A visit with Osmond Beal: Corned Hake & ginger cake

by Brian Robbins 

BEALS ISLAND, ME – The thermometer was struggling to get above zero – and who knew what it was with the wind chill.

It was a Saturday, the end of a week that reminded you of what winters in Maine used to be: cold with plenty of snow.

You ought to ask boat builder/designer Osmond Beal about the way winters used to be.  He knows all about it.

After all, he and his father Vinal built 14 boats together outside years ago … that’s what they did winters when they weren’t fishing.

And if the day was so bad that they couldn’t work on the boat they were building, well, they’d go clamming.

A man still had to make a living, after all.

On this day, however, we’re sitting in the living room of Osmond and his wife Barbara’s home on Beals Island, ME: Osmond and I are in comfy chairs facing each other; Barbara is on the couch beside my wife Tigger, asking her about the knitting project she’s working on.

There’s no boat to build this winter – inside or outside.  Osmond, who will be turning 87 a few days after our visit, suffered a stroke a couple of years ago and it has slowed him up about getting around.

I know that not being able to work aggravates him, as a man who has kept busy all his life.  But his spirits are good – and that smile of his is just as quick as I’ve always known it to be.

And when we get talking about boats … well, he’s right there.

We’re talking about Osmond and his father having to shovel out whatever wooden boat they were building after a snowstorm before they could begin their day’s work…

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