It began with a simple email received by the Chatham Historical Society.
I moved to Maine in 1969. I took my Dad's (Adolph) safe from the old Press office. I believe it dates back to the 1880's when he was a partner with J.Thomas Scott on Center St. If you are interested in having the safe, you can have it for just the shipping costs. I will wait until I hear from you before doing anything with it. Bruce Bohrmann
1933 Photo of the Chatham Press print shop
Would the Historical Society be interested? Certainly! The Chatham Press, now defunct, was the Chatham newspaper from 1891 to 1983. Mr. Bohrmann’s father, Adolph, began working with Mr. Scott in 1912, becoming a partner in 1920 and eventually buying the paper in 1949. He published and edited the paper until 1965 when he sold it to Summit Publishing Company but he continued to operate the print shop. Today the shop at 12 Center Street is still there and houses Chatham Print & Design.
A response email was sent to Bruce Bohrmann about the Society’s interest in the safe and also asking if he had any stories he’d like to share about Chatham. Indeed, he did! On a beautiful fall day Mr. Bohrmann and his son Andy drove down from their home in Yarmouth Maine to share some of those stories.
Bruce Bohrmann is a charming man, who like his father, has a great love of Chatham. He was excited to be back in town and to reminiscence about growing up here. Arriving with six Maine lobsters and an artifact from the print shop, Bruce met with Helen Ann Rosenfeld and Jackie Pindak. The afternoon flew by. Bruce was articulate, funny, thoughtful and engaging, as was his son. Together they painted a warm and loving picture of their family and the town.
The patriarch, Adolph Bohrmann, was born in Hoboken. He was self-educated and had a love of history. He and his wife, Helen, had two boys, Ralph (Bub) and Bruce and lived in a house that Adolph built at 43 Washington Avenue. The print shop on Center Street was a gathering place for multi generations of Chathamites. Even though the presses were noisy and dangerous, people enjoyed stopping by to share local gossip, ask advice or help with the printing of the newspaper. Adolph was generous and hardworking but was outspoken about his views. It was because of his opposition to parking meters that there are none in town. He was involved in all aspects of the town and was never shy about sharing his thoughts. He died in 1973 in his print shop. His obituary states that, “Adolph was one of Chatham’s greatest fans. The Chatham that exists today remains the greatest most lasting tribute.”
Born in 1928, Bruce remembers his childhood as idyllic. There was so much to explore and the freedom to do it. He had fun with his friends and his older brother. His father, however, could be a taskmaster: "True to the German tradition of learning a trade, my brother, Ralph (Bub) and I had to begin working in our early teens. I remember one night setting type while trying to study for a Spanish test. Had to reset an entire column."
While visiting a friend in New Hampshire, Bruce met Judy Mack of Short Hills who became his wife in 1956. They lived in an apartment on Passaic Avenue before buying a house in New Vernon where they raised five children, four boys and one girl. In 1968, Bruce decided to change careers. He and his family moved to Maine and he became a craftsman of wooden handled steel knives. Bruce says that without the support of his wife this would have been impossible. His knives can now be found in 35 states and several European countries. Bruce followed his dream but a part of Chatham has always remained in his heart.
Bruce’s stories will be published here in the coming months
Society Trustee Jackie Pindak flanked by Andy and Bruce Bohrmann