Friday, April 27, 2012

Published Apr 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm (Updated Apr 26, 2012)

 PORTSMOUTH — Pontine Theatre co-directors Greg Gathers and Marguerite Mathews present their take on George Savary Wasson's early 20th century stories based on the tales and lore of Kittery Point, Maine, fishermen, with performances through May 13.

In 1904, Wasson was working on his beach at Kittery Point, scraping the hull of his boat, when one of his sons came running down the hill, shouting that Mr. Henry James had called. Wasson shouted back to the boy, “Tell him to come right down,” and Henry James did, and a pleasant visit followed. The elegant author was staying with Wasson's celebrated neighbor, William Dean Howells.

This call was but one of the unexpected incidents resulting from the 1903 publication of Wasson's “Cap'n Simeon's Store.”

These stories, based on a study of the people and language of Kittery Point and set against the background of the village's general store, aroused enthusiasm. One critic hailed “Cap'n Simeon's Store” as “the only book which records faithfully and fully the quaint dialect of the old New England Coast.”

Mark Twain told William Dean Howells that its eighth stories, “Rusticators at the Cove,” was one of the funniest he'd ever read. None of Wasson's three books, “Cap'n Simeon's Store,” “The Green Shay” (1905) and Home from Sea” (1908), enjoyed popular success. However, scholars have described them as the most authentic Maine stories ever written.