Bowers Beach is uniting this year to ensure the continuation of a decades-long tradition of home-cooked holiday meals for the watermen who work out of the Kent County town of 250.
“Miss Jean’s spirit is willing, but her body just isn’t up to it this Thanksgiving,” Mayor Ada Puzzo wrote in an email seeking culinary assistance for Jean Friend and her husband, Frank “Thumper” Eicherly IV.
“Every Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas (and other times as well) they open up a house they own on Hubbard (Avenue) and have dinner together” with “the guys and girls that work on the commercial fishing boats here in Bowers,” Puzzo wrote.
When Puzzo was given two turkeys and all the sides, with the request that they go to someone in need, she immediately thought of Miss Jean and Thumper.
They accepted her offer to prepare the full holiday meal for 10 or so, with Friend planning to deliver it to a camper shared by several beneficiaries.
“I’m no baker,” Puzzo wrote, so she asked for help with dessert.
Offers poured in.
“This doesn’t surprise me,” she said. “That’s how this town is. We saw that during the pandemic. Once I put out the need for anybody or anything, somebody offers to help.”
In less than a day, she had more than a dozen offers – so many that she expected to freeze some desserts for Christmas. Friend and Eicherly plan to host a sit-down dinner in that Hubbard house.
People interested in helping Friend and Eicherly can email Puzzo at [email protected].
Testimonial to their service
“Miss Jean would really take care of the town’s young people,” said Matt Green, a Bowers Beach resident who calls them the only family he knows in town.
“Her door was always open,” with pots of beans and pans of cornbread on their cookstoves, ready to be shared whoever needed it, he added. Or maybe sandwiches: “ ‘You’re looking a little thin,’ she would say. ‘I’ll make you a sandwich. You working tomorrow? I’ll make you two.”
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“They hand out pickles on Halloween,” Green said, “because they want to give out something that’s better than a candy bar.” (Some kids might have gotten grilled cheese sandwiches, too.)
“They have left food on people’s doorsteps. That’s the kind of people they are.”
“Their heart has always been open to anybody who needed help,” he said of Friend and Eicherly.
“Maybe people reading this article will decide that they can help their neighbors like this and create a Thanksgiving for someone else.”
Bowers Beach generosity
Eicherly is also known as the captain and owner of the Maggie S. Meyers, an oyster schooner built in 1893 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Their generosity continues the rest of the year, taking the fisherfolk at 11:30 a.m. every Saturday to the Dover King Buffet.
The restaurant a few days ago offered its own thanks to customers by announcing it is resuming seven-day service. “After taking Tuesdays off for two years, it is time to return to normal,” the restaurant wrote on Facebook. “To our regular customers, we thank you for all of your flexibility and support, we truly appreciate you! And to our new customers, welcome! We are glad to serve you!”
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