the mouth of the Hunker River, the only instrument in the vicinity, reads zero. Curtis must rely on sporadic reports from the Hunker River bunkhouse, as his mining claim is a "hard pull" of a day's walk from there. On New Years Eve 1889, the temperature reads 50 below zero.  Although he did not have the thermometer in the Klondike, he did carry it on his sailing and steamship commands.

This brief interlude in Capt. Curtis' 40 year career as a sailing and steamship captain, was "full of trials and hardships and by no way a financial success, and also a trip that is stamped on my memory for life." 
Quarantine Flags
Leghorn, Italy, 19th Century, #PMM531.1. Perhaps the ships at anchor in the right of the painting are in quarantine?

As you may have learned elsewhere, the term quarantine comes from the Venetian term "quaranta giorni" or the 40 days that foreign ships suspected of carrying the plague were required to anchor before landing their cargo in 1300s Venice. By the 1580s, ships venturing to the Adriatic Sea ports carried a "bandiera della sanitaria" or quarantine flag.  

The Lima Signal Flag. Gift of Rebecca Ross.

The color of the quarantine flag changed over the years. In  Denmark, during the Great Plague of 1710-1811, ships flew a white quarantine flag. In Britain in 1789, ships quarantined off the coast hoisted a yellow flag, six times the size of a normal flag, during the day and a light atop the mainmast at night; failure to comply carried a fine of 200 pounds. In Germany, a yellow or green flag, which could not be confused with any national ensign, was used for quarantine.

Today, ships arriving in port with known or suspected health problems fly the Lima Signal Flag. In 1832, the practice of flying the L flag from the top of the main mast began to signify sickness on board.

The Quebec Signal Flag. Gift of Rebecca Ross.

Yellow has been synonymous with sickness since the Middle Ages, when heretics were required to wear yellow, the color of hell fire, betrayal, jealousy, and treachery. The Yellow Flag has signified both a ship with sickness on board, and one that is cleared of sickness. Today, it denotes that a ship has been cleared by the Port Authority of any serious health problems.

The Manual on Ship Sanitation & First Aid for Merchant Seamen in 1923 offers some tips for us today. Although we might not be suffering from their list of common diseases warranting quarantine: cholera with a 5 day quarantine period, plague and yellow fever with 6 days, typhus with 12 days, small pox with 14 days, anthrax, and leprosy, which was never cleared for disembarkation, we still have guidelines to clear before we are "cleared" and given a clean bill of health. Back then, the disinfecting solutions were bichloride of mercury, carbolic acid, and formalin. So remember to follow their advice: clean all surfaces, get fresh ventilation, isolate the patient and nurse, and disinfect all clothes and bedding. Stay safe until we all have free pratique.
Next up for PMM's digital book club:

Book 5 (4/25-4/30) "Footprints on the Sea-Shore" from "Twice Told Tales" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He likely wrote it about a Massachusetts shore, but it's easy to imagine it taking place along our Maine Coast. Here
Book 6 (5/1-5/7) "The Sea-Glin" in George Savary Wasson's "Home from Sea." A sea captain's home with treasures from around the world, the islands in Penobscot Bay, there is much that is familiar in this short story. Wasson replicates the Maine dialects from around 1900, which can be challenging to read, but it's worth it! Page 65 in the digital book.
Book 7 (5/8- 5/21) Maine-native Sarah Orne Jewett's 1896 novel "The Country of the Pointed Firs" which takes place in a small coastal Maine town and is available here

Join the conversation on Facebook.
Photo Archives News
A Visual Buffet at Your Fingertips!

We all seem to have a lot of time on our hands lately. If you have exhausted your Netflix and Hulu accounts, and are seeking some new mental stimulation, we have a lot to offer! Many of the exhibits we have created over the past 10 years are available as virtual exhibits. These include the following;
Kosti Comes Home was created in 2018 to celebrate his archive coming back to Maine
Through Her Lens examines 5 women photographers working at the turn of the 20th century
The Carters and the Lukes explores 2 midcoast area boatbuilding families
20 Best is our take on the diamonds in our collections. Do you agree?
The Evolution of the Photo Snapshot. We didn't start out taking pictures like we do now!

The Eastern Illustrating Collection has been featured in  Summer Folk and  Main Streets as well as county exhibits of  WaldoKnox and  Washington! And that's not all!

Look up your town, boat or grandmother in our  online database. Learn about the various collections that make up the  PMM Photo Archive. Watch video recordings of many of our past presentations and speakers on our  Vimeo Channel! Surf's up!
Fort Point Collection now Online

Cottage in Fort Point's Summer Colony
This little gem of a collection has been right under our noses for almost 50 years! The set of 25 cabinet photo cards made circa 1885 was donated by Mr. & Mrs. Kerry Lynn back in 1971. We recently rediscovered it as we work our way backwards digitizing the museum's holdings. The photographs were published by Worden Artistic Photographer of Boston. A Boston business directory in 1885 gives the business a glowing review.

Fisherman's Rock and Small's Point
The set was most likely created to offer to tourists staying at the Wassaumkeag Hotel. This hotel was a grand, 4-story hotel in the French second Empire Style, with mansard roof and a central tower that provided a high crows nest viewing perch. Built into the roof was a "roof promenade" from which guests could overlook the Penobscot River, Blue Hill, Mt. Desert's hills and the Camden Hills in the distance. It stood on the promontory just north of the lighthouse overlooking the sandy spit there which offered a natural buffer to the river currents for protected boating and fishing.

Woodcliff Hotel, Steamer Lewiston passing
It's said that it was built in 1872 to rival the successful new resorts at Boothbay, advertising its fine views, 125 elegantly furnished first-class rooms, billiards, bowling alley, gas, steam heating, a broad verandah and promenade roof, all next door to "the ruins of the ancient" British Fort Pownal and picturesque 1852 lighthouse. Guests could arrive and depart from nearby Sanford's Wharf by steamers to and from Boston and Bangor.The hotel was renamed a couple of times - The Fort Point House and The Woodcliff. But the owners lost money on it and it was closed at some point. It burned in 1898. One can still see its cellar hole on the walk to the lighthouse. The photographs include views of steamboats, schooners and grandviews of the shoreline at the point. Enjoy!

A New Blog Shines a Light on
The Phillips Collection!

You have heard quite a bit from us about the wonderful Maine maps created by brothers Augustus "Gus" and Luther Phillips. What you have not heard about until now is the postcard portion of their collection. The Phillips Collection of maps, postcards, and the original slides used to make them were donated in 2016 by Gus' daughter, Mary Jane "MJ" Phillips Smith, of Ellsworth. The collection is being processed by PMM volunteers Cathy Jewitt (MJ's niece) and Ben Meader (cartographer). They presently are working on a book about the Phillips maps, but took a detour recently and started a blog about the postcard images. They have teamed up with Ben's father John Meader, a photographer, to take "now" photos of some of the Phillips postcard images, taken in the 1950s into the 70s. The blog goes beyond Then & Now photographs by exploring each place as a travelog. Follow along hereGeorge Smith of the Bangor Daily News gave it a nod recently. See his blurb  here
Adventures with Duff & Grunt
I've been reading a lot about life at sea. I can almost feel the salt wind in my hair. I can almost taste the duff and grunt. Duff & grunt?! No, I can't almost taste them because I am not familiar with them.

In the Penobscot Marine Museum Facebook Book Club, we've read several short stories, a young adult novel set on Penobscot Bay, and the maritime classic "Two Years Before the Mast." (You can find online links to the readings plus cool extra information and images at the Facebook page.) Author Richard Henry Dana described duff in the following way: "To enhance the value of the Sabbath to the crew, [the sailors] are allowed on that day a pudding, or, as it is called, a 'duff.' This is nothing more than flour boiled with water, and eaten with molasses. It is very heavy, dark, and clammy, yet it is looked upon as a luxury, and really forms an agreeable variety with salt beef and pork. Many a rascally captain has made friends of his crew by allowing them duff twice a week on the passage home."

Using the Story Map at, we are also following Ernest Perkins as he sailed from Boston to Buenos Aires on the Searsport-built MABEL I. MEYERS in 1892. He is one of two passengers on the merchant vessel and he describes the daily life of the crew, officers, and passengers. Perkins writes, "Had for dinner today salt [meat], cabbage, potatoes, biscuits, tea, coffee, & 'Grunt.' Grunt is great."

When I hear "pudding," I think of the chocolate powder that comes in a Jell-O box. "Grunt is great" is not a particularly useful description. (There is a possibility that Perkins is actually referring to duff when he talks about grunt; however, there are several occasions in his diary that he mentions duff or plum duff specifically, so I believe he is referring to two distinct dishes.) I began to research these dishes, starting with plum duff. Duff is a steamed or boiled pudding. Unlike the creamy Jell-O pudding I am used to, steamed pudding is more like a (kind of) sweet bread with a slightly soggy exterior. Which led to the question: how do you "steam" pudding? There is actually a whole line of pudding dishes. Similar to how the Jell-O gelatin (the colorful fruity version, not the pudding version) can be prepared in all sorts of fun-looking dishes, steamed pudding can be made in a mold so it has a pretty presentation at the end. Surprisingly, I have no pudding mold, but, never fear, there is another option. You can steam pudding by wrapping the batter in a cloth. (At this point, it's kind of a " hole in the bucket" situation with figuring out how to steam pudding!)

After further research, I ended up using a large linen napkin that I had on hand. To prepare it, I placed it in boiling water, rung it out, then rubbed flour into it so the duff wouldn't stick. I laid the prepared napkin over a large bowl, mixed the duff ingredients (2 C flour, ½ t baking soda, 1 t cream of tartar, pinch of salt, ¼ C melted shortening, ¼ C sugar, 2/3 C raisins 2/3 C water) in a separate bowl ("plum" is a 19th century term for raisins), then let the ball of raw duff gently fall into the napkin which fell into the bowl. Next, I tied up the edges of the napkin, leaving room for the duff to expand. Now for the logistics of cooking. The pudding is suspended in a pot of boiling water for a long period of time. The pudding is then cooked, a little bit by being boiled if the water is touching it, and the rest of it is steamed. How is the pudding suspended? Most of the references to modern puddings say something simple, like put a trivet in the bottom of the pot. Lacking the appropriate "trivet," I opted for a metal vegetable steamer. Into the pot went the steamer and plenty of water. I waited for it to boil, then I plopped the raw duff in its cloth "bag" on top, added the lid, and set an alarm for four hours later. Exactly 4 hours later (being impatient since this is quite the process!), I used tongs to remove the pudding bag from the pot and placed it onto a plate. I excitedly unwrapped the cloth. And there, to my surprise, was a lovely round bread blob! I flipped it onto another plate, cut out a slice, and gave it a try. Yes, slightly damp on the outside, but really not bad! Totally edible. Duff isn't bad.

Which then leads to grunt. What is grunt? Perkins usually describes grunt as"apple grunt." My research found a few references to grunt, especially blueberry grunt, as a New England or Eastern Canadian dish. The dish is made by stewing fruit - the "grunt" supposedly refers to the sound the fruits make as they are cooking. What goes on top of the fruit is what makes this dish interesting. Based on my research, grunt includes simple dumplings steamed on top of the fruit. This makes the dish sort of like a cobbler, but instead of baked, the biscuits are steamed. I used this recipe with fresh apples, but Perkins probably had grunt made with dried apples.

At the end of the evening, I was able to taste the plum duff and apple grunt! They are both heavy, not-terribly-sweet desserts. I can imagine them being enjoyable during a busy day of climbing aloft and the constant work of life at sea. While the particular versions Dana and Perkins ate were likely even less sweet, my adventures with duff and grunt were eye-opening and fun!

Perhaps you, like me, are new to these foods or maybe you have already gone on this adventure or you grew up with steamed pudding and grunts. Send me your comments, questions, and insights at  [email protected].

PMM education director Jeana Ganskop
Working from home

Goodbye to a Dear Friend
Last month we lost a dear friend of the Museum. In the years Norman Jolliffe spent with PMM, he endeared himself to the staff and visitors alike. Norman could frequently be found in the garden tending the plants, or the library researching whatever he was most interested in at the time. Norman will be greatly missed by anyone who got to know him. You can read his obituary here.
Volunteer Spotlight
A Conversation with Paul DeOrsay

Paul was familiar with PMM in part through his friendships with Renny Stackpole and Ben Fuller, both former senior staff at the museum. After a long career crewing aboard ships, and before retiring to Midcoast Maine, he served as Director at the Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. He started giving his Thursday afternoons to the Photo Archives sometime in early 2019, bringing to the table his decades of maritime life on Penobscot Bay and elsewhere. We enjoy being around him at least as much as he likes being here. Thanks, Paul, for your friendship and expertise.
Where did you spend most of your formative years?
Suburban Philadelphia, with summers on Megunticook lake in Camden. My father was from Maine, and his mother's family came from this general area: Owls Head, Rockland, and Camden, and though he lived and workedin Philadelphia he brought his family back to Maine at every opportunity. So we had a cottage on the lake since something like 1952 or '53.
In those formative years, what would you say were the most formative experiences that perhaps drew you to an interest in boats and the sea?
 Probably one of the most formative [experiences] was that a really good sailing instructor named Jon Sims, who was a math teacher at the high school, came to the Camden Yacht Club.  He grabbed a whole bunch of us 14- to 15-year-olds who were at that awkward in between stage when you couldn't really have a job and you couldn't drive...and he made us all assistant sailing instructors. We were unpaid, but he was a really good teacher. What I remember is faculty meetings, sitting under a tree, and realizing that this guy actually was listening to us as we talked about which kids in the sailing program needed more help and which seemed to be really catching on. That led to a job running a schooner for a summer camp in Bucksport when I was 18. I started working on schooners insummers through college, graduated from college, and said, Okay it's time to get a real job. I ended up as a night clerk in a motel. After a while I said to myself Well, I'd be just as poor, but a lot healthier and happier, if I go sailing again for a while. And that "for a while" turned into about 20 years.
 Tell me a little bit about your most unforgettable sea voyage.
One of the things I always said was if you do it right, you don't have any dramatic sea stories. I made it prettywell through without dramatic sea stories. I guess maybe the most memorable were the most enjoyable. I worked for the Sea Education Association for about 10 years through the 1980s. The first trip I took on the [schooner] Westward as Captain, I had a really extraordinary crew of staff and students. It was just a really good trip. It worked out that we got through six weeks of sailing with two port stops and only used the engine for six hours the whole time. Really good people and, and, you know, the students...another teacher once told me, What you were doing doesn't count because all of your students wanted to be there. It was real high energy, a lot of curiosity, smart people. I mean, we had a staff of scientists. The conversations at dinner [made you feel like] Wow, I learned so much. That was one of the most memorable.
Would you say you've done anything is a PMM photo archives volunteer that would hold other people's attention at a party?
Actually, given the kinds of folks I would see at a party, the answer is probably yes. Our circle of friends is pretty nautically inclined. Especially [my cataloging work on the] Carroll Thayer Berry Collection, because he was friends with [Camden Windjammers founder] Frank Swift, and there're so many pictures of the early days of the Windjammer cruises business. [Maybe] there are no great discoveries there, though his pictures of the burning of the schooner Enterprise...I actually put a link to one of those on Facebook and there were quite a number of the younger generation of boat bums who were in shock. Most of those guys weren't even born when Swift had those boats and was buying them for, I don't know, a few hundred bucks. "That one's tired, get rid of it."
So they were just in shock to see one of the windjammers being torched on a beach.
Yeah. As things have progressed, it's like, No, you rebuild them, put all this money into them. [With his passenger schooner business,] Swift bailed them out from that happening to them 10 years before it did, by finding a little something they could do that didn't stress them too hard. But he wasn't going to invest a whole lot in them. He really liked doing it, but he was running a business and so he had to justify, businesswise, everything he did.

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