Monday, June 30, 2008


From all of us who have had to chase thieves off of their property and/or recover stolen property from them, congratulations to this Mainer who had had enough of all that crap. Story from the Kennebec Journal.
VIENNA: Buckshot thwarts thieves
Staff Writer

Staff photo by Andy Molloy
DOUBLE OUGHT BUCK: Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Chris Cowan stands in front of a pickup in Augusta shot during an alleged scrap metal theft in Vienna.

VIENNA -- When a few tons of iron, steel and aluminum disappeared from his machine shop Saturday night, Joseph Lord knew the thieves would return for more. After all, they hadn't finished the job.

He was right. Around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, they reappeared. And Lord was prepared.

After going 56 hours without sleep, Lord walked back to his Kimball Pond Road shop -- the third time Tuesday morning he had checked the premises -- and saw a blue Ford pickup parked near the building with 450 pounds of scrap metal in the truck's bed.

"They evidently see me, and they took off," Lord said.

His shotgun loaded with buckshot, Lord shot out the truck's tires and windshield, preventing the thieves' escape.

"I shot out both front tires. I put three rounds through the radiator," he said. "I put two through the windshield. I put the rear window out and put seven pellets through the seat. If they'd been there, they'd been dead. I know how to shoot, I shoot pretty accurate and I have buckshot."
In a statement, Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty said deputies examined the truck's registration and contacted the owner, trying to determine the thieves' identities.

"We have two good suspects," Liberty said late Tuesday afternoon. He said he expected an arrest to be imminent.

From the time his metal first disappeared on Saturday, Lord said he was bracing for the thieves' return. "I knew they'd be back," he said Tuesday afternoon. "If they had taken it all, they wouldn't be back."
"It's bothered me so bad, I couldn't sleep because I knew they were coming back," he said.

Lord said he expects scrap metal thieves will now think twice before striking Vienna again.

"I think I did the town a favor," he said.

For full article, please click here: [Source]
Sometimes you just have to look out for yourself.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Neither rain nor brains... ZKIII update!

Dear zombie lovers-- today is the day of the 3rd Annual Great Zombie Kickball Game! It is rainy. The ground is soggy (not unlike our undead limbs). BOY IS THIS GOING TO BE FUN!!!

Make way for muddy zombies!!!

See you there. 2:00pm, Eastern Prom. There is no alternate day for the game. Please dress accordingly!

Got mud?

It'll just make the brains -- oops, I mean -- It'll just make the game tastier.

Photo by Michelle Souliere (c)2007.

Fort Knox Paranormal and Psychic Faire Events!

From the ever-wonderful Village Soup news, comes a complete list of events at the upcoming Paranormal and Psychic Faire at the Fort:
Ghost hunters, psychics gather for Faire at Fort

PROSPECT (June 29): The annual Psychic/Paranormal Faire, featuring presentations from ghost hunters, dowsers, a UFO enthusiast, a crypto zoologist and psychics ,returns to Fort Knox, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 5 and Sunday, July 6.

Attendees may purchase psychic readings and vendors will sell related items.

Loren Coleman, author and TV personality, will speak July 5 on his work in the field of crypto zoology — the study of unknown and undocumented animals.

Two paranormal groups will team up for presentations and ghost hunting around the fort. The groups — Central Maine Researchers and Investigators and Mass Paranormal — will exhibit tools they use in ghost-hunting and talk about their investigative experiences.

Former President of the American Dowsing Society, Gordon Barton, will share his decades of experience in the field of dowsing.

Local psychic Darlene Flood, will talk about her experiences and discuss how people might tap into their own psychic abilities.

Cindy Proulx will lead discussion on the possible existence of unidentified flying objects.

This event, sponsored by the Friends of Fort Knox, is one of several special events this summer at the State Historic Site.

The following week, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, the annual Scottish Tattoo, featuring four marching bagpipe bands, will take center stage. Tattoo tickets are $10 per person/$25 per family of four, and may be purchased in advance at the Friends’ gift shop or by calling 469-6553.

Admission for the psychic faire is the standard fort admission plus a requested $2 event donation to fund fort restoration projects. For further information, visit Fort Knox is owned and operated by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

The weekend schedule follows:

Saturday, July 5

10 a.m. — 4 p.m. Psychics, vendors in Fort Officer’s Quarters; lecturers available in Visitor Center

Lectures in Visitor Center amphitheater

10 a.m. — Paranormal Investigation Process, Equipment and Techniques — Central Maine Researchers and Investigators and Mass Paranormal

11 a.m. — How to Become a Dowser, Gordon Barton

12 p.m. — UFOs? What Do You Think? Facilitated by Cindy Proulx

1 p.m. — Crypto zoology, the Study of Unknown and Undiscovered Animals, Loren Coleman, Portland

2 p.m. — Paranormal Investigation Process, Equipment and Techniques, Central Maine Researchers and Investigators and Mass Paranormal

3 p.m. — My Life as a Psychic and Empathic, Darlene Flood

Sunday, July 6

10 a.m. — 4 p.m. Psychics, vendors in Fort Officer’s Quarters; lecturers available in Visitor Center

Lectures in amphitheater at Visitor Center

10 a.m. — Paranormal Investigation Process, Equipment and Techniques — Central Maine Researchers and Investigators and Mass Paranormal

11 a.m. — How to Become a Dowser, Gordon Barton

12 p.m. — UFOs? What Do You Think? Facilitated by Cindy Proulx

1 p.m. — Paranormal Investigation Process, Equipment and Techniques, Central Maine Researchers and Investigators and Mass Paranormal

2 p.m. — UFOs? What Do You Think? Facilitated by Cindy Proulx

3 p.m. — My Life as a Psychic and Empathic, Darlene Flood


Monday, June 23, 2008

The City Has Ghost Streets : Part 3 - Munjoy Hill

Beneath our very steps are layers of time’s many surfaces, substrata that lure our own imaginative powers to envision glimpses of the sounds, scents, and sights preceding those now before us. The more we discover, the more captivating become the spirits with whom we have the places of our movement in common. In the city of Portland, old and new abide, at times abruptly, side by side. Maine’s largest city, whose history may be measured by successions of resurgences, juxtaposes the weatherbeaten and the freshly built. The imposition of angular construction has often had to reconcile with the peninsula’s unsystematically shaped streets.

64 Washington Avenue, then (1924) and now (today's "Squeaky Clean Laundromat")

Subsumed under today’s maintained pavement are ghosts of vibrant streets for whom there is nary a detectable trace- if any at all. Indeed the city has ghost streets, and this third chapter of our series visits the East End of town. As addresses and their inhabitants are intertwined, so it is that as we recollect the locations of Linden Street, Murray Lane, and Larch Street, we must also bring to our story the large building which once housed our state’s most prominent bakery. The massive J.J. Nissen bakery, whose re-appropriated building continues to stand, on Washington Avenue, directly affected its contiguous neighborhood- not to mention the lives of the changed and renamed Larch Street (now Romasco Lane), and the completely extinct streets Linden and Murray- whose names were also changed briefly before becoming ghost streets.

the streets in 1882

the streets in 1914

Our action takes place on Munjoy Hill, Portland’s eastern corner flanked by Casco Bay, Back Cove, the Old Port, and downtown districts. Like the West End, on the opposite side of the city’s peninsula, Munjoy Hill is densely populated and blends a few commercial thoroughfares into its maze of residential streets. Immortalizing the name of 17th century settler George Munjoy’s family, the neighborhood has comparatively not experienced quite as much upheaval as its counterpart districts. The wrecking ball of federally-funded contemporary urban renewal had leveled the edge of Munjoy Hill at Franklin Street. Even the Great Fire, in 1866, decimated the downtown and spread east from Hobson’s Wharf, yet was halted before the flames could ascend the Hill- again, sparing the center. Historically known as something of a village unto itself, Munjoy Hill comprised institutions and businesses to support its own population of varied ethnicities. In its own fascinating way, this continuum is noticeable along Washington Avenue, whose commerce extends from Congress Street (at the edge of Portland’s oldest burial ground, Eastern Cemetery), to Tukey’s Bridge- making the traversal of Back Cove into East Deering. Glancing from the corner of Oxford Street and Washington Avenue, across from the Salvadorean restaurant (near African, Asian, and Vietnamese markets and stores), amidst the flurry of activity and traffic, is the formidably sprawling three-storey brick building which had been the Nissen Baking Company.

The Nissen Bakery, ca.1947 (above), with the corner of Linden Street at left, and today's building (below).

In order to gather the fragments we can find so as to materialize these ghost streets, some acknowledgement of the Nissen bakery is necessary. The company’s universe of round-the-clock shift workers and its presence in the neighborhood has itself vaporized into the ghost realm of what was. And it wasn’t that long ago… As recently as the late-1990s, and for 87 years, much of Portland’s eastern end awoke to a fragrance of freshly baked bread- wafting in from outside the window. Aromas can conjure up lucid memories and this writer very well recalls, as a teen in the early 80s, those countless early mornings steeped in a blend of ocean mist and new bread. It was unusual for a manufacture of such dimension to be surrounded by packed residences- and not in an industrial isolation. But the bakery incrementally grew to the 2.9 acre legacy we see today- now functioning as something of a multiple-business building with a large parking lot. We’ll visit the ghost streets of Linden and Murray (and a portion of Larch), as we salute the spirits of the expanse that grew to encompass number 45 northward though number 85 Washington Avenue, and scaling steeply uphill from the avenue to Larch street

Linden & Larch Streets, behind the Nissen Bakery.

Long before the Nissen Baking Company fully rose and settled into the shell we see today, Mr. John J. (originally Jürgen Jepsen) Nissen immigrated from Denmark to Portland where he founded his bakery in 1900 on Woodford’s Corner. He had also been managing the dining room at the Columbia Hotel, on Congress Street (today’s USM “Portland Hall”). Coincidentally- and critical to this ghost streets’ story, the year 1900 signified the first full year of the merged municipalities of Portland and the former independent town of Deering (where Woodford’s Corner is located). Mr. Nissen later purchased the Russell & Webber Bakery, and moved all the operations to 59 Washington Avenue in 1912. The wooden building, which we see in the 1914 city atlas, faced the top of Oxford Street. The subsequent addition of an oblong, perpendicular building, recessed from the avenue at number 63, attested to Nissen’s successful location in the heart of Munjoy Hill- with neighbors, pedestrians, and trolley cars just outside the front door. Nissen was far from being the only major bakery in town- many Portlanders can recall the names of Cushman’s and Calderwood’s- but it survived these counterparts, growing and delivering across and far outside the Portland area.

Indeed, a society such as a business establishment- and each of us may recall those we have personally known- can develop into a living, breathing, and integrated organism. For over a half-century, people came to work in shifts; many friendships- and even marriages- were inspired at the bakery. Generations of retired employees gathered at a Nissen social hall, which was across Washington Avenue from the bakery. A vestige from the era of family ownership, the elder Nissen knew many of the workers, was known to take doughnuts from the moving conveyors, and carried trays of bread to the prison (which, at that time, had been at the bottom of Monroe Street- where the Kennedy Park housing stands today). The work was surely heavy and repetitive. I’d had a neighbor on the Hill who had been a Nissen worker for decades- an “ovenman,” and he said his hands were in pain when he’d try to grip a pencil to write. At the company’s peak, employment reached 250 workers. By 1980, an average of 35 tractor-trailer trucks set forth from the 12 loading-dock bays on Washington Avenue, delivering nearly 200 varieties of baked goods. Nissen had grown to be the largest Maine wholesale baker, striking the balance between a local touch with large-production, outpacing counterparts in Lewiston (Lepage) and Waterville (Harris). Beyond the large markets and small grocery stores, there were Nissen outlets- notably the one at 43 Washington Avenue (today it’s a Coffee by Design café). A Maine Times study produced as early as 1979, attested to the uphill struggles of businesses such as these Maine bakeries, against the mass-distribution, increasingly automated national baking corporations.

J.J. Nissen's original bakery, pictured in 1924 (above) at 59 Washington Avenue, with the first extension (below), at 63 Washington Avenue.

Inevitably, the baking company on Munjoy Hill was overtaken 1999, even with a sales staff 120 strong, and a claim to a cultivated knowledge of Maine consumers’ particular tastes. Nissen refined plain old-fashioned doughnuts tinged with nutmeg, hot dog buns with the end crusts trimmed off, and found that, “Maine people over 20 prefer coarser, less uniform, and tastier” breads (an interesting thought, considering the recent popularity of “artisanal” breads). Through months of digging up information and images about the ghost streets folded into Nissen’s rise, the physical growth of the business, after 1912, is evidenced in the pictures (above) taken in 1924 which also show the additional structure at number 63. By 1947, city records attest to the property having reached Linden Street- which later became a ghost street. By 1955, the property was shown to have expanded to the south-to-north extremities of 45 to 69 (see map). By 1960, the Nissen property reached the corner of Washington Avenue and Murray Lane, and by purchasing the lots at number 83 (in 1965) and number 85 (in 1972), leveling the homes, the bakery’s parking lot was established which we see today. At the back of the lot, right up along today’s Romasco Lane (then known as Larch Street), where the terrain grades sharply uphill, Nissen built additional storage buildings. Portland philanthropist Betty Noyce hoped to help Nissen continue, by purchasing the baking company from the family in 1995. The end came soon, however, as the company was sold to the national firm Interstate Bakeries, Inc., in 1997. Interstate closed the bakery in May 1999, basing its southern Maine baking operations in Biddeford. The final edible creations to roll out of the Nissen bakery on Munjoy Hill were plain old-fashioned doughnuts, just before the Memorial Day weekend, 1999. Later that year the large, complicated buildings, and all 2.9 acres of property were bought for $300,000 by A&M Partners and is now home to studios, offices, and street-level stores.

Above: looking north along Washington Avenue, with the former Nissen building.
Below: Monroe & Washington Avenue- the left portion of the building stands upon where Linden Street was. At the left edge of the picture was where Murray Lane had been.

Following nearly a century of establishment in these spaces, we are brought to imagine lingering spirits as we transition from the bustling bakery, to the hollowed factory, to the re-inhabited structures, and to the ghost streets beneath the northern addition of the building and its asphalt parking lot. As we call forth Linden, Murray, and Larch, we have the context of commerce at the core of these streets. With the years, there traversed numerous intricate lives, situations, and the materials of the trade. Conveyor belts moving rivers of rolls. Production and packing. Massive quantities of ingredients, including shortening, bread oil, molasses, liquid sugar, and flour. Delivered 4 times daily, flour was pumped through hoses into indoor silos, 50,000 pounds at a time. A stroll or drive today along Washington Avenue reminds us of the continuity of so varied a thoroughfare of merchants. What future ghosts might we be witnessing now? When we speak of spirit, dictionaries remind the inquirer of the “animating or vital principle within human beings and animals,” the root being spirare- “to breathe.” In addition to the Latin anima is the Greek word pneuma, as into the fog of history drifts that pervasive perfume of baking bread

The Nissen bakery’s expansion surely impacted its immediate neighbors, and played a role in hastening Linden Street, Murray Lane, and a portion of Larch Street (now Romasco Lane) into the great and unseen phantom atlas of ghost streets. Linden Street and Murray Lane were two parallel streets, one block apart, immediately north of J.J. Nissen, and ascended a typically steep Munjoy Hill grade- up from Washington Avenue and pointed toward Larch Street. Matching its nearby residential streets, Linden and Murray were tightly packed with wooden apartment houses. The 1920s photos of Murray Lane show clotheslines and alleys between the homes, whose forms have much more in common with the architecture of the bottom of the Hill (and Bayside) than with the affluent Eastern Promenade area. A very narrow lane connected the two streets; in some records the alley was called Linden Lane.

The corners of Linden Street and Washington Avenue. 69 Washington (above), and 71 Washington (below).

Ascending Linden Street, from Washington Avenue.

Linden Street’s corner landmark structures were number 69 and number 71 Washington Avenue, and the one-block long street spanned Washington and Larch. Collections of maps, commonly known as “footprint atlases,” such as Portland’s 1882, 1914, and 1956 varieties help us seek out these ghost streets, and they correspond with their contemporary Portland City Directories. House and lot numbers can be matched with names of inhabitants- albeit imperfect snapshots as they are. Recalling the beginning of our story, how Portland’s growth had made a quantum leap with the merging-in of the separate town of Deering, the important matter of redundant street names had to be settled. Like Portland, As examples, Deering had streets with names like Grant, Mechanic, and Pearl, and in each instance those 1900-era name changes took effect in the newcomer community- not on the older Portland peninsula. Linden Street was an unusual exception. Perhaps by being tucked away in the parallel universe of short streets on Munjoy Hill, two Linden Streets coexisted on opposites sides of the city- one in the Oakdale area (Ward 8) and the other on the Hill (Ward 1). Oddly enough, both Linden Streets continued to be reported in directories and on maps. The first notable exception likely paralleled a citywide re-assessment when, in the 1955 city directory (a good half-century-plus after the merger) the elder Linden Street appears listed as Unaccepted,” its street addresses removed (with the world of ghost streets around the corner).
Alas, the redundancy was finally solved in 1956, Linden being renamed Appleton Street. By that time, Nissen Baking Company owned land on both sides of that street. In the photo showing the bakery by 1947, the center of the major structure straddled the original Nissen bakery at number 59 Washington, with the corner of Linden and Washington. Between 1956 and 1960, the bakery was extended over the former Linden/Appleton Street, to the extent that we see today. A fine vertical line in the brickwork of the present building actually shows precisely where the corner of the Linden & Washington structure had been in the late ‘40s. Eventually, with all remains of the homes on its two sides, Linden Street (known as Appleton for a brief period) completely disappeared by 1965.

The corners of Murray Lane and Washington Avenue. 83 Washington (above), and 79 Washington (below).

Murray Lane (sometimes also known as Murray’s Lane, or Murray Court) ascended up from between the corners of number 81 and number 83 Washington Avenue. As we see in the photos from the mid-1920s, signature Portland styles such as Greek Revival and 19th century clapboard tenements, such as one might see today in Bayside and the West End, were blended together on hardscrabble Murray Lane. The Lane dead-ended, just shy of Larch Street, coming up to the official address of “Murray End.” Evidently, the thoroughness of the 1955 survey of the city revealed two streets named Murray, the other in Deering (close to Payson Park). Munjoy Hill’s Murray Lane was renamed Amity Lane, and that appears in the 1956 insurance atlas. Once again, Nissen’s expansion-by-purchase was not far behind the dissolution of the side street, the prolific baking company reaching across number 81 Washington Avenue (the south corner of Murray and Washington) by 1960, and across Murray Lane (the north corner of Murray and Washington) by 1972. Amity Lane (the ancient Murray Lane), according to Portland City Assessors’ records, disappeared in 1972, wending into the world of ghost streets with its once-burgeoning collection of homes.

Two more 1920s views from Murray Lane.

Map at top: the renamed Murray Lane (Amity Lane), in 1955.
Bottom map: the renamed, and almost completely absorbed Linden Street (Appleton Street) in 1955. The Nissen property is also detailed on these maps.

Finally, in this homage to the ghost streets near what, in its day, had been Maine’s largest wholesale bakery, we visit Romasco Lane- the former Larch Street. Hunters of ghost streets have in common with seekers of genealogies the phenomenon of name-changes. City streets and people, being living organisms, are as dynamic as they are alive- and even occasions for renaming become parts of these unique histories. And context. Compare the atlases’ markings of building footprints- how they seem one-behind-another, photos showing ascending rows of houses, and the very nature of cities that scale steep hills. Looking westward, straight across Romasco Lane, the view traverses the roofs of the buildings on Washington Avenue (including the top of the large former Nissen structure). This tiered ascent continues up from Romasco to parallel Sheridan Street, and then once more to parallel North Street. Indeed, it is from the promontory at Fort Sumner Park, on North Street, that our “Davy Crockett on Munjoy Hill,” gazes west toward Back Cove. The photo, featured last year on Strange Maine, reveals a 1955 glimpse of the northern edge of the Nissen bakery, along with the tops of Linden and Larch Streets (left edge of the picture).

Surveying the wild west, from Fort Sumner Park, North Street, 1955.

Larch Street became Romasco Lane in 2000. The street often had the reference of being the “road behind the Nissen bakery.” Yet as the pictures attest, Larch/Romasco has a long history as a residential street, terraced on a steep ascent of Munjoy Hill- the street’s surface often lining up with the roofs on Washington Avenue- as it spans Cumberland Avenue and Marion Street. Antonio J. “Tony” Romasco, born in 1932, had lived on Larch Street for 37 years. Tony earned the nickname “Portland’s Ultimate Handyman,” having been 40 years in the construction business, doing a great amount of work on neighborhood houses. In recognition of Tony’s work in the community, the Portland City Council renamed Larch Street, in his honor, to Romasco Lane. Tony Romasco passed away in February 2003, and his family name remains with the stories of these streets. Though the northern half of Romasco Lane is missing most of the old Larch Street buildings, the top of Murray Lane can be ascertained from between the 3rd and 4th houses away from the corner of Marion and Romasco, looking down the Hill.

Larch Street (today's Romasco Lane), in the 1920s)

Romasco Lane today. An example, below, of the view across the Washington Avenue rooftops, from Romasco Lane.

The many denizens along these streets and lanes, living through centuries of seasons, living and working in such closely proximate and time-worn buildings, surely knew the tastes, sounds, and aromas of the eras before their familiar places disappeared into the realm of ghost streets we can no longer see. For those of us, the living, whose very steps trace those of old, we can partake in that mystery of the passage of time. As we tread upon today’s surfaces, we know not the depth of that which rests beneath, acutely aware that the city has ghost streets.

“From Number Nine, Penwiper Mews,
There is really abominable news:
They've discovered a head
In the box for the bread,
But nobody seems to know whose.”

- Edward Gorey, from Amphigorey

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Eastern Cemetery walking tours

Join Spirits Alive at the historic Eastern Cemetery for upcoming public Walking Tours.

Sun, June 22nd 4p—Through the “eyes” of the Eastern
Stroll through 350 years of the Eastern Cemetery’s intertwined past with the Portland peninsula

Sun, June 29th 1p -- Earliest Portland: The Eastern’s Unmarked Past
In 1632, settlers began arriving at the place we now call Portland. No buildings remain from that time. The open land of Eastern Cemetery is an appropriate site to learn about some of the events of the 17th and early 18th centuries that occurred within sight of the cemetery and shaped Portland’s indomitable spirit.

All tours begin at the Congress Street gates of the Eastern Cemetery . The Eastern is located on Congress, Mountfort and Federal Streets at the foot of Munjoy Hill.
Tours take approximately one-hour. The ground is uneven at this National Trust for Historic Places site so please wear appropriate footwear.
Tickets are $7.00 for adults and $4.00 for seniors (62+, children under 10 and students)
Cash or check.
All funds benefit the Eastern Cemetery.

Spirits Alive is a non-profit organization that supports public access to, events and education, and a master conservation plan for Portland’s Historic Eastern Cemetery.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

from Waterville : Captain Cult !

As the 2000s revisits the 1980s, we are reminded of the '80s affinity for the 1960s.

We've exumed yet another 80s Maine-made comic book, in which a museum custodian named Tobey Draper finds an old flight jacket and goes back in time... only to be greeted as
Captain Cult. Oh, what those retro bomber jackets can do...

Fatal Wrong-Way Driving Trend Count: 3

Kennebec Journal's Meghan Malloy, a.k.a. "The Kennebec Commuter" blogger, posted an interesting summation of this year's unusual series of fatal accidents caused by people driving the wrong way on the highway. It took me a little while to find the actual address of the blog, as the posts are primarily listed as articles on independent pages (and even an article ABOUT the blog didn't seem to list its address), so please let me share with you where the blog itself is located:

The blog is dedicated to "traffic, constructions, weather and other issues that affect and surround your daily commute." You know, all those annoyances that preoccupied commuters before the torturous gas prices began obsessing us. Especially useful in this post are the seemingly simply but undoubtedly effective tips given by Lt. Arthur Murdock towards the end of the article.
KENNEBEC COMMUTER: Driving the wrong way is a deadly trend

Something has been troubling the Kennebec Commuter lately, and it’s not I-295 drama or gas price drama; rather it is what appears to be a disturbing trend.

People driving the wrong way on Interstate 95 and injuring — even killing — other people and themselves. There have been three reported accidents already this year that have killed three people, including a 15-year-old boy.

The first accident was in late spring, when Donna Bartlett, 38, allegedly drove south for five miles in the northbound lanes of the turnpike near Ogunquit before crashing head-on with a limousine, killing the driver, James McLaughlin, 65, and Cooper Campbell, 15.

A month later, Jeffrey Blais, a 53 year-old Augusta man, died just north of Augusta when he struck another vehicle driven by a Portland woman. Blais drove for almost seven miles — headed north in the southbound lane — before he collided with the other car. Trooper Jeffrey Beach has said Blais suffered from mental illness and the accident was “a very unfortunate series of events,” rather than an intentional act.

Most recently, and most ominously, state police are probing a Thursday evening accident which left a 29-year-old Waterville man seriously injured. Richard Crowley, the driver, was driving north, state police reported, then drove into a crossover to head south, but rather than drive south, Crowley continued to travel north. State police said he struck a guardrail, which shot through Crowley’s car engine and into the car itself.

Accidental or intentional, the Kennebec Commuter finds these incidents very tragic. In agreement is Maine Turnpike spokesman Dan Paradee, who called the three fatalities “a very strange phenomenon.”

“It’s one that we hope will stop,” Paradee said of the flurry of awful accidents.
After all, how common is it to get on the opposite lane on an interstate? More than one might think, Lt. Arthur Murdock of the Maine State Police said.

“Common? No, but it does happen,” Murdock said. “We do stop motorists going the wrong way. Sometimes (the drivers) are elderly and become confused, or (the drivers are) drunk.”

The three fatalities in the close time span — a span of less than two months — have also mystified Murdock. “Yes, we get those calls, but having it result in a fatality is not common,” he said.

Despite its abnormality, Murdock said drivers on any interstate should constantly be aware. “If someone is in the opposite lane, and they’re coming toward you, really the only thing you can do is take an evasive action,” Murdock said. “Pull off the extreme right side of the interstate.”

Added Trooper Sean Kinney, “Don’t hang out in the left lanes too much, especially at night. Even if someone is driving the wrong way, they’ll most likely be coming at you in the left lane.”

Click here for full article: [Source]

Sunday, June 15, 2008

1808 UFO report in Camden

Found online at Frank Warren's blog, Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est, this article about an 1808 UFO sighting was originally published in the Courier Freeman newspaper on March 28, 1978. I've transcribed it for the blog:
Diary Describes UFO Seen In 1808
by Hal Stokes

Back in 1808 in Camden, Maine, there certainly were no weather balloons or Air Force jets to be confused with flying saucers. George Washington's soldiers had barely gotten back home to their farms. But something odd happened one summer night that year which was recorded in the diary of a Potsdam man's great-grandmother.

Today the passage is interpreted by his wife, an historian who is studying the diary, as a first-hand account of a UFO sighting in the early 19th century.

"I thought she was describing a UFO when I first read it," said Dr. Judith Becker Ranlett, an historian who teaches at the State University College at Potsdam. "If she had seen something normal, she would have attempted to explain it as a natural phenomenon," according to Dr. Ranlett, who is using the diary as the basis for scholarly research on women's history.

The diary was written by Cynthia Everett, a Massachusetts-born school teacher who taught in Maine during the early 1800s. Born in Rutland, Mass., in 1785, she moved to Maine in 1804 with her family and kept the diary between 1804 and 1815, the year she married. The diary remained in the family.

The past year, Dr. Ranlett undertook the task of transcribing the manuscript into 600 typewritten pages. It was then that she first read the passage that she believes describes a UFO sighting. The account is written in a firm hand on yellowing rag paper that is in remarkably good condition. The entry begins as a new paragraph to her recollections of the events of July 22, 1808; it is quite unrelated to the passage that proceeds it.

"About 10 o'clock I saw a very strange appearance. It was a light which proceeded from the East. At the first sight, I thought it was a Metier, but from its motion I soon perceived it was not. I[t] seem to dart at first as quickly as light; and appeared to be in the Atmosphere, but lowered toward the ground and kept on at an equal distance sometimes ascending and sometimes descending. It moved round in the then visable Horison, (it was not very light) and then returned back again, nor did we view it till it was extinguished."

That is the only passage in the entire diary that mentions the sighting, according to Dr. Ranlett. She finds it significant that Cynthia Everett did not explain what she witnessed as a natural phenomenon, since she was well-educated and had first-hand knowledge about the night sky. "She was the kind of person who would have explained it as a natural phenomenon, if she could have," said Dr. Ranlett, "In fact she did, her first thought was that it was a meteor."

Cynthia Everett was a woman who was well aware of the occurrences of nature according to Dr. Ranlett. In her diary she recorded earthquakes and the appearance of a comet. Her son became the captain of a clipper ship and navigated by the stars on a ship out of Thomaston, Maine. Dr. Ranlett is quick to point out that she herself is personally not a fan of the extraterrestrial. "I have no feelings one way or the other on UFOs," she said.

The sighting must have been at night, Dr. Ranlett reasoned, because Cynthia would have been teaching school at 10 a.m. and besides she always made her entries in the diary just before she went to bed. Dr. Ranlett said she determined that the sighting was in Camden through the various people that are referred to on that day. Cynthia was 24 years old when she wrote about seeing the strange light. She was single but was living, as teachers did, with a family in the area of the school. She changed her lodgings about once a week, according to Dr. Ranlett.

The schoolteacher had a good education for the period, Dr. Ranlett said. She had attended Leicester Academy at Leicester, Mass., one of the few truly coeducational schools where women went to class with men. The diary was written until Cynthia was in her 30th year. Entries cease three days after her marriage to John Ranlett, a widower with six children. He later died, but she remarried and the diary went to her soon, who kept it in the family. Her grandson, who became a lawyer, did some work transcribing it about 1880. The manuscript was bound in a handmade cover made of cloth backed with newspaper.

The diary belongs to Dr. Ranlett's father-in-law, who loaned it to her. She said that she is not nearly as interested in the passage about the strange light as she is about the revelations of the woman earning her own living in the early 19th century.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

TONIGHT! Weird film premiere in Portland

Just a note to anyone interested -- at Strange Maine the store, there is a great little horror film premiering TONIGHT!!!

WHAT: "The Grateful Undead" ... hippie demons tie-dyed in BLOOD!!!
WHEN: 9:00pm, Saturday, June 14th
WHERE: Strange Maine store, 578 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
WHO: Providence RI filmmakers wreak havoc with hippie undead, plus local weird music medley
MORE INFO: call (207)771-9997 or see The Grateful Undead on MySpace -- photos, trailer, more!

As part of the entertainment, various lovelies such as Dan Knudsen and Glade Swope will be busy intriguing your musical sensibilities at various interludes.

To quote the Grateful Undead site:
Set in the grunge-soaked heyday of the early 90's, "The Grateful Undead" is a shocking surrealistic spectacle about what happens when social waste turns toxic! Eno the Zero and Dr. Zog are two wastoids cut adrift in the Summer of '69. Disenchantment reigns supreme as they trudge through the junk food wasteland of mini-marts and parking lots. Their dense, hallucinatory haze draws the attention of flower-child wannabes who yearn for love and freedom in an age of apathy and rage. Take a stomach-turning psychedelic journey to a world of baby boomer nostalgia, tie-dyed in blood!

Filmed in Providence, Rhode Island over the course of seventeen exhausting days of communal living and miraculously completed on a budget of $854.82, "The Grateful Undead" is a bizarre piece of outsider cinema that captures terrifying real emotion and ecstatic reality in an unforgettable psychedelic slacksploitation experience.

Features a diverse original soundtrack by Providence locals Nefarious (epic black metal), The New Federal Hillbillies (improvisational psych-rock), Erica Tronstad (singer-songwriter) and New York City's ON/OFF (avant-jazz).

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Made in Maine : 1980s Horror Comics !

Our excavations have turned up some space alien comic books from Waterville, Maine, published by Hammac Publications. These were commercially published and sold, and full-length stories. Some more titles and covers to follow.
But first, we bring you "Cosmic Steller Rebelers !!"

Here's Issue #1, published in 1988. The aliens escape the "evil long arms of Narco," and land in... Maile.

Issue #2, also from 1988, has our aliens cruising tree-lined roads in a panel van bearing the name, "Cote's Cleaning Co."

And Issue #3, with the vibrant color cover, (correctly spelling "Stellar," though leaving "Rebelers" alone) published in 1989, bring the war with Narco (Ruler of the Universe) to earth! But, alas, was there an Issue #4 ??