About Me

Growing up in a small New England town with a mother who was an antiquarian it was inevitable that I would be exposed to old things. After graduating from UMass/Amherst I lived in Connecticut, taught school, married, and raised three children in suburbia. A move to Newburyport MA renewed my interest in all things old. This background has now evolved into research, writing, consulting and all the things I love to do.

Prudence Fish

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Almost from the time I was born I was a summer visitor to the house I now own.  At that time it belonged to “Auntie”, a family friend.
Lanes Cove fish shacks
A frequent summer event was going to the “Cove” (Lane's Cove) with Auntie to get Old England (hake) or lobsters.  My memory from early on recalls a nice old fisherman at the Cove, Capt. Elbridge Woodbury.  Woodbury is a venerable name in these parts and I am jogging my memory to bring back some of my earliest memories.
Capt. Woodbury (L) and brother, Frank Woodbury (R) 1914
Elbridge Woodbury was born July 14, 1858.  His wife was Ermina.  They were married in 1880.

Elbridge Woodbury died shortly after his 95th birthday in 1953.  Capt.Woodbury's vessel in olden days was the Charles A. Dyer.

I have a very faint memory of attending a wedding anniversary celebration at their house.  Mrs. Woodbury died in 1944.  According to these calculations it must have been their 60th wedding anniversary in 1940.

The Lanesville cookbook, c. 1950 is full of historical tidbits among which is this story about Capt. Elbridge Woodbury.

Capt. Woodbury Rescues the Crew of the Schooner, Eurotas

The entire crew of the New York lumber ship Eurotas were saved from a salt water grave at 11:00 on the morning of October 14, 1889.  Captain Elbridge Woodbury with his handpicked crew of ten men succeeded in rescuing the five mariners just as their big schooner ran aground on Lane’s Point.
Early in that October morning, the disabled schooner was noticed off the point drifting into the bay.   About nine o’clock, when the Lane’s Cove fishermen saw that she required assistance they took the schooner Charles A. Dyer, out under a 2-reefed mainsail and the bonnet off her jib.  They no sooner hauled the last man aboard when the Eurotas struck on the rocky point.

Captain Holt of the lumber schooner explained that he left Bangor on Friday, and his vessel sprung a leak on Monday afternoon when off Boon Island.  The ship was owned by Becket Bros. of New York, a 189 ton vessel.

Wreckage of the schooner and cargo drifted up along the shore, and the schooner house drifted into Lane’s Cove where it was secured by James McKie and Alfred W. Riley.  Most of the lumber scattered all along the Lanesville shore but the bulk of it piled up at the eastern end of the Lane’s Cove Breakwater.  The village fishermen who saved the crew of the Eurotas were:

Elbridge Woodbury, Capt.

James Marchant                                George E. Morgan
John Bagnell                                      Edward Bates
Albert Saunders                                 Benjamin T. Bowden                 
Fred Marchent                                  Edward F. Lane          
Fred C. Haraden                               Ward H. Lane

Captain Jabez Marchant of the Davis Neck Life Saving Station took charge of the men and authorized James W. Marchant to take care of the wreck.

My favorite story is a much more personal story.  Here is a story to which ladies reading the blog can perhaps relate.

Somewhere close to 1930 my mother had a Sheraton canopy bed, an antique bed that she treasured and now equally treasured by me.  Like many today with a canopy bed, my mother wanted a fishnet canopy top with tassels for her bed.

I am not sure how it came about; it was long before my time. My mother didn't live here, only visited, but Capt. Woodbury agreed to make the fishnet canopy for her.  Today you get them from Country Curtains but not so in 1930.

Capt. Woodbury made the net.  My mother made the tassels.  I  used it on the bed for many years but more recently replaced it with a Country Curtain fishnet canopy which looks very nice.  There is nothing wrong with the 80 plus year old canopy top.  I just wanted to give it a break and put it away for safekeeping.

Fishnet canopy by Capt. Woodbury
In his old age Capt. Woodbury went to the Cove everyday and sat on a bench outside his fish shack on the edge of the water.  There used to be many fish houses or shacks but in that area they are all gone but one.   
Modern fishnet canopy from Country Curtains

The remaining shack was barely saved.  It was in such fragile condition that it would not have made it through another winter

The community's efforts to save this remnant attracted attention far and wide as the village rallied to save one of the last relics of the past. 

For more than three hundred years fishermen from the village had gone out into the bay to fish.  No one wanted to see this remnant of another time slip away. It was part of the fabric of the village.

A great community effort of volunteers with their “Save the Shack” campaign pulled off a miraculous restoration.  Many local carpenters and others from the village gave up their Saturdays to pitch in at the Cove to get the work done. Through all kinds of weather the work went on.

 In Sept., 2013 it was finished and rededicated; a beautiful effort of volunteerism and a coming together of a village that cherishes the Cove and its history. 

The restored shack was close to Capt. Woodbury’s shack for storing gear but with most of the shacks gone, it’s hard for me to remember exactly where it stood.  The shack may have even been Capt. Woodbury's but it was too long ago and I can't be sure.

The netting is my tangible remembrance from another time at the Cove mostly remembered through old pictures.  It means more to me than a pretty new net from Country Curtains.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Thank you for this wonderful story Pru, and thank you for my Save Our Shack T shirt! I treasure it as a memento of my great visit this fall on Cape Ann.

  2. And a good time was had by all. The music afterwards with Stave Azareen , Willie Alexander & the Razdons was the icing on the cake.

  3. I loved this and am sending it to a family member. We have Woodbury's in our line, too, I think.

  4. First, let me say, this is a very interesting post. And second, I think the bed looks divine! I never thought a fishnet design can look great as a canopy. Usually when you say canopy, you’d always think of a light, translucent fabric to cover it, but this one is perfect too! I think it kind of makes you feel like a mermaid, huh? Haha.
    Roberta Fox