MEMORY KEEPER

words + photography PATRICIA REED

My husband, Harry, and I arrived in Rockport in 1978 with our college degrees plus some, one teaching job, and a small assortment of carefully selected yard-sale items from our previous addresses, which included Morehead, Kentucky; Ocean Grove, New Jersey; Pennington, New Jersey; and Northampton, Massachusetts. We arrived in our yellow Honda Civic with our three active mixed golden retrievers Trevor, Sadie and Shamus. We had to camp at the Mount Battie State Park for two weeks in a two-man tent awaiting the departure of the occupant of the Spear Street home close enough to the harbor that we were asked more times than I can remember the way to the famous seal, Andre.

 That began my 40-plus-year adventure finding primitive to mid-century treasures along country roads and meeting wonderful people, along with their pets and livestock.

During my years as a weaver, designer, patternmaker and mom I would search for unusual vintage buttons and textiles for clothing, furniture and props for display. These searches would take me to woolen mills throughout the state.

I met the “button lady” of Pascal Avenue in Rockport, Marion Magee. She became a wonderful source for horn, bone, shell and shoe buttons. The folks I met from the textile mills, on the winding back roads down peninsulas, in villages such as Cushing, Friendship and Port Clyde and in the hills of Union, Appleton and Searsmont on roads like Magog, Muzzy Ridge, Moody Mountain—these were my shops and the shop owners were the people of these homes and mills. Often times I feel I am the custodian of a few of their treasures and stories.


Growing up in Iowa with dairy cows just beyond our front yard, I’ve always been drawn to anything dairy such as bucket benches, milk bottles, tins, buckets and milking stools. These four wooden stools are from Maine. I also like the metal ones.

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Harry and I met Annabel at her friend’s yard sale in Union and she told us to come to the yard sale that she was planning. She has wonderful memories of her family’s farm home near Sennebec Lake. I arrived at her sale from Union and was amazed at the wonderful farm memorabilia, tools, shipping crates and stories. I purchased this sweet matchstick holder with two wooden matches inside. The ridged striker is on the side. These boots I bought belonged to Annabel’s mother.

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I love the early pale blue Mason jars and bottles I’ve acquired at various yard sales over the years. The two most recent ones arrived in Maine from the Appalachian Mountains and I was told they belonged to a family with so many children, the county had to build them a school.

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These are an assortment of buttons collected by a former member of the Button Society of Maine. Some of the packaging is so sweet.

FAVORITE ...
Maine view? All views from Mount Battie Camden—
when Hannah and Isaac were little I called it Mount Pattie.
It’s fun to stand there and read the Edna St. Vincent Millay
poem “Renascence.”
Drink? Poland Spring water. Or a dark-roast coffee with
my buddy Liz anywhere. My favorite is Zoot Coffee at the
Owl and Turtle book shop.
Maine restaurant? We rarely eat dinner out but enjoy
Fore Street in Portland. However, we love breakfast out
and that would be Chase’s Daily in Belfast.
Place you've traveled to as an adult?
Whichever states our kids Hannah and Isaac are in with
their families. So far: Massachusetts, Arizona, Michigan,
California, Florida and Oregon. Go Ducks!
Shoes? Bean boots in winter. Canvas boating shoes or
Vans sneakers in summer.
Way to relax? A drive to Port Clyde General Store for
haddock chowder (call first to check their hours). I like to
eat outside and watch the activities on the waterfront,
especially dogs getting in and out of their boats.

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