’Round Town

Tom and Karen

Posted:  Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 10:00am

Tom Nickerson and Karen Calhoun Pinkham have been friends a long time.

When they were in school, Tom did an internship of sorts at Elm's garage and Karen worked at the Dairy Freeze, nearby in Boothbay. Tom said he and Steve Gaudette used to stop by on a weekend evening to see Karen and get a big milkshake container full of soft serve vanilla ice cream to which they added a detoxification concoction for good measure.

Karen was every bit the renaissance woman when she took a job with Pierce and Hartung. No woman had ever ventured into those uncharted waters. Clayton Dodge took a flyer and hired her, untested and brave. Karen, by her own admission, didn’t even know what a two by four eight was. She went to work with Harold Hardwick in the lower yard, now the Boothbay Harbor Inn. “He was wonderful,” Karen says. “Took me under his wing and helped me learn.”

But she was only half way home. Many of the male carpenters of the region ignored her when ordering supplies. Mace Carter, who Karen loved, told her she shouldn’t lift those heavy sheets of plywood. She should be home with children. This was no place for a girl. He eventually warmed to Karen as her skills and knowledge grew. Eventually many contractors would wait in line to request her help.

Tom followed her to Pierce and Hartung. Mr. Dodge did it again. Tom got hired untested and learned the business. Mr. Dodge, it seems, had a knack for recognizing talent. Tom worked out just fine and to this day recalls a conversation that took place in February 1978.

“Clayton called out to me just before lunch. “Tommy, he says, “look out at the Harbor”. Tom scratched his head but did as told. “Yes” he responded, a little confused. “What do you see?” Before Tim could reply Clayton said, “look at the height of the water.” It was just a foot below the footbridge walkway. “It’s low tide Tommy. In a couple hours we’re gonna be in big trouble.” And we were!

When Pierce and Hartung closed, Tom and Karen moved over to Poole Brothers and just the other day I visited with them together at Karen’s house, both retired now. Karen’s pose, which I requested, was reminiscent of how I would see her at her desk at Poole's, patiently listening to my materials list. Tom understood that Karen’s pencil was sharp, then and now. He paid close attention.