Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weird field in Bingham?

Dear fellow Strange Mainers, please find following an inquiry from another of your number regarding a remembered weird Maine spot:
Quick question, I grew up in Maine (Bingham) and my buddies in high school used to get a big kick out of this spot off 201 between Skowhegan and Fairfield. I want to say is was on the Hinckley road in Clinton (rte 23) but can’t really remember.

Anyway, it was this weird field with crazy mounds and hills shaped like humans dug into the earth. And rock circles and all kinds of stuff. My buddy said there was a orphanage across the street in a big abandoned farm house, but it wasn’t really an orphanage because it was run by a cult and they used to human sacrifice the babies. I’m sure he was full of sh*t but the field was really crazy. I still remember it, I wish I had pictures.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ghost bride emerges from gloom

Off all of Maine's urban legends and folklore, some of the most elusive and evocative tales are those of the ghost brides. The variety of these tales involving hitchhiking ghosts are particularly hard to track for researchers like myself who want to find the fact at the root of the story. There is a lot of rumor and hearsay associated with them, but rarely does the original witness get to give their own account and have it recorded.

Thanks to Mark LaFlamme over at the Lewiston Sun Journal, we now have a gem of a recent story, intact, directly from the original witness. He too has been chasing these stories for years. Read on!
Spectral lady hitches ride, vanishes
By Mark LaFlamme
Published: Aug 06, 2009 12:00 am

It happened like this: Shortly after midnight on July 11, a police officer in Mechanic Falls stopped to check on a teenage driver who was frantically flashing his headlights. When the cop approached the car, he found a 16-year-old named David who was badly shaken. The kid was in tears and babbling about something that happened moments ago in Poland.

The story David told was a crazy one but not unique. For generations, travelers through this dark place have told tales of a young lady dressed in white hitchhiking along Route 26. Sometimes she's dressed in a prom dress and sits quietly in the passenger seat. Other times, she is a bride dressed in white or a morose young woman with a cautionary message to deliver.

But our friend David had never heard those stories. He sat in his car stammering and trying to explain to the frowning policeman what had happened.

Just before 2 a.m., David was driving on Route 26 bound for Oxford. In the midst of all the darkness that collects in the middle of the night in Poland, suddenly there was a gleam of light at the roadside.

"She was standing on the side of the road, near the frozen custard place. At first, it was just a white glow," David said. "I drove up closer and saw that it was a woman. She looked to be between 20 and 24. I pulled over and she said, 'Can you bring me to the church on Route 11?'"
[...]
"She asked me if I could start driving faster, because she was late for her wedding," David said.

Those of us who have been around a while know that when a woman found wandering the back roads starts babbling about going to meet her beloved, what you have on your hands is a ghost. We will take appropriate action, which may include flinging ourselves out the window.

But David steeled up and drove on with the curious woman in the wedding gown. He turned onto Route 11, where even greater darkness gathers, and within a quarter of a mile, he found what appeared to be a church. He stopped between two posts out front and asked his eager rider if this was the right place.
[...]
"She said 'goodbye,'" David said. "When I turned to look at her, she was gone."

I'll give you a moment to rub the chill from your skin.

David is absolutely sure the passenger door of his Camaro was never opened. When he peered out into the night around him, he saw no sign of the woman in white. No brightly glowing gown in all of the blackness along Route 11.
[...]
The ghost hitchhiker of Route 26 comes with a variety of stories. In the most common, the woman wandering the dark roads is the murdered bride of George Knight, slashed to death in 1856 in her farmhouse on Route 11. The woman will deliver a warning, or perhaps a prediction, to the person who picks her up. Then she vanishes.

In another version, the roaming woman is the ghost of a young girl killed on her way to the prom. She is said to wander near the Poland Spring Inn, waiting for a ride in her eternal quest to make it to the dance. Like the slain Mrs. Knight, the ghost of the prom girl is said to vanish before the ride is over.

"I don't think it was either of them," David says of his spectral passenger. His research — there is plenty to be found on the Web regarding the ghost of Route 26 — has led him to believe that the lady who sat in his Camaro was a bride struck and killed by a car on the way to her wedding in the 1930s; a woman forever trying to reach the site of that long-ago blessed event and disappearing once she arrives.

David was also told that the man who was to marry the young lady is still alive, an elderly man who lives in Oxford.

The terrain of local legend is a labyrinth of falsehoods, misinformation and tiny kernels of truth that get built upon and built upon like papier-mache over decades of retelling. David relates his tale with excitement but without the kind of rhetorical battering you find in those who are trying to convince you of a lie.

I sought him out for this story; he didn't come to me. He spoke to me only hesitantly once I explained what I was after.

And at last, there is a police report on the matter. The prettily dressed lady may not have identified her killer, or made her way to the altar or the prom. But at the very least, she climbed her way up out of local lore and into the public record.

It took a brave kid in a Camaro to get her there.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can tell him about your sighting of the ghost of Route 26 at mlaflamme@sunjournal.com.

Read full article here: [Source]
Illustration by Michelle Souliere, (c)2005.

EVENT: Ghost story reading

Thanks to the Sun Journal for printing this author's letter and letting us know about this event:

WHAT: A night of ghost stories, read by David Pitkin, author of "Ghosts of the Northeast"
WHEN: 7:00 p.m., Saturday, August 19, 2009
WHERE: At the old Town Hall gym on Route 207, and in the parking lot with the Fire Station and Sebago Town Hall
COST: $3 suggested donation
FMI: pitkinaurora@aol.com
Author seeks ghostly experiences
Published: Jul 26, 2006 12:00 am

Dear Sun Spots' readers: Have you ever lived with a ghost?
I'm an author seeking true experiences. Anonymity guaranteed. I am a retired teacher and historian and author of the best-selling "Ghosts of the Northeast," which contains many Maine stories. I am now gathering ghost stories for a 2008 book covering the entire world, though most stories will be from the northeastern United States. I am starting my research here in Maine. I have investigated more than 800 haunted sites since hearing a ghost walking on a floor that wasn't there in 1968. Readers may e-mail me at pitkinaurora@aol.com or write to me at P.O. Box 690, Chestertown, NY 12817. - David J. Pitkin, Chestertown, N.Y.
[...]
Pitkin also notes he is a regular, year-round visitor to Maine. He will offer a night of ghost stories, a special presentation of the Spaulding Free Library in Sebago at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Please note the event is being held at the old town hall gym on Route 207 and in the parking lot with the fire station and Sebago Town Hall. There is a suggested $3 donation for the event.

Read full article here: [Source]
Illustration by Michelle Souliere, (c)2005.

EVENT: Dead Poets for fun!


From the Maine Libraries Discussion List comes the following cool event...

For Librarians and Patrons who enjoy Maine's Past Poets:
Maine poets and poetry-lovers are invited to come celebrate the completion of an historic literary adventure by reading at Maine's first Dead Poets Bash.

After a 63-day, 90-grave, 25-State journey to document the poetry and graves of America’s dead poets, the Poemobile is rolling back into Portland for a celebration at the North Star Café, from 3:30 to 5 this Sunday, August 16.

Participants should come prepared to read one or two poems about death, cemeteries, or elegy by one of Maine’s dead poets, such as: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Longfellow, Sarah Jewett, E. A. Robinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Tristram Coffin, May Sarton, Leo Connellan, Louis Bogan, and Elizabeth Coatsworth.

The event will be filmed for possible inclusion in the documentary film of the trip, as well as made part of the official trip archive which will be given to the Library of Congress. For more information write Walter Skold, of the Dead Poets Society of America, at chiefleaf@deadpoes.org

The North Star Café is located at 225 Congress Street, Portland, ME., and is a popular venue for musicians and poets. The event is free and good food and drinks are available for sale at the Café.

Illustration by Michelle Souliere, (c)2006.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who rescues the rescuers?

The Boston Globe reports on a freak mudding accident in Maine:
Maine EMT struck by monster truck, saved by mud
July 27, 2009
The Associated Press

LEBANON, Maine— A Maine rescue department volunteer struck by a monster truck at a mud race avoided serious injuries thanks to a cocoon of mud. Jason Cole, assistant rescue chief in the southern Maine town of Lebanon, says the driver lost control of her truck Sunday at the "Go Deep Mud" contest when the throttle became stuck.
[...]
Cole says the EMT sank so far into the mud that only his face was showing, and the truck's 35-inch tires passed on either side of him.
[...]
Read full article here: [Source]
Mudding is a favorite sport of many Mainers who own four-wheelers, involving mud and 4x4 trucks gone wild. If you've ever seen a truck going by you on the Maine highway, plastered in dried mud, you know what they've been up to! Here is a visual example of mudding:

If this has piqued your curiosity, you may want to check out Maine Mud Runs, a website dedicated to "providing the most complete and up to date information about anything to do with Mud Running, Mud Bogging or Mud Racing in Maine, New England and New Brunswick." Yep.

When one of your annual seasons is the Mud Season, you might as well get some fun out of it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

WWII missing plane found?

Interesting news out of Canada, as reported by the Bangor Daily News over the weekend:
Plane found by Canadian divers believed to be Maine-based Catalina lost in 1942
8/8/09
By The Associated Press

LONGUE-POINTE-DE-MINGAN, Quebec — Canadian divers have stumbled upon what they believe is the wreckage of a U.S. Army air force amphibious plane that went down in the St. Lawrence River in 1942.

Nine people were aboard the PBY-5A Catalina, which was based at Presque Isle, Maine.

The government divers, who work for Parks Canada, announced Thursday they came across the wreck while doing routine work near the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan in eastern Quebec. It has not yet been confirmed whether it is the lost plane.
[...]
According to the War Department, which later became the U.S. Department of Defense, the plane had completed the first leg of a routine flight and was taking off for the return trip to base when it capsized in rough weather in the eastern Gulf of Saint Lawrence on Nov. 2, 1942.

Four crew members survived. Five others died inside the aircraft. Their bodies have yet to be recovered.

Surviving were: retired Capt. John B. Holmberg, Chicago; Tech. Sgt. George C. Peterson, Welch, La.; Cpl. Robert L. Ashley, Riverside, Calif.; and Pvt. James E. Click, Lexington, Ky.

Missing were: Lt. Col. Harry J. Zimmerman, Bayside, Long Island, N.Y.; Capt. Carney Lee Dowlen, Dallas; Sgt. Charles O. Richardson, Charlevoix, Mich.; Pvt. Erwin G. Austin, Monroe, Maine; and Pvt. Peter J. Cuzins, Cincinnati.

Recent sonar data indicate the seaplane is in good condition and that human remains may be found.
[...]
Read full article here: [Source]
More on Catalinas here! >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PBY_Catalina
(Photo from Wikipedia site)

Friday, August 07, 2009

EVENT: Oh, Black Velvet!

In case anyone has wondered where I've been for the past few weeks -- I've been slaving away in my studio getting ready for this art show, which opens tonight, during First Friday Artwalk in Portland.

-----------------------

Last August, the Portland Art Horde initiated the masses into the bloody forum of untrammeled art hedonism with the Man-Witch Fan Art Show.

THIS August, the Portland Art Horde returns once again with the BLACK VELVET ART SHOW!

Here are the details:
WHEN: Opening Friday, August 7th, 6:00-9:00pm
WHERE: Sanctuary Tattoo, 31 Forest Avenue, Portland, Maine
WHAT: Black velvet art of all sorts and types. Magic is in the air!

Black velvet art is the crazy uncle in the attic of mainstream fine art, the mysterious hermit that hides in the mystic woods, the iffy aunt who leads a double life when the neon lights are lit each night. Black velvet art is the unholy child of Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy, Kenny Rogers, truckstop beauties, and a clown, mated with poodles, black panthers, unicorns, and wild-horned bulls by the light of the moon.

Founded in the forges of tropical art-generating markets, it emerged in the middle of the 20th century as a highly marketable art form, appealing to those seeking unique souvenirs or something cool to hang behind their couch that would be set off nicely by the woodgrain paneling in their living room.

However, the Tijuana velvet sweatshops were not the only performers of this art. Here and there, individuals raised the art to a high form, creating images that transcended the kitsch of the genre. Elsewhere, everyday citizens tried their hands at this artform with mixed results!

Did you ever wonder how they did it? Did you ever wonder why other people collect this crazy art? Have you been terrified of this inexplicable medium of painting to the point that you would never consider trying it for yourself?

The Portland Art Horde and Sanctuary asked local artists to FLING THEMSELVES INTO THE FASCINATION FACTOR!!! ... to FIND their own inner Black Velvet Artist. Come see the results for yourself.

Monday, August 03, 2009

photos of the week : Maine strangeness

Happy Summer, everyone!


Here are some strange views from the Mid Coast region:




Rockland


Damariscotta