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Blue Hill, ME
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Jeff Todd Titon
In this story, Albert "Hap" Collins talks about his maternal grandfather who worked as a mail carrier, delivering mail from the mainland to Long Island in Blue Hill Bay.
Well, he come from Long Island and he, they had a thousand sheep, he and the old man together over there, and they were Scots, they come from Scotland anyway, from sheep country. My grandfather was a Scotchman. And he had come from Scotland to Digby, Nova Scotia. And then he come from Digby, Nova Scotia down here, and then he settled on Long Island.
He died in 1926, I think, or something like that. But he, when he lived on the island he farmed and he fished, and he carried the mail for about thirty years, back to the mainland. Well, he got a dollar a day. You think of it. Well, one of the postal inspectors was down here one time, ’twas late in the Fall, and they said that, told the postmaster down here, that was Sylvester, that was John’s grandfather, he had the store, and he had the post office, too.
He said, “Mr. Henderson gets too much money.” He says, “All he’s got to do,” he says, “That’s the island right over there,” he said; “All he’s got to do is carry the mail across there.”
Well, anyway, Ben Sylvester said, “Well, now, he’ll be coming off with the mail pretty soon. You’ll get a chance to talk with him.”
So Grandfather come off with the mail and it was late in the Fall. And so Sylvester told Grandfather what was up. And Grandfather said, “Well, now,” he said, “You know, it’s going to blow nor’west this afternoon a good breeze. And I’m going to wait until it gets a damn good breeze and I’m going to take him across with me.”
So he did. It got blowing. And Grandfather only had a twelve-foot skiff with a sail on her. He got the old postal inspector in the bottom of the skiff, told him to set still and not move. And of course Grandfather started out and he had that skiff so the water was right on the rail, you know, and the fellow was scared.
“Oh,” he said, “Mr. Henderson,” he said, “Let’s go back.”
Grandfather says, he says, “I’m carrying the United States mail.” He said, “It has to be delivered.” He said, “I can’t go back.”
“Well,” he said, “I’ll make an exception,” he said, “I’m the postal inspector.”
“Oh,” Grandfather said, “Nothing to it,” he said, “I do this all the time,” he said, “This is a nice day!” So finally he got him over there. When he got him on the island shore, the old fellow was so scared he couldn’t get out of the skiff. Grandfather had to wait. He got out of the skiff and he couldn’t walk.
Albert Collins, Jeff Todd Titon, Blue Hill, Maine, Long Island, skiff, boat, mail, coastal life, Ben Sylvester, bootlegger, Scotland, Nova Scotia
Folklore | Oral History
Collins, Albert. 1988. “Mail Story.” NA2144, V52. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine.