Chetley Rittall owned a boat shop at the head of the Harbor. I think he landed at that location close to two decades before we bought our first house on Barters Island — around 1978. The space that was his shop is now empty but completely renovated for “Christopher's,” a wonderful local restaurant favored by many.
I can't recall how I met Chetley, perhaps at the Railway Village. He was very active in local government and organizations and quite outspoken. He was not shy about sharing his ideas. But that is largely what I enjoyed about him. He could irritate a significant gathering with little effort.
My visits to his boat shop always found many projects underway. I am more familiar, through my personal experiences, with what has become known as Attention Deficit Disorder. Chetley may have flirted with similar annoyance. He had varied interests, one of which I became keenly aware of — his advocacy for a community college here on the peninsula.
“You fly don'tcha?” he once asked. “Well,” I'd replied, “I photograph from airplanes quite frequently, if that's what you mean. I don't actually fly the plane.”
“Next time you're up I want a photograph of this piece of property out along Route 27, right by the town line. I think it would be a good spot for a community college.”
“OK, Chetley, whatever you say.”
But the spot never caught on as he'd hoped. I think it is now the area of Eric Wood's business.
Another time I visited. “You still flying?” Chetley inquired. “There's a piece of land over by the Knickerbocker bridge that I think might be a good spot. When you're up, could you get me a photo?”
“Sure,” I said. That spot didn't work out either. It's now the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
Finally, his last aerial request was for a parcel in East Boothbay, which never took off. It is the present location of Bigelow Lab.
Which brings me to my choice for Chetley's community college — the old Bigelow Lab property on McKown Point (see arrow in photo). DMR, the Coast Guard, the Yacht club across the way — good neighborhood.
Maybe someone of great philanthropic generosity could advance the cause and help get Chetley's voice out of my head. Sure would make him happy.