Founders Story - "The Goose Egg"

Thinking of tradition during this time led me to thinking of home and holidays spent in my childhood living room in front of the fireplace.

When my father had our house built in 1989 he wanted a big beautiful fireplace, so that’s just what they did. Someone connected him with a seasoned, master mason. For masons it’s all about placing the right shape stones in the right places so when dad made a special request the mason at first wasn’t too excited.



You can see most of the stones are ragged and relatively rectangular, but there is one rock that stands out and doesn’t belong, this rock is called “The Goose Egg.”

I am a fifth generation lobsterman and where my father built our house you can see all the houses that those five generations lived in. They are all congregated around a little tidal cove near Rackliff Island and Wheeler Bay in midcoast Maine.

On this little cove were three wharves that everyone worked daily to provide for their families catching and storing baitfish and lobsters. Before the mid-1970s, lobstermen used wooden traps to catch their lobsters.

Many of these lobstermen, including the Rackliffs, built their own traps and much of the time it would be a community event. Now the thing about wooden traps was of course that they would float and as you can imagine that would be serious problem for not losing traps and also catching lobsters, which live on the ocean floor.


After a while the wooden traps would become water logged and would stay sunk on the bottom themselves, but until then, weight was added to the traps to keep them sunk. How would the lobstermen keep these traps sunk? Ballast rocks.

Heavy rocks would be added to these traps to keep them down but they couldn’t be just any rock put anywhere in the trap because they could make the trap flip and not fish properly. On these working wharves, there would be piles of ballast rocks that the lobstermen would take out with them and put in their wooden traps as they set them overboard.

My dad remembers doing this process for years until he was in high school; they’d be helping each toss these stones from the wharf to the boat and he can remember one rock in-particular that stood out.

As they were handing rocks over, Dad’s grandfather, Bernard, would say “There’s the goose egg, it survived another year.” Many times, ballast rocks would get lost one way or another or the trap would get lost and lose everything with it, but this goose egg may have been around since the turn of the century (1900) with what my dad could figure, just with the simple fact that he knows that his great-grandfather used it for some time. The rock was special because not only was it unique and passed down but it was the perfect rock for its purpose.

My parent’s fireplace was built around fifteen years after they stopped using wooden traps, but the pile of ballast rocks was still there on the wharf.

Though “the goose egg” was not the actual cornerstone for this large, beautiful fireplace it was certainly built around it being the centerpiece for Dad because of what it meant to him.

Once my father told the mason the story of why he wanted that rock in the center he understood and embraced it fully.


I am grateful for my dad, forefathers and the traditions they passed down like hard work, honesty and helping others.

Thank you, dad, for preserving this memory and sharing this story.


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