TAMWORTH — A fishing creel in perfect condition owned and used by President Grover Cleveland will be auctioned to benefit The Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth on Aug. 26.
Known for his passion for fishing, President Cleveland spent several summers in the New Hampshire mountains in search of the big catch. A few years after his second term ended, he wrote a front page story for the October 19, 1901, issue of The Saturday Evening Post titled "A Defense of Fishermen."
In this article, President Cleveland said, "What sense is there in the charge of laziness sometimes made against true fishermen? Laziness has no place in the constitution of a man who starts at sunrise and tramps all day with only a sandwich to eat, floundering through bushes and briers and stumbling over rocks or wading streams in pursuit of elusive trout. Neither can a fisherman who, with rod in hand, sits in a boat or on a bank all day be called lazy — provided he attends to his fishing and is physically and mentally alert at his occupation."
The fishing creel featured at the auction is donated by the president's granddaughter Marion Cleveland Cohen who resides in Tamworth. "This creel has been in the house as long as I remember," said Cohen. "My grandfather fished all over the country as it was one of his favorite pastimes. Of course, when he was president, there was little time for fishing."
The creel is a fine example of Native American basketry from the 1880s and has the original cloth and leather straps. "I don't believe anyone has used it since my grandfather," said Cohen.
Along with the fishing creel, former First Lady Frances Cleveland's opera glasses will be auctioned, a hotel stay in Switzerland, as well as a variety of items including all eight 2012 hand painted Barnstormers Theatre marquee posters — and a heritage poster from the 1986 show "Girl on the Via Flaminia" by noted author and illustrator David MacPhail.
President Cleveland's son Francis (with his wife Alice and friend Ed Goodnow) started The Barnstormers Theatre in the family's summer hometown of Tamworth in 1931. The theatre thrives today and is the only professional theatre to continue the tradition of eight plays in eight weeks.
The Barnstormers Auction takes place at 5 p.m., Aug. 26, at The Highland House in Tamworth. There will be hors d'oeuvres, music and a cash bar. Tickets cost $35 at the Box Office, 603-323-8500. www.barnstormerstheatre.org