Thursday, February 28, 2008

EVENT: Loren Coleman at Portland Public Library

WHEN: Wednesday, March 5th from 12:00 noon to 1:00pm
WHO: Loren Coleman
WHAT: A free-to-the-public Brown Bag Lunch Talk with the author of The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates and Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
WHERE: Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, Portland, ME, in the Rines Auditorium
FMI: 871-1700, ext. 759

The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman -- these are the names of the elusive beasts that have caught the eye and captured the imaginations of people around the world for centuries. Recently, tales of these "monsters" have been corroborated by an increase in sightings, and out of these legends a new science has been born: cryptozoology -- the study of hidden animals.

Cryptozoology A to Z, the first encyclopedia of its kind, contains nearly two hundred entries, including cryptids (the name given to these unusual beasts), new animal finds, and the explorers and scientists who search for them. Loren Coleman, one of the world's leading cryptozoologists, provides these definitive descriptions and many never-before-published drawings and photographs from eyewitnesses' detailed accounts.

Full of insights into the methods of these scientists, exciting tales of discovery, and the history and evolution of this field, Cryptozoology A to Z was when it appeared the most complete reference ever of the newest zoological science. It was picked at an ALA-American Library Association Youth Award for 2001.

The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates is a comprehensive study of the astonishing variety of puzzling primates that are being reported by eyewitnesses around the world - but that science has failed to recognize. This fully illustrated volume not only contains the references, range maps, and typical footprints that appeared in the first edition, but it also contains a new, complete index and new preface that updates the discoveries made since this book was first published.

Loren Coleman, a nearly fifty-year veteran of cryptozoological field expeditions and research, has written 30 books on nature's mysterious creatures, including The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Mysterious America, and Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti, and has served as both on- and off-camera consultant to NBC-TV's Unsolved Mysteries, A&E's Ancient Mysteries, History Channel's MonsterQuest, Travel Channel's Weird Travels, and many more. He is a former adjunct professor and full-time researcher at the Muskie School, University of Southern Maine and lives in Portland, where he runs a cryptozoology museum. He is the driving force behind the blog at Cryptomundo, the world's most popular cryptozoology site.

Photo by Amber Waterman for the Lewiston Sun Journal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bryant's Electric Ghost lends life to old clocks

Kennebec Journal's Morning Sentinel had a great article on one of Maine's unsung heroes of invention, Jim Bryant, a clock repairman who has a remarkable device credited to his ingenuity!
Time keeper
By MATTHEW STONE, Staff Writer

Staff Photo by Andy Molloy
TIME PIECE: Jim Bryant, of Wayne, inspects the movement within the self-winding clock hanging at Hartford Fire Station in Augusta Sunday. The whistle atop Hartford has been silent recently, the clock repairman said, due to a faulty spring in the 1925 time piece that normally strikes at 12:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. “It’s the heartbeat for the whistle,” Bryant said of the spring.

WAYNE -- Many people go to work each day like clockwork. For Jim Bryant, that clockwork is his job.
The Wayne clockmaker has now been perfecting his craft for 50 years and has contracts to maintain grandfather and tower clocks, public and private, throughout Maine. In Augusta, he maintains clocks at Hartford Fire Station and Lithgow Public Library. Bryant also tends to clocks at Richmond's United Methodist Church, Hallowell's Old South Congregational Church and on the campus of Hebron Academy.

Bryant's work has spanned as far as Belgium, where he built a clock in a castle south of Brussels in the 1970s. Closer to home, he is currently working on six-foot dials for the town clock of Norway.

With each clock he works on, the self-termed "clock custodian" said he sees his role as preserving a bit of history.

"I'm trying to be conservative and keep these old pendulum clocks running the way they were designed to run originally," he said.
Maintaining clocks for historical preservation is not about the clocks' improvement, Bryant said.

"There are people who work on these that shouldn't because they do more damage than good," Bryant said. "There are others that do a superb job, but they make a Cadillac out of a Chevrolet and they charge you for the price of a Mercedes."

Among the Wayne clockmaker's contributions to the field is an automatic winding system for tower clocks that preserves a clock's original winding system but eliminates the need for regular manual winding. Bryant calls his invention the "Bryant Electric Ghost."

"It can be quite a chore to once a week go up in the tower and crank up the weight. It requires a little bit of sweating to keep these rascals wound," he said of a winding system's half-ton weights. "The auto-winding works very well."

Bryant invented the winding system more than 30 years ago while attempting to determine how to return Monmouth's tower clock to working order. The system he installed on the Monmouth clock is intact to this day, he said.
Now retired, Bryant devotes himself to clockwork and his "hurdy-gurdy man" entertainment act.

As clocks are passed down to younger generations, Bryant said, he hopes the spirit of preservation remains, and that his automatic winding system can play a role.

"In many cases, older gentlemen pass away and a younger generation doesn't really care and they don't know how to do it, and that's where auto-winding can come in," he said. "And hopefully they don't just up and destroy the old clock."
Please click to read full article here: [Source]
There's another article about Jim Bryant here on the Sun Journal site, from when he revived Livermore Falls' 100-year-old clocktower back in January. To see some great photos of the event, you'll need to look at the PDF version of the front page that day.

Early Graverobbing & Desecration in Westbrook

I found a very interesting blog by Suzan Norton which covers some of her genealogical research at the Westbrook Historical Society and in the Saccarappa Cemetery, which she states "has been desecrated numerous times over the years." This particular account is of some note because not only does it detail many small pieces of information about the daily life of Martha Roberts (b.1842), but also it remarks upon a most peculiar event following her death, in which her grave was opened and her body abandoned elsewhere.
Martha died at the age of 57. Her death was unusual as there was a certain amount of folklore that I have heard my whole life. She was dug up and her body thrown into Beaver Pond. It was never verified until I read the diaries of William Roberts, her brother in law (and 2nd cousin). He wrote one entry describing that he would be going to the cemetery to check to see if her grave was empty. He found in fact that it was an open grave. The following day, he was asked to go meet the sheriff. A body had been found and William was asked to identify it. William wrote that he could not identify it positively, however he had no doubt that it was her body. This was about eight weeks after her death. Perhaps he recognized the clothing. Someone had tampered with the body, but no person had ever been charged. I think it must have brought great distress upon the family.
Read full post here: [Source]
It appear that it is not only modern day fiends who rummage about disrespectfully amidst the tombstones -- this is something that has happened for centuries.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Face plant... off the roof!

Well, I've done my share of face plants on the ski slopes, but this is ridiculous! At any rate, he figured a way out of it.
Head over heels
By Mark LaFlamme , Staff Writer
Thursday, February 21, 2008

NAPLES - The first part of the challenge was fighting panic and finding a way to breathe. With his face buried in snow and most of his body immobilized, George Sovas of Naples had few options. He started by eating snow, blowing it with his mouth, trying to move it with his nose.

Where there's a will, as the adage goes, there's a way.

For two hours Tuesday, the 57-year-old Sovas was buried upside down and headfirst in a giant mound of ice and snow that slid off his ex-wife's house roof.

"The only thing sticking up was my butt and my legs," Sovas said Wednesday night. "I was headfirst and backwards in the snow. It was packed like concrete."

It had started as a good deed.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sovas got his ladder on top of a snowbank in order to clear ice from his ex-wife's roof on Liberty Road. The winter has been particularly severe though, and ice and snow built up on the roof, and Sovas wanted to clear a portion of it to prevent leaks and damage.

That's when his premature burial began.

"I was trying to break a section of ice off the right corner of the house," Sovas said. "But with that small jarring, the weight of the ice still up at the top ripped all of the cutters off the roof. It came down like a freight train and just wiped me out. It hit me in the chest. It threw me clear over the ladder upside down. It was like doing a backflip."


Sovas was alive and warm Wednesday night. There is plenty of winter left, but the ice on the roof? Forget about it.

"Let it slide off; I'm not going there. Too dangerous," Sova said. "Way too dangerous."

Read full article here -- it's totally worth it!!! [Source

A Cold Shoulder for Gator Owner

Who knew? Up here in the frosty North (and I mean way, way upstate), there is room for alligators. WCSH has the story. Thanks to the New England Anomaly for the tipoff.
Wardens Confiscate Alligator
POSTED: 11:57 pm EST February 22, 2008

MONTICELLO, Maine -- In the dead of winter, the northern Maine town of Monticello may be among the last places anyone might expect to find an alligator.

Maine wardens announced that they confiscated a 3-foot alligator this week after its owner, Justin Barry, 20, failed to produce a permit for it.

Wardens secured the aligator's mouth and transported it to an animal rescue facility in Winslow. Warden Josh Smith said the alligator was angry at being removed from its terrarium but eventually calmed down.

Wardens visited Barry's home on Route 1 after receiving a tip from someone who saw pictures of the alligator on the Internet. It's illegal to keep wildlife in captivity and to bring it into the state without a permit. Barry was issued summonses and is scheduled to appear March 4 in Houlton District Court.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The City Has Ghost Streets : Part 2 - Plum Street, in the Old Port

15 Plum Street, looking up toward Middle Street
(All photos can be clicked to larger views, for better reading.)

The lanes and sites of Portland past, whose references are merely their ground coordinates, comprise the city’s Ghost Streets. Though replaced, plowed under, or built-over, the souls of these Ghost Streets bear silent witness to the lives and voices which had inhabited and traversed them, and we need but only notice their traces left behind. This installment reveals glimpses of the colorful life of Plum Street, though just a block long- spanning Middle and Fore Streets, immediately west of Exchange Street- it sustained a number of influential addresses and two prominent 19th century hotels. There is absolutely nothing left of Plum Street, including the bustling hotels, and we can only begin to imagine the innumerable intrigues at such a confluence both ambitiously grand and intimately congested, in the heart of the city by the sea. In her tome written more than eighty years ago, the author Jane Steger penned these words in her memoir, Leaves from a Secret Journal:

"Often in old places it seems to me that if one rubbed the air hard enough one might make a thin spot through which all the past happenings of that place might come rushing in."

Here is a look at a few things found- and perhaps still more to be sensed- along this short, narrow, waterfront street...

2 Plum Street, corner of Fore Street (the man is crossing Plum St.)

The corner of Temple and Middle Streets, in 1924.

Where was Plum Street? Even a seasoned Portlander would be hard-pressed to find it, since the street hasn’t a single trace remaining. However, with a look at some of the city’s maps that pre-date the major "urban-renewal" projects of the 1960s and 70s, your senses may be alerted as to what had been, and your strolls along the still-resistantly asymmetrical streets will acknowledge the modern architecture which had been grafted into the vintage Victorian masonry. For those who know present-day Portland well, imagine walking out of the front door of the Nickelodeon Theater, at the bottom of Monument Square, and looking left, as far as your neck can crane. Or, imagine standing directly across Middle Street from The Pavilion (188 Middle St.), and looking just to the right side of that building. Still, again, walk through the gap just to the right of the Abacus Gallery, at 44 Exchange Street- all the way so that you will be in the Key Bank parking lot, and you will be stepping into the atmosphere that once alighted over the well-trodden sidewalks of Plum Street. Though surrounded by the postmodern Key Bank/Canal Plaza, you can confidently remind yourself (and your friends) that your steps stand between the antiquated footprints of two of Portland’s grandest Victorian hotels. The street itself was first surfaced by Phineas Jones, right through his own property on the site, in 1742, and it had been called Jones’s Lane throughout his lifetime. The city gave the settled road the name Plum Street, due to the many plum trees in Deacon Titcomb’s large garden at the "top" (near the Middle Street corner) of the street.
Plum Street and vicinity, in 1882.

By the mid-19th century, Portland distinguished itself among east coast cities as a major shipping center. Even through the Civil War years, the city’s growth and importance continued on its ascent- until the enormously devastating Great Fire of 1866. The fire occurred on July 4th, and from its source at Hobson’s Wharf (near the present-day intersection of Commercial and High Streets), a swath of thunderous destruction spread eastward across the waterfront district (today’s Old Port area) and as far up the side of Munjoy Hill as North Street. Enveloped by the fire disaster were Exchange and Middle Streets, the heart of Portland’s commercial, financial, legislative, and publishing center. The city was much more waterfront-centered than it is today. With its neighbors, Plum Street’s recovery included the types of institutions one might expect to find on an integral downtown street in a seaport. We’ll look at a few- some with living descendants, but with origins on Plum Street.

The Falmouth Hotel, Middle Street between Plum and Union.
Above photo from 1924, postcard from 1900.

On the morning of June 29th, 1868, your morning newspaper The Eastern Argus would have celebrated the opening of what became one of Portland’s major attractions: The Falmouth Hotel, which was at 212 Middle Street, between the corners of Plum and Union Streets, facing up toward Temple Street. "This noble structure that has arisen," announced the Argus, "by the enterprise of our public-spirited citizen, John B. Brown, to fill with grandeur a desideratum that has long been felt by the traveling public visiting our beautiful city." And thus, the resurgent city of Portland convincingly revived itself after the Great Fire, with bold brick and granite structures such as this. The Falmouth Hotel was one of the best examples of a rebuilding to exceed its predecessors, with its stone facade, black walnut high-ceilinged interiors, marble fireplaces, Great Rotunda, and the Billiard Room- described in the Argus as measuring "48 by 56 feet, elegantly painted and frescoed, and containing eight first-class tables from the manufactory of Amasa W. Bailey, Esq., of Boston." The hotel’s chairs were upholstered with Parisian fabric. The cost to build the magnificent hotel was a regal $300,000; a fortune for its day, considering that in 1868 a loaf of bread cost a nickel. Its builder and first owner, J.B. Brown moved on to developing portions of the Western Promenade area, and the 200-room "hotel of a million banquets," endured ownership changes, and continued in its prominence. As late as the 1950s, the Falmouth hosted major statewide political gatherings. The hotel’s register bore the signatures of five presidents: Grant, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Harding, and Taft. By the early 1960s, the hotel fell on unfortunate times, and without a champion, the city took its ownership and by 1963, the Falmouth was demolished and the land was made a parking lot. The J.B. Brown & Sons firm continues today as a local real estate developer.

The St. Julian Hotel (known in the 1920s as The Windsor- and later The St. Regis), seen from Middle Street.
Below, a view of the hotel as seen from Plum Street.

Of a similar ambition, yet occupying a narrower lot, this time at the eastern corner of Plum and Middle Streets, the elegant St. Julian Hotel was also built in 1868. The St. Julian’s doors opened out to both 39 Plum Street and 196 Middle Street. The hotel’s innovators were two women who had inherited the fire-destroyed land from their forebear Benjamin Titcomb (remember the name of the planter of Plum Trees on the street, in the 18th century?). The St. Julian’s first proprietor was George E. Ward, and if you’d gone to the huge opening party, you’d have partaken in abundant food and liquor- along with reporters from all 5 local newspapers. On the morning after, The Portland Daily Advertiser reported, "the St. Julian was thronged with visitors yesterday and a great many were surprised at the rare combination of elegance and convenience of its interior decorations." The mansard-topped, 4-storey, 52-room Victorian hotel, was later named the Windsor Hotel and after a renovation in 1931 the hotel was rechristened the St. Regis. In 1945 the St. Regis Hotel was bought by Mrs. Agrippina Casso, for a Depression-era $23,000, and the building was thoroughly remodeled with fixtures, modern plumbing, and a new elevator, in a successful effort led by John Calvin Stevens. A large space for dancing was also added, along with a cocktail lounge called The Seafarer. Being so near to the waterfront, shipping companies (such as the still-extant Chase & Leavitt Co.) regularly reserved rooms for crews awaiting arriving ships and tankers. An elder friend told me the St. Regis was the preferred reception venue for Portland’s Italian community, being conveniently near to the Franklin Street area- the old Italian quarter.

Despite the hotel’s steady business, like the Falmouth Hotel on the next corner, downtown Portland’s economic, commercial, and population shifts in the 1960s claimed the old St. Regis. The land and structures neighboring the Canal National Bank deteriorated into empty lots and neglected buildings, making the adjoining properties appetizing to the burgeoning bank. In 1970, Canal Bank bought the St. Regis, and by November 1972 the once-posh hostelry, along with the length of Plum Street, was demolished to make way for the Canal Plaza, leaving nought but the ghosts of these swinging and intricate places. The two hotels, among their neighbors, symbolized the city’s profile (especially the waterfront) in the 1960s, varying degrees of disrepair and neglect that lent appeal to large urban renewal projects.

Waterfront district in 1914.

Before we leave the spirits of Plum Street beneath the pristine pavers of Key Bank / Canal Plaza, a few more denizens of the ghost street only a block long continue bearing fruit to this day. Branching out from its tiny brick building at 24 Plum Street, the Welch Stencil Company opened in 1855, moved to 7 Exchange Street amidst the demolition of Plum Street, and exists today in Scarborough. Across the street at 35 Plum Street, adjoining the St. Regis Hotel, was the Portland Water District office. A rugged three-storey brick building, with arched windows, at 44 Plum Street, housed the Portland Institute and Public Library. The ancestor of the Portland Public Library resided on Plum Street (both before and after the Great Fire), between the two hotels, before moving to much larger quarters on Congress Street. (The Baxter Building, at 619 Congress, opened in 1889- and is presently owned by the Maine College of Art.) You would have been borrowing and returning books on Plum Street; today, fragments of the collection from the ghost aisles of 44 Plum Street stand on shelving in the Portland Room, at the present-day Library on Monument Square (where it has been since 1979). By the 1920s, as the photo attests, the old library building on Plum Street became the home of the Boys Club. The present-day Portland Boys and Girls Club is on Cumberland Avenue, across the street from Portland High School. Perhaps, on a stroll along the passageway behind the shops on the even-number side of Exchange Street- walking up from Fore to Middle Streets, you might imagine and even sense the spirits of many generations whose steps preceded yours on substrata below the concrete you can see.

Welch Stencil Company, at 24 Plum Street.

Former Portland Institute & Public Library Building, at 44 Plum Street.
The building housed the Boys Club in the 192os.

After a gaze at what was, we come to what is. Much of Portland still refers to the Key Bank complex at Middle and Union Streets as "Canal Plaza," retaining the memory of the extinct Portland bank which had cleared the space to construct the buildings and garage we see today. The Canal National Bank’s home on Middle Street actually dates back to 1843, and though it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1866, the building was restored on its site. In 1930, Canal Bank added a steel infrastructure, and thus the building we see today at 188 Middle (The Pavilion) carries two different years at the top of its facade. Canal Bank’s growth in the 1960s paralleled the dissipation of upper Middle Street, and the bank purchased neighboring buildings (like the St. Regis Hotel) and lots (like the Falmouth Hotel’s land), with the intent of constructing a modern and expanded headquarters. In 1966, Canal Bank had even purchased the row of structures along lower Exchange Street, but these were inevitably not demolished (something to think about, next time you visit The Movies on Exchange Street- or any of the adjoining shops at Fore and Exchange). By the time Canal Bank’s projected $20 million complex opened in October 1973, the plaza has undergone several design changes, though part of the goal was to connect the reviving waterfront district- that came to be known as The Old Port Exchange- with Congress Street via the city’s reconfiguration of Monument Square. This is the time period during which Spring, Temple, and Free Streets had undergone formidable demolition and re-routing, chasing structures and institutions into the ethereal realms of ghost streets and memories. Finally, Canal Bank hired the architectural firm of Freeman, French, and Freeman of Burlington, Vermont, and Pizzagalli Construction built the complex. Part of the design change was to have Canal Plaza face in the direction of the Square, as both anchor and bridge between the two sections of the city. The city planners’ view, in 1971, was that Portland’s "downtown area ended at Monument Square." The bank’s original intent was, ironically, to include a 200-room hotel as part of the complex- and- an outdoor ice-skating rink at the plaza’s hub, in the fashion of New York’s Rockefeller Center.

Middle Street, with the eastern portion of Canal Plaza at right,
sitting upon part of the St. Julian/St Regis Hotel footprint.
The orginal Canal Bank, now The Pavilion, is at center.

Two views (above) of Key Bank/Canal Plaza, built in 1973.
The pedestrian on the path, in the bottom photo is walking
along the ghost of Plum Street.

And, finally, in this salute to Plum Street, our Ghost Street for this installment, here is an image taken in front of Doughty's, at 25 Plum- surely antiquated even when the above picture was taken. Might our smartly-dressed 1920s pedestrian be heading to a ballroom dance at one of the grand hotels? Perhaps a date at one of the elegantly-decorated lounges? Or the rendez-vous is ours, as we navigate the lanes and passages that once were, and may now only be carefully sensed, as among the Ghost Streets in this city...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Notebooks Survive Vinalhaven Sunken Vessel

A Maine Adventure, from the producers of Clairefontaine notebooks- Exaclair of France (see also: )- brings us the story of a Vinalhaven fisherman whose ship's ledgers endured 60 feet of briny harbor depths... and remained legible!

"Mr. Frank Thompson ('Frankie T') is a lobster fisherman living on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine. He needs to keep records for the National Marine Fisheries Service, and he uses Clairefontaine wire bound notebooks to write down his entries. Some of the fishermen use laptop computers, but Mr. Thompson considers them unreliable, and sticks with Clairefontaine. His faith was rewarded after a recent disaster.

His boat, Independence, struck a ledge, and went down in 10 fathoms or 60 ft. of water. Nine hours later, he had it on a barge headed back to the harbor for repairs. Mr. Thompson searched the boat looking for his notebooks. It is vital he find them, because they contained all his numbers and information on his fishing gear.
He finally located the notebooks on the top of the engine. All his entries were still readable. The paper was damp, but the book held together, and he was able to turn the pages. 'They were in good condition, just a little smudged with diesel oil. It was just like when I wrote on them. Quite remarkable,' he said.

Mr. Thompson and other fishermen purchase their Clairefontaine from Carlene Michael at Vinal’s News Stand AKA “The Paper Store” in Vinalhaven. Carlene told us “fishermen love Clairefontaine paper because it holds up so well in the damp weather of Maine.”
In case you’re curious, Mr. Thompson writes with a ballpoint pen. Nothing fancy, just good and reliable. “The Paper Store” has been around since the 1870s."

(story courtesy of Exaclair, Inc.)


Indeed, these eloquently sturdy notebooks are quite familiar to intrepid Strange Maine scribblers, including Michelle and Abraham. The paper mill in France dates back to the 16th century, and is reputed for its environmental consciousness.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Disposable wipes make bigger mess

Thanks to the New England Anomaly for pointing out this doozy of a cleanup problem, as investigated by the Bangor Daily News! I know I use my own fair share of Swiffer-type wipes, but I sure as heck don't flush them down the drain. Hopefully less people will after they hear what is happening as a result -- hello, as though we need another reason for taxes to get raised! I thought Mainers were supposed to be sensible.
Wipes create their own mess
By Walter Griffin
Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

WINTERPORT, Maine — Disposable wipes may appear to be a handy household product, but they are creating a nightmare for operators of the state’s sewage treatment plants.

Thicker than toilet paper, the wipes do not disintegrate when flushed. As their use has become more prevalent, the wipes are clogging treatment plant pumps and costing communities extra money in overtime and equipment repairs.

"This has become a big problem. Instead of people throwing them in the garbage can where they belong, they’re flushing them down the toilet," Winterport Water District superintendent Steve Lane said Tuesday. "The only thing that should be flushed down the toilet is human waste."

The wipes are used for cleaning babies, dusting and soaking up spills. They are more absorbent than paper towels and their use is growing in popularity. Treatment plants have shredding equipment that can handle toilet paper, but the cloth and plastic wipes are so strong that they tend to jam those devices. What was an infrequent nuisance a few years ago is now almost a daily occurrence.

"They don’t degrade like toilet paper. You just can’t shred these wipes," Lane said.

He said the plant’s shredder needs to be replaced, adding it would cost $8,900 to rebuild the existing shredder or $5,900 to install a new one.

Whenever a shredder or pump gets clogged, operators have to take it off line and remove the material. The piles of wipes are then treated with lime and taken to the town dump, he said.

Lane said he has been in contact with plant operators throughout the state and they all have encountered similar problems. He said the Portland Water District had experienced a plague of pump failures, and Saco was considering installing a $1.5 million screening device to capture the wipes before they enter the system and jam its pumps. Where Winterport has a single pumping station, Portland has dozens, Lane said.

"They are just swamped with it. They are starting to put in a lot of overtime to keep the pumps free," he said. "It’s getting to the point where we’re all going to have to get together to do something about it. It’s a huge problem statewide."

Lane said plant operators were talking about sponsoring legislation that would require the manufacturers of the wipes to create a special fund that could be tapped by municipalities that have frequent equipment failures.

"I certainly would be in favor of something like that," he said.

Winterport has 304 users on the municipal sewer system and any added costs are charged to the ratepayers. Lane said it would cost $2,000 to repair a pump that was jammed in December. That same pump was rebuilt three years ago and should have lasted much longer. Generally a pump should last 15 to 20 years, he said.

"The more trouble we have, fixing it will essentially be coming out of the pocketbooks of the ratepayers," Lane said.

Lane said the Winterport plant has two pumps and that if both went down at the same time it either would cause wastewater to back up into homes or overflow the system and dump raw sewage into the Penobscot River.

"We have an obligation to do whatever we have to do to protect that river out there. It’s our job to protect that river," Lane said. "People have to realize that these wipes should not be flushed down the toilet."

Max the horse, new star at Graceland

Carole-Terese recently wrote to update us on the latest news for Max and the rest of his equine family, sending along this very sweet photo of herself with Max before he left for Graceland in December (see our original post here). Carole-Terese is one of the members of the Board of Protectors that was formed in order to rescue the family of six horses from slaughter last year (see their history here on their website).

Carole-Terese wrote to tell us that Priscilla Presley has signed on as a contestant on the "Dancing With the Stars" TV show. "She called me to let me know that she will be highlighting out boy Max in the personal background part of her debut: She will be filmed at the Graceland barn in a ballgown, with Max. She will tell his story.

"So Max will be on primetime. The first show is March 17th, 8 pm EST, ABC. I don't know if his story will air that night, this is all the info I have. Yet is it very exciting that Priscilla will highlight Max. She worked very closely with me on this adoption, it took 3 months of planning and coordination, for Priscilla lives in CA, I live in ME, and Graceland is halfway in between, in TN. Many phone calls, many emails. Priscilla is a wonderful friend of animals, she is passionate about them. How lucky for Max.

"Max is now a bit of a show-stopper in his own right (with all due respect to Mr. Elvis Presley). Graceland visitors can enjoy his lunge line training sessions and Max apparently receives a round of applause for his coltish efforts afterwards. Visitors are also calling Elvis Radio (Sirius Radio channel 13) to find out how the new horse Max is faring. In response, "Max Updates" are being aired on Elvis Radio. From all accounts, Max is settled in, romping about and enjoying his celebrity status. He will always be Max of Maine, one of the Six Horses Saved from slaughter to us here in New England. Yet he is now a part of cultural history, having been embraced by the worldwide legacy of Elvis Presley, Priscilla Presley and his new home - Graceland."

For more updates, check out the Six Horses update page here, or chip in by buying some Six Horses shirts on the website to help sustain the rescue group's effort.

A different kind of sexy hitchhiker

Thanks to Melissa, a Mainer down in New Mexico who finds the time to forward the odd Maine article my way from time to time! As she said, "I wonder if the lingerie matched? Also, isn't it a bit cold for that attire?" The original post come from the WMTW-Channel 8 site.
Sheriff: Dude Looks Like A Lady
POSTED: 8:11 pm EST February 7, 2008
UPDATED: 8:43 pm EST February 7, 2008

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Cumberland County Sheriff's Department is searching for a man in women's underwear, a garter belt, black high-heeled boots -- and a mustache.

Sheriff Mark Dion on Thursday said his office had received six reports of a cross-dressing motorist pulling in front of female drivers, exiting his vehicle and modeling for them on the highway.

"The behavior is not necessarily criminal in terms of dress,” Dion said. “But the fact he's jumping out in roadways and apparently targeting females who are alone driving their cars seems to suggest to us we have to talk to him."

According to the sheriff’s office, the first incident was reported in April on the Warren Road in Standish, and the most recent incident was Sunday on the River Road, also in Standish. Similar episodes have been reported in Buxton.

In Sunday's incident, the woman reported that the man passed her and abruptly cut her off before jumping out into the roadway, deputies said. The woman was able to get a good look at the man and provide a police composite.

Authorities are describing the man as a "person of interest" and say he has been seen driving a black sedan and more recently, a red pickup truck. They said he is a white male with brown hair and mustache, thin build, about 5 feet 11 inches tall and in his late 20s or early 30s.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office at 774-1444, Ext. 2112.

Amtrak catches fraudulent "officer"

End of the line for bogus trooper
Police say a man rode trains free, claiming to be a state police officer.
Associated Press
February 5, 2008

BIDDEFORD — State police have charged a man who they say got free train rides on Amtrak's Downeaster by impersonating a trooper.

Paul Rumery, 32, of Biddeford told Amtrak personnel that he was a state police sergeant and needed to ride from Saco to Boston for official business, authorities said.

The ploy worked four or five times starting in November, until Rumery was stopped last weekend by a real trooper outside the Saco train station, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Public Safety Department.

Rumery got the free rides by telling Amtrak ticketing agents that he was a state trooper riding the Downeaster to look for trouble spots along the route, McCausland said. Real troopers don't accept free rides, he added.

A search of Rumery's vehicle and his apartment turned up no police paraphernalia such as fake identification or badges, McCausland said. Rumery, a truck driver who works for Labbe Construction of Arundel, has never been a law enforcement officer.

He was free on $300 bail after being charged with impersonating a public servant and theft of service. He is scheduled to appear in Biddeford District Court on March 5.


Fortean twist to destructive Portage accident

Guest post by Loren Coleman!

This is an intriguing Fortean coincidence. The individuals who escaped injury as this tractor-trailer plowed into the motel and moved it four feet off its foundation, were three motor vehicle enforcement troopers! - Loren
Aroostook County
Truck destroys part of motel
Thursday, February 14, 2008 - Bangor Daily News
By Julia Bayly

PORTAGE, Maine — A tractor-trailer truck went out of control on Route 11 Wednesday morning and slid off the road into a motel.

According to a Maine State Police report, a 2007 International tractor-trailer truck driven by Michael Carpenter, 38, of Weston, New Brunswick, slid off Route 11 and across the parking lot into the eight-unit section of Dean’s Motor Lodge at about 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The police report said that three New Hampshire motor vehicle enforcement troopers had been occupying an upstairs room at the motel and escaped injury when they left just 15 minutes before the accident.

"Chances are [the troopers] would have been very seriously hurt if they had been in that room," Sgt. Julie Bergen of the Maine State Police said.

According to Bergen, Carpenter lost control on the snow-covered roads. The truck was not loaded at the time of the accident.

Carpenter, who suffered minor cuts and scrapes in the accident, was charged with driving to endanger. The speed limit on that portion of Route 11 in Portage is 25 mph.

Both the building and truck were declared total losses, according to Bergen. The building was valued at $100,000 while the truck’s worth was estimated at $115,000.

The building, which is a separate structure from the motel’s main lodge and dining area, was moved four feet off the foundation by the impact.

Carolyn Rowe, co-owner of Coffin’s Store directly across Route 11 from Dean’s, said the accident had "just been waiting to happen."
Rowe said she and other Portage residents for years have been lobbying the Maine Department of Transportation for a stop sign to be placed at the intersection of Route 11 and the West Cottage Road.

The area of Portage proper where both Dean’s and Coffin’s are located is in a natural bowl formation. The road leading in and out of town is steep, and Rowe said drivers do not always pay attention to the posted speed limit.

"Trucks come through town going 60, 70 or 80 miles per hour," Rowe said. "The [snowmobile] trail intersects across the road, and someday someone is going to be killed."

In addition, the West Cottage Road leads to a working lumber mill and the entrance to the Maine North Woods.

"It’s always a problem area," Rowe said. "Sooner or later, someone is going to land in our front door."

A stop sign would force all vehicles, including the large trucks, to slow and stop, Rowe said.

"So far, the state has done nothing," she said. "They refuse to put up a stop sign."
Despite the posted speed limit, car and truck traffic rarely slows to below 40 or 50 mph as it flows through town, Sinclair said.
Efforts to contact anyone at Dean’s Motor Lodge or the Portage town office were unsuccessful as the accident downed power and phone lines.
Read full article here: [Source]
Photo by Barbara Pitcairn for Bangor Daily News

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Happy Bandit of Portland Valentines


For years Portland has been haunted quite happily by the mischievous spirit of Valentine's Day in the form of a flurry of red hearts on white paper strewn with care over the city's downtown edifices. Last year they even mounted a giant one off the roof of the Portland Museum of art, seen here in my photo from that snowy morning.

This year the hearts sprang up anew, bringing a spring to downtowners' steps that would not have otherwise been there as we tried to manuever ourselves safely through the morass of slush and ice that has laid seige to us over the last few weeks.

The Portland Phoenix gave a very friendly nod to the Valentine Bandit in a great little article printed in their latest issue. You can read it online here:


Photo by Michelle Souliere, 2007. You can see more photos from 2007's banditry online here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ethereal Company in Portland

Back in January, we posted about Josh Fisher's search for a spirit's history here in Portland's Evergreen Cemetery. We are pleased to note that the article led to an interview with the Portland Phoenix, which brought Josh right into their print issue with his story. Hooray!
Finding company in Evergreen Cemetery: Ghost buster
January 23, 2008 3:01:12 PM

In October 2007, Portlander Joshua Fisher, 33, was walking through Evergreen Cemetery when he felt a “swirling energy sensation, like a bird flapping around my head.” Most of us would dismiss it as a weird hangover, or some otherwise-explained dizzy spell. But not Josh Fisher.

The following day, the amateur ghost-hunter — he’d been involved in paranormal investigations in his previous hometown of Philadelphia — went back to the cemetery to try to identify the source of the strange feeling. “I ended up at this one stone,” he recalls, “and I can’t explain why.”

That headstone marked the grave of Sarah Haskell, who was born in New Gloucester in 1822, and died in 1848 at the young age of 26.
And so began Fisher’s relationship with this spirit. He’s discovered a lot about her past through municipal records, old newspaper articles, and communication with Haskell’s distant relatives (her husband’s name was Alfred Woodard, and her descendents looked like regular 19th-century stiffs), but one fact remains elusive: how Haskell died. It could have been during childbirth, but there’s no mention of a baby. It could have been the result of one of the many diseases of the day, but that’s not noted either. Or it could be something juicier — “we may never know,” Fisher admits.

He employs several tools and techniques to help solve the mystery, including digital voice recordings that can capture faint, unidentifiable voices, and an infrared camera. (The best of these are posted on Fisher’s blog.) The untrained ear or eye may remain skeptical, but these electronic voice phenomena (EVPs) and images are just what trained ghost-hunters hope for when they start an investigation.

Fisher — a married graphic designer who otherwise comes off as totally ordinary — has been into the paranormal for years.

... “It’s the kind of thing I always thought I’d be scared of — but the fascination kind of overrides the fear.”
The Sarah Haskell case is Fisher’s first since moving back to Maine about a year ago; he hopes to continue his paranormal research in the Old Port, and wants to eventually launch a ghost-hunting team of his own. One of the most intriguing potential investigation sites? Bull Feeney’s. We knew there was something eerie about that place.
Read full article here: [Source]

EVENT: Stranger Stop & Cast an Eye

WHEN: Saturday, February 23rd, 10:00am till 11:15am
WHERE: One Longfellow Square (Congress & State Streets at the Longfellow statue), Portland, Maine
WHAT: The 2nd installment of Spirits Alive's three-part Winter Lecture Series. The public is welcomed and the lecture is free.

Dr. David Watters, Professor of English and American Studies at the University of New Hampshire, will present an illustrated lecture entitled "Stranger, Stop and Cast an Eye: A Cultural History of New England."

Dr. Watters will explain how New England's burying grounds tell the stories of four centuries of religious beliefs, family patterns, and social change. Starting with the earliest English markers from the 1660s, we can see in gravestone imagery and hear in epitaphs the hopes and fears of individuals and societies facing the facts of death and life. In tracing changes in gravestone imagery and in cemetery design from Colonial time to today, we see the larger cultural history of New England, as the cemetery reveals stories of immigration, war, social class, all leavened with the wit and wisdom associated with the New England epitaphs.

Watters received his doctorate in American Civilization from Brown University and is a specialist in the study of early American Culture. He was co-editor of The Encyclopedia of New England Culture, and among other publications is his book, Puritan Gravestone Art.

Spirits Alive is the group that has been doing a great job at restoring and revitalizing Portland's Eastern Cemetery. Please see further details of their lecture series online.

Sarah Ware's Murder, Reinvestigated

The Lewiston Sun Journal continues to establish itself as Maine's source for premier investigative journalism about the strange side of Maine and its history with a fascinating article about an 1898 murder and the continuation of it investigation today.
Weird, Wicked Weird: In search of Sarah
By Lindsay Tice , Staff Writer
Saturday, February 9, 2008

In the fall of 1898, Sarah Ware vanished from the quiet evening streets of Bucksport.

Searchers found her body two weeks later, beheaded and badly decomposed, a raincoat tucked like a pillow under her severed head.

Rumors about her death swirled as town gossips claimed the 52-year-old divorcee had been a drinker, a gambler and worse. Although a local store owner was eventually tried for her murder, neither he nor anyone else was convicted.

A century later: enter Emeric Spooner. A Bucksport librarian and amateur investigator with a penchant for the paranormal and the historical, he was piqued by the gruesome murder, by the fact that no one was ever punished for the horrific crime, by the fact that Ware was all but forgotten in the small town, known only through a bad ghost story and a faded headstone in a pauper's grave.

He's worked for two years to put a face - literally - on her murder.

"She was just a house cleaner heading home," he said. "She was an innocent."

Spooner started a Web site dedicated to Maine's greatest unsolved mysteries a few years ago. He looked into local ghost stories, paranormal events and area murders, posting the information and evidence he'd gathered for anyone to see. Two years ago, he turned to the 1898 Ware case.
Scouring old documents, court records, news articles and the coroner's inquest, Spooner painstakingly pieced together the life and death of Sarah Ware, spending up to two hours a night on the project. He found she was a mother of four, a divorcee who "caught the eye of the town gossips." She worked as a cleaning woman and lent money to townspeople, including a local store owner she worked for, William Treworgy.

On the evening of Sept. 17, Ware left a friend's house and began walking home. She stopped briefly at a town store. She was never seen alive again.

Two weeks passed before anyone officially reported her missing. Search parties found her badly decomposed body by smell, following the rancid odor to an alder swamp just off Miles Lane, not far from her home. Her skull was broken in several places and had a hammer-sized hole in the temple. She was beheaded.

A Lewiston detective was called to be lead investigator in the case, and a Bangor detective joined him. They soon found a bloody hammer (engraved with the initials W.T.T.) and a bloody tarp in Treworgy's wagon. A man told them Treworgy had paid him to move a body to the swamp.

"They had intent, they had motive and they had Treworgy," Spooner said. "He's the one they finally took to trial."

But the trial took place four years after the murder, and by that time the Bangor detective had lost both the bloody hammer and the tarp, Spooner said. And the man who claimed Treworgy paid him to move a body? He recanted, saying he was forced by a selectman and members of the citizens' committee to lie.

Treworgy was acquitted.
More than 100 years later, Spooner continues the investigation. He has his own theories.

"There's just too many things involved with Treworgy. If he didn't do it he helped move the body," he said.

Although he hasn't come up with a concrete answer yet, he recently found something almost as good - the only known photograph of Sarah Ware.

He discovered the 1892 black-and-white photo in an old library scrapbook. He compared it to the only other image of Ware he had, a tintype drawing featured in an old newspaper. For the first time, he could put a real face on the victim.
"I'm just trying to get the facts out there," he said. "She was an innocent."

For full article click here: [Source]

Photo from Emeric Spooner. The lady in white is believed by him to be Sarah Ware. You can read his explanation of the photo, see the uncropped version of it, and read about his theories here on his website.