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  • Tim Tower

Billy's Journal

The 26th of May would have been our father's birthday. He would have been 88 years old. There has been so much going on that I would love to tell him about. These things make me think of "Billy" more often than not. There are also those things that keep cropping up around the restaurant that are a constant reminder of my (our) father. And, when we caught our first spring of the year mackerel on the Bunny Clark (this boat named after my mother) last week, I thought of my father again. He always loved the first couple of mackerel I caught if I could wrestle one or two away from my angling patrons. He used to seine mackerel, herring and pogies commercially from his seiner, Isabelle J., II, during the late 1940's, early 1950's. In fact, I was born the night he had his largest ever set of herring. He was working off the Iles of Shoals that night after my mother came out of labor. In those days, of course, they wouldn't let the husbands in to witness the birth. And my mother was made comfortable in the hospital for three days before they let her go home. Today, it's in and out as quick as possible. I'm even surprised that they let the woman lay down during the procedure now-a-days!

I think Dad would have liked the way things are going at Barnacle Billy's this season so far. Memorial Sunday was our biggest day of the year and quite possibly our best grossing day ever. This doesn't take into account the comparison with relative prices as we have had to increase some of our lobster product menu items. But many regular patrons that day mentioned to me that they had never seen it so busy. But then again most don't remember the days when we were the only show in town with lines out the door night after night. In those days, the 1960's, we closed at 11:00 PM. As a kid from the ages of 10 to 12 years old, I didn't get out of work here until 1:00 AM. The labor laws in Maine at the time were such that the sons and daughters of a proprietor could have their kids working at any age. And my parents did. I wasn't so keen on it at the time. But now I appreciate the way my father built up my work ethic. I've never been afraid of hard work ever since. I also inherited my father's early rising time of 3:00 AM. I can't tell you how much work I get done between 3 & 6:00 AM!

Last Wednesday, we dropped our 1.25 and 1.5 pound lobster prices a few dollars at both restaurants. This is in tune with dropping wholesale lobster prices. Unlike other years, lobster prices didn't drop across the board, with the larger select lobsters maintaining their high wholesale prices. Lobster meat prices are still fairly high as well for this time of year. And we use TCK (tail, claw & knuckle) even though we could get a much cheaper price on KC (knuckle & claw meat). It's always been that way; never frozen, always a day old at most and the full gamut of lobster meat products. Larger select lobster (1.75 to 4 pounders) prices should drop next week sometime.

The weather is getting to be like summer again. It seemed like it went from winter to summer in one day! All last week air temperatures were in the 80°s. My wife, Deb, has been complaining about not being able to wear shorts all spring. Well, last week the complaining stopped. Deb is the one responsible for doing the flower arrangements at both restaurants. For years I tried to get her to accept a pay check from the Corporation for this. She has always refused. I'm not sure why except that she was very close to my father when he was alive. He got her interested in doing it one day. She has never stopped. It would be nice if she would take a check because then I might be able to buy a new set of racing wheels for my bicycle! No? Oh well, what the heck!

John Patton's flower garden between the two restaurants looks wonderful with all the tulips and the very green grass. It almost smells tropical but looks like spring in Holland. If I were to ever forget how beautiful it looks I would be shortly reminded by all the people taking pictures of it with boats of Perkins Cove making up a lovely background. Thanks, John. It's very special!

In closing, I'm looking forward to a wonderful summer. After the winter we have had, this warmer weather seems much more special than normal. I certainly do appreciate it more. And I appreciate being here as well. Thanks, Dad. Happy Birthday! But somehow it seems I got all the gifts. I wish you were here to see them!


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