Sunday, July 29, 2007

Giant "footprint" inspires speculation

Tracy over at the Yahoo Group mailing list "Haunted Maine" dropped me a line to point out this great story over at the Bangor Daily News:
Newly exposed ledge 'footprint' inspires legends
By Rich Hewitt
Saturday, July 21, 2007

PROSPECT - When crews blasting ledge for the Penobscot Narrows Bridge crafted a new path for Route 1, they never suspected they would create a new attraction beside the bridge.

Their blasting unearthed a granite seam in the ledge that looks remarkably like a human footprint, toes and all.

The digit-al image hovers high above the road near the top of the ledge, attracting the attention of passers-by and generating some theories as to how it got there.

Alvion and Cindy Kimball of Orland have suggested that the footprint is a remnant from an old American Indian legend surrounding the spirit Glooscap and how he tamed the winds around the Penobscot Bay area.

It’s a good tale, having little to do with petrified feet, but the Kimballs have made a connection.

Glooscap enjoyed hunting from his stone canoe in the region, but there came a time when the wind blew so hard, he and the people could not go out to sea. The winds came from Wuchosen, the Great Wind Bird who lived atop a large rock at the end of the sky. Wuchosen created the wind by moving his wings.

Glooscap traveled to the end of the sky, climbed the rock and asked Wuchosen to have pity on the people and be easier with his wings. When Wuchosen refused, saying he would continue to move his wings as he chose, Glooscap became angry and seized the great bird, bound his wings and threw him into a ravine where he could not move.

The winds quieted and the people were happy, but soon the dead calm resulted in stagnant waters that were so thick that even Glooscap could not paddle. He went back to Wuchosen, carried him back to the rock and untied one of his wings. Since then, the winds have been quieter on Penobscot Bay.

The footprint, according Cindy Kimball, is the proof in the pudding that the legend is real.

"When I first saw it, I said to Alvion, ‘It’s a perfect footprint,’" she said. "We thought it was left by the god climbing up the mountain to reach Wuchosen."

Kimball, who is executive director of the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, said visitors to the area have noticed the foot and asked about it. Most don’t see it while driving because they are looking at the bridge across the Penobscot River, she said. But they do notice it when they visit the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.

"Everybody says it looks like a footprint," she said.

The big foot — as opposed to Bigfoot — is not the only outstanding part of the human anatomy represented in the area.

The famous, or infamous, leg on Jonathan Buck’s monument in a nearby cemetery on Route 1 in Bucksport has attracted visitors for years. There has been some suggestion that the footprint is linked to Buck, a Revolutionary War colonel, and the supposed curse cast on him by a condemned witch that caused the imprint of a leg to appear on the granite monument over his grave.

Coincidentally — or is it? — Buck’s grave is scheduled to be rededicated next week in the Buck Cemetery on Main Street in Bucksport. The rededication is to take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 27.

That Buck lived during Revolutionary times, long after the witch trials took place in Massachusetts, and that he never condemned a witch, has not diminished the tale over the years, nor has it stopped the visitors despite the disclaimer posted by historians.

So, perhaps the foot is indeed that of a forlorn witch in search of its leg and will wander from its spot on the ledge across the new bridge to Bucksport to join the offending appendage for eternity.

Tom Doe, the state Department of Transportation project manager for the bridge project, however, offers a scientific explanation. The strip of granite in the ledge, he said, is an inclusion, a remnant of volcanic activity in the area many millennia ago.

Where the granite seam is today was once a crack in the surrounding rock. When molten material rose up from deep inside the earth, it filled the crack and hardened into granite, creating the inclusion, which remained hidden until the bridge blasting exposed it.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
Photo from the Lewiston Sun Journal website, credited to Bangor Daily News, taken by Gabor Degre.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For I am a Pirate King !

Pour, O Pour the Pirate Sherry; Fill, O Fill the Pirate Glass !

Aye! We sea-goin’, rum-lovin’, rope towin’, treasure seekin’, riot causin’ Mainers needn’t look far a’t’all for our own pirate past! There’s a story right here, and it brings this Portland Pirates fan away from the ice rink and up from the West End, out to where the real-life pirates roamed the Maine coast: Pemaquid Point. We wind the clock back to the early 1630s, when even more than a hundred years before the most feverish battles took place in this part of the world between France and England, the land known as Acadia had already become a stage for this rivalry for resources. Exemplifying Maine’s own place in the scurvy annals of sea piracy is the unusual personage of Dixie Bull. The dread swashbuckling Dixie Bull was New England’s very first pirate.

Avast! -and to what do we owe this acquaintance? The occasion in the form of The Age of Pirates, sponsored by the Colonial Pemaquid Museum, featured Maine author and performing historian Jim Nelson, leading the charge in full pirate regalia. The swaggeringly jovial Nelson played the role of the gravelly sinister Dixie Bull, giving the large audience an introduction to the English merchant turned pirate whose unknown fate is as conspicuous as his audacious nature.

With all hands and hooks on deck, we’ll look first at Dixie Bull’s era. Many of our smart and savvy Strange Maine readers will recall that 1620 was the year of the Pilgrims’ landing at fabled Plymouth Rock. The establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony followed later. This year, here in Maine, the year 1607 is being invoked in recognition of 400 years since the beginning of the Popham Colony in today’s Phippsburg (near Bath, Maine). A ship called The Virginia of Sagadahock was the first sailing ship built in North America. The nearby town of Castine was the location of the trading post called Penobscot, which was operated by the Plymouth colony. Such settlements and events were connected to the value of the Atlantic cod fisheries, coveted by the sea-going European powers. Just downeast of Castine and Phippsburg is Pemaquid, at that time known as Jamestown, a major trading center for New England which was fortified. Fort William Henry stands guard at Pemaquid Harbor, and Pemaquid Light is the lighthouse you’ll see on the Maine quarter (ya dassn’t spend lest ye don’t get another!).

(Below: The original foundations
from the 17th century fortification
at Pemaquid)

Edging a few knots nearer to Dixie Bull’s years, we come to 1631, the year Sir Ferdinand Gorges, a old pal of Sir Walter Raleigh, obtained his patent to set up a plantation in the Agamenticus region of what is now York County. Among the recipients of land grants from Gorges was a Londoner named Capt. Dixie Bull. That same year, Dixie Bull arrived in Boston, and sailed the coast of Maine, trading with the native people- English knives and beads for valuable fur pelts. Briefly put, our adventurous Dixie Bull plied the coast dealing for furs until a year later, in 1632, his ship was robbed of all its valuable merchandise while docked in Penobscot Bay. Such wares had been sought by the English and French alike. Nay! Even the vessel itself was seized, leaving Dixie Bull and his crew destitute. Filled with vengeful rage, Dixie Bull returned to Boston, and raised a mob of accomplices, referred to by the prim Puritans as "disreputable types," to join him in recouping his losses by piracy.

Our snarlingly merry Mr. Nelson, bedecked as Dixie Bull gestured to himself, "am I a pirate, or am I just a gentleman adventurer?" Indeed, the crowd hollered "Pirate!" back to the man, who had a large Jolly Roger snapping in the wind, aloft above his head. We were then reminded of the notably crude and brutal life of the common sailing deckhand. Hearing the details of their foul conditions and the timeless lure of revolt brought to mind the words of Jasper Petulengro, the gypsy, in George Borrow’s The Romany Rye, who observed "necessity has no law." Evidently, poverty and desperation would drive many to the life of a pirate. "A pirate’s life is a short life," Nelson unashamedly rumbled, "but a merry one, indeed!" Quite so, as Dixie Bull’s piracy, all along the Maine coast may have lasted but another two years. His defining feat was to audaciously attack and loot the fortified Jamestown (Pemaquid), in 1632, taking all its treasure and burning the place to the ground. Between swigs from his flask, our Dixie Bull described how pirates usually attacked and emptied other ships: "firing a cannon into a broadside is like eating peanuts," he growled, "once ye start, ye can’t stop." Along with one of his pirate cohorts, he demonstrated how firearms had to be reloaded for each shot, and how Dixie Bull sword-fought during the sacking of Pemaquid.

Consequently, Dixie Bull’s marauding ways drew the attention of England and the Colonial government. Without precedent, the first armed naval expedition ever mounted by a British colony came in the form of the fleet that was sent to pursue Dixie Bull. Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was alerted that "Dixie Bull and fifteen more of the English, who kept about the east, were turned pirates." The pirate band eluded the hunting expedition and sailed south, via Cushing Island (off the coast of Portland) and Richmond Island (near Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough), headed for the Virginia colony then known as "that nest of rogues, whores, dissolute and rooking persons." Before the pirate hunters retreated to Strawbery Banke (present-day Portsmouth, New Hampshire), they caught three deserters from Dixie Bull’s crew on Richmond Island. And the mysterious stuff of stories and ballads (see "The Minstrelsy of Maine" book) really begins here. Where did the "Dread Pirate Dixie Bull" go? To London? To the gallows on the Tyburn docks? To the Caribbean, where Buccaneers terrorized the waters? To Machias, the town that was later to be the nest of Sam "Black" Bellamy? Nelson leaned in and suggested, "how about Freeport?" And Dixie Bull’s buried treasure- Cushing Island? Richmond Island? Damariscove Island? In my own curiosity, I asked our "Dixie Bull," who had taught the crowd how to sing "Haul Away, Joe," of his fate. After a swill from his jug, he said, "I can’t recall; It was a long time ago."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

EVENT: Loren Coleman speaking today!

July 24, 2007 at 1:00 - 2:00 PM, Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant Street, Brunswick, Maine. A Teen Zone Event now open to all ages.

Searching for Bigfoot with Loren Coleman:

A YNK Teen Summer Program event. Do you believe in lake monsters, hairy ape-like creatures who live in US forests, and the Mothman? Then you are interested in cryptozoology. Learn more about it at this event presented by Loren Coleman, the director of the Museum of Cryptozoology in Portland, ME.

Coleman has been searching for Bigfoot, Nessie, and other creatures since 1960. He has visited almost every state and province in North America, and been on expeditions to Lake Champlain and Loch Ness.

He is also the author or co-author of over two dozen books including: Mysterious America (2007), The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates (2006), Bigfoot! (2003), Mothman and Other Curious Encounters (2002), and the awarding winning (YLA-ALA) Cryptozoology A to Z (1999) that you can check out from your library.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wicked Sweet Maine Tattoo!

I received an e-mail earlier this week from Chris Bossom, who lives out in Denver, Colorado, but grew up in Maine, where his family still lives. Last week he put ink to skin in tribute of his home state, and was kind enough to share the dazzling results with us!

Chris had one request: "If you use it if we could give proper credit to the artist as well – her name is Heidi Scheck and she’s a tattoo apprentice at Twisted Sol and this is only the 10th tattoo she’s done." No problem, Chris, it looks like she's off to a great start!

Chris also mentioned that oddly enough, he was not the only one in Colorado hankering for a hunk of Maine: "When I went into
the shop to see the sketch Heidi had done, there were 2 other stencils for other people's Maine/Mom tribute tattoos, one of which was put on the leg of my other tattoo artist Sandi, who also grew up in Maine, and the other for another random client. Weird that they got 3 Maine tattoo requests in one week!"

Those of you who have been keeping up on the blog for a while may remember that back in September 2006 we posted about another stunning Maine tattoo, belonging to the proud chest of Angus, Earl of Portland. Read that post here if you missed out. I'm still working on the design for my own. Stay tuned for that later this year! (P.S. Gift certificates for work from Wil Scherer at Sanctuary Tattoo here in Portland gladly accepted!!!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Muggling Along - Mugglefest Portland!

Well, in case you aren't surrounded by friends and family who are mad about Harry Potter, here's some information about Mugglefest, being held in Portland, Maine, to coincide with the release of the final (?) Harry Potter book, Deathly Hallows. I'll be in the James and Lily Potter Memorial Library, a Hogwarts branch of the Portland Public Library, working to set up Friday morning and then until 4:00pm! The Library will be a "quiet" area where folks can chill out in between having fits about all the coolness that's been set up for attendees of the festival. Watch out for the two-headed snake!

WHAT: MuggleFest
WHEN: July 20 to July 21, 2007 -- Friday 1 p.m. - Sat. 1 a.m.
WHERE: Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101

Wizards and Muggles alike can celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in J. K. Rowling’s spectacular series. Ride the Hogwarts Express (also known as the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad) to join your fellow Harry fans in a re-creation of Diagon Alley, the street where wizards meet (and shop!). Sample a Chocolate Frog, try out a wand or a wizard’s cape, and enjoy games, roving actors, and music -- and pick up the new Harry Potter book as the clock strikes midnight! Fri. 1 p.m. - Sat. 1 a.m.; $12 (event is now SOLD OUT!). Parking off-site.

This event promises to be a huge lot of fun, especially for those of us who would really love a trip down Diagon Alley, packed with purveyors of magic goods and sundries, for ourselves.

The Mystery of the Witch's Grave

Photos by Michelle Souliere (c)2007

This article first appeared in the May 2007 issue of the Strange Maine Gazette as the first project of my new drive to produce original research articles. This one in particular was a devilish project, full of false leads, obscure scrawlings, and ruined graves. Read on...
One of the many urban legends of Maine that I have dug up is from my own home, Portland. The city houses a handful of large cemeteries, in various states of repair. The oldest and smallest are the Eastern and Western Cemeteries, located on the East End and West End of Portland, respectively.

Like any too-urban graveyards, they have suffered the same ravages as the city that surrounds them. Eastern Cemetery, until a recent revitalization, was weed-grown and kept under lock and key because so many vandals have made off with the old slate headstones, breaking off the eerie hand carved skull and crossbones artwork to take home.

Western Cemetery became the focus of a campaign to ban dogs from the graveyard in 2001, and epithets were hurled about, including the labeling of Portland as the “Desecration Capitol of the World.” The pet owners’ unleashed canines were finally barred from Western Cemetery, their antics relocated to a vacant lot behind the St. John Street neighborhood.

In 2003, the Western Cemetery Restoration Project was launched by Greater Portland Graves, and the mausoleums along the back slope of the grounds were repaired. The project is extensively documented, tomb by tomb, with before and after photos on their website.

Photo: An anonymous man perches atop the Western Cemetery mausoleums with a 40 oz. bottle of beer on a sunny March afternoon.

Today, despite these good intentions, the cemetery still looks neglected. Large 40-ounce beer bottles are smashed across the tombstones, vagrants perch on the mausoleum roofs to drink more beer and liquor in broad daylight, and the graveyard is a jumble of broken glass and shattered headstones, with a distinct air of desolation and abandonment.

In amongst the more staid gravestones of slate and limestone, there is one that stands out. Not only is it an impressive grave, even lacking its top spar, but also it is the subject of rampant rumor amongst various youths and adults of the area who are intrigued by the odd and wondrous. What do they say?

Some of them say it houses a witch’s grave, others say a vampire. More reasonable explorers of the truth point out that the prominent cross that mounts the sarcophagus and the use of the word “diaconus” in the Latin inscriptions that wreath the stone indicate the man buried there is a deacon.

The speculations could only have been encouraged by the elaborateness of the grave. Crowned by what must have at one point been a cross (now whittled down to a “T” shape) decorated here and there by Celtic knotwork in rough hewn russet stone, the monument stands out amidst the rubble of broken limestone grave markers in its iron fenced plot.

The cross is mounted on a decorative base covered with a raised pattern that looks like some strange cellular structure. Latin scripts in an ornate typeface (which may explain some of the errors in transcription) are found all over this base, which extends from under the cross to form the frame of a bevel-topped sarcophagus. Only the very bottom of the cross that was carved on its surface remains. The raised pattern and the exquisite Latin text have drastically deteriorated, and whether this is because of vandals, or simple weather and age, it is hard to tell.

Intrigued by the stories, and then mystified by the craftsmanship lavished on the monument itself, I set out to find out what the truth of the matter was. Initially this led me to many dead ends.

This grave is attributed to a “W. A. Baker” in Virginia Greene’s handwritten manuscript from 1938 that transcribes the cemetery’s population stone by stone, held at the Maine Historical Society. This erroneous moniker is repeated in William B. Jordan, Jr.’s book, Burial Records 1811-1980 of the Western Cemetery in Portland Maine (1987).

Add to this decades-long tradition of error and omission the fact that Greene’s transcriptions of the grave’s epitaphs are sketchy at best – hard to read, often wrong, with substantial segments of the text left out.

There was no death certificate on file in the library’s Vital Records archive for a matching Baker, nor in the Maine Historical Society’s collection of obituaries.

In fact, on closer inspection of newspaper notices of the time, it is revealed that the grave is that of the Rev. John W. C. Baker – an entirely different first name and second (now become third) initial from the given records that everyone refers to as a matter of course.

After consulting with the local Episcopal archivist, Elizabeth Maule, I discovered that his full name was Rev. John White Chickering Baker, and that he perished of consumption (the romantic Victorian term for the wasting disease of tuberculosis). When he died in 1871, he was only 33.

The reason I couldn’t find any death certificate for him in the Maine vital records was because he died overseas, in England.

The Eastern Argus of February 27, 1871, contains an article describing how “the last sad rites were performed over the remains” on the 25th:
The remains which were brought from England by the steamer of last week were encased in a gable top casket of English oak wood, upon the top was a red cross running nearly the entire length.
From the remains of the monument visible today, one can see that the theme of design used in the coffin was continued on its stone housing.

The Latin inscriptions on the stone are still visible today, though some are almost completely obliterated.

Requiem Aeternam
Dona ei Domina
Et lux perpetua
Luceat eis.

Via crucis -- Via lucis

O vos ...
Orame pro Anima Johannis
W. C. Baker
Diaconi qui namus
Jan(?) 13, 1837 - Feb 1, 1871

The grave remains a romantic, gothic monument to a bygone day, and the tragic death of a young man of the cloth, far from home, and long before his time was due.

The rumors will no doubt continue to circulate about the dead man’s mythical character, if simply because his ruddy sandstone monument stands out intriguingly, tall and strong even if broken, ornate among the mostly plain and sober white and gray stones of the rest of the cemetery’s populace.

People will linger in its shadow, leaving pennies and other offerings at the base of the stone, and the young deacon will find his final resting place kept company many a night by living souls, unable to stay away because they are curious about him.
Beyond the romantic aura of the Reverend Baker, of interest remains the folkloric connection between tuberculosis and vampirism in Maine and other New England states’ history (see our June 2006 issue article, Medical Cannibalism in Penobscot County). Whether this is an ingredient in the rumors remains to be seen.

However, in long and in short, I will continue to dig into his story and see what other details emerge, and I will correct what I can in the extant records that has been handed down in muddled and erroneous form.

Since I published this article in the Strange Maine Gazette this May, I have been able to add one more story to the list of urban legends associated with this grave in Portland’s Western Cemetery.

A friend of mine who moved to Portland in her early adulthood during the 1980s told me that one of the first local legends she heard was about that very grave.

Friends told her the rumor that if a person stood on the grave at midnight during a full moon, the soul would be sucked out of your body.

This is exceedingly ironic, considering the grave belonged to a young deacon.

More details as warranted!

Honeycomb Hideout in Farmington, Maine

The Sun Journal provides insight into a fantastic tale of indoor beehivery at the Farmington USM campus. Photo from Sun Journal, more at site of full article.
Built-in beehive found in old house
By Donna M. Perry , Staff Writer
Monday, July 16, 2007

FARMINGTON - Robert Brackley Jr. believes an old beehive discovered in a house he and his crew are dismantling was man-made and built into a wall of the structure, which he suspects was built in the late 1800s.

Brackley, of New Vineyard, the owner of Brackley's Nostalgic Restorations, is dismantling what was known as the Thomas House on the campus of the University of Maine at Farmington. The wood flooring, bricks and other material from the old house, which is located behind the Psychology House, a former church on Main Street, will be used in Brackley's restoration projects.

Brackley climbed up the stairs to the second floor of the house Thursday, sweat dripping from his face. He set up a ladder on a piece of wood spanning several floor joists before he climbed up next to the formerly active beehive built between wall studs near a chimney.

When they had started to tear the roof off the building, Brackley said, they found some boards that had some honeycomb on them. He began to wonder if they had bees, since he had raised them before and this was a tell-tale sign.

With more boards removed and more light let in, they could see what looked like a built-in hive.

He believes the house was built between 1870 and 1890.

All the evidence points to the beehive being built into the wall. It was active more than a hundred years ago, he said.

It was so symmetrical it looks like it was man-made, Brackley said.

There is a wooden plug near the bottom of the hive, firmly set in the hole Thursday, that would have been how the bees entered the hive, Brackley said. Honeycomb was still on the outside of the hive before it was torn down.

"It seems bizarre," he said, but it looks like the people built it into the wall and when they wanted honey, they would go up and get it.

Some Police Blotter Shenanigans

Courtesy of the Police Log from the Kennebec Journal Morning Sentinel's Saturday, July 14th edition, an assortment of tidbits from south of Portland:

IN CARATUNK, Thursday evening, a caller reported a dog bit someone on Main Street. (Ow.)

IN WATERVILLE, Friday at 12:36 p.m., an Elm Street caller reported that her estranged husband called and told her he was sending another woman to beat her up.

8:29 a.m., a Leighton Street caller reported that two strange men were near his home. Police warned a man for trespassing. (If police got calls every time someone saw strange people near their home in Portland, they'd never get any rest!)

8:14 a.m., an Elm Street caller said he believed his neighbor broke his car antenna during the night. (I bet he met with a poor reception.)

7:41 p.m., a Water Street caller told police that someone was in his house taking his food, but he did not wish to file a report. Police warned the caller about misusing the 911 emergency line.

11:49 a.m., a Rice Rips Road caller said he had a video of his neighbor committing indecent exposure. (...and he just happened to be filming?)

IN WINSLOW, Thursday at 6:16 p.m., police received a call from a woman who said she was on probation and had just hit someone. (Whoops!)

Naked Driver Stopped By Police

A police officer pulled over a speeding car in Fryeburg on Sunday night and found the driver to be severely lacking in the clothes department. Patricia Buck, 61, was driving naked, while her passenger, Douglas Litchfield, 59, was fully clothed. Both said Buck's clothes had been "washed away in a stream." No mention was made of how this happened or why Litchfield did not bother to give her his shirt to cover up.

The pair ended up leading the police on a car chase and were charged with driving to endanger and operating under the influence. Read the full story in the Sun Journal.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

EVENT: Loren Coleman at Fort Knox

Those of you interested in the Psychic and Paranormal Faire being held at Fort Knox, here is some information about Loren Coleman's appearance as keynote speaker there:
Loren Coleman will give two talks (introducing cryptozoology through the recent cryptid events in Maine), during each mid-morning. Then he will deliver brief overviews of cryptozoological items he will have with him, followed by questions and answers sessions on the Maine reports, as well as on Bigfoot, Black Panthers, Sea Serpents, other cryptids, and general cryptozoology.

He will talk on the subjects he has covered during his 40 years of writings, including those in his newest book, Mysterious America: The Ultimate Guide to the Nation’s Weirdest Wonders, Strangest Spots, and Creepiest Creatures (NY: Paraview Pocket - Simon and Schuster, 2007).

Coleman will have several of his old and new books available, and/or will be happy to sign any of your own.

Venue Name: Fort Knox State Historic Site
Address: 740 Fort Knox Road, Prospect, ME 04416

Dates: July 21st, 2007 — July 22nd, 2007

Times: 10 AM until 4 PM, both days.

Fees: Normal Fort Knox admission fees apply (see below at the website) and a $2 donation is requested to help defray event costs.


[for more info, read the full article here: Source]
The Faire is billed as a one-of-a-kind opportunity to "meet with people who believe in things unusual. This unique event features renowned crytozoologist and author, Loren Coleman, psychics, ghost hunters and dowsers." Unfortunately, I have been unable to discover a more concrete list of events scheduling -- if anyone has gotten their hands on one, I'd love to post it, so let me know!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Man Disguised as Tree Robs Bank

With bank robbery seemingly on the rise, a robber in Manchester, NH has managed to set a new low in remaining inconspicuous while committing a holdup.

On Saturday morning, James Coldwell walked into the Citizens Bank on Elm Street disguised as a tree. The questionable outfit consisted of tree branches duct taped to his head and body. That is not a sweatband encircling his cranium in the surveillence photo - it's duct tape.

Reports stated that when Coldwell wasn't waited on quickly enough, he pushed in front of another customer and demanded the teller fill a bag with money. No weapon was displayed and Coldwell managed to disappear before police arrived...even though he was on the street with branches taped to him, and Elm Street is essentially treeless.

The leaves in his tree hat obscured part of his face, but not enough to prevent someone from recognizing him on a tv news story. An anonymous tip naming Coldwell as the man in the photo led to his arrest late Saturday night. To add insult to injury, the news report I saw reported witnesses stated that the robber smelled really bad.

I'm at a loss as to why he would think dressing as a tree was a good idea. Hopefully the newspapers will follow up on this story and Coldwell will make a statement as to why he chose to use this disguise.

photo: Fox25 article

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Crazy laws in the Pine Tree State

Well, there are about a million websites listing this and that crazy law put into effect in this and that state. So here goes -- a list of all the weird laws I can find from Maine. It was bound to happen sooner or later!

Please note: I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these items, it is just a quick canvass of the current contents of the web. Also, clicking on the source links may lead you to sites with pop-up ads and so on, so exercise caution and be forewarned.

If anyone finds any of these inaccurate (which seems more than likely in some cases), or knows better particulars of the laws mentioned, please feel free to post a comment with the info, or just email me with the info. Yeah!

Portland, Maine, city council passed a law against tickling a girl under her chin with a feather duster. [Source]

Shotguns are required to be taken to church in the event of a Native American attack. [Source]

You may not step out of a plane in flight. [Source]

After January 14th you will be charged a fine for having your Christmas decorations still up. [Source]

The most money one can legally win gambling is three dollars. [Source]
In Rumford, it is illegal for a tenant to bite his/her landlord. [Source]

In Waterville, it is illegal to blow one's nose in public. [Source]

Maine licenses condom sellers and the license must always be on public display. [Source]

Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine are the four states in the U.S. that do not allow billboards. (Hooray for that!) [Source]

It is illegal to marry the spouse of a grandparent in Maine, Maryland, South Carolina, and Washington, DC. [Source]

In Huberson, Maine, it is illegal to eat five potatoes in a meal without giving one to each of your pigs. [Source]

Did you know that In Maine it is illegal to catch a lobster with your bare hands? [Source]

In Maine, it is illegal to own an armadillo. [Source]

In Maine it is illegal to push a live moose out of a plane, however the law does not appear to have any jurisdiction over dead mooses. meese. Whats the plural form of moose? [Source]

In Maine, it is illegal to sell a car on Sunday unless it comes equipped with plumbing. [Source]

In Augusta to stroll down the street playing a violin is against the law. [Source]

It's illegal to clean salmon along Maine's upper Kennebec River. Enforcement of this law has been made easier for many years by the fact that, because of a dam, there are no salmon on the upper Kennebec River. [Source]

In Portland shoelaces must be tied while walking down the street. [Source]

In Maine it is illegal to wear a helmet when driving a car. [Source]

In Maine it is illegal to walk your alligator in public. [Source]

Funky sculpture in the Maine wild

Brian Westbye blogged about one of Maine's many interesting wild outdoor sculpture sites back in May. These sites creep up on you as you drive the back routes of the state. Often you will find yourself muttering, "What the DEVIL was that?!" after catching a glimpse of SOMETHING STRANGE out of the corner of your road-obsessed eye. Luckily, Westbye has also included some photos of these particular suspects, which lurk in the woods of Whitefield, Maine, so you can rest easy for the moment.

Read his post here!

More crazy and wonderful sculpture can be found up the coast of Maine in Deer Isle, at the location of Nervous Nellie's Jams and Jellies. I posted on Roadside America about it in 2002. You can read my article here, and also see a sample photo of the wild sculptural concoctions. Since that trip many moons ago, I have met Peter Beerits, the mad genius responsible for this three-dimension hoedown of phantasmagoria, through my job at the front desk of the Portland Public Library. He is a pleasant fellow indeed. I'll have to get up there and see what else he's cooked up someday soon!

He talks about his sculptures here on his website, and includes a link to more photos of select sculptures with a list of many of his characters described.

Frozen in time like an old potato

Potatos rank high on the list of things associated with the state of Maine, so it should not come as a huge surprise that they figure in the history of the state. However, few of us actually know many of the specifics of Maine potato history. Hearken, and learn. Let it be noted that the nation's first frozen French fries were manufactured in Maine. State authorities have a chance to save the facility where this momentous occasion occurred as a historical property, with a little help.
Old frozen foods plant among endangered historic properties
June 29, 2007
LEWISTON, Maine --A vacant factory in Washburn that was the production site for the nation's first frozen French fries was among six sites included Friday in Maine Preservation's annual list of the state's Most Endangered Historic Properties.

Taterstate Frozen Foods, which operated from 1941 to 1958, has potential for an agricultural museum and new agricultural businesses, the nonprofit group said. It identified the property as a Brownfields site, which indicates that its reuse may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance or contaminant.

The announcement of this year's listings came at a news conference at the Bates Mill No. 5 Weave Shed in Lewiston, one of the listed sites. Others include the former Gerald Hotel in Fairfield, the Hubbard Cotton Store in Hiram, the Buck Memorial Library in Bucksport and the Hancock County Sheriff's Home and Jail in Ellsworth.
[Click to read full article here: Source]
More on this year's list of endangered properties here, including photos.

Loren Coleman on Nessie

There's a great clip of Maine cryptozoologist Loren Coleman in a June 1st tete a tete on the Paula Zahn show available on YouTube. While both experts gave a good showing in the discussion of new footage of the alleged Nessie, it is notable that one of them makes a comment about otters being the source of most "lake monster" sightings, which sent my roommate and I into a fit of giggles. We couldn't help imagining a group of otters in a huddle: "Okay you guys, get in line -- we're going to mess with the tourists again!" Ah, well... to each his own.

There's a full rundown of the event here in a post by Loren on Cryptomundo, and a pre-broadcast post about his thoughts on the upcoming appearance. Good job, Loren!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Frogs Dug Up in Thomaston

This strange episode is reported in Cyrus Eaton's 1865 History of Thomaston, Rockland, and South Thomaston.
About a quarter of a mile from the left margin of Mill River near the site of the clothing mill, at the head of a gully, Simeon Blood, Senior, in digging a well, discovered, at the depth of about thirty feet from the surface, some small masses of matter resembling stones with earth adhering to them. These, on examination, proved to be frogs; and one of them, when warmed by the sun and air, hopped off with the usual agility of the species. They were probably, whilst hibernating in the mud, covered over by a deposit of earth brought by a flood or current of water, and buried too deep for the ensuing Spring to reach and re-animate; but at what epoch, and by how many successive deposits of earth, who shall pretend to say?