Saturday, May 03, 2008

Mae West: Camden Caper

Fred E. Crockett, 96, who died on 25 April 2008 asked MAE WEST to come up sometime to Camden, Maine. And Mae arrived on 19 July 1956.
• • Born in Camden, Fred was heavily involved over his long and busy life in promoting good causes and creating publicity for the communities where he lived.
• • Perhaps his greatest publicity coup dates back to the 1940s, and involved promoting the idea that the hole in the doughnut was created in his ancestor’s farmhouse on Old County Road, in what was then still part of Camden. The ancestor was Capt. Hanson Crockett Gregory, and for Fred this story was a thing of great pride and significance.
• • For the rest of his life Fred operated the whole doughnut thing with great humor and all due respect, and many people were enrolled by him as Admirals in the Doughnut Fleet. Maine Gov. Ed Muskie was one of them, as was the actress Mae West (see photo). About the last person to be created Admiral was the late Jim Moore of Rockport, who worked years for the Portland Press Herald.
• • Fred’s last public outing was perfectly in keeping with the way he lived his life, and took place in June 2007 during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the filming in Camden, Maine of the movie “Peyton Place.”
• • He took part in a reception at the Whitehall Inn, and had a fine time. Then he rode in the small motorcade, and although he was a little unsteady on his legs he didn’t miss a beat when the Herald photographer came to snap his picture. He instantly snapped to attention and produced one of his well known public-relations smiles, which was one of his many charming characteristics — — and not the least so because he was being perfectly genuine.
• • In 1957 Fred was in charge of the local chamber of commerce, and helped grease the wheels for the movie company when it decided to make the film of the infamous Grace Metalious novel here. One of his duties that year was to introduce Bette Davis to local people, when she visited town.
• • He was extremely knowledgeable about the many vessels that used Camden Harbor in the 1920s and 1930s, wrote a regular column about these vessels for the Courier-Gazette, and wrote a book on the history of the Presidential yachts.
• • His family owned and operated Crockett’s Five & Dime on the corner of Chestnut and Elm, a spot now occupied by Camden National Bank. His father, David Crockett, was also well known in town as a member of the business community.
• • Fred was gone from Camden for many years, returning to the area in the 1990s and settling in Rockland, which is why many people in town of a certain age are less familiar with him than would have been the case had he stayed here. But he was still widely known among those with functioning memories.
• • A graveside celebration of his life will be held 2 pm on May 9
— — at Mountain View Cemetery in Camden.
— — Source: — —
• • Article: "Fred Crockett of Camden dead at 96 — Famous historian of doughnuts & local yachts, and a great booster for community"
• • Byline: By David Grima
• • Published in: Camden Herald — —
• • Published on: 28 April 2008
• • Photo caption: Fred Crockett enrolls the actress Mae West into the Doughnut Fleet, July 19, 1956, at the Camden Opera House [29 Elm Street].

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