Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tree love in the deep woods

Milt's Corner on the Black Bear Blog has a great photo post showing some overly amorous trees that have become completely intertwined. Hooray for weird trees! Check out Milt's other entertaining and interesting photo posts while you're there.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A love of grave matters

The Journal Tribune ran a great article recently, in which they interviewed Patricia Mayo about her love of cemeteries. Her graveyard pursuits are not unlike those of many of us who find a fascination in the toppled rows of stone markers that fill acres of the Maine landscape. The article talks about some interesting epitaphs, how Mayo got started on this hobby, and much more.
Patricia Mayo likes to wander around in cemeteries. She can spend hours in them, especially the old ones, taking in the artwork of the stones and marveling at the poetic inscriptions.

“Some people look at me like I’m really weird,” she said, but cemetery viewing is actually a rather common hobby, with enthusiasts seeing the acres of plots as a sort of museum.

For Mayo, her visits are about remembering – the people, the history and the art of the monuments.

Read the full article here: [Source]
The photo above is one I took myself, during one of my own boneyard forays. This one was taken exactly two years ago, on Christmas Eve 2006, in Fort Fairfield, in a small family cemetery well off the main road. I've visited many cemeteries throughout New England and New Brunswick, such as (click links below for a selection of photos)...

  • more from the small Fort Fairfield family plot, Maine

  • Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, Maine

  • Western Cemetery, Portland, Maine

  • Litchfield Plains cemetery, Litchfield, Maine

  • Topsfield Cemetery, Topsfield, Massachusetts

  • Catholic cemetery, Woodstock, New Brunswick
  • Merry Christmas everyone!

    While most of us have been heavily exposed to Dickens' famous Christmas story, "A Christmas Carol," few in America know that it is part of a larger British tradition of holiday ghost stories. While here we tell spooky tales during the Halloween season, over in Great Britain they feast on the supernatural around cozy Yuletide fires as part of the annual holiday doings. Sounds good to me!

    As a treat to listeners, Fred Greenhalgh of Maine's own Radio Drama Revival has announced that, although "Christmas is reasonably un-strange... on Christmas Day I'll be airing a contemporary dramatization of "A Christmas Carol" (never heard that one, right!)." Check out their website on December 25th for a special production of this timeless, hair-raising and heart-warming classic, as performed by Quicksilver Radio Theater wherein they return to the heart of the 1843 story - mining the dark veins of what its author called "a GHOST story - for Christmas."

    If you're feeling the humbug vibe, drop into their website at anyhow, because they have a great archive of fantastic fiction audio productions that should keep you entertained for hours on end through all manner of winter gales and slush storms!!!

    Friday, December 19, 2008

    Clandestine plate purchase!

    How can you NOT read something that starts with a paragraph like this?
    The deal went down in a Wendy's parking lot in Biddeford, Maine, nearly eight years ago. Huddled between a Subaru station wagon and a 1961 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, two men made a seemingly lopsided exchange: One left with $40,000, the other with an old license plate.

    The New Hampshire License Plate Museum has a nice selection of antique Maine license plates in their online display, for those of you curious about what they used to look like in the early 1900s. Click here to see some of their Maine plates. Likewise, the Plate Shack has a detailed rundown of more recent plates (boy I miss the old black and white ones).

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Maine mutant Volvo meets Letterman

    ...or perhaps I should say "melts" instead of "meets"?

    A British Columbia local news article in which Dave Letterman reminisces about Paul Newman brings up an interesting example of Maine hybrid motoring -- and I don't mean an environmentally sound hybrid! Nope, this is the fire-breathing Volvo type. Read on...
    Once bitten, Newman had the racing bug
    December 16, 2008 5:00 PM


    “Dave? I’ve got a deal from a guy in Maine,” the voice on the other end said.

    “It’s a custom Volvo 960 station wagon, OK? But it’s different. He’s going to take a small-block Ford V8 racing engine, strip out the transmission and suspension, then supercharge it. My guy’s gonna make it for me. Would you like one?”

    David Letterman was stunned.

    “Well, yeah, Paul,” Letterman told the caller. “Wouldn’t we all?”

    So Letterman, one of the most famous late-night talk show hosts and a car nut, told Paul Newman, one of North America’s most famous actors and a car nut, to go for it.

    Supercharge the Volvo. Swedish safety be damned! Go nuts!

    “So, Paul eventually brings the car over, drops the car off and this is the kind of car that people would stare at street lights,” Letterman told his TV audience earlier this year upon Newman’s death.

    “It was like an atomic furnace under the hood. I used to love driving it. It would go 170 miles per hour and, underneath, the exhaust system would glow bright orange.”

    Then, one day, Letterman was in the Volvo on a New York interstate with his girlfriend when she asked a simple question: “What’s that smell?”

    Letterman turned to her and said, “Raw power and speed, baby.”

    Wrong. The Volvo was on fire.

    “We had to pull over. The car was shooting flames everywhere. It couldn’t handle the power,” Letterman said.

    “I call Paul and say ‘The wheel wells, everything is on fire.’ But, wow, what a car. Paul Newman and I were the only ones with this car.”


    [Read the full article here: Source]
    Paul Newman fans will be happy to note that the article contains some great anecdotes about the man.

    A Bangor Daily News article relates a number of his ties to Maine, where he stayed during the filming of Maine author Richard Russo's story, "Empire Falls." According to the article, Newman was also a regular benefactor of the College of the Atlantic.

    Another blog,, did a little sleuthing and found clips of Letterman talking about the car with Jon Stewart in 1995, and lets us know that the "consensus ... is that Converse Engineering in Maine did the V8 conversions." The site sports a transcription of Dave and Jon discussing the events leading up to the car, a videoclip, tons of other links to the Volvos in question, and more! GO THERE NOW!

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Maine letter-writing firsts's website has started hosting The Daily Maine Fact on their front page (formerly posted daily by They don't have an archive, which is sad for folks like me, but every now and then I remember to look at it. Earlier this month, the fact-of-the-day was about letter writing in the early history of Maine.
    The first letter ever sent from Maine went to King James I of England in 1607. It was dispatched on this date by George Popham, founder of a short-lived colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Popham ran to excess in praising both his monarch and the natural resources of the new land, which he claimed included nutmeg and cinnamon. (Source: Maine: A Literary Chronicle, W. Storrs Lee, editor. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968)
    The Maine Historical Society has extensive collections of Maine-related letters for those interested in digging further. Many of the documents are beginning to appear on the Maine Memory Network website,, as they are scanned and transcribed to make them more accessible to researchers. The Maine Memory collection is remarkable in that it collects documents from a wide variety of sources and makes them fully available in a number of formats for history sleuths.

    Image shown is of King James I, in a letter (ha ha ha). Image source:

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Train tragedy in Maine history

    There is an interesting post about Maine Railroad Accident Reports from 1874 over on the MaineGenealogy blog. If this sample is any indication, Victorian era railroads were a bustling and fast-paced environment, and resulted in a wide range of serious injuries, usually ending in amputation or death. A surprising number of these were the result of simple slip-and-fall accidents.

    The accounts themselves are quite interesting to read, such as this one:
    January 16. The night express train from Boston was thrown from the track near Newport station, and ran along for a short distance, tearing up the rails and badly frightening the passengers. Frank Jackson, a brakeman, was thrown on to the ground with great violence and injured internally. Charles Estes, also brakeman, was thrown off and his ankle sprained. None of the 49 pass[e]ngers on board were injured.
    MaineGenealogy blog has a wide range of these reports available in its archives, which can be found at

    If you're curious about current railroad accident figures, the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis has a page that lets you run reports from railroads all over the country (you can specify time frames, specific states, etc). Click here to peruse their handy report-generating page.

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    EVENT: Hofmann launches Sunday funnies

    Normally stand-up comedy wouldn't have much of a place on the Strange Maine blog. However, there is an exception to be made, and that exception is for the one and only Tim Hofmann. [illustration by the man himself]

    I became aware of Tim Hofmann when my zine, Baby Mandelbrot, held a Halloween writing contest to celebrate the release of our Halloween issue back in... let's see, I think it was 2003. The winner of the contest? One Tim Hofmann, who appeared at the release party at Casco Bay Books in costume (I believe perhaps it was as Vincent Van Gogh -- indeed, he had a bandage over one ear and appeared demented). Upon reading the story, I was baffled and amazed. It was peculiar and arresting, and the ending... well, it was unlike anything I'd read in local fiction, that's for sure.

    And that is what I like so much about Hofmann. He is talented and unafraid to do what he wants to do, unafraid to offend or confuse. My second introduction to him was a small zine he self-published of comic strips that the Casco Bay Weekly had refused for publication. I still have my copy.

    From Portland, Hofmann traveled all over the country, all the way to Alaska and Hawaii, at each stop honing his artistic skill, sending periodic missives to us back here in the homeland. And then he came back! So come see this guy. You just might be surprised.

    WHAT: NEW Comedy Room opens!!!
    WHERE: DOGFISH BAR & GRILLE, 128 Free Street, Portland ME
    WHEN: Sunday, December 14th, 8:00-10:00pm [comics sign up early at 7:30]
    FMI: or call (207)772-5483

    Portland comic Tim Hofmann opens a new, monthly open mic comedy room at the Dogfish on December 14th. Free shows. Structured a little bit differently than other open mics, there will be one paid, featured comic per show. Hofmann hosts the show with original skits, stories and jokes. 8PM-10PM. Comics sign up at 7:30.

    Out of curiosity, I poked around online to pull some more info about Hofmann up for everyone's entertainment, and would like to recommend the following:

  • Hofmann's account of Halloween 2004, wherein we are regaled with the musings of on the Adventures of a giant, pink, trombone-playing shrimp on Halloween weekend.

  • Hofmann's writeup on late-night dining in Portland. "If you are up searching for food after 1 a.m., you're not looking for bananas. You are looking for something warm, chewy, salty and preferably made out of meat, cheese, sauce or dough." Hofmann gives a quick rundown of your best options, with offhanded and concise Hofmann-brand honest commentary.

  • Hofmann's early interview with Bob Bergeron, local poet and editor of the ol' Portland Banner. As Hofmann says, "Bob Bergeron possesses the intensity of an industrial-strength bug zapper. He is constantly buzzing, crackling and popping, practically glowing, feeding on ideas like dragonflies. His poetry possesses these same qualities; simple and vibrant, it kicks you in the ribs."
  • Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Profuse Apologies to mailing list members

    Hello all, I received an email this morning complaining about spam on my Google Strange Maine mailing group, and I have just finished banning the two so-called "members" who were polluting the message pool, and somehow hacked the welcome message, with porn. They also hacked the settings for posting, and that has been fixed as well.

    I apologize profusely for the fact that this went on for so long before I noticed it. I've been in the middle of moving house since late October, and have been unable to give the site the attention necessary to maintain a clean and normal atmosphere. Now I am relatively settled and things should be getting back to normal (ha!).

    Again, many apologies, and a big THANK YOU to Ekido kai for pointing this out to me.

    And by the way... Happy Holidays everyone!
    Michelle Souliere
    Editor, Strange Maine Gazette and blog

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    EVENT: Saturday, Rory Raven blows your mind

    Well, okay, actually he will READ your mind. But it might be a mind-blowing experience.

    WHAT: Rory Raven, mentalist extraordinaire, performs!
    WHEN: Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 8:00pm
    WHERE: St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
    COST: $12
    FMI:call (207)775-5568

    Check out Mr. Raven's delightful website at! Do not be deceived by imposters!

    To quote the St. Lawrence website:
    Greetings! Welcome to the Theater of the Mind. I am Rory Raven, Your Host. I am a mentalist with over a dozen years' experience reading minds and astonishing audiences. Neither a psychic nor a magician, I offer a new and compelling kind of entertainment unlike anything you've ever seen. With a few simple props (paper and pencil, a pack of playing cards, some paperback books, and the thoughts of some volunteers) I involve the audience in a highly unusual -- and unusually entertaining! -- experience. Thoughts are revealed, predictions come true, and perhaps even the spirits are summoned ....
    St. Lawrence Theater Manager's note: When Rory Raven was here last, the audience was so stunned by his abilities that we were all speechless! We have spent the last few months trying to figure out exactly what happened that night. Not for the faint of heart!

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    EVENT: Cryptozoology benefit Nov 22

    My blogging has suffered lately due to a recent, unexpected moving-of-house, but I would be remiss to lose a chance to remind folks of this very important event, a huge effort to assist our own Loren Coleman in his work to open a more public version of his International Cryptozoology Museum!

    WHAT:Bene-Foot: A Comedy Benefit for the Cryptozoology Museum
    WHEN:Saturday, November 22nd, starting at 8:00pm
    WHERE:The EMPIRE Lounge, 575 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
    FMI:See, or call the Empire at (207)879-8988

    If you are unable to attend, you can still donate. Just use the mailing address given below, or scroll down to the bottom of this post to click on the blank PayPal button to do it electronically.

    Here is more detailed information about the event from his post on Cryptomundo:
    A wonderful groundbreaking event to support the International Cryptozoology Museum has been planned by Boston comedian Shawn Donovan.

    Coming on Saturday, November 22, 2008, at the Empire Lounge on Congress Street, downtown Portland, Maine, the “Bene-foot: A Comedy Benefit for the Cryptozoology Museum” will kick off at 8 PM.

    Besides Shawn, who has been part of the Boston Comedy Festival for the last 3 years, the other comedians confirmed to be performing will be Paul Nardizzi (Late Night w/Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central) and Dan Sally (Comedy Central, Just For Laughs). Shawn told a popular comedy forum this morning that he would “leave it up to Sally to bump with the Patterson/Gimlin film.”

    “Bene-foot: A Comedy Benefit for the Cryptozoology Museum” is being held to support the museum, and all proceeds go to the museum. No corporate fiscal umbrellas in the mix here. Although tickets can be bought at the door for $25, I’m going to begin selling tickets online via my PayPal account and through the mail at a pre-event discount.

    Here’s the rundown for ticket sales:

    Pre-event tickets: $22.00/one ticket ($20 + $2 service charge) ~ Via PayPal (to ) or via snail mail (International Cryptozoology Museum, attn: L. Coleman, PO Box 360, Portland, ME 04112).

    Pre-event tickets plus a signed book by Loren Coleman = $45.00/one ticket/one book.

    One of eight tickets to the VIP table, $100 per ticket.

    Special to someone, have dinner with Loren Coleman, $250.00, before the Bene-Foot or perhaps at a time convenient to you.

    Additional donations to the Bene-Foot, $25 to $1000, will be appreciated for the museum fund. Use PayPal or the mailing addresses above. DO NOT use the PayPal button for Cryptomundo on the upper right corner on this page. Use the instructions above for funds, thank you.

    Shawn is also taking donations for raffle items that will be announced closer to the event (gift certificates to eating and entertainment locations to objects you wish to donate are what he is thinking about).

    Further details on event poster art, possible tee-shirts and more will be forthcoming.

    Fund Bene-Foot, support the Museum!!

    All donations are greatly appreciated, and they are not tax deductible due to the home museum not being a 501(c).

    View his original post for video clips of the performers and more: Source
    You can click the blank button below to link to PayPal to donate to the museum:

    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Review: Dirt by Mark LaFlamme

    Mark LaFlamme’s Dirt: An American Campaign

    SPECIAL NOTE! Catch Mark LaFlamme in a rare Portland appearance at the noontime Brown Bag Lunch lecture series at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, Portland, Maine, on Wednesday, November 12th.

    Graveyards, resurrected love, backroads intrigue – these ingredients cause no great stretch of the imagination for a confessed fan of fellow Mainer, Stephen King, and his predecessors, including Edgar Allan Poe.

    Like King, LaFlamme is a tricky writer. He lures you in by seeming ordinary, but there is something residing in his texts, in his characters’ dialogues and inner monologues, that goes beyond that threshold of normalcy and expectations. Before I know it, he’s got me again. This is not an unhappy thing. The pages have to be turned, but this is a pleasure, as the story plays out before me – he’s done all the work. I cannot turn away until finally I reach the end.

    This was true of the first LaFlamme book I read, The Pink Room, and remains true of his latest, Dirt. What makes this guy from Lewiston such a crafter of thought-provoking page-turners? I can only guess that it’s this – he is not afraid of hard work. This is a man who spends day and night pounding the crime beat for the Lewiston Sun Journal. Off the news desk, he writes books and short stories, which the rest of us get to read. He is not going to waste our time.

    The greater world hasn’t picked up on him yet. He’s still mostly ours at this point, here in the state of Maine. This doesn’t stop him from weaving more widely traveled threads into his work.

    In Dirt, LaFlamme focuses through the lens of the all-too-familiar worldview of the American Presidential campaign. Don’t look for the all-American glamour that comes from power in this story. It’s buried under dirt.

    Maine Governor Frank F. Cotton is raging up through the ranks as a distinguished contender for the Republican nomination. His image is that of hardy Maine stock, hard-working, honest, stern but engaging. The press knows his son Calvin as a recent widower and a staunch white-collar environmentalist, a lawyer who pushes back against the big boys his father pals around with. What the press doesn’t know, and what Frank Cotton doesn’t want them to find out, is that his grieving son is also unable to wrap his mind around the death of his wife, Bethany.

    While Frank Cotton has been running his campaign state to state across the country, Calvin Cotton has very quietly lost his mind, and fetched his lovely bride from her funereal box for one last lovely New England winter getaway.

    It is Thomas Cashman’s job to fetch them both back, as privately as possible. He can’t think of anyone better to help than Billy Baylor. In his role as best-selling novelist, Baylor explored the theme of love after death thoroughly and repeatedly, until his career was interrupted by the death of his wife and young daughter in a random accident. Since then, Baylor hasn’t had much of a thought about anything but misery and beer.

    Governor Cotton calls Cashman. Cashman finds Baylor. Together they track Calvin and Bethany, with the hounds of the press at their heels.

    If you open one box of worms, you often find another. And another. And another. And boy do those worms like dirt.

    I won’t ruin it for you – read it yourself.

    EVENT: Maine horror film & CD release!

    WHEN: Saturday, November 8 at 9:00pm
    WHERE: Geno's Rock Club, 625 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
    COST: $6 cover charge

    Emptyhouse Film celebrates the release of their DVD 4-pack, featuring four Maine horror features, with an evening packed with 3 bands, 2 release parties, and 1 birthday bash!

    Covered in Bees will be celebrating the release of their outrageous 24-Hour Album, as well as their participation in creating the soundtrack for the zombie film "2", included in the DVD 4-pack. Playing with them will be two other ever-rowdy and fun-loving bands, The Pubcrawlers and the Hand Me Downs. Top it all off by helping Knaughty Sarah celebrate her birthday!

    Click here for more about the DVD set, which includes the films MUD, I'M SORRY, 2, and MONSTER IN THE WOODS (best Maine Bigfoot rampage ever)!

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    mystery photo

    -as a thoughtful diversion today, here's yet another mystery photo. Can you guess where this was taken ???

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    EVENT: Scary stories by M.R. James

    Some of you may have attended last year's early November performance by the eerily wonderful Robert Lloyd Parry at One Longfellow Square. Others of you may not have. Which is why you should come this year! Highly recommended as an addition to your Halloween season spooky fun stuff.

    WHAT: "Oh, Whistle..." a performance of two M.R. James Ghost Stories
    WHEN: Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 at 8:00pm
    WHERE: One Longfellow Square, Portland, ME (formerly the Center for Cultural Exchange)
    COST: $15
    FMI: For more information or to buy tickets, please visit One Longfellow's website at or call (207)761-1757

    Over a century after they were first published, the ghost stories of MR James retain their power to terrify and amuse. Following last year’s one man show A Pleasing Terror… R.M. Lloyd Parry returns to Portland to bring two more of James’ classic spine-chillers back to life.

    Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad – a tale of nocturnal horror on the Suffolk coast – is considered by many to be author’s masterpiece. It is beautifully complemented here by The Ash Tree, a story of witchcraft and vengeance down the generations.

    As the Nunkie Theatre Company says, "Since December 2005 Robert has been performing two one man shows based on the stories of M R James, the greatest writer of supernatural tales in English. His uncanny resemblance to the author has been noted with a shudder by more than one enthusiastic audience member."

    Fright at the Fort footage

    The folks at Fort Knox's haunt attraction thought you all might enjoy this. So here you go!

    Fort Knox is a State Historic Site owned and operated by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.
    To Find Them: Enter "711 Fort Knox Road, Prospect, Maine 04981" into GPS unit, Mapquest or Google Maps

    From Belfast: Proceed north on US Rte 1, through Searsport and Stockton Springs, immediately before crossing the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, take a left onto Rte. 174. Fort Knox will be approximately 1/4 mile up on your right.

    From Bar Harbor: Follow US Rte. 1 south across the Penobscot Narrows bridge, immediately adjacent to the town of Bucksport. Once over the bridge take a right onto Rte. 174. Fort Knox will be approximately 1/4 mile up on your right.

    From Bangor: On Rte. 1A South....follow Rte 1A South through the towns of Hampden, Winterport, Frankfort and Prospect. In Prospect Center, take a left onto Rte. 174. Follow Rte 174 approximately 4 miles. Fort Knox will be on your left. On Rte 15 South....follow Rte 15 South through the city of Brewer and the towns of Orrington and Bucksport. In Bucksport, take a right onto US Rte.1 South and proceed over the Penobscot Narrows bridge. Immediately upon exiting the bridge take a right onto Rte. 174. Fort Knox will be approximately 1/4 mile up on your right

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Haunting South Oakfield graveyard

    This is a brief but excellent photo essay by Nate (a.k.a. Ravenwing) about the South Oakfield, Maine, cemetery that I found online at
    South Oakfield met decline and finally oblivion soon after the advent of the railroad, with a few farms holding on into the 1930’s, but is now wholly forested, marked only with a few cellar holes, and a small cemetery. Since moving here some 25 years ago, the South Oakfield cemetery has held a certain fascination for me.

    If ever a place can be haunted, this place is. I don’t mean haunted in the ‘scary’ sense, but when I visit this little cemetery, the feelings of dreams unfulfilled, geographical isolation, and human despair seem thick in the air. It is quiet, peaceful, even beautiful in a way, yet an indescribably sad place. I went there the other day, my first visit in several years, and found it much as I left it, though if anything more lonely and perhaps a bit more dilapidated than ever.

    It is rugged, and stony ground surrounded by forest, accessible only by several miles of rough and narrow gravel road over steep hills and across northern bogs.

    Read full essay and view all the photos here: [Source]

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    EVENT: Be Dracula's Guest!

    WHAT: a performance of Dracula’s Guest, written originally by Bram Stoker
    WHEN: Monday, October 20, 2008, 7:00-9:00pm
    WHERE: Bull Feeney’s Irish Pub/Restaurant, 375 Fore Street, Portland, Maine.
    COST: Admission free; $9 suggested donation.
    FMI: For more info visit or email thetwacorbies[at], or call (207) 846-1321

    AIRE (American Irish Repertory Ensemble) will be getting into the spirit of Samhain (Celtic Halloween) with a reading of Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker -- born Abraham Stoker in a suburb of Dublin in 1847. This spooky short story is set on a dark and stormy Walpurgis Nacht, as the wolves howl and unholy creatures prowl the land.

    It is widely believed (though now disputed) that Dracula’s Guest was originally the first chapter of the novel Dracula, which was deleted from the manuscript by the publisher. The piece was published as a short story in 1914, two years after Stoker's death.

    Lynne Cullen will begin the evening with a dramatic telling of Bram Stoker’s creepiest short story, The Judge’s House. Do you like rats?

    AIRE, Maine’s Irish Theater Company, is dedicated to presenting the best of classic and contemporary Irish and Irish American theater, aiming to share the power and beauty of Irish theater and raise awareness and understanding of Irish culture among New England audiences. AIRE’s next production is The Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh, running October 30-November 16 at The Studio Theater at Portland Stage Company.

    Lynne Cullen is a storyteller, artist, playwright and concertina player, who trained as a storyteller in Yorkshire, England, and has performed on both sides of the pond.

    The Seanachie Nights series is the idea of local (seanachie) storyteller and playwright Lynne Cullen. Lynne is a member of LANES (League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling), and MOOSE (The Maine Organization of Storytelling Enthusiasts.)
    For further information about Seanachie Nights, contact Lynne Cullen at thetwacorbies(@) or at 207-846-1321.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Maine ghost town in song

    Slaid Cleaves has a great song about Maine's drowned town on Dead River, Flagstaff. (see our prior posts on this subject here)

    The song is called "Below," and I found myself listening to it over and over again after I found a post by Tom Remington about it on the Black Bear Blog.

    In addition to posting this video, Tom posted some interesting info about accounts of Flagstaff memories, including this:
    In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town were stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered with water in six months? Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out? So, week by week, the whole town became more and more bedraggled, more gone to seed, more woebegone.
    In addition, one of the commentators, Richard Paradis, added an article which is well worth reading about another Maine town that, while not drowned, was emptied out and left, graveyards and all, because of another project, near Frye Mountain. Click here to see the post. Mr. Paradis' comment is #3 below the original article.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    EVENT: Portland's Chinese past

    One of the elements of Portland's history that I was surprised to find out about 5 years ago or so is the amount of Chinese-American culture that made its way into the city early in the 20th century. This is a great opportunity to lay your feet on the pavements of the city and see where all this happened, nestled in among the shops of today.

    In addition, for a glimpse at some of the people and places involved, please see the Maine Memory Networks's online exhibit, Chinese in Maine.

    Maine Historical Society invites you...

    Saturday, October 18,
    10:30am - 12:30pm
    Portland Chinese-American Walking Trail

    Join us to explore the history of Chinese-Americans in downtown Portland.

    While Portland has never had a "Chinatown," the area around Congress Street used to be home to a small but thriving Chinese community and many Chinese-owned businesses including "deluxe" restaurants, laundries, groceries, and gambling dens. Historian and former MHS Trustee Gary Libby-who has been a leader in recent efforts to re-discover and document Maine's rich Chinese heritage-will give a brief talk at MHS and lead a half-mile walking tour that points out and describes these key sites. The program will end with lunch at the Oriental Table restaurant on Exchange Street.

    Registration required; please call 207-774-1822.
    Fee: $15.00; Members $10.00.
    Lunch not included in program fee.

    Event Information

    When: Saturday, October 18, 2008, 10:30am - 12:30pm
    Where: Maine Historical Society,
    489 Congress Street, Portland
    For more information call 207-774-1822 or email

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Cormorant hitches kayak ride

    Photo: Georgia Koch paddles out of the cove with her hitchhiking cormorant. (Photo by Ken Bailey/Village Soup)

    Ken Bailey over at the Village Soup relates an odd encounter with a surprisingly attentive cormorant near Hope, Maine:
    'Hey lady, can I have a ride?'
    By Ken Bailey
    Outdoors Editor

    HOPE (Oct 7):
    This little adventure began one night a few weeks ago, while Sandy and I were out for an evening boat ride on Megunticook Lake and some friendly fishing competition. I’ll let you know how the competition went later.

    We had just pulled into a quiet cove and made a couple of casts when my cell phone rang, breaking the silence of the late-summer setting. Don’t you just love those modern wonders?

    Sara Foster was calling from Bishopswood Camps in Hope to inform me that while out kayaking with her friend, Georgia Koch, they had come across an aquatic bird that might possibly be injured. It was perhaps a loon, but because it was tucked way in the back of a cove, partially hidden by tall lake grass, they were unsure.
    Because we were just a few coves away, it wasn’t long before we pulled into the cove behind Pine Island where the sighting had taken place. As we idled into the cove, we could see Sara in her kayak with Annie — her dog — along for the ride, and Georgia slowly paddling out to greet us from the back of this shallow cove.

    As Georgia came closer, we noticed something on the bow of her kayak that looked a little out of place. She continued to slowly come our way, silently paddling her light-blue kayak toward the waiting flotilla.

    Soon, I could make out that the object on the bow of her kayak was a bird — a cormorant. The bird was stretching its wings and preening as it approached us; seemingly without a care in the world. Even a greeting bark from Annie did not seem to disturb this fish-eating aquatic bird.
    After going back into the cove to look for an injured bird, she searched the area where it had been seen. Nothing. The bird was gone.

    Scanning the surface of the cove, she still did not see any sign of the bird. Suddenly — off to one side — she heard a splash. A bird briefly appeared a few feet from her kayak, then dove under the water, reappearing on the other side of her craft. She identified it as a cormorant — a very strange cormorant.

    After splashing the calm surface of the lake and swimming under the kayak a few times, it approached the surprised woman. As Georgia waited with her kayak paddle in a defensive position, the unfazed bird swam up to the kayak and easily jumped onto the bow.

    After the initial shock of this freeloading cormorant hitching a ride, Georgia slowly made her way out of the cove, not knowing what the bird’s next move would be. Would it attack? Would it fly away? Would it panic as she approached the other boats, people and dog.

    No, the feathered bowsprit stood its ground, head upright and twisting from side to side to look at all the strangers. Approaching the port side of my boat, Georgia began to explain her evening’s adventure.

    There we were, sitting in three boats as the sun began to settle behind the mountains, wondering if this bird was sick or just in need of some human bonding.
    The bird soon became bored, and dove into the water, swimming a short distance before it took flight, landing on a nearby island. It did not appear to be sick. It was able to dive, swim and fly.

    Why did a wild bird — one that usually takes off when a boat or human approaches — lose its fear and spend more than 40 minutes within an arm’s reach of the three of us? Why was it not spooked by the dog?

    Read full article here (and see more photos!): [Source]

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    EVENTS: Halloween is Howlin'!

    Every October, it suddenly seems like there are too many delicious things to do! This year is no exception. So far, here is a rundown of events that have come to our attention. First, items we've showcased already are listed here for easy reference (new events added 10/15/08):
  • Wicked Walking Tours of Portland

  • Haunted Freeport walking tours

  • Tales of Terror at Victoria Mansion

  • Zombie Kickball/March in Waterville (updated)

  • Fright at the Fort at Fort Knox in Prospect

  • Eastern Cemetery events in Portland

  • Thrill the World re-enactment of Michael Jackson's Thriller video in Gray

  • Now for the new items:

    WHAT: Bangor Ghost Lamp Tour -- Imagine presidents, gangsters and ghosts as you take this educational and entertaining evening walk through Bangor history.
    WHEN: Tuesday, October 14, 2008, 7:00pm
    WHERE: Downtown Bangor Waterfront, Front St. Bangor. Meet at the River Front parking lot.
    COST: $5, children under 12 free.
    FMI: (207)942-1900,

    WHAT: Lantern tours of Haunted Damariscotta & Wiscasset with the Lady in the Red Cloak. Wearing the garb of the Victorian era, Sally Lobkowicz will take you, lantern bobbing, through the winding back ways of two of Maine's old riverside settlements, and related haunting tales of their ghostly denizens.
    WHEN:7:00pm, now through October 30th
    WHERE:Starting location will be divulged when you make your reservation by calling (207)380-3806
    COST: $10 per person, $5 for children under 12 years old

    WHAT: The 1830-built Maine house featured on the TV show Paranormal State is offering tours. We related the story of this haunting in a previous post, which you can read by clicking here. Proceeds will be donated to the Animal Welfare Society.
    WHEN: now through October 31st
    WHERE: 1226 West Road, Waterboro, ME.
    COST: $5 per person for self-guided tour (including pamphlet about the property's haunting), $25 for overnight stay.

    WHAT: Haunted Hayrides -- a local classic of the season, this 40-minute hayride through the haunted, dark forest next to Scarborough Downs started out 19 years ago on a farm in Gorham. Not the scariest, but definitely a lot of fun for all ages, with great outdoor atmosphere.
    WHEN:evenings, now through November 1st. Reservations recommended, call (207)885-5935 to pick a time and date. (NOTE: In past years, I've had a hard time getting anyone at this number during daytime -- it may be best to call in the evening.)
    WHERE: Next to Scarborough Downs, off Route 1 in Scarborough.
    COST: $13 per person, $9 for children 6 to 12 years old

    WHAT: Goffstown's Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off and Regatta! Travel over to neighboring NH to indulge your love of racing floating pumpkins. See full list of events here. What, you find this hard to believe? See some footage of other folks' floating pumpkin vessels here.
    WHEN:Race starts at 3:00pm, Sunday, October 19th. Events run Oct 18-Oct 19th.
    WHERE:Downtown commons, Goffstown, New Hampshire
    COST: Attendance is free!
    FMI:(603)497-9933 or click here for schedule of events
    NOTE: Check out a ton more spook-a-riffic and just plain fun New Hampshire events throughout October on New Hampshire Magazine's site.

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    Bigfoot in Maine, Part 1

    On a quarterly basis, I put out a print version of this blog, in the form of the Strange Maine Gazette. Often the stories in it derive from material previously posted here on the blog, but occasionally the material is new and the print version is its first incarnation. I try to remember to post that material here as well, but sometimes I get distracted. Ha!

    This past April, I started a series of articles in the Gazette about Bigfoot in Maine. Of course, as I start work on the second installment in the series, it occurs to me that I haven't posted the first part here yet. Some of the material you may recognize from tidbits I've posted before, but the bulk of this is all new to the blog.

    So here you go! Enjoy...

    The Wild and Hairy Woods : Part 1 - The Older End of the Forest, and the Leaves That Came from It
    by Michelle Souliere

    Although famed on the West Coast, Bigfoot has a long history in Maine that few know about. But where did it all start? At least as far back as the 1850s, stories of strange apelike creatures were around... and in Maine literature of the turn of the 19th century, a great hairy shape makes itself known repeatedly. This literary echo of the woods is what we will listen to today.

    The Maine author who registered these waves of woolly wonderment most frequently and with great vigor was C.A. Stephens, frequent contributor to Ballou’s Monthly Magazine and author of the Knockabout Boys book series. In his introduction to the 1876 story, “Was It an Indian Devil,” the narrator mulls over questions that mirror to a surprising extent the questions about Bigfoot that I and others are still pondering over 100 years later:
    Can a myth come into existence spontaneously? Can a story, utterly truthless, obtain widespread belief through hundreds of years, and thus become a tradition?

    At the close of a five-years’ residence among the hunters, lumbermen and river-drivers of the Northern Maine forests, in connection with the lumbering business of my uncle’s firm, I find myself puzzling at these questions, as I recall the persistent and ever-recurring tales and accounts which everywhere come to my ears, of that strange being, or animal, which the Indians used to call “Pomoola,” and which the white woodsmen have translated “Indian Devil.”
    Stephens stands out because he wrote repeatedly about the “injun devil” in his short stories, which are told with such realism that Bigfoot enthusiasts have even listed one of them among historical accounts of Maine Bigfoot, with the slight caveat that it is “possibly fiction.”

    After reading Stephens’ tales, I can see where the acceptance of them as being from life comes from. His tales appear to be drawn directly from the experiences of himself and those around him, and he tells them in such a straightforward and descriptive manner that readers feel as though they, too, have been there. (More on Stephens’ history later!)

    Stephens’ most famous Bigfoot story is from Chapter 10 in his book Camping Out, Volume 1. In this, Cluey’s own story of the Indian Devil is told. Out trapping furs as a young fellow with two other men, he encountered something circling their campsite at night that terrified him:
    ...the moon was pouring down brightly; and I distinctly saw its shape, — the figure of a man, looking brown and naked, save where a hairy outline showed against the light. A feeling of sickness or of horror came over me.
    On getting up the next morning, Cluey tells the older trapper accompanying them about the sighting, to which he receives this response:
    “It’s an Indian devil! It’s old Pomoola! That’s just as I’ve heard the Oldtown Indians describe it a hundred times; but I always thought it was all a lie. They always left a place as soon as they’d seen one of these things; and I reckon we’d better!”
    According to Stephens’ tales, Pomoola (more commonly known today as Pamola) would kill anyone who set foot on the peak of Mount Katahdin. This guardian spirit has become an amalgamation of both native and white men’s lore over the years, until today it is hard to figure out exactly what it is supposed to be. But around the turn of the century, it is plain to see that the old men of the woods had their own ideas of what Pamola was.

    Stephens’ wasn’t the only Victorian-era writer to mention hairy monsters lurking in the dark of the Maine woods. In Holman F. Day’s 1901 book, Up in Maine: Stories of Yankee Life Told in Verse, he regaled his readers with one particularly creepy tale in the form of his poem, “Ha’nts of the Kingdom of Spruce,” from which this excerpt stands out:
    He’ll mock the fears of mystic and he’ll scorn the bookish tales
    Of the fearsome apparitions of the past, but courage fails
    In the night when he awakens,
    all a-shiver in his bunk,
    And with ear against the logging
    hears the steady, muffled thunk
    Of the hairy fists of monsters,
    beating there in grisly play,
    --Horrid things that stroll o’ night-times,
    never, never seen by day,
    For he knows that though the spectres of the storied past are vain,
    There is true and ghostly ravage in the forest depths of Maine.
    Where did all this material come from? Were there actual sightings reported by wilderness dwellers such as Cluey that never made it into the early newspapers of the region? Or was the idea of this manbeast extrapolated from tales told of the Yahoo, a “ten-foot hairy giant,” by pioneer hero Daniel Boone? He, in turn, may have taken liberties with Jonathan Swift’s own race of bestial bipeds, mentioned in Gulliver’s Travels, and called by that same name. Other potential sources include Native American folklore of the Wendigo, according to Loren Coleman.

    We may never know whether fact or fiction instigated the scores of reported sightings in Maine that date back into the early 1800s, and which continue to this very day. We do, however, know that there is a faint and mysterious trail that leads through the wilderness and tantalizes us at every turn with the possibility that we might see or hear something that wakes us out of our everyday modern world funk.

    I’ll explore early reported Maine sightings of the creature in the next installation of this series, as well as more folklore. Stay tuned!

    Illustration (c)Michelle Souliere. All rights reserved.

    Monday, October 06, 2008

    A wolf in fish's clothing?

    Few people know of the existence of one of Maine's strangest fish natives. Now the singularly unattractive Atlantic Wolf Fish has been identified as a species that is in need of protection. Maine shares this fishy character with other coastal regions such as Iceland, where a blogger recently remarked that the species in general looks as though "its seen a thousand badly-behaved boozy world tours and has the scars and dodgy teeth to prove it." [Source] Incidentally, the post from which the above quote is taken is titled, "A Series of Unfortunate Icelandic Animals, Part One: The Wolf Fish."

    MPBN reported on the new status of the fish. You can visit their website to hear the news clip in audiofile form. Photo is from the New Hampshire Fish and Game site.
    Wolf Fish Targeted for Endangered Species List
    by Tom Porter

    The Conservation Law Foundation and others today filed a petition seeking federal protection for the species that lives along the sea bed in the deep waters off New England. “This is a really good example of what happens when a species is on its way to extinction, when the population becomes contracted and fragmented.” University of Maine Marine Scientist Les Watling also signed the petition. Speaking at a tele-conference held to launch the petition, he said the excessive use by fishermen of bottom trawling, or rock-hopper gear as it's known, has destroyed much of the wolf-fish's natural habitat. “They like to nest under large boulders, so any habitat disturbance, for example, when rock-hopper gear comes along in these areas and tends to move a boulder or roll a boulder, and then a whole nest is vulnerable.”

    The fierce-looking wolf-fish can grow up to 5 feet in length, and have long eel-like tails and sharp teeth that can eat a crab in a few swift bites. Peter Shelley, vice-president of the Conservation Law Foundation, says numbers have dropped dramatically in the last 20 years, and wolf-fish can now only be found in about 2 concentrated areas in New England waters. As a key predator, he says its extinction would be disastrous for the ecosystem. “It controls a lot of other species, which if they're left uncontrolled, can trigger cascading effects in the marine environment that are very destructive to fish populations and the health of the ocean.”
    The federal government will now study the petition, and if successful, it would be the first time an ocean fish is listed as endangered in New England.

    Read the full article here: [Source]
    To find out more about the decline of the wolffish in Maine, go to the Gulf of Maine Census of Marine Life.

    Sunday, October 05, 2008

    EVENT: The Dow family dukes it out!

    WHAT: Search and Seizure: Neal Dow, Prohibition, and the Maine Connection
    WHEN: Thursday, October 9, 2008, 7:00 pm
    WHERE: Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland (click here for directions)
    FMI: For more information call 207-774-1822 or email info[at]

    Wesley Oliver, of Widener University Law School, presents a talk about Maine's key role in establishing one of the bedrocks of the American justice system: search and seizure law -- a surprisingly juicy tale. This lecture is free and open to the public, and is presented by the Maine Historical Society and the University of Maine School of Law

    Many people are familiar with Maine's role in the early history of Prohibition--of Neal Dow, and that prohibition was known nationally as the Maine Law. Few, though, are aware that Maine's role in prohibition had a greater impact on American legal history than on long-term efforts to curb drinking. The innovative laws that Maine crafted to allow liquor searches in homes created the modern probable cause standard, one of the cornerstones of modern policing.

    There's a human story here, too: It is commonly believed that Neal Dow wrote this now-famous law. But Dow, a tanner by trade, was not a lawyer himself, and it would have been surprising if he had crafted such a creative and far-reaching legal doctrine. If not Dow, who then? A fight between Dow and his cousin John Neal, over a prostitute no less, solves this historical mystery. Angry letters between the two men, filled with accusations, reveal that the search and seizure provision of the Maine Law was authored by Edward Fox, a prominent Portland lawyer who would later serve as a state supreme court justice and federal judge.

    Wesley Oliver's article based on this research, much of which was done at the MHS Research Library, will be featured in the upcoming issue of the Maine Bar Journal. Oliver is an Associate Professor of Law at Widener University. Professor Oliver received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Virginia, an LL.M. from Yale Law School and is presently a candidate for the J.S.D. degree from Yale. He was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Maine School of Law last summer.

    Saturday, October 04, 2008

    Freeport frights on foot

    Halloween lovers are invited to join a lantern-carrying specter and spirit medium Eddita on a haunted walk through Freeport's streets during the 'Ghosts of Freeport's Past'.

    The walks are scheduled on Friday and Saturday, October 24 & 25 as well as Thursday, October 30. Walks depart at 7 PM from the Freeport Historical Society in the Harrington House at 45 Main Street. $10 for adults; $5 for those 12 and under. No pets, please.

    Eddita Felt is a professional Psychic and Medium with 37 years experience reading for others. Eddita is the founding member of the Northeast Professional Psychics and Mediums Guild. [Source]

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Tales of Terror this Halloween Season : Victoria Mansion, Portland

    from our friends at Victoria Mansion...

    Tales of Terror!

    Victoria Mansion hosts 19th-century storytelling and scary tours for Halloween.

    Tales of Terror Saturday, October 18, 2008
    Two Performances, 6-7:3o p.m. or 8:00-9:30 p.m.

    What could be a more perfect setting than a big, Victorian mansion to hear the wickedly scary, nineteenth-century tales created by two of the most frightening imaginations in history?

    Join us at Victoria Mansion for a spectacular performance of the The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and Green Tea by J. Sheridan Le Fanu by Portland storyteller Lynne Cullen.

    The evening begins with tours of the house dimly lit at gas lighting levels complemented by chilling, nineteenth-century music.

    Ghoulish guides grant you passagethrough the dark halls of the Mansion. To participate in this terrifying evening, you must reserve your space inadvance...if you dare!

    Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for mansion membersand $10 for kids. Please call 207.772.4841 ext. 10 or email

    Faint of Heart Beware!

    GENERAL MUSEUM INFORMATION Victoria Mansion is located at 109 Danforth Street just steps from the Old Port. The Mansion is open for its regular season of tours May - October, Monday - Saturday, 10-4, Sunday 1-5. All tours are guided and reservations are not necessary for groups under 10. Join us November 23 - December 30 for our Holiday Season of tours.

    Photos of Victoria Mansion (ca. 1940)

    from the Portland Public Library Archives!

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Hell House in Maine revisited

    While most folks know that Stephen King's books focus predominantly on the state of Maine, few know that some of the classics of the horror genre are set in our home state as well. Maine Crime Writer blog, run by Patrick Shawn Bagley, takes a moment to focus on one of these: Hell House by Richard Matheson, author of other horror books such as I Am Legend, basis of the Vincent Price classic "Last Man on Earth." Hell House was later made into a terrifically chilling motion picture starring Roddy McDowall, "The Legend of Hell House." Since Matheson did the screenplay himself, it mirrors the book almost exactly.

    Bagley sets the scene by stating, "I can’t think of a better way to kick off the Halloween season than by visiting Richard Matheson’s Hell House. The Belasco House in Caribou Falls, Maine is the 'Mt. Everest of haunted houses.'"

    Read the rest of his post about this fictitious Maine haunt here.

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    Police blotter cornucopia!

    Kudos to the Gazette Editor who runs the Gab with the Gazette blog, which archives the Police Blotter returns each week in the area. I've read a lot of police blotters, and the best editors really go the distance in titling their entries, making the reading all the more entertaining. These guys really take the cake! (You can read other culled police blotter reports that Strange Maine has stumbled across before here.)

    A caller reported being harassed while delivering newspapers.

    A caller reported they had a sneezing spell, drove off the road, and hit a sign with their vehicle on County Road.

  • [Source]

    A caller from Main Street requested to speak with an officer regarding their bail conditions.

    A caller from Ossipee Trail reported a suspicious female carrying an infant that was not properly attired.

    A Ridgeway Drive resident requested to speak to police in regard to their child’s driving behavior.

  • [Source]

    The Gazette Newspaper serves Gorham, Buxton, Hollis, Limington and Standish.

    Zombie Kickball and Zombie Walk in Waterville!

    Updated 10/13/08 with new schedule of events.

    Feeling zombie withdrawal? Want some guaranteed zombie-fun action come Halloween season? Well you're in luck! There is an upcoming Zombie Kickball and Zombie Walk in Waterville, and they want you to come!

    WHAT: The 1st Annual Zombie Kickball and Waterville Walk of the Undead!
    WHEN: Saturday, October 25th, 2008, meet between 3:00-4:00pm at the Railroad Square Cinema. From there, shamble en masse to the soccer field and have a zombie-licious kickball game. Next is the Zombie March back to Railroad Square Cinema, after which all zombies are invited to go to the restaurant at the cinema and feast on BRAINS! A special showing of Night of the Living Dead will be screened at 9:00pm, following these events.
    WHERE: Meet at 17 Railroad Square, Waterville, Maine (Railroad Square Cinema), Waterville, from there proceed to kickball field location (TBA)
    COST: Admission to the 9:00pm film showing is the usual $7.50 for a movie ticket, the Zombie Kickball and Zombie Walk are of course free!
    FMI: Contact Chris Osgood at (207)622-6854, or at colopoao[at], or via his MySpace page. Get directions to Railroad Square Cinema here.

    Information here is as current as possible, please check back for updates! Zombies should converge on Railroad Square Cinema between 3:00 and 4:00pm. The afternoon game of Zombie Kickball will be held at a to-be-announced field location. Afterwards, zombies will return to Railroad Square Cinema, where they can shamble into a showing of the original classic zombie movie, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead after a brain-eating extravaganza.

    Osgood is aiming to summon a few hundred zombies to the event. Radio station 92 Moose will be there, and DJ Jon James from the Moose Morning Show will be walking as one of the undead. Osgood and Ken (from Railroad Square Cinema) hope to have a "shock kit" available for attendees, which would include souvenir items such as t-shirts, stickers, etc.

    Osgood is a contributer to GASP (Gore and Shock Provoked) Magazine, where his horror stories have been published. He can be contacted at colopoao[at] or via his MySpace page.

    Photo (c)Chris Wallace.

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Baffling reappearance of diaries

    The name Carroll A. Deering will prick up the ears of any ghost ship enthusiast worth their salt, the account ranked by some among the Top Ten Modern Mysteries. However, the name originated in the life of a young boy who grew to be an old man with little interest in launching himself on the seven seas, though his father had been a shipmaker of great repute.

    Now Carroll A. Deering himself may be taking a step on the road to the stardom of the mysterious with the recent inexplicable discovery of some of his missing journals, found by students in Bath while working on an unrelated assignment. Seth Koenig of the Times Record lays it on the deck for us:
    Morse High students uncover a new Carroll A. Deering mystery
    Missing for 41 years, 3 journals of a famous 'ghost ship' namesake are found by students.
    by Seth_Koenig@TimesRecord.Com

    BATH — Even decades after his death, mysteries still cling to former Bath resident Carroll A. Deering.

    More than 87 years after his namesake schooner became one of the most famous ghost ships in American history, some of Deering's long-lost journals unexpectedly appeared beneath a bush outside Morse High School.

    In the months after Deering's March 15, 1967 death, his house was broken into and logbooks from as far back as the early 1900s were stolen. Other mostly sentimentally valuable items also disappeared, including a complete set of books by Edward Rose Snow and a box full of old campaign buttons — as well as Deering's collection of antique muskets and a silver sword from the local Masonic Lodge.

    Two weeks ago, Deering journals from 1932, 1962 and 1964 turned up in the proximity of Morse High School. Science teacher Eric Varney sent his students outside to find everyday objects in nature and write descriptions of those objects as part of a lesson on scientific research. What students discovered was a lesson on maritime history and, perhaps, the unexplained.

    Freshmen Zach Fone and Wyatt Brackett each found one of the journals near a bush by the school's front entrance, and classmate Chris Fox discovered a third journal across the street near his house.

    The students managed to track down Carroll "Pat" Moffatt, the grandson of Deering who resides in Florida but, by coincidence, is currently back in Maine for a brief vacation. Moffatt was fighting in Vietnam in 1967 when his grandfather's home was robbed, and according to Varney, "he never heard anything more about (the stolen journals) until now."

    "My first impression when they called me was, 'No, they couldn't have,'" said Moffatt Friday, after he addressed the class to share memories of his grandfather. "I thought, 'Forty-one years later, it couldn't be them.' But when I saw them, I realized it was true — these are his journals.

    "Obviously, they couldn't have been under a bush for 40 years," he continued. "That's what's got everybody confused. They couldn't have been outside all that time, they'd have been destroyed. But how did they get there? Nobody knows. Or somebody must know, but they aren't telling. Another mystery of Carroll Deering."

    The first mystery of Carroll Deering surrounded the commercial schooner with his name. Deering's father, Gardiner G. Deering, ran one of Bath's prominent shipyards early in the 20th century and named a five-masted cargo ship after Carroll.

    Less than two years after its 1919 launch, the schooner Carroll A. Deering was sighted aground on Diamond Shoals, an area off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. There was no sign of the 11-person crew, and then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover — who would later become U.S. President — launched an aggressive investigation into the disappearances.

    "What happened to the Carroll A. Deering? We'd all like to know," pondered Moffatt on Friday. "The crew aboard would like to know. The people were all gone. Nobody ever saw them again."
    No answers to the mystery of the Carroll A. Deering ghost ship can be found in the man's recently discovered journals, however. Deering himself didn't serve on the boat bearing his name.

    "The journals were just a day-to-day record of his life," explained Moffatt. "A list of people that came in and out of his house every day, or the events of the time, like when old sea captains died — stuff like that."

    The details scribbled down by Deering in the browned pages may be routine, but their reappearance after 41 years is just as perplexing as what happened to the ship in his name.

    Read the full story here: [Source]
    Purely baffling.

    Those who are interested in learning a little more about Carroll A. Deering, the man, may be interested to know that his great-grandson, Pat Davis, has a website where a few articles and photos about him have been gathered. It can be found at The photo of Mr. Carroll shown here is from that website.

    Special thanks to Tracy for pointing this great story out!

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    They DON'T want the clothes off your back

    About a year ago (read original article here) we posted about the unique sandwich offered by a Maine restaurant which is earned free of charge if the recipient will jump into Moosehead Lake sans clothing. At the time a customer was raising objections to the menu item and threatening legal pursuit of a ban on skinny dipping patrons. While the effort didn't go anywhere, there still may be repercussions for a few folks who recently earned their sandwiches by shedding a few pounds of fabric and taking the plunge.
    Police summon 3 who took naked plunge
    By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

    GREENVILLE, Maine — The Skinny Dip sandwich at the Black Frog Restaurant is free if you bare all and brave a jump into the cold waters of Moosehead Lake, but the court fee for indecent conduct isn’t.

    Three friends who took the plunge bare-naked over the weekend and had the tasty sliced prime rib in a baguette roll may now have wished they’d ordered another meal or paid the $10.95 for the sandwich.

    Crystal Stilwell, 25, of Bath, Bernard Beckwith, 31, of Windham, and Christian Simpson, 37, of Bethel, each were summoned by Greenville police for indecent conduct. Their initial court appearances were set for Sept. 15 in 13th District Court in Dover-Foxcroft.

    The Class E crime is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, according to Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. Almy said Wednesday that the punishment for such a misdemeanor would not involve jail time and that the fine would likely range from $300 to $500 each.

    The trio doffed their duds at about 5 p.m. and dashed off a barge behind the Pritham Avenue restaurant into the water in full view of diners, who apparently enjoyed the brief show. The barge, which is part of the Black Frog and is attached to the main restaurant by a walkway and ramp, features a dining area and a bar.

    Restaurant owner Leigh Turner said Thursday that all of the 40 to 50 patrons on the barge at the time were asked in advance if they would be offended if someone jumped naked from the barge and no one objected.

    But Greenville Police Chief Scott MacMaster said Wednesday that a family that had been standing on the boardwalk nearby was offended and had contacted police. Ironically, the naked plunge also was observed by a local game warden who had been refueling his boat, he said.

    When police arrived and issued the summons, all of the restaurant patrons on the barge pitched in and donated money to the streakers to help pay the fine, according to Turner. He believed the guests provided about $150 to each of the three skinny dippers.

    Turner said he has had one or two people a week order the sandwich and then take the naked plunge, but usually the dips are done later in the evening when the streakers aren’t as visible.

    “This is not done to offend anybody, and it was certainly not done to make anybody upset, which is why everybody on the barge was asked beforehand if anybody would be offended,” Turner said.

    Turner said he has no plans to do away with his offer of a free sandwich for the nude dip.

    The articles about the incident which have appeared in other newspapers such as the Lewiston Sun Journal, have garnered a lot of comments, including this one from user name Streaker from '76: "I wonder if the Black Frog would offer a free beer to go with lunch if say, 50 of us all went at the same time? Would the police attempt to arrest us all? Would the court attempt to try us all?" [Source]

    The general consensus is that the legal pursuit of the matter is a waste of taxpayers' money, and the owner should keep the item on the menu if he wants to. Other suggestions include the sensible one of the owner putting up a fence, so that no non-participating bystanders get an eyeful of the blur as daredevils make for the water at high speed, which is how this complaint emerged.