Grampy’s Toolbox

Grampy's Toolbox - click to enlarge

These are some tools that used to belong to my great-grandfather, Forrie Wall, a carpenter, orchard-keeper, house-builder, surveyor, and general jack-of-all-trades from Tenants Harbor, Maine. He was the model of Andrew Wyeth’s “The Man from Maine”, and one of Wyeth’s guides to the coastal villages.

I actually met Wyeth, when I was about four; he was at Grampy’s house with one of his models, a town drunk with a bristly white beard, and I was certain that this strange man had brought Santa Claus to visit. At least that’s the story my mother told me, since all I really remember about the house in Tenants Harbor is the Franklin stove between the kitchen and the parlor and Grampy’s stocking feet propped up on it.

Don’t forget–the 2006 Million Writers Award starts taking nominations TODAY. Start thinking about the stories published on-line in 2005 that deserve the nod! (If you’ve got one you’d like to spotlight, let me know through a comment or e-mail).

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  1. clarity March 30, 2006

    I like this photograph and the composition. I also chose to take a photograph of old tools from another time. They’re so fascinating!

  2. Steve Pfeiffer October 7, 2008


    I just stumbled upon your photo titled ?Grampy?s Toolbox?. The photo brings back many fond memories of vacationing in Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde, Maine back in the 60?s and 70?s every summer. I remember your great-grandfather and great-grandmother (Uncle Forrie and Aunt Pearl to me) visiting my grandparents (John Sawyer and Bessie Ames) every time I was there. Pearl and Bessie were sisters. My mom, Barbara Sawyer, played with Forrie and Pearl?s kids when they were young growing up in Maine. I too, remember Forrie?s house, orchard, and garden in the rear. The one thing that I really got a kick out of as a kid was the Playboy poster on his workshop wall. I guess your great-grandmother didn?t visit the workshop too often or just let Forrie indulge in a quite innocent vice, LOL!

    Here are a couple of great books with Forrie on the front cover called ?Wyeth People?:


    Here is another bit of trivia you might be interested in. Pearl?s father, James Ames (your great-great-grandfather and my great-grandfather) ran for Governor of Maine twice on the prohibition ticket, but didn?t win. Here is a brief biography:

    Anyway, if any of this is of interest to you, I would be happy to reminisce over the ?good ?ol days in Maine? sometime. My mother is actually moving to your neck of the woods, Northfield, Minn. (just southwest of Minneapolis) to live with my brother and sister in law this July, and she would have a ton more stories to tell, since she actually grew up with Forrie, Pearl and their kids.

    Take care,

    Steve Pfeiffer

    Harpers Ferry, WV

  3. Michael Hartford October 8, 2008

    Thanks for the bit of family history, Steve! I don’t remember the Playboy poster, but I have very fond memories of the horse chestnut in the front yard, the Franklin stove in the kitchen, eating fresh peas with Pearl and Phyddie on the steps, and hearing Grampy singing (probably dirty) French songs in the orchard. I’ve got a copy of “Wyeth People” and the chapter about Forrie is full of his slightly-scandalous philosophy; he was quite the character.

    There’s a picture of Judge Ames and his family (seven kids!) from a 1910 campaign postcard here:

    Pearl would have been about 10 in this picture, so I think she’s the older girl on the right.

    I hope your mother likes Minnesota; southern Minnesota is quite different from Maine, with rolling prairies and river bluffs, but the North Shore beyond Duluth is like Maine in miniature, complete with a rockbound coast and cold winds off Lake Superior. Our visits to Maine are to my father’s family in the Lewiston and Bethel areas–we haven’t been to Tenants Harbor since before my mother died in 2002–but I hope to take the kids “Down East” some time.

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