At the Bayview Take-out
A Sense of Great Timeless Peace


FEW PEOPLE eating one of the Bayview's famous clam patties (said to be the world's best) ever realize they're in the midst of a historically significant area. It's hard to visualize this place being busy. Looking out across the bay, one experiences a sense of great timeless peace, a feeling that this place is as it has always been and hopefully always will be. Appearances, we know, can be deceiving.

A century or so ago, this was a place of hustle and bustle, people seeking fortunes, a roar of industrial fury. The edge of the shore is littered with bricks, leftovers from at least five major brickyards, industries tapping into native clay to make the bricks that built the great cities of the Northeast. One of the brickyards lasted until the early fifties. Also here was a large sawmill. Barges came into the bay loaded with freshly cut trees to be converted into lumber. The water isn't real deep hereabouts, and these flat-bottomed boats would lay on the mud waiting to be freed by incoming tides.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Penobscot was the Hancock County seat. Established in 1778, Penobscot is nearly as old as the country. It was bigger then, comprising the present towns of Penobscot, Castine, Brooksville, part of Blue Hill, and a bit of Sedgwick. Once it had a population of around 10,000.

There is intrigue and romance hereabouts. There is even said to be buried treasure. During the Revolutionary War, the area was occupied by the British. A well-to-do Castine merchant was afraid British troops would appropriate his fortune. So he sent his wife and servants, along with the contents of his safe, off in canoes. They were never heard from again. Speculation is they buried the booty, but it's never been found.

Larry Reynolds, who operates the Bayview Market and Take-out, is very much aware that he is occupying a special piece of real estate. The 60-year-old Mainer has lived his entire life here. He was born next to the Bayview and now lives with his wife Freda a mile-and-a-half down the road. They have been operating their business for 16 years.

He works hard to make the Bayview as special as its whereabouts.

Take his clam patties, for example. They may be the world's best. "People have told me they've had clam patties all the way from Florida to Maine, and mine are by far the best," he says. He says he uses sea clams, which locally are called hen clams. "My recipe for making them is an old family secret," he says. "It goes back at least three generations."

His kin were among the area's earliest arrivals, although Larry is a bit vague on specific dates. "They were here way before my time," he says.

Larry is a good-humored man who enjoys feeding the people who stop by. You can't buy better burgers, dogs, steak sandwiches, or corn fritters. He says he has improved on the traditional Philly steak sandwich. " I serve it on an eight-inch bun," he says, "and I make it with more meat, more veggies, more tender loving care. The whole thing weighs in at over a pound." They start at $5 for the basic sandwich, which seems like a really good deal. Larry says he also makes a veggie sub, which he describes as "a steakless steak sub." He eats these, he says, because sometimes his stomach doesn't take to meat.

The Reynolds have three kids, two boys and a girl. The boys Larry describes as self-employed while his girl, Jody, teaches kindergarten at Penobscot School. Larry says they don't have much to do with the business. "They do drop in for lunch from time to time," he says.

Larry is generally open early May to late September with Mondays off, although Larry says he is generally around and will help people out with whatever they need. He sells a few lobsters and raw steaks out through the window. "These aren't marked up much, and everybody gets a good deal," Larry says. He has a license to lobster, but in recent years hasn't had time to fish.

Behind the Bayview is a lovely grassy area leading down to Larry's 250-feet of frontage on the bay. There are several nice picnic tables. Larry says he often lets campers pitch tents nearby. He isn't a licensed campground, he points out, and doesn't charge campers anything.

Next door to the Bayview is a park area owned by a land trust. Visitors are welcome to explore the extensive intertidal zone.

It's hard not to envy Larry Reynolds. Solidly rooted, he has a steadfast sense of place most people lack in this constantly shifting world of ours. His is a life-long held, little slice of paradise that he appreciates deeply.