Tourists adored Greenville’s Shaw Block Shop
He adored his wife, family & business
Albert P. Faye had a knack for knowing what made life tick, for him and for his store. Records indicate he was born in Van Buren, Maine, in 1902, but arrived in Greenville in 1922 from California.
As a young man he worked in the woods, then as a clerk at the popular Sander’s General Store, which is just across the street from The Shaw Block – then, as now — the architectural center of the downtown. In the 1930s, A.P. Faye rented a room there in which to sell his wife Molly Tomer’s Indian baskets. By 1946, the dapper young man on the move owned the Block.
Nothing seemed to faze A.P. Faye. If he had a mind to do a thing, he did it, apparently with great joy and flair. When he clerked at Sander’s Store, which catered to hundreds of sportsmen, he saw that customers also liked buying souvenirs and handcrafted items, so he and Molly opened an Indian craft store in their home on Main St. and erected a totem pole in the front yard.
A.P. Faye, who dressed in a shirt and tie, became known as “The Basketman” and began selling the intricate handcraft out of his car. Eventually, he traveled throughout New England, then throughout the U.S., often on Indian reservations, to buy handcrafted items directly from Natives that he thought would sell in Greenville. He was right. After purchasing the Shaw Block, he lined it from
floor to ceiling with thousands of novelty items that tourists, especially those driving by motorcar in the 1930s through 1950s, found fun to take home. The Indian Store expanded to include the Dairy Chief and a rock collection. The birch bark canoe, built in the traditional way by Old Town Indians, bound by spruce and fir pitch, hung in the center of a room and became a major attraction, as did his tall straw men and wooden Indian carving near the entrance.
The walls and floors were a kaleidoscope of colorful knickknacks, from authentic Skookum dolls to knives, tiny plastic horses and drums to grandma teacups and leather belts. If an item sold, it was immediately replaced with another. Generations of tourists flocked there. It was a must stop for anyone traveling the Moosehead region. Mr. Faye died in 1972. The store, run by his second wife, Ida, closed its doors in 1997.
A.P. Faye was not only successful in business but also in his family life. He adored his wife Molly, an Abenaki, whose father was a guide in Rockwood. Together they traveled for the store. Together they worked the store. He loved children and, while they could not have any of their own, they lovingly adopted Native children from Indian Island in Old Town and made an adventurous home for them. When he traveled, his family went with him.
Recently, two of his adopted daughters, Sally Tomer Boryszweski and Patricia Sapiel Lizotte, were reunited here at the Carriage House. Boxes of their family pictures were left abandoned in a house in Monson that was to be torn down in the Main St. re-make by the Libra Foundation.
Last summer we acquired the old boxes filled with family pictures and gave them back. Both of his adopted daughters say he was a great Dad who taught them well.
When The Indian Store closed, his niece Cathy Craft remembered him much the same way. She said that Faye had an abiding love of children and some of her fondest memories was of visiting him.
“My most vivid memory was of going to camp in Rockwood and he used to push my cousins and me on a huge swing tree. He always had a jar of white and pink mints, and a ton of old cars. When he got tired, he’s send us out to pick berries,” said Craft.