The Hatts were here yesterday with our spring shipment of Hackmatack dory knees. Naturally grown frames, or knees as they are known in dories, are the defining feature of a Lunenburg-built Banks dory. While other ports built their frames using pieces of wood fastened together with a patented metal clip, ours are cut from a single piece of wood. They are not steamed, nor bent, but instead are cut from the lower trunk and roots of the very strong and rot resistant Hackmatack tree.
For four generations the Hatt family has supplied The Dory Shop with this critical building material. Edgar Hatt, shown above, began cutting knees with his father Arthur and his grandfather. He now works in the woods with his son.
When Edgar was a boy, the family also supplied another dory shop, located near the modern-day Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and run by the Oxner brothers; two men as well known for their constant bickering as they were for their boats. Yesterday Edgar shared a story of one delivery to the Oxner shop when he was just 10 years old. It goes like this…
“My father had cut down an apple wood tree and some of the limbs had the right shape for knees. So we took them in to the Oxner shop and Mr. Oxner didn’t want them. He said they were pine. My father said no, they were apple wood and that they were good and strong. But he still didn’t believe him. He thought they were pine.
“So my father told him, ‘you take one up to the railroad tracks and you try to break it and if you can break it, I will give you the whole works [for free].’ So he went up and he hit it so hard it pretty near broke his arm [but it did not break]. After that he told my father he would take as many as he could get.”
A great story from a salt-of-the-earth fellow whose spring and fall visits are a highlight of my year!