Old St. Andrews

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The President's Vacation, 1891

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Beacon
Sept 3/1891
The President’s Vacation. His Travels, Pleasure and Adventures. Pittsfield, Mass., Sun.
A most charming old town is SA, NB. We go down from Calais by the “Rose Standish,” a sail of about three hours, the boat stopping at one or two poets en route to take on freight and passengers. There are a great many holiday people like ourselves. The freight includes the usual variety of merchandise and in addition huge blocks of red granite, much like that from Mr. Allen’s quarries in Missouri. The “Rose Standish” is not a “fast girl” and her timetable allows a leisurely pace which we greatly enjoy. River and bay are in a smiling humor and we sit in the shade of the upper deck and watch the panorama of the shore slide by. It is ten o’clock when we climb to the wharf and pass up the quiet street.
            The town occupies the west slope of the long peninsula, on one side the wide St. Croix River with its beautiful scenery and spreading away to the south and east the bay whose charm has but one equal in the world, it is said, the famous bay of Naples. “Sad, isn’t it?” said the President, “that so charming a picture should have for its name “the Pesaka.” I give it up but it is spelled “Pesakadamiakkanti.” The title means in Indian, “Leads up to open places.” It is simplified (?) in the modern guidebooks and geographies to Passamaquoddy. Some say the latter word means in the Indian tongue the “Place of the pollock” and that the bay was so named because of the abundance of this kind of fish in its waters. The President would name it “Holiday Haven.”
            Quaint little houses border the streets, shingled mostly from ground to ridgeboard, weather-beaten and old. There was formerly a great business done here in shipping, lumbering, boating and fishing, and these odd little houses are the former domiciles of woodmen, mechanics and sailors. The business seems to have largely died away, but the cottages are here and most of them have windows filled with flower pots and little door yards with old-fashioned flowers and tangles of wild rose. Shops are not many-- simply the country stores to supply the practical wants of the population but every summer an art crockery store is opened to sell souvenirs to tourists. The shop is well filled by exquisite things from French, English and Irish potteries and as there is no duty the prices are very tempting. The shell-like Belleck Ware, the Worcester, Devonshire, Wedgewood and other fancy wares are not above half Boston prices. Wedgewood is the favorite with buyers. Pittsfield people will see some good examples of it at Mr. Mills’ store on North street, and the President is so captivated with its beautiful blue color and its cameo like carvings of mythological gods and goddesses that he defies the law and buys an armful. Old Josiah Wedgewood, who invented this ware in 1600, and made fame and fortune with his bowls and cups and vases and pitchers with their profiles of kings and statesmen and actresses upon them, would have smiled out loud if he could have seen the President guarding his treasures from the inquisitive eyes of the customs men. It transpired that the revenue guards knew all about it, but at their discretion let slip the little samples and presents the tourists buy. His teacup and bowl, wreathed with exquisite carvings telling a tale he will have to look up in the Iliad or the wanderings of Ulysses were perfectly safe, and he need not have carried them so furtively and secretly in his high Derby hat.
            . . .
            It is quite half a mile, and a sunny, warm half mile at that, from the wharf to the Algonquin, a grand summer hotel which crowns s knoll overlooking the town and the waters round about. Stages run but we preferred to walk along the streets and up the winding road, stopping to “take in” many beautiful views of bay and island and ship. By our side, as we stroll up the slope, walks one native here, and in a kindly way he gives us the various points in view—Joe’s Point, running away cut into the St. Croix, and far beyond, in the same direction the woody crown of the “Devil’s Head.” The Maine highlands with Kendall’s Head, Point Pleasant with its Indian village, remnant of the Etchemins who were the lords of the land, before the white man’s advent; Deer island, Minister’s Island, Big Latete, Little Latete, the pretty harbor of Chamcook, and near by the town Navy Island. This a very tame in print, perhaps, but to view on this clear July day, with a brilliant sky and sea, the flitting of white sails, the beach stretching its long yellow line fringed with foam, the blossom-bedecked cottages, the quaint old houses, the sleepy haze that lies far down the bay, the quiet streets—with all these and more allurements that we can describe, it was an half hour’s walk that left an indelible picture on our memories and that stroll up the slope of St. Andrews was one of the most delightful incidents of the vacation.
            The “Algonquin” is a vast structure built for the summer boarder business and it is first-class in all its appointments. It stands 150 feet above high water, and commands the whole circumference of view, shoreward and to sea. The parlors are spacious and handsome, an elevator, baths and all sorts of comforts are provided, the rooms are large and beautifully furnished and the dining hall is an apartment of fine proportions with an outlook over e town and the bay. The hotel will accommodate 150 guests. We found nearly a hundred although the season is hardly in its height until August. Landlord Albert Miller is a Franklin county man, from Athol, I believe, and has ample experience in hotel management. He receives us with most courteous hospitality and makes us a present of the house, so to speak, and when, an hour later we sit down to a luncheon fit even for royal palates, the President is (so) glad he accepts the gift. After the lunch comes cigars on the piazza. Big easy chairs are here by the score and we take two of them where the breeze and shade are best and sit listening to the orchestra, three bright young women with cornet, violin and piano in the parlor just behind us. How perfectly happy the president looks! The blue smoke blows from his cigar in a fragrant cloud. He rocks gently in the big chair to the time of the waltz the musicians are playing; his eyes are bright with the beauty of the picture before him and he says softly, “No wonder that, when He looked upon the land and the sea He had made He said it was good.”
            We sit here till well into the afternoon. Guests all about us are enjoying the luxury of peace and rest “far from the madding crowd.” The music rises and falls; there are long halts in the program, the alternate union Jacks and Stars and Stripes which decorate the columns of the piazza flutter lazily; there is an irresistible drowsiness falling upon all of us and in his sleepy hollow chair the President nods—and snores! “The boat is coming,” some one says, and far down the bay is a cloud of smoke the flash of roam from side-wheels and bow of a steamer. It is the “Rose Standish” on the return trip and we must go. Very reluctantly, we leave, and with many backward glances at the wide sweep of lawn with its gorgeous flower beds and its neat walks; at the groups of guest her and there, the women in pleasant summer costumes chatting an gossiping and laughing in contentment and delight, and at the fair landscape all about.
            “A very good dinner indeed,” said the President to Capt. Ryan, as he talked with him about the Algonquin. “I should say so,” remarked the captain, “and if you will be kind enough to sit in the middle of the boat she will not be so apt to run on one wheel.” The President had indeed “filled well,” but he rather resented the imputation that he had weighted himself to such an extent that he could be used as ballast for a big ship.