|“Then Billy walked in the door,” recalls Linda Godfrey, a founding member of Save Passamaquoddy Bay. The part-time fisherman from Jonesport and two of his buddies, Bimbo and Buzz, had taken over the wharf and warehouse owned by well-known area fisherman Oscar Look. Mr. Look had passed away, and among the items he left behind were 800 handcrafted herring scale baskets. The baskets dated to the ‘60s and had never been used.
Herring scale baskets were hand-woven out of ash by skilled Passamaquoddy craftspeople. They were used by local fishermen to collect discarded fish scales, the basis of the pearlescent material used in lipsticks and other commercial products. Cheap plastic baskets and the demise of Maine canneries put an end to the handwoven herring scale basket. Billy, Bimbo, and Buzz pretty much owned the last of them.
The three fishermen struck a deal with Save Passamaquoddy Bay, and the local group began selling the baskets to family and friends to help fund its research and legal work.
“We faced big legal teams funded by big money,” says Linda. “Our lawyers, who donated a lot of their time, were funded by baskets.”
Save Passamaquoddy Bay has successfully defeated all three of the corporate developers that sought to build liquefied natural gas terminals on the bay.
NRCM is partnering with Save Passamaquoddy Bay to sell the remaining baskets.
The baskets are $200 each, with an additional $11 for tax (Maine residents only) and $25 for shipping and handling. Every basket is unique, but they are all approximately 18” high with the sturdy ash handle, 16” wide at the top, and 12” wide at the bottom. NRCM members are using them to hold blankets, beach paraphernalia, dog toys, kindling, and much, much more.
Seventy-five percent of each sale helps Save Passamaquoddy Bay retire the last of its legal costs and protect the bay from inappropriate development. The balance of each sale supports NRCM’s work to protect Maine’s environment.
Thank you for supporting Save Passamaquoddy Bay and preserving a piece of the cultural history of Down East Maine.
NRCM Senior Director of Philanthropy