Weird, Wicked Weird: Hauntingly good Maine reads, in time for fall
By Kathryn Skelton, Staff Writer
Published Oct 03, 2010
Sure, it’s not as famous as the legend of the bloody hook swinging from a door handle, but just try beating the story about the Maine witch who forever cursed Manhattan clam chowder.
(Fair warning: It’s a killer of men and libidos.)
Try beating the story about Catherine, Down East's vindictive, hitchhiking ghost.
Or, the one about the southern Maine attorney who kept a murder victim's head ... and ... maybe ... lost it.
All true — or true-ish — according to the authors of recent books on the bizarre, curious and ridiculously haunted.
Bone up for Halloween on a half-dozen nonfiction works based, at least in part, in Maine, and read the authors' takes on the unusual, in their own words.
The Turner Beast and other tales
“Strange Maine” by Michelle Souliere
Published: May 2010, The History Press ($17.99)
Some places don’t need a ghost. Phantom lights. Chilling sounds.
Battery Steele, the old World War II-era bunker on Peaks Island, Souliere says, is one such place.
“The main hallways form sort of an ‘I’ shape: There are two short entrance hallways on either end and then a long hallway that stretches between those,” she said. “You don’t think you’re going to need a flashlight, but as you get to the center of the very long part of the ‘I’, it’s actually incredibly dark and kind of terrifying. The light at either end of the tunnel becomes very appealing and you start to move a little more quickly.”
It’s so good, so naturally creepy, it doesn’t have any ancillary legends and doesn’t need them, Souliere said. “Battery Steele itself is a presence.”
And, unusual enough to fit into “Strange Maine.” The material for her book, arranged in chapters by themes like things in the woods and spooky spots, comes partly from pieces researched for her “Strange Maine Gazette” and ideas in newspaper clips, books and word of mouth.
Some are straight stories of the weird (the Specter Moose, an allegedly giant moose roaming the woods, and Turner’s mystery beast — less mystery, more dog), some of unusual places (Houlton's Hubcap Heaven, Brian Read’s Recycle Zoo in Washington) and some are spots the reader can visit, like Fort Knox.
“There’s just something about all the tunnels and stairways that wind through the fort that really sparks my imagination,” Souliere said. “There are stories of hauntings there, but in and of itself, it has a spooky feel to it.”
(Spookiness egged along by the annual “Fright at the Fort” Halloween benefit.)
“I think those of us who live in the state don’t necessarily visit (places like Battery Steele, Fort Knox) as much as tourists from outside the state,” she said. “I think we miss out on some of the fun we could be having here at home.”
Souliere, who lives in Portland, is working on a Maine Bigfoot book with cryptozoologist Loren Coleman for the next year. After that, it's a “Strange Maine” followup, which will include the story of the Phantom House of Northport, something that didn’t fit in the first edition.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Book interview for Sun Journal