Your show of shows


We got an email recently from Mike in Bath, who writes: “John, do you remember the public television show, ‘So You Think You Know Maine?’ Whatever happened to that show? Did they ever put out a board game? My great-grandmother loved all kinds of games and collected quite a few. I’m trying to remember if she had a Maine game in her vast collection. She was from Searsport, but spent most of her childhood aboard her father’s hen frigate, the Alice Way. She’d often talk about the board games they had back then and how different they were from the modern games we played as kids. Now, it’s my turn to tell the younger relatives about games like the one public television used to broadcast. Anything you can tell me will be appreciated.”

Thanks for your email, Mike. The first thing to jump out at me was the phrase “hen frigate,” which I haven’t heard in a while. In fact, we seldom hear of things like hen frigates in these enlightened times.

Hen frigates, according to John Gould’s “Maine Lingo,” were sailing vessels on which the skipper’s wife and family accompanied him at sea. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Maine-based hen frigates sailed the world and would often be spotted in foreign ports rafted together so that families could socialize.

As for the rest of your email, Mike, there may have been a board game based on the popular game show about Maine, but I don’t remember seeing one.

In 1984, Neil Rolde wrote a book based on the show, and you might still be able to find a copy in your library. And episodes can still be seen on the MPBN website.

I remember the host of the show would ask a panel of four eager contestants questions like: “Eben Jordan was born on a farm in Danville, Maine, in the year 1822. At the age of 14, he left Maine with $3 in his pocket and later founded what famous Boston firm?”

I think there was some annoying timing device that clicked off the seconds and was supposed to add to the excitement.

The answer, of course, is the Jordan Marsh Co. I know because I was a contestant on the show a few times, and that was one of the questions I got right.

Another question I managed to get right was: “What is the only hyphenate town in Maine?”

The answer: Dover-Foxcroft.

John McDonald is the author of five books on Maine, including “John McDonald’s Maine Trivia: A User’s Guide to Useless Information.” Contact him at