Sunday, February 11, 2024

Ghost Houses?

Of course (like you?) I am always interested in ghost stories.  There are so many types of hauntings!

A recent find made me think that perhaps when I eventually begin to write my book about true Maine ghost stories (yes, it's in the pipeline, behind a couple other ones!), one chapter should be about Maine ghost houses, as it appears there is more than one.  

What do I think of as a ghost house, as opposed to a haunted house?  A ghost house is one that reappears in its prior form, as the ghost of what it once was, where only a ruin of itself remains now.  This occurrence is uncommon, but occasionally some unwitting person is there to witness it happening, and that is how the rest of us find out about such otherworldly things.

A good example of this is Chapter 10 in Carol Olivieri Schulte's Ghosts on the Coast of Maine, titled "The Invisible Estate," set in Northport. 

If you know of any local Maine stories about a house that isn't there... until sometimes it is! ... please do drop me a line.  I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

2023 in review - a personal note

Hi everyone!

Wow, I started out 2023 with a resolution to revitalize my blog, but man -- I did not foresee what the year was going to bring.  Health problems decimated the bulk of the year, overlapped by business struggles, and worst of all, my mother's illness and death.  I will not miss 2023 -- so long!  I'm glad to try starting out fresh again in January 2024.

Because I had so much bad news last year, I didn't share a huge amount on here, but that doesn't mean I wasn't working away on Strange Maine things in the background.

Bigfoot in Maine -- I continued recording eyewitness accounts for Volume 2, and even managed a few field trips here and there (but never enough!) with some very good friends.  These accounts are all over the state, some tying in with eyewitness accounts from Bigfoot in Maine (v1), and some filling in blank spaces on the map where I hadn't been yet.  Most of the field trips were in York County - I hope to get into Western Maine and up north a bit sometime in 2024.

To start off 2024 on a high note, in Episode #244 (1/8/2024) of Bigfoot and Beyond with Cliff and Bobo, Cliff interviewed Aleks Petakov of Small Town Monsters, and he gave my book a terrific shoutout!  Aleks is an ace in the New England Bigfoot field investigation pantheon.  If you have a New Hampshire eyewitness report you'd like to file, he's your guy.

You can listen to that episode and others here:

Or find Aleksander's email and other info on his website here:

More research and site visits are planned for 2024, not to mention a talk at the upcoming International Cryptozoology Conference where you'll get the first preview of some of these cases.

Tickets/details here:

A nice pairing - Nov 2023
Strange Maine - I collaborated with Kristen Seavey, who runs the excellent Murder She Told true crime podcast (which I highly recommend if you haven't checked it out yet!).  In addition to suggesting her Tot Harriman episode, in late 2022 I handed over my archive of articles and research about the unsolved Dennis Down homicide (Falmouth, 1958) to Kristen, and in October 2023 she aired the episode after adding her own substantial research efforts and fleshing out the story for her listeners.  

I still hope someday this one can be solved, I find it quite haunting, especially because it disappeared - I discovered it wasn't even listed on the register of Maine's unsolved cases when I was digging around after it.

You can listen to it here or on the podcast app of your choice:

I also continued to set aside some Maine stories of hauntings, which will eventually become a book in its own right.

In December I had an opportunity to meet some Maine legends, author Carolyn Chute and her husband Michael Chute (and their dog Jake!).  Amazing!  I look forward to many future conversations with them. 

Other projects:  I am continuing to work on a biography of a Mainer who is unknown to most nowadays.  When I finish writing and finally get to launch that book, I hope it will remind people of all the unwritten, forgotten, fascinating folks and events that make up Maine's history -- for instance his story is how I found out about the Dennis Down murder case.  There are so many, this is just one - but one that crisscrossed so many iconic elements of Maine history that you will be swept up in his story. 

Here's to a good start to 2024 -- Happy New Year, everyone!

Keep your eyes and ears open, and look around you.  There are worlds within worlds to discover everywhere you go in Maine!

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Will Work While Not in School

Many moons ago, I received a nice pile of old Eastern Argus copies.

This Portland, Maine newspaper was published for over 100 years, starting in the very early 1800s. The Portland Public Library has microfilm versions of it from 1803 to 1921, but there is no way to compare with holding a copy of it in your hands! 

The paper is soft and cottony, and it was printed using movable metal type, producing texture and a much more enjoyable reading experience than the inky flat newsprint of today. In the Friday issue of December 9, 1836, among the advertisers is:

A YOUNG MAN, From the country, being anxious to attend School, either day or evening, -- will work in a family, at a very reasonable rate, whilst not at school. Inquiries at this office.
I do love creative problem solving.

Monday, November 07, 2022

True crime: A Maine treasure long missing

 I don't talk a whole lot about my own history and life on this blog, but this story draws on it in a number of ways.  I left home when I was 16 years old.  I went to high school, worked a job, and had an apartment of my own (having lied about my age on the lease).  Relationships with my parents were frayed, to say the least.  At one point my dad decided to try to find a way to spend time with me, and also share a useful and enjoyable experience with me, and enrolled us together in a cooking course through Portland Adult Education.  He had taken a course with the teacher before, and thought she was great.  Her name was Tot Harriman.

Photo by David A. Rogers in the Portland Press Herald 4/30/95 issue
Tot, born in Vietnam and now long-married to a U.S. veteran, wanted to share her cooking skills and her enjoyment of food with her other American neighbors here in the Portland area.  And my dad was right -- she was terrific.  Her personality was indomitable, sparkling, and very like a fireball at peak moments.  She was a great teacher, pragmatic, nonjudgmental, and straightforward.  We all learned a lot of useful and memorable techniques, mostly for stir-fry cooking, but towards the end of class she threw in some other more challenging menu items that gave us an idea of what else could be possible.

I still use her simple technique for cooking perfect rice today, and her teaching informed my stir-fry techniques that I use on a regular basis as well.  The course was back in the late 1980s, and Tot's instructions echo in my head whenever I do any of these things.  I see her strong hands at work cutting, her finger measuring the depth of water over rice in the pot, and showing us the best way to use different ingredients at each point in the cooking process, and how to serve a plate so it looks appealing. 

It was with great sorrow and shock that I saw an article in the newspaper back in 2001 reporting that Tot was missing.  She had vanished during a househunting roadtrip in Texas, where she moved after raising her children in Maine.  To think of that tiny powerhouse of a woman, perpetually giving to everyone around her, being subject to whatever tragedy had happened so many miles away, broke my heart.  Every so often I would check up on the case, but despite her family continuing to post online seeking leads, all that remained was a big question mark.

In the last couple of years (her first episode dropped in Dec 2020), Kristen Seavey has been working hard on her true crime podcast, Murder She Told, which focuses on mostly Maine and New England cases.  Her journalism is clear, compassionate, and seeks the truth, especially in cases where families are left still asking questions.  I thought maybe if I suggested Tot's case to her, she might someday do an episode about this woman who left such a mark on my life.

To my endless gratitude, that really did happen this autumn.  You can listen to the two part coverage of Tot's case here, and see lots of photos from her amazing life, too:

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

I had always known Tot had lived an astonishing life.  Anyone who made it alive out of the Vietnam War to come to America had; I knew this in part because I went to elementary school with some kids who had made it out too.  My father had also hinted that her life story was remarkable, but beyond a few brief mentions, Tot's history was never the focus of her class talks.  Here is where Kristen steps in.  

Through Kristen's research and through interviews with Chien Si, Tot's son, she illuminates Tot's life, first in Vietnam, and then through her risky escape to the United States, her adopted home.  Tot lives again in these moments as we listen, and we hear how much she did, how many people's lives she touched, and how her family loved her.  How her disappearance has left a hole in their lives.

As you listen to these episodes, Tot will live again, and be remembered.  And maybe, someday, if the right person comes forward, her family will finally find out what happened to her.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Tot Harriman, please contact the League City PD (TX) at (281)332-2566.

Thank you Tot, for teaching me.  And thank you Kristen!!!

Saturday, September 03, 2022

EVENT: Spooky Zoom talk! October 13 w/Portsmouth Public Library

 Hi everyone! I'm giving a fun spooky Zoom talk with Portsmouth Public Library in October!! If you (or someone you know) would like to attend, here's the link!

This event requires registration. To register visit:
WHAT: "There's Something in the Woods" Zoom talk
WHERE: Online via Zoom, hosted by Portsmouth Public Library!
WHEN: Thursday, October 13, 2022 @ 7 PM – 8:30 PM
COST: Free!  Open to the public via pre-registration here:
Join Portsmouth Public Library as they host Maine author Michelle Souliere for an evening of creepy local stories from Maine and New Hampshire! Michelle is the author of the books Strange Maine and Bigfoot in Maine, and is the owner of The Green Hand Bookshop in Portland, ME.

Cozy up on your couch or in your favorite reading chair and tune in via zoom for accounts of the "York County Poltergeist," "Bigfoot in Maine and New Hampshire," and more! At the end of the night, you will be absolutely convinced ... there's something in the woods.

This event requires registration. To register visit:

Friday, August 12, 2022

Winslow Homer and his view of the stark Maine landscape

 Just a heads-up -- if you haven't been to the Maine Maritime Museum, now would be an excellent time to go!

Artist Zach Horn contacted me and mentioned his intriguing take on Winslow Homer, on exhibit now through November 27, 2022 at the museum (alongside other great exhibits!).

The show, called "Looking for Winslow Homer," is a combination of installation, painting, and stop motion animation. Zach's work is about the metaphysical connection to place.  Winslow Homer was observant and expressive enough in his work to be able to capture the unique "self" of the Maine landscape in all its guises, from pastoral to dramatic, from simple to overwhelming.  You can find info about the show here:

If you'd like to check out the museum but miss the show, here's the link to their website for hours, etc.:

OR if you happen to be in Vermont and not in Maine, Zach is also putting together another very intriguing artshow I'm sure you'll all love, an exhibition about inexplicable occurrences which will be on display at the Bennington Museum this fall, called "In the Shadow of the Hills."

 Zach can be found online here:

Here's one of many stunning Winslow Homer's out there in the world, many of which are held at the Portland Museum of Art:

"Watching the Breaker [A High Sea]" by Winslow Homer

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Rumors! Exciting rumors about the long-defunct Funtown Haunted Mansion!!

 Okay, things have been pretty quiet here on the blog while I've been working away at interviews and research, but this little tidbit is too exciting not to talk about.

Back when I was a little kid, my family used to drive down to Biddeford regularly to visit with all our cousins, aunts and uncles.  If we took US Route 1, we would drive past the corridor where Funtown and Aquaboggan lived, in Saco, and I would always stare out the window and wonder about the creepy-looking house that backed onto Route 1 in front of Funtown.  

Years later, I found out that it wasn't just an abandoned house in the middle of all that summer fun -- it was actually a local haunt attraction!  Back when I was little I wouldn't have dared go in, after getting the junk scared out of me at a local haunted house put on by one of the TV stations here in Portland (maybe WGME? I think it was out by the Northgate shopping center at Allen and Washington Aves).  But as a teenager, my little goth self was very intrigued, but was rarely out that way on my own.  The Haunted Mansion was shut down in 1996 as Funtown began tightening up on potential risk factors at the amusement park.

Now, according to a post on WCYY (source:, there are hints that Funtown is going to resuscitate the long-dead attraction, and resurrect the Haunted Mansion -- or something scary, at least.  HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE??? 

Here's the breadcrumb everyone is following: a post on Funtown's own Facebook page!

 If you never knew the Haunted Mansion, or are curious about it, there used to be a great website run by Dave Gagne, one of the many folks who worked there over the years who loved the attraction, but unfortunately appears to be defunct.  So you'll have to make do with WCYY's post about it here:

Here's hoping we'll get a new local haunt attraction out of these rumblings from the grave!!!