Vintage fishing tackle nestled in Appleton
What originally looked like an abandoned storefront wasn’t my target as I explored Appleton on Friday afternoon, looking for photos.
As I walked down Chemin Sennebec from the village, I spotted a dead tree in a field under a somewhat threatening sky with the backdrop of mountains and overgrown grasses. It looked like a perfect scene for the paper.
As I got back into the car, I noticed a sign in peeling paint that read “Antique Fishing Tackle”. It seemed worth checking out.
Inside the store, which is connected to a large and old barn, there are several glass display cases full of old lures, hooks, reels and junk. Vintage rods in varying condition hang on the walls alongside old paintings of fishermen, bird dogs, and hunters. You can shoot a movie set in the 40’s or 50’s here without changing a thing.
The company is Allen Brook Tackle Co. The owner is one Joel Gushee of Appleton, who said he has been running the store for over a decade.
Gushee is originally from the region and studied anthropology at the University of Maine in Orono before enlisting in the military during the Vietnam era.
Fortunately, he was stationed in Germany during the war, but it still looked like he was destined to suffer setbacks. In 1981, a large tree branch he calls “a widowmaker” fell while chopping wood in Union and hit him on the head. He was unconscious in hospital for a month afterward and had to face a long recovery. However, he said he was determined to improve and today he has the mobility to show visitors around his store.
When asked why people buy old fishing gear, he notes that in the past these items were well made. For some, using a pre-1970 rod, reel and lures offers a thrill of nostalgia.
A reel in the shop dates from 1874.
In the dark adjoining barn it stores plenty of duck and owl decoys, snowshoes, various items, and a 1948 Ford F100. The movie could continue to function as a period piece.
In addition to equipment related to its field, the store offers many bric-a-brac and ephemeral items. On a wall, a samurai sword hangs in its scabbard.
A visit to the store is just right for someone suffering from pandemic-induced cabin fever and Gushee seems to enjoy the visits.