Chad Blackman is a carpenter. Now he’s also a meme.
The 47-year-old Marshfield resident reached Internet celebrity status — at least locally — after a picture of him sipping a Bud Light and wading into the flooded streets of the Brant Rock neighborhood during last week’s nor’easter was shared on Facebook and other social media platforms thousands of times.
Blackman had been hanging out with his long-time friend Eric Murphy on Friday when the pair decided to put on chest-waders and test how high the water had risen in their coastal community. There was no power and no wifi and the gas company had shut the gas off, Murphy said, so they “pretty much had nothing else to do.”
Their brief adventure outdoors was sparked by a white measuring stick that someone had apparently nailed to a utility pole outside of Arthur and Pat’s, a restaurant near Murphy’s home, as a way to gauge the flooding.
“We were standing there watching the water come up and having a beer and I said, ‘What’s that thing on the telephone pole over there?,’” said Murphy, whose house is on stilts. “I said, ‘Let’s walk over and see how deep it is.’”
When they got to the stick, Murphy took a series of photographs of Blackman striking various poses next to it — open beer in hand— as he crouched down slightly in the murky brown water that nearly came up to his chest.
“When I was taking the pictures, we were laughing,” said Murphy. “Chad looks like he’s cracking up laughing, because, you know, it’s kind of nutty.”
The pictures were later posted to Murphy’s Facebook page, and before the storm had even subsided, Blackman was well on his way to becoming a bright spot in a harrowing New England weather event that caused significant damage in the region.
One picture of Blackman sipping his beer while leaning into the utility pole was picked up by the Facebook page “Massachusetts Memes.” The words “Meanwhile, In Eastern Mass” were written above and below the image, a humorous take on how some residents were weathering the storm. It was shared more than 11,500 times.
Blackman said he didn’t find out about the image going viral until several days after the storm, when he had to buy a new phone.
“Mine got swamped. It was in my pocket” that day, he said. “I had something like 75 messages on it that I couldn’t get to, saying things like ‘Ah, you crazy bastard,’ and all sorts of stuff.”
He said he knows what memes are, but never uses them. And he certainly never thought he’d become one himself.
“We were just having fun amongst ourselves,” he said.