B, Begin With

an excerpt from Maine Lingo: Boiled Owls, Billdads, & Wazzats by John Gould

B, BEGIN WITH  In early Maine days, amongst deep water sailors rather than fishermen, there was superstition about naming a vessel anything which commenced with an A. Tales were told of the dire mishaps that befell the Arethusa and the Alice. Indeed, one of the last bankers out of Maine was the Aberrance of South Freeport, whose owner defied the tradition in spite of warnings from old salts on the waterfront. She lost men at sea, grounded out several times, figured in weird collisions, and finally caught fire. The Aberrance was a Jonah, a hard-luck vessel. So “Begin with B!” has its meaning in Maine, almost a pleading. (The A’s in this compendium will be found betwixt the B’s and the C’s.)