Friday, June 30, 2006

July of the 7000s

Hello out there! Well, it seems appropriate that our blog has hit the 7000-hit mark just as we turn to the seventh month, July. It's really exciting to see the counter go up and know that people are finding us on here, though we're still technically quite a new site (our first post was made in October 2005).

The month of June ended with a great little note from the folks at the Maine Historical Society (who seem to really like us, hooray!) which included a tipoff about an account of a merman in Maine that dates back into the 1600s. Stay tuned for a fleshing out of this item, and for more strange stuff as July of the 7000s rolls on!!!

Thanks for joining us, all of you!

Warm regards (well, it is rather humid),

Misfortune Teller , Halfway to Halloween Horrorball, Portland, Maine, May 2006
Photo (c) by Michelle Souliere

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kablooey in Lewiston

Lewiston, Maine, which used to be Exit 13 off the interstate before they changed all the exit numbering, has been host to a series of bizarre problems of late, including a sinkhole downtown that started out small only for it to be discovered that it opened into a cavern 25 feet in size. That happened earlier this summer. Here's the latest!
Manhole cover blasted into air as power goes out
By Mark LaFlamme, Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 28,2006

LEWISTON - A series of explosions rocked Lisbon Street Tuesday
afternoon and the scene was a familiar one. An electrical problem
beneath the ground in front of Grimmel's Auto Sales was so powerful
it blew a manhole cover into the air three times before it was over.

"As heavy as that manhole cover is, it must have come three feet off
the ground," said Grimmel's owner Mike Grimmel. "It made my knees

At the same time, sparks were shooting from power lines overhead and
a large portion of the downtown area went dark. The power remained
out for nearly an hour before a temporary fix was put in place and
more extensive repairs began.

The 3:30 p.m. incident occurred in almost the same spot where a burst
underground pipe resulted in a massive sinkhole two weeks ago. The
hole, directly in front of Grimmel's, forced the closure of lower
Lisbon Street for nearly a week.

"If it wasn't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all," said Fred
Quimby, an employee at Grimmel's Auto Sales.

Quimby was moving cars in Grimmel's sales lot when the first of the
underground explosions rocked the earth and blew upward.

"I heard 'whoosh!' I looked over and the manhole cover was just
coming back down onto the ground," Quimby said.

When the manhole cover first blew from the ground, employees at
Grimmel's didn't know what caused the problem. Grimmel said he had
been showing a potential customer a Suburban at the time. After the
first explosion, he advised her to leave the lot.

She left before emergency crews arrived, and two more blasts occurred.

Central Maine Power Co. crews went beneath the street where they
determined the problem resulted from a cable failure. The cable runs
from below the street to the top of a utility pole nearby.
Mark LaFlamme also wrote earlier in the Sun Journal about his contemplations on the sinkhole.

As he put it so succinctly: "Few people enjoy the idea of stuff getting sucked down into a dark crater in the earth." He also relates the lore of the old-timers of Lewiston, and their recollections of Lisbon Street in its gala days before, interestingly enough, yet ANOTHER sinkhole ruined it.
They say Lisbon Street was a place visited by princes and princesses who would come from faraway places to watch gladiators do battle in elaborate arenas. They came for the burlesque shows, the street magicians, the fancy saloons where beer was sold for a nickel and you could relax with a massage at the spas upstairs. [...] And then the sinkhole came. Its black, hungry maw opened wide without warning, right ther in front of what was then Grimmel's Saloon and Eatery, near the grand gateway to the coveted Lisbon Street Mecca.
LaFlamme, no stranger to the weirdness and darker sides of Maine, has no reassurance for us. As he says, "I'm not saying bad things will follow. I just have a sinking feeling." Ow. Read LaFlamme's blog here.

Farmington Paradise?

Licia Kuenning predicted that June 6, 2006, would bring a new world order to the town of Farmington, Maine. Sadly, it seems not to have happened. In a belated note on her website, she says:
The events predicted here didn't happen. I don't know why. I'm not going to predict a revised date for them, or pretend that they happened in some spiritual sense. I'm leaving the text of the prophecy on this website so that people who've seen it discussed can read it here.
More on this later.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Arrest Hindered by Moose

Police in Waterville had trouble using a tracking dog to pursue fugitive Justin "J.J." LaCroix last Saturday. As it turned out, LaCroix had a secret accomplice.
More than an hour into the chase, [Officer Jeffrey] Bearce said, a man saw a moose come out of the woods. The animal apparently had been on the same path as LaCroix and contaminated the trail, Bearce said.

"They came across a moose out of the woods on Silvermount Street, and he contaminated the track across to Silver Street," Bearce said. "He was running in the same place the kid ran." [Source]

Monday, June 26, 2006

It's ALIVE!!! Poetry Comix #7

After a two year hiatus, Poetry Comix returns like a bonk on the head! Issue #7, long awaited, will be on local countertops soon (try Strange Maine!).

Now that that's out of the way and off to see the world on its own, I am looking for submissions for #8.

The guidelines are very basic:
1. Art should be 8 1/2 x 11 (one piece per issue can be 11x17 for the centerfold) and photocopy-ready. It can be up to 4 pages in length, if it needs to be, though most folks stick to 1 or 2 pages.
2. What do you do? Well, pick a poem, song lyrics, or a lyrical fiction excerpt that you would like to interpret visually, and go to it! We're pretty liberal here. Have fun!!!
3. Submit by JULY 31st and mail to me at:
Michelle Souliere
Poetry Comix
P.O. Box 8203
Portland, ME 04104

You could also get away with dropping it off at Strange Maine care of Brendan or Michael or whoever else might be working. Email me with any questions! michelle.souliere(AT)

Poetry Comix is a black and white zine that is distributed in the Portland, Maine area and elsewhere free of charge. And it's a good way to get up off your butt and do something FUN!

If you miss the July 31st dealine, don't let that scare you away -- send your stuff in and I'll use in the next upcoming issue no matter WHEN you send it!

Maine UFO Sighting

Guest post by Loren Coleman!
re: The Wonders of St. John's Day

also consider:

June 24, 1967, Trenton, Maine - Two people sighted a silver-gray, hat-shaped
object hovering about 500 feet from the shoreline in Trenton, Maine at
around 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It emitted a vapor at its base. The
object ascended into a fog bank and descended again at a greater distance
before moving away. (Source: Raymond E. Fowler, UFOs Interplanetary
Visitors, pg. 349).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dunwich in Maine

Local Lovecraftian short film maker Christian Matzke is at it again! Next up on his heaping plate of horror is an adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror and The Terrible Old Man. Shooting on the main body of the film occurred this past weekend, and all systems are now go. To check out the keen website and get more info about the film, please go to

Additional Matzke/Tarling shenanigans can be viewed here, where has kindly posted his film Experiment 17 as streaming Quicktime video for your viewing displeasure. Urk!

Legends of the Haunted Mansion

The Portland Phoenix has just printed a story about Funtown's old Haunted Mansion and its crew. As a child, I saw the Mansion through the car window every time my parents drove by on our twilight way to visit relatives in Biddeford. It was a mysterious presence, an object of curiosity and dread. Later, as an adult, when I went back to revisit it, it was gone. Sometime during the intervening years, in 1996 in fact, the Mansion had disappeared. It's hard to say whether the sense of genuine loss of something you had is more poignant than the void left when you never even had something in the first place to lose.

Every now and then thoughts of it occurred to me, but those were generally set by as a futile exercise. It was gone. It wasn't coming back. No sense in crying over spilt milk. I went on to drown my sorrows in annual pilgrimages to Spooky World in Massachusetts, first in Berlin, and then when it moved to Foxboro. The sense of loss returned more sharply, this time, as Spooky World finally was dismantled too, early in the fall of 2004. I went to the auction of all the props and costumes and watched as the scavengers from all across the country descended on these relics of a place that was a second home to many of its actors, including my husband.

It was like attending a funeral. It WAS a funeral. The actors that could bear it had come, hiding behind their sunglasses and clustering in little groups together, some hoping to depart with a souvenir -- a favorite costume, a friendly ghoul that they had been stationed by in one of the five haunted houses -- though few were successful as early bidding ran exorbitantly high, and not many of us had enough hope to stay through to the bitter end.

That fall I found myself working as an actor alongside many of these folks, the rare and strange breed that is the haunter, at Evilville, in Carver, Massachusetts. Evilville only lasted a year, built as a benefit for the Edaville Railroad Park, and staffed entirely by volunteers, well over a hundred of us, there simply for the love of haunting, all dressed in old Spooky World costumes that had been bought as a lot at the auction by one of the old makeup loft managers.

We drove down after leaving our fulltime jobs on Friday, worked Friday and Saturday night at the haunt, then drove back to Maine (a good 3 and a half hour haul each way), arriving back in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, only to get up early Monday morning to start our regular jobs again. It was exhausting, but no different (with the exception of that excruciating drive) from the way all the rest of the cast had to squeeze haunting into their own fulltime schedules, some of them even working at other haunts during the week in addition to their "normal" year-round jobs.

Halloween comes but once a year. And for many of us it's a carnival season, from that first appearance of cheesy Halloween merchandise in the stores in August to the last scramble for marked-down Halloween items the week after the holiday itself.

[Which brings me to a sideways point in this ramble of nostalgia and loss -- why is it that we have to travel out of state for a really good haunt? Massachusetts is crawling with them. Even New Hampshire has a handful of largescale seasonal haunts to its name. But MAINE -- the home of Stephen King, Glenn Chadbourne, Rick Hautala, and countless other cool ghouls -- we have no major haunt attractions come October, save the somewhat fluffy Haunted Hayrides. Why is this??? This question has bothered me for years now.]

In fact, in dismissing my longing for the Haunted Mansion as futile, I had overlooked a cadre of haunters from my own home state. Dave Gagne, one of the Haunted Mansion spooks, runs a website now at that recollects the Mansion and provides a touchpoint for old members of the cast to stay in touch.

Looking at the photos was a strange experience. The juxtaposition of the flaming ruin of the House paired with the camaraderie of the staff members watching it burn reminded me in a more graphic sense of what went on at the Spooky World auction two years ago. On a more fun note, looking at the photos of the cast in action at Funtown was hilarious and wonderful. Oh, the glee they must have had in adding an element of spook to the summer fun and beach blonde crowd!!! It looks like it was a ton of fun. I would love to see more pictures of the interior someday.

Like the Homeless Haunters of Spooky World (or ex-Spookies), the Haunted Mansion spooks had a final day in the shade when they worked with a bunch of the old costumes and props at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport:
After the mansion burned, Parker said he went “through a bad period of mourning.” For a couple of years afterward, some of the crew volunteered to do a Halloween gig for the Haunted Trolley Ride at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, where Cormier had donated most of the Mansion’s props. Most of the monsters were in their mid-to-late 20s by then, with 40-hour-a-week careers and growing families. It would be their last terrible hurrah. The gig required them to dress in their old Mansion costumes and line up in a phalanx at the crest of a hill. When the haunted trolley rounded the bend and “stalled” it was Libby’s job to bellow, “Death to all who oppose us!”

“And we’d all go running down the hill,” said Parker, waving his arms in the air to demonstrate. “And they’d all be trapped in the trolley car screaming and trying to get out. But they couldn’t go anywhere. They had nowhere to go. It was great.”
Sounds like home to me.

Phoenix article by Sara Donnelly here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Brake for Crippled Chickens

If you'll be driving on Forest Ave. in Portland on Thursday between 2 and 3, watch out for hobbling poultry in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It's part of a PETA protest:
A giant crippled "chicken" will repeatedly cross the road in front of a local KFC to lead a protest against the company's abusive treatment of chickens. Other PETA members will distribute leaflets to passersby, and one activist will wear a body screen TV showing shocking video footage of factory-farming abuse. [Source]
Isn't "crippled" a non-PC word? I think they should call it a "differently-abled" chicken.

Accumulation of Bigfoot

Loren Coleman mentions that more treasures are arriving daily for the "Cryptozoology: Out of Time Place Scale," exhibit opening June 24th up at Bates College in Lewiston.
Orang Pendek in Maine

Come to Maine this summer, and see what a three-feet-tall alleged creature still existing in Sumatra apparently left for a footprint, next to the replica of the skull of the three-foot-tall "Hobbit," Homo floresiensis. We do inhabit interesting times.

Read Full Post and view more photos...

A 1932 Jewel!

The 1932 Deering High School yearbook, the Amethyst, is full of tidbits of time-traveling wonder. The art page prefacing the senior class' pictures is of a spaceship! They were thinking of the future.

The commencement of the Class of 1932 included both a Bible Reading and speeches on a number of pertinent topics, including Superstition, interestingly enough. Also included (to give you an idea) were: an essay on Progress, and essay called "In Those Days," and essays on Travel, Education, and Amusement. What I wouldn't give to read a few of those transcripted -- a window into what the high school senior of 1932 thought of the world of their day and of that gone before.

I don't know if it is because of the seemingly severe style of the day, but in the portraits of the graduating seniors, many of them look of an age well beyond the 18 years or so most of them must have been.

The copy of The Amethyst that I have belonged to Reginald Doyle. I bet he never figured his yearbook would wind up an acute object of interest in the year 2006! It came all the way back to Maine from an eBay seller in Tucson, Arizona, so it's certainly made the rounds.

You can look forward to a series of posts on the items of interest I find within over the next little while! Coming attractions will include various coverages of obscure school clubs, the outrageous candid photo collages and their accompanying commentary (quite as outrageous as the photos themselves), selections from the senior class portraits, and anything else juicy we can lay our hands on.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lucky Sticky 13!!!

Maple syrup has a new lucky number! The Department of Agriculture has released figures indicating that Maine maple syrup production rose 13 percent last year. According to the Bangor Daily News, "Syrup production in Maine during the spring totaled 300,000 gallons, up from 265 gallons in 2005[...]"

While Vermont still beat us and everyone else overall (darn them!), they are now awash in the 460,000 gallons of syrup they produced, so we should all take some roadtrips over there and start licking, 'cause they're bound to be sticky. I'll bring my cats.

Whoo!!! MAPLE SYRUP!!!!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Marden's Mattress Attack!!!

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported today that a renegade mattress waylaid a hapless motocyclist this weekend near Greene.
Motorcycle rider hits mattress on Route 202
By Max Mogensen, Staff Writer
Monday, June 19,2006
GREENE - A Lewiston man was thrown from his motorcycle Sunday afternoon after his bike hit a mattress on the road.

The man, Richard Breton, 38, of Lewiston, was returning home from a motorcycle ride about 2 p.m. when he crashed on Route 202 just across the town line in Greene.

Breton struck a mattress that had fallen from a truck driving out of Lewiston on Route 202. The truck was carrying the mattress from Marden's Surplus store, where it had been purchased earlier that day.

Breton wasn't seriously hurt, though he was taken to Central Maine Medical Center for tests. "I just got some scratches and bruises," he said. He was later released.

Breton, a father, had asked his son Jake to accompany him on the motorcycle ride. "He wanted to stay in the pool," the senior Breton said. Later, Breton was thankful to escape injury and more thankful that his 10-year-old son declined his offer.

"All in all," said Breton, "Father's Day wasn't too bad."

My friends and I often sang along to Marden's commercials as children. Our favorite version was "I should have shot it when I saw it at Marden's!" We did so very gleefully, and would just as gleefully go shopping with our moms at Marden's when the chance arose.

EVENT: Downeast Humah - The Next Generation!

WHERE? Strange Maine, 578 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
WHEN? Thursday, June 22, 2006 at about 8:00pm
WHAT? The Downeast Humah of Cliff Huxtable & Warren Estes, appearing as an interlude during the EP Release Celebration of Glade Swope. Also starring Dan Knudsen. All ages, FREE!
HUH? For more info, call 771-9997

A new generation of Maine humor is being wrought Frankenstein-like from the elements aforegone. Come pull up a stoop and listen to the wicked amusing puzzlements of two fellers who have studied up on their gumpwedges, whiffs, big whoops, fiddleheads, puckerbrush, and rhubarb. In fact, they've been right out straight. So come and watch them get down to business. Or don't! Same diff. Only if you don't, you'll be missing out, big time.

Not to be confused with the Maine Hysterical Society, shown here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Murders at Smuttynose

Just past midnight on March 6, 1873, two Norwegian women—Karen and Anethe Christensen—were murdered on Smuttynose Island in the Isles of Shoals by Louis Wagner, a German fisherman. A third woman, Maren Hontvet, lived to tell the tale. has Hontvet's testimony against Wagner, a list of other possible suspects, and poet Celia Thaxter's account of the crimes:
The moonlight shines full in his face; she shrieks loudly and distinctly, "Louis, Louis!" Ah, he is discovered, he is recognized! Quick as thought he goes back to the front door, at the side of which stands an ax, left there by Maren, who had used it the day before to cut the ice from the well. He returns to Anethe standing shuddering there. It is no matter that she is beautiful, young, and helpless to resist, that she has been kind to him, that she never did a human creature harm, that she stretches her gentle hands out to him in agonized entreaty, crying piteously, "Oh, Louis, Louis, Louis!" He raises the ax and brings it down on her bright head in one tremendous blow, and she sinks without a sound and lies in a heap, with her warm blood reddening the snow.

Friday, June 16, 2006

EVENT: Silent Disco Saturday at the A1!!!

Anyone who gets photos of THIS event can consider themselves a Strange Maine Cub Reporter if they'll send them to me for posting on the site! Wow. Possibly the coolest idea for a Maine event since Zombie Kickball and the Moxie Festival.

Speaking of which, I wound up out of town during Zombie Kickball the other week -- did anyone get any photos???

At any rate, read on to find out about the latest...
Photo of Birthday Present & Monkey Disco Fighting at Bubba's by Matthew Robbins

A quick reminder that this Saturday June 16 at 12:30 afternoon, the first Silent Disco will occur! Dancers will meet outside of the A1 Diner as we gather and become a crazy, silent, dancing mob in the streets of Downtown Gardiner.
Bring iPod, mp3, Cd player with headphones! Cassette players too.

your humble artist,

home: 1-207-622-7467
mobile: 1-917-495-1713 more info

Thursday, June 15, 2006

EVENT: Hug a Sasquatch for Art!!!

Loren Coleman has announced the upcoming opening of the Cryptozoology Exhibit at Bates College in Lewiston, on June 24th. The exhibit looks like it is going to be downright fantastic! There doesn't seem to be a public gala opening, which is too bad, but museum hours are mentioned below, and I, for one, am planning on packing up a couple of carloads of friends to go take a peek.

According to Coleman's article about the exhibit (source):
Some of the items from the International Cryptozoology Museum’s collection, contained in my installation at Bates, probably will include:
- 8 ft-tall, 500 pound “Crookston Bigfoot,”
- hair and fecal samples from 1950s Yeti expeditions,
- first public American replica of the Homo floresiensis skull,
- Yosemite Killer Cary Stayner’s Bigfoot sketches,
- Meganthropus and Gigantopithecus Krantz-replica skulls,
- Homo erectus newyorkensis replica skull,
- art representing Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Mothman,
- footcasts of Sasquatch, Yeti, Yowie, Thylacine, and Cryptid Cats,
- unique one-of-a-kind cryptid figurines and unknown hominoid bronzes,
- historic cryptozoology expedition flags,
- Chupacabras wooden figures,
- Okapi and Sasquatch 1940s’ enumerations,
- rare American and foreign-language cryptozoology books,
- rare paper collectibles,
- Tom Slick-related objects,
- and much more.
Please see the Museum's website for more information. Directions are as follows:
The College is located approximately three miles from Maine Turnpike Exit 80 (formerly Exit 13, Lewiston Exit).

From the South: take Exit 80 and turn left onto Alfred A. Plourde Parkway at the stop sign at the end of the off ramp.
From the North: take Exit 80 and bear right onto Plourde Parkway.

Continue straight on Plourde until it deadends at Webster Street (second stoplight). Turn left onto Webster and follow for 1 mile to the first stoplight at Farwell Street. Turn right onto Farwell and follow .6 miles to stoplight. Continue straight across intersection onto Russell Street. Follow Russell through two stoplights, then turn left onto Bardwell Street (across from the Bardwell Street Variety) into the museum parking lot.

Click here for a map of campus:

Museum hours:
Tuesday - Saturday, 10 AM-5 PM
75 Russell Street, Lewiston, Maine 04240
Phone: 207-786-6158
Fax: 207-786-8335

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Do Not Try This At Home Without an Umbrella

Experiments conducted in Buckfield by Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of have shaken the scientific community.

Well, not really, but they have produced some really cool videos of soda shooting up in a "hysterical and spectacular mint-powered version of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas." The trick is to combine large quantities of Diet Coke with large quantities of Mentos and then stand back.

What happens if you consume these two substances together? Consider this video a cautionary tale:

But Did They See Who Did It?

Revisiting the theme of local police blotters, we find ourselves perusing the Biddeford/Saco/OOB Courier's blotter to read:
Security issues
A local business reported that a security camera had been stolen.
A tip of the hat to the New England Anomaly's own Amos Quito for pointing out this treasure trove.

Like other favorites of ours, the Courier excels at their police blotter in part because of fabulously amusing title headings customized to each report. More examples follow:
Making a deposit?A beagle named Buddy was reported lost on Main Street near City Hall. The wayward dog was located a short while later at the Pepperell Savings Bank.

Being proactive
A man called to report that he had suddenly come upon a stopped school bus on West Street and, because it was just around a corner, was unable to stop in time, so he passed the stopped bus as it was discharging children. At that time, police had not received any call from the school department.

Who won?
A caller advised that the second-floor tenants were making a lot of noise, and that it sounded like they were wrestling. Police responded and interviewed a man and his wife, who said they had been wrestling.

Too realistic
A caller reported the neighbors next door were having an argument and throwing things around. Police discovered that the neighbors were watching wrestling on television with the surround sound turned up. They were warned about the noise.

Stop the presses
A Fortunes Rocks resident reported seeing a suspicious vehicle stopping at every house in the neighborhood. Police located the vehicle and determined the driver was delivering newspapers.

Don’t worry, be happy
Police were dispatched to River Road for a report of a young male lying in the roadway. Two passersby parked their cars in the road to prevent anyone from running over the man, but said they were too afraid to check on him. Police arrived and found the man to be “conscious, alert and extremely happy.” The situation was resolved without need for a rescue.

Another commuter
Police received a report of a moose running down Alfred Street toward Sanford. County and state police were notified.

But was he Italian?
An employee at a local restaurant called to report a male customer acting intoxicated and unruly. He was described as wearing a white buttoned-down shirt with blue stripes and that he “appears Italian with a long face and strong, bold chin.” The employee thought he had left in a vehicle, and police stopped that vehicle, only to learn the man in question was not there. An alert was issued to Maine State Police.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

EVENTS: Riverton Trolley Park

Portland Parks and Recreation and the Friends of the Riverton Trolley Park will be celebrating the 110th anniversary of the Grand Opening of the Park during the week of June 19.

Pre-registration is appreciated as some of the events have limited availability. Please leave a message for Denise at 766-2970.

Please join us for the following activities:

Monday, June 19
Slide Show: "Remembering Trolleys, Casinos, Bandstands and Rustic Theaters"
2:00-4:00pm Wilde Chapel, Evergreen Cemetery (FREE!)

Thursday, June 22
Memorabilia Sharing: Bring your family stories, post cards and other memorabilia from the Park. Keep the Park alive by sharing with others!
2:00-4:00pm Riverton Community Center, 1600 Forest Avenue (FREE!)

Thursday, June 22
Guided Historic Walk of Riverton Trolley Park, complete with enlarged images ($2 per person)
5:00-6:00pm or 5:30-6:30pm, meet at the ballfield on Riverside Street

The Crashing Green

Deering Oaks has suffered another fatality in the wake of the weeks of downpours that Portland has been subjected to. One of the grand oak trees that grace its grassy slopes has fallen. The slope it was on became too waterlogged to hold it in place any longer, and without the additional depth necessary in its roots, the great titan toppled.

This happened over the weekend, and I discovered it on my way to work Monday morning. Poor tree! I paid it a visit and said farewell. I took this photo on my way to work this morning while it was still lying in state. Click on the image to view a larger version. The fallen tree is lying across the path to the right of the photo, with its branches extended into the reedy neck of the duckpond.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Handkerchief Moody

I've just uploaded to my Maine Genealogy Blog excerpts from the diary of Rev. Joseph Moody of York (1718-53)—also known as "Handkerchief Moody." The diary was written in a "Latin cipher," but that's the least strange thing about Moody.

The story goes that, after Moody accidentally killed a young friend, his father "compelled his son to sit up all night with the body of his friend as an atonement." Moody was so overcome with guilt that he wore a handkerchief over his face for the rest of his life—even while in the pulpit. He was the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne's story, "The Minister's Black Veil":
"Why do you tremble at me alone?" cried he, turning his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. "Tremble also at each other! Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children screamed and fled, only for my black veil? What, but the mystery which it obscurely typifies, has made this piece of crape so awful? When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a Black Veil!"
The Hawthorne story was, in turn, the inspiration for Rick Moody's 2002 book The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions. His Author Photo Gallery has some neat items, including a picture of a guy dressed up like Handkerchief Moody for a festival at York's First Congregational Church, and a "bad photo of a fake portrait of 'Handkerchief' Moody painted by a friend of my father's."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Execution, Bowdoin Style

Well, I had a lucky windfall yesterday and scored a 1961 copy of Bowdoin's yearbook for free! Hooray!

Found this interesting photo in amidst all the other brouhaha, and thought you all might appreciate the oddity.Click on the image to see a larger version. The text on the placard reads "HERE LIES THE DRUNKEN ANIMAL."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Historic Home Ec

Well, I just got my 1932 copy of the Deering High School yearbook, the Amethyst, in the mail from eBay. Wow! These things are like time machines. For instance, I have to say that for the record, the home economics course of study looked nothing like this when I was there (circa 1987-1989)...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

666 Come and Gone

Well, June 6, 2006, has come and gone. It was a tremendously gorgeous day (see photographic proof in case you are doubting there was ever any sun in Maine lately), which is good, because today the weather is just crummy again.

If that's your idea of an apocalypse -- umpty-million buckets of rain all spring long -- then I guess we're doomed, but otherwise things seem much the same. I went to see the late showing of the remake of The Omen last night as the closer for the day.

No word yet on whether Licia Kuenning's prediction that Farmington, Maine, will become the new paradise of Christ on earth on June 6, 2006 -- perhaps that is still playing itself out. I haven't heard a peep yet in the news or on her website, though I am reading up some more on the book she wrote about it and her history as a Quaker. Interesting stuff, paradise or no paradise. More posting on that shortly.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tongues Make Statement

Back when I was taking classes at USM part-time in the late '90s, I took a great class in Renaissance Lit with Professor Bertram. One evening when we were all out on break, wandering up and down the stairwells in search of vending machines as usual, we found something disturbing on the stairwell. To all appearances it was a tongue. A fleshy, squishy tongue. On fetching Professor Bertram, we determined that it was unlikely that it was a human tongue because of its size. It was more likely to be a cow or sheep tongue, probably bought from a local butcher. As to its presence on the stairwell landing... who can say?

Later on I heard that tongues had also been stuffed into various other locations around the campus, including faculty mailboxes. Obviously this was meant to be a protest of some sort, or maybe even just a prank. The reasoning (or lack thereof) behind the episode was never revealed to my knowledge.

This is one of those historical episodes in my life that remains a mystery. If anyone knows more about it or has any recollections of their own to add to the account, please feel free to comment!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Screwed Hay and Unlucky Thirteen

More fun from the Portland, Maine newspaper, the Eastern Argus, Friday Dec. 9, 1836, issue!

Here we find a couple of interesting ads. One of the fine things about old newspaper articles is the use of outmoded terminology that just sounds funny to our blunted modern ears. Evidence at hand: "screwed hay." Also attached is another ad, placed for a fellow who has had bad luck at the account of his $13 promissory note. To wit:
D.H. COLE Agent for farmers, has good and safe accommodations for storing SCREWED HAY, and offers his services in making sales of that article. None but the first quality will be received. Sales guaranteed. Charges moderate.

NOTICE. I the Subscriber to hereby forbid all persons purchasing a note given by me to Frederick Wescott, of Westbrook, dated June 22, 1836 -- the amount of said Note is thirteen dollars, for I never received the value of said Note and shall not pay it. BENJAMIN SAWYER, Westbrook, Nov. 23, 1836.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Axe Murderer for Sale

I found this interesting listing on eBay this morning:
Portland Maine Edwardian WEIRD COUPLE Scary photo 1910

With two days left on the auction, the price is just over $8 for this interesting specimen of Portland, Maine cabinet photography. The lister has concocted a story around their impression of the character of the male subject:
Antique Edwardian photograph.
This is a scary couple.
Look at his eyes. Very creepy and eeries, like he's going to grab you.
She has gold rimmed spectacles and a pearl bead necklace.
Taken approx 1910, and is held in a green paperboard holder with an art deco embossed edge. Sized overall in holder 8 1/4" x 5 1/2"
Photographer is Brandt of Portland ME Maine.
Great detail.Clean. Sepia tone. Light ageing here and there.
Either way, it is an excellent photo, very clearly focused and well-preserved. Interesting to note is that the photo is darker on the male's half of the frame, perhaps contributing to the seller's interpretation of the scenario characters.

Portland's First Bank Robber

Portland's First Bank Robber
Guest post by Dugan Murphy
(with apologies to Mr. Murphy -- I told him I posted this last week, forgetting it had been bumped by Zombie Kickball announcements! whoops!)
On the morning of August 3, 1818, Joseph Swift, a cashier at the Cumberland Bank, discovered that over $200,000.00 had been stolen from the vault. That may not buy you one of Portland's new luxury condos, but I can assure you that it was a tidy sum 188 years ago. Portland at the time was a small yet bustling settlement of three thousand people and the building in which the store Strange Maine currently resides wouldn't be built for another five years. The town was also decades away from organizing its first police force. There was only a loose, municipally-organized team of night watchmen – Spam really. Seth Bird, Inspector of the Watch, led the investigation.

He noted that the vault had little evidence of tampering and, upon questioning, the bank managers mentioned that the lock had recently been taken to Ellis' Blacksmith Shop for repair. It was there that Inspector Bird caught wind of one Daniel D. Manley, a Long Wharf junk shop keeper, who was seen eyeing the lock suspiciously while it was in for repair.

Bird found evidence of key copying at Manley's shop, but took in his accomplice, a man named Rolfe. He led the inspector to where he and Manley buried the money after being offered his freedom in exchange for compliance. It was near the water's edge, close to where the Portland Company complex now (still) stands off eastern Fore Street, that they started digging by candlelight. When they found no dough, Rolfe knew he had been betrayed and reportedly blew his brains out right there on the spot, his body collapsing into the very hole they had just dug.

Seth Bird soon caught up with Daniel Manley himself and confronted him with his partner's confession. The inspector also offered him the bank's finder's reward – one thousand dollars. This obliged Manley to lead the lawmen to Scarborough Marsh where they got to digging again, only to find the loot once again missing! One can only imagine how they each must have felt at this turn of events. The money had actually been found a day earlier by clam diggers, and only a few gold coins short of the reported total.

Daniel D. Manley spent twelve years in prison, afterward returning to business in Portland, supposedly with the reward money that he shared with the clammers. He was buried in Eastern Cemetery with the epitaph, “Portland's First Bank Robber.” Unfortunately, the stone is worn to the point of illegibility, but it nevertheless stands to this very day.

If you find any of this inaccurate, don't blame me, blame Herbert G. Jones, author of Old Portland Town, written in 1938 for Machingonne Press.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Skunky Revenge

Beth Pulsipher of Damariscotta noticed a strange item in the local police blotter, and blogged about it at Red Moon Antiques - the Vintage Blogger:
An officer had issued a summons to a local man for applying skunk scent to the front steps of the village hall. Skunk scent is usually made from skunk musk gland, and is extremely difficult to remove from fabric - like carpeting.


It didn't take too long for the village officials to determine who the likely suspect was, and after an investigation by the police department, a summons was issued. No mention was made of why this individual was so mad at the village officials, but he certainly found an unusual way to get even.