Profile of a hard working lobsterman from coastal Maine
People “from away,” say Lester leads a simple life. His time-weathered, sunburned face tells quite a different story, however. He will smile at anyone approaching, proudly revealing his gold tooth, top row, prominently in the center of his other misaligned baked-bean-brown teeth. Lester proudly wears each salt air, sun-kissed wrinkle on his face and brow. He knows only a life of cool and damp foggy mornings, high and blustery seas, sopping wet, slippery decks, and long hours of hard work on a boat constantly heaving to and fro in the mighty ocean waves. His thick, leathery, chapped lips were such a befitting frame for the gold tooth that glimmered when the sun hit it at just the right angle.
His days begin at 3:30 a.m., hauling lobster traps out of the icy saltwater and ending by filling the “lobster car” in the harbor with his day’s catch. Sometimes he wonders how he will get thru the following month due to new restrictions and laws made by those “business suits” in Augusta. Costs are going up for everyone, but when you have to discard nearly all your equipment, it is like starting a whole new business each time. “What must they be thinking, where’s the gain, and who is getting it?”…. he asked himself aloud, knowing that no one has even an adequate answer.
By now, he knows how to “size” a lobster by eye alone, although he knows using the State-issued Maine gauge ensures it is legal size. Lester has been in the business of “lobstering” since he was about twelve years old and the first mate on his grandfather’s boat. He worshipped his grandfather, loved listening to tales of his Abenaki family and what his fishing excursions were like when he was a boy. The tales of his grandfather scooping giant lobsters with his native father from a canoe fascinated Lennie, along with hearing of the enormous size of the crustaceans back in that time.
Lester looks forward with childlike glee to the one annual holiday tradition he affords himself, the fourth of July! He knows he can socialize with all the local harbor folk who gather around his outdoor stone fireplace to swap their versions of tales of the sea. In the evening, after everyone has partaken of his famous clambake, they share spectacular fireworks over the harbor sky from Lester’s dock. He will be the quiet one standing in the shadows, mouth agape, gold tooth intermittently reflecting the colorful sparks in the coastal Maine sky like a strobe light.