Captain Freddy’s house has been on the market for 18 hours. The asking price of $399,000 is 80 times more than the $5,000 I paid for it in 1966.

Captain Freddy was a good neighbor. I have many fond memories and stories about him. When he quit going to sea, he became a carpenter. When I was small, I went next door and watched him build a garage. Back then the old people had a different way of saying things. When Alex’s dog broke his collar and ran away, Captain Freddy said: “Alex’s dog’s gone adrift.”

My grandfather went to sea as most everyone in our village had done for generations, and many didn’t return. On the back side of my great-grandfather’s black-granite marker, an anchor and “Lost At Sea” is carved on the stone. So when Captain Freddy was 12 and it was time for him to ship, his mother had lost so many family members that she wouldn’t let him go. In telling about it, Captain Freddy said: “All hands was lost on that voyage. I suppose it’s just as well I didn’t go.

In 1957, I had just got out of the Coast Guard so I went up to Castine with Captain Freddy and his neighbor Alex to the Retired Skipper’s Race. I knew nothing about sailing but could read a chart and take a fix so they figured I might do for something. Back then there were still enough retired skippers born before 1900 along the coast to warrant a contest. I can’t remember exactly how it worked but I think the Camden Windjammer fleet was brought up to be used for the day.

If you’ve had any experience on the Bagaduce River or Eggemoggin Reach, you know that is where they invented fog.

So you won’t be surprised to learn that it was socked in that morning. Captain Freddy wouldn’t go, so we started for home. I was in back, Alex driving and Captain Freddy in front. Halfway between there and here is a stop sign that you might not be ready for on an unfamiliar road and Alex didn’t see it. Remember that this was in the days before seat belts. I leaned forward and got a headlock on Captain Freddy just as Alex hit the brakes and dragged four smoking tires up to the stop sign. Every time I’d see Captain Freddy after that I’d think to myself that I was responsible for preserving a perfectly good captain’s hat.


I came home from college being able to backflip off a diving board. No swimming pool available, my brother and I went up into Percy’s hay loft where I could demonstrate my newfound skill. The hay didn’t give like water and I landed with a loud crack accompanied by great pain. Perce was entertaining Captain Freddy in his living room when I limped down to report. I said that I’d done a backflip in the hay and I thought I’d fractured my ankle. Captain Freddy leaned forward with his hand behind his ear and shouted: “Flagship?”

I said, “I think I broke my leg in the barn.”

Captain Freddy slapped his leg and said, “Oh God. I wish I’d seen it.”

One day when he was about my age, he put on his best suit, went out on his front lawn and shot himself. The doctor told him he had a virus and he didn’t know what a virus was.

When you sit at our dining room table, you’re looking at Captain Freddy’s Tiffany lamp and seeing his chairs and china closet.

Stand in the middle of the road by Captain Freddy’s house and turn your head to the right and you can see the yellow house where Marsha and I live now – half a mile down the road. In between is the house in which I was born and brought up. I wouldn’t be happy living anywhere else.

Over the past 58 years, the economy has been yanked a bit out of kilter. You might have noticed that since the 1980s it has been slanted to favor the rich and banks and not much has trickled down to most of us. We’re kept as poor as possible while paying interest on borrowed money for as long as possible.

I bought Captain Freddy’s house with less than one year’s teaching salary. If wages had gone up commensurate to what that house is now worth, a Maine teacher would now start at $448,000 a year.

How is this discrepancy possible? I have heard that it is President Biden’s fault.

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