The Lobster and the Man.

Obscure Monument to Lobsterdom

Field review by the editors.

Washington, DC

H. Elroy "Snoody" Johnson made money trapping lobsters and lived in Harpswell, Maine. In 1939 he posed for a sculpture titled "The Maine Lobsterman," kneeling before his favorite crustacean while pegging its claw. The sculpture was supposed to be cast in bronze and made part of the Maine exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair. But Maine ran out of money, so the artist, Victor A. Kahill, just slapped a coat of bronze-colored paint over the plaster model and shipped it to New York.

After the Fair ended, the fake bronze statue returned to Maine and spent several decades being moved from a Portland hotel to City Hall to the Maine State Museum. No one seemed to want the man and his lobster. The statue was vandalized, repaired, and ended up in a warehouse where it was eaten by rats.

It wasn't until after poor Snoody Johnson died that several bronze casts were made of the plaster statue, and six years after that (1981) one was moved to Washington, DC, and dedicated in 1983. It was donated by the Camp Fire Girls of Cundys Harbor, Maine; reportedly cost $30,000; and overlooks the Potomac River, which has no lobsters.

A close inspection may reveal tooth marks from the rat-nibbled original model, but we aren't promising anything.

Snoody Johnson was also known as "a pioneer in the commercial harvesting of sea moss," but there's no monument for that.

Obscure Monument to Lobsterdom

Market Pier

Address:
5 Market Square SW, Washington, DC
Directions:
Southwest edge of downtown. Market Pier. From Maine Ave. SW, just south of the I-395 overpass, turn west at the crosswalk onto Market Square SW. Drive to the end; you'll see the back of the Lobsterman statue straight ahead, at the entrance to Market Pier.
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