Lonny Sisson (may he rest in peace but not far from croquet and golf) landed in Maine early in life. When he started a family, producing income became a paramount concern.
He was a likable chap and managed to find jobs in a variety of settings, chief among which involved his continued efforts to advance a painting career. His early watercolors were terrific, loose and inventive, but he needed to promote his work and take advantage of the especially active summer seasons.
Above all else, Lonny was pretty creative. He was willing to take chances and explore unique ways to advance his art and attract new customers. There was no internet and advertising was too expensive. Lonny loved a challenge!
When he met the Dash team, Marion and Dave, they immediately hit it off. Marion and Dave were boat captains. They operated a small boat out of Boothbay Harbor servicing the region and sometimes Lonny would tag along providing tall tales and inspirational side notes. During his association with the Dash captains, Lonny, always contemplating new possibilities, came up with the idea of offering painting demonstrations while cruising area waters. At the end of trips he would “auction” off his work and split “the take” with the boat. I never experienced these trips. It was before my time, but I do recall, in later years, Marion’s delight upon hearing the news that Lonny was visiting the Harbor. She owned the “Bridgehouse Gallery “ then and “harbored” a special affection for Lonny.
The idea of Windjammer Days occurred to the Dashes in the early ’60s. I believe this year is the 60th anniversary of the event. The event idea was not enthusiastically received but that did not deter nor delay the process. When things weren’t taking off as was hoped, Lonny offered to jump in with some brochure creations for publication and promotion. Then, through a friendship with Portland Channel Six news personality Cliff Reynolds, Lonny finagled a camera crew which afforded just the right amount of publicity to get the ball rolling. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Over the years, I have photographed countless Windjammer Days’ activities with local celebrities and those not so local. I recall one very fun boat ride with Maine Public Broadcasting hosts France Shea and Jeff Gabel. We worked over local captain Mark Stover pretty good with all sorts of maneuvering through jammed waterways and a multitude of craft.
I still look forward to a cruise with Mark when the big boats arrive. Mostly I enjoy catching up with Captain Mark and his impressions of local heroes like Evered Trask. Mark does a great Maine voice.
The photo I have chosen for this week’s adventure is a view from an early ’80s Windjammer Days’ flight. For our local friends of age, this photo reveals some of the changes we have experienced over the years, and a harbor chocker block full of all sorts of vessels. Please note the destroyer off Mouse Island and the Coast Guard ship tied up on the east side. I used to pop over to the Factory Cove home of Mr. and Mrs. Thornton Hooper for an interesting view from the shore. That was in and of itself a truly unique Windjammer Days’ experience.
Looking forward to this year’s festivities.