Summertime means lobster rolls…and lobster rolls always make me think of this special Clairefontaine paper story.
Captain Edward “Frank” Thompson was a lobster fisherman, carpenter and long-time captain for the Maine State Ferry Service in Vinalhaven, Maine. He needed to keep fishing records for the National Marine Fisheries Service, and he used spiral Clairefontaine notebooks to write down his entries. Some of the fisherman started using laptop computers, but Captain Thompson considered them unreliable and stuck to Clairefontaine.
One day his boat, Independence, struck a rock ledge, and went down in 10 fathoms or 60 ft. of water. Nine hours later, he had the boat on a barge headed back to the harbor for repairs. Capt. Thompson searched the boat looking for his notebooks. It was vital he find them, since they contained all his numbers and information on his fishing gear.
He finally located the notebooks on the top of the engine. All his entries were still legible. The paper was damp, but the book held together, and he was able to turn the pages. “They were in good condition, just a little smudged with diesel oil. It was just like when I wrote on them. Quite remarkable,” he said to me.
Capt. Thompson purchased his Clairefontaine supplies from Vinalharbor’s news stand AKA “The Paper Store.” The owner, Carlene Michael, told me that “fishermen love Clairefontaine paper because it holds up so well in the damp weather of Maine.”
In case you’re curious, Capt. Thompson wrote with a ballpoint pen. Nothing fancy, just good and reliable. “The Paper Store” has been around since the 1870s – about 20 years before Clairefontaine started making notebooks.