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. http://www.lynnecullen.com/

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 information@victoriamansion.org

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. www.victoriamansion.org 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]yahoo.com, 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 www.gaspmagazine.net, where his horror stories have been published. He can be contacted at colopoao[at]yahoo.com 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 http://www.thetopsider.net/cad/. 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.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Bedfellow Invasion in Belfast

    Isn't this sort of stuff supposed to happen in the winter, when it's cold outside and people are seeking warmth?! Weird...
    2 arrested in similar Belfast incidents
    Both men reportedly entered apartments, attempted to sleep with women
    By Walter Griffin, BDN Staff

    BELFAST, Maine — Two men were arrested early Saturday after reportedly entering separate apartments and attempting to sleep with the women living there.

    Steven Hodgdon, 42, of Troy, a maintenance man at the Ocean’s East Apartments off Ryan Road, allegedly used his master key to enter the apartment of a female resident and then climb into her bed. The woman reported the intruder to police at 2:20 a.m. and he was arrested moments later on a charge of aggravated criminal mischief. Hodgdon was intoxicated, according to the police report.

    While Sgt. John Gibbs and Officer Brian Lunt were in the process of arresting Hodgdon, they received another call at 2:45 a.m. about a man who entered a woman’s apartment at Bay Head Apartments on Patterson Hill and climbed in her bed. The woman ran to an apartment next door and called the police. When Gibbs arrived he found Dean Sleeper, 32, of Southwick, Mass., in the woman’s apartment. He was charged with criminal mischief and refusing to submit to arrest.

    Both men were taken to the Waldo County Jail. Sleeper was released on $500 cash bail at 11:45 p.m. Saturday. Hodgdon remains in jail.

    “It’s kind of strange to have two of those kind of calls in one night,” Police Chief Jeffrey Trafton said Monday.


    The THRILL of a lifetime!

    Along with the rash of zombie events worldwide, the Thrill the World group has been trying to coordinate a record-breaking assembly of zombie hordes dancing simultaneously to Michael Jackson's classic monster mash song, Thriller. The event doubles as a fundraiser for each involved community's choice of charity cause. This year, Gray-New Gloucester's middle school students are joining the throng, and you can too!
    Thrill the world is almost here
    Calling all Zombies! You're invited to dress up like a Zombie and "Thrill the World."
    By Zoe Adams
    Maine Hometown News, Community

    Sep 16, 2008 – Gray-New Gloucester Middle School is trying to help break the world record for the most people dancing at one time. What this means is there might be 100 people dancing to the song Thriller at the Middle School and also people all over the world at the same time and date.

    On October 4, 2008 there will be a big "learn the dance" so if you know any one who wants to do the Thriller dance bring them to the Middle School gym from 9 a.m. to noon. They don't have to be in middle school, they can be in high school. Just no one under 10 years old. We need as many people as the drama club can get.

    The day the Thriller dance will actually will be on is October 25, 2008, in the middle school gym. The dance will start at 2:00 p.m. the doors will open at 1:30.

    From: www.thrilltheworld.com: Thrill The World is a worldwide attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the Largest Simultaneous Dance with Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Thousands of people in cities around the world will learn the "Thriller", dance and perform it together on the day that Thrill the World takes place.


    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Sturgeon Collision Shocks Cops

    Sturgeon have long been a part of Maine. The town of Gardiner celebrates Sturgeon Day on September 27th [Source], and the fish is the town's mascot. Eva8 writes on her Flickr site (where you can see a great photo of a golden sturgeon weathervane), "the city of Gardiner has adopted the sturgeon as it's symbol, because a long time ago, people used to catch huge sturgeon in the Kennebec River, and because of the removal of a dam, and a long process of unpolluting the river, we are hoping the sturgeon will come back."

    According to Wikipedia, the sturgeon belongs to "one of the oldest families of bony fish in existence" and "are distinctive for their elongated bodies, lack of scales, and occasional great size: Sturgeons ranging from 7–12 feet (2-3½ m) in length are common, and some species grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m)." They are rascally fish, giant, armor-plated and strong. Witness a recent event on the Kennebec River! Video available at WCSH site.
    Leaping Fish Takes Out Marine Patrol Boat

    BRUNSWICK (NEWS CENTER) -- Friday morning, Marine Patrol Sergeant Paul Joyce and Officer Chris Hilton launched their patrol boat on the Kennebec River.

    They routinely patrol the area to check on boat safety and compliance with fishing regulations. But this routine patrol turned into a bizarre emergency. As they passed through Fiddler's Reach, their day took a turn for the worse.

    Sgt. Paul Joyce, of the Maine Marine Patrol, said, "We were going at a decent clip and that fish came right up here into the windshield and the windshield just exploded, just made an explosion noise, bam! It was unbelievable. Chris was sitting right there, he ducked in towards me, and I ducked away toward the port side of the boat."

    A big fish had jumped out of the water and collided with their patrol boat.

    "That fish had to be easily a four foot long sturgeon, they leap out of the water constantly, and he had at least an 8 to 10 inch girth on it."

    Sturgeon are bottom feeders but often can be seen leaping through the air on that part of the Kennebec.

    Christopher Hilton, a Marine Patrol Officer, remarked, "You watch them come out of the water all the time and some of them get some big air and good hangtime. He was just up in the air and we came through at the right time and when I saw him leap over and clear the bow the next thing I knew was he was going to hit the windshield."

    Officer Hilton was at the wheel and took the brunt of the impact. Glass shards and fish scales showered them both. Hilton was taken to mid-coast hospital for minor cuts.

    While they are laughing about the incident now, they both know that it could have been much worse.

    The marine patrol officers had never heard of this happening before, but a commander in the Augusta office says while it is a rare occurrence, boaters should be aware of the dangers of leaping sturgeon.

    Giant sturgeon make themselves known in rivers all over the place, knocking people unconscious and so on. Do they find this activity entertaining? One can only wonder. Northern Maine's legendary lake monster,Ponik, has been rumored to have as his secret real identity that of a great sturgeon.

    Scribal Terror has a great post about the huge fish which mentions a description of them which Nathaniel Hawthorne recorded during his time in Maine in the early 1800s:
    But while looking at the rushing and rippling stream, I saw a great fish, some six feet long and thick in proportion, suddenly emerge at whole length, turn a somerset, and then vanish again beneath the water. It was a glistening, yellowish brown, with its fins all spread, and looking very strange and startling darting so life-like from the black water, throwing itself fully into the bright sunshine, and then lost to sight and pursuit. (Augusta, Maine. July, 1837.)

    For more on the fish, including photos, please read the full Scribal Terror post, which is very interesting: Source]

    Cumberland County Fair is NOW!

    When:September 21st through September 27th 2008
    Where: 197 Blanchard Road, Cumberland Center ME (click here for Google Maps)
    FMI: cumberlandfair.com or call (207)829-5531

    One of the features this year is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride. There will be two shows daily on Sunday 21st, Monday the 22nd and Tuesday the 23rd. Shows are at Noon and 6:00 PM. According to the RCMP website, the Ride is of course not a Midway ride! No, indeed! Instead:
    The Musical Ride consists of the execution of a variety of intricate figures and cavalry drill choreographed to music. Demanding utmost control, timing and coordination, these movements are formed by individual horses and riders, in two's, four's and eight's at the trot and at the canter. Months of training, practice and many kilometres/miles around the riding school make horse and rider one.
    One of the more familiar Musical Ride formations is the "Dome," once featured on the back of the Canadian fifty-dollar bill. The highlight of the Musical Ride is, without a doubt, the CHARGE when lances, with their red and white pennons, are lowered and the riders and their mounts launch into the gallop.
    Also on the roster is the annual Pumpkin Weigh-In, where attempts are made to best last year's most massive gourd. Yippee!!!

    For a full schedule of events, please go to the Fair's website, http://www.cumberlandfair.com/! You can go directly to a printable PDF file of the schedule here.

    For a sample of fair-type delights, please see my photos from years past:

    Spirits Alive October tour schedule

    OCTOBER 2008 EVENTS at the Eastern Cemetery in Portland:

    Friday 3rd, 5:30pm -- Portland Trails " Discovery Trek"
    Saturday 4th, 10:00am -- Art & the Elements
    Sunday 5th, 1:00pm -- Earliest Portland: The Eastern Cemetery's Unmarked Past
    UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Walk Among the Shadows tours have been cancelled for this season due to a lack of actors.

    Join Spirits Alive for some outdoor meanderings on the grounds of this historic graveyard! Meet at the Congress Street gate of the Eastern Cemetery. Admission is $7, and $4 for students, seniors (62 and up) and children under 12 are free. Please have correct change or check. Tours last about 1 hour and will be canceled if it rains. All funds raised go to the Eastern Cemetery. Check the tour schedule.

    History of the Eastern Cemetery - stroll through 350 years of the Eastern Cemetery’s intertwined past with the Portland peninsula in this local history-laden tour.

    Earliest Portland – The Unmarked Past - in 1632, settlers began arriving at the place we now call Portland. No buildings remain standing 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 while they shaped Portland’s indomitable spirit.

    Art & the Elements - a fascinating introduction to the geology of the Eastern Cemetery, including markers and monuments; a brief introduction to early mortuary art (as seen on the stones), and the effects of the environment on the site.

    Walk Among the Shadows - October tours featuring eerie, adventurous and hilarious stories from Portland’s past. They will feature actors appearing as famous (and infamous!) Portland characters under the luminescence of an early evening moon. Adults $10, children 12 years and younger are free.

    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.

    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Pumpkin Smasheroo in Sanford!

    You have to love a news clip that begins with the quote, "Pumpkins fell out of the sky in Sanford on Saturday!"

    Number One Pond in Sanford was subjected to a barrage of pumpkins launched from a fleet of "Pumpkin Bombadiers" throughout the event, which was a fundraiser known simply as Operation Pumpkin Drop. It was the third time this annual event has been held. Sounds like it was a blast!

    Great video footage available here on WCSH site: [Source]

    The event has its own website here: http://web.me.com/steve.fox/Site/OPD3.html

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    ZOMBIES Wanted! SUNDAY!!!

    As well you know if you are a reader of this blog, there is no shortage of zombies in Portland. Our population is rife with zombie lovers and the undead, willing to show up for anything from a simple march to the all-out sports madness of Zombie Kickball. I will indulge in some delightful reminiscing about early Portland zombie frivolity in another post, but first down to business.

    The press release website at GroffVideo.com claims "Numerous cash prizes awarded for zombies who really give it their all!" Read on...
    This is a promotional spot for a future TV show: Bizarre, funny game show/reality show is all about ZOMBIES (and survivors)

    Volunteer ZOMBIES needed!

    • Filled with fun challenges

    • Sponsored by a new energy drink

    • Multi camera, high-end production

    • Come ready in your own Zombie Make-up and costume

    • Prizes awarded to “best Zombies”

    • Zombie boot camp by Hollywood Stunt Coordinator (Mark Bedell, Stunt Coordinator and Fight Trainer for Maine Academy of Staged Combat)

    • Food will be provided

    WHERE: Portland, Maine
    WHEN: 2pm to 10:30pm on Sunday, Sept. 21st
    REQUIRED: Must be 18+ -- Must sign a waiver -- No Cameras
    HOW?: Please e-mail to sign up and confirm. They will send you the location of the event. Please send a picture of your Zombie-self or describe your costume and interest in zombies!

    CONTACT: zombieswanted@yahoo.com

    Their website states that food will be provided, but they recommend bringing additional snacks/drinks.

    The promo they produced to promote the show to potential buyers can be seen below.

    Saturday, September 13, 2008

    Pineland Cemetery exploration

    Pineland has long been a staple buzzword for Maine students of the paranormal and weird. Known throughout its history under various names, including the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded, this site has fascinated people because of its often tragic and emotional history. Stories circulated between friends included accounts of strange noises, ghostly cries in the night, and odd lights seen floating in trees.

    Today the site houses the progressive Pineland Farms, and much of the grounds are open for public use as walking trails, etc. (I went hiking there a couple of winters ago, and it was stark and beautiful -- a few pictures here). It exists now as a sunny and cheerful place, active and well-populated, a blazing contrast to the bulk of its century-long history as a mental institution and work farm.

    The Maine Ghost Hunters paid a visit to the cemetery at Pineland as part of their ongoing research into the site before embarking on a full-blown investigation, and recorded their meditations on the site in a blog posting.
    At the beginning of August, 2008 TonyL and I (KatM) took a drive out to New Gloucester to observe the gravesites of the numerous patients who died while in the care and/or under the guardianship of the Pinelands institution. We’re still researching the matter but the history of Pinelands, as a mental health institution, really preceded its very name up until the most recent of times. The accounts of patient maltreatment, abuse, neglect, and abhorrent human condition that plagued the earlier days of this facility have given rise to notions that those who passed-on while confined to Pinelands never really left this place; and some may still haunt the location of their final resting spot.

    Read full post here, with photos: [Source]
    Photo (c)2007 by Michelle Souliere.

    Kennebunk store landing place for ghosts?

    It seems like with the turn of the season, every ghost hunter in town is having a field day -- which is great for those of us who are interested in these things but have yet to do them ourselves!

    Molly Lovell of the Kennebunk Post recently accompanied a new Maine paranormal group on a late night investigation of that classic of Kennbunk historic commerce, The Landing Store, at 157 Summer Street. Heading the investigation was the Coffin and Aiello Paranormal Society (CAPS). Hosting them was experienced Landing Store employee, Steven Burr.
    While he never conducted his own investigation at the Landing Store, he told of circumstances that couldn’t be explained. While alone in the store one night he heard a man’s voice call his name.
    “It was deep and staticky, like it was coming through a ham radio,” he said.
    On another occasion, again while alone in the store, soda bottles would appear on the counter after Burr repeatedly put them back in the cooler.
    Some employees report baking sheets will fly off the shelf and on one occasion money in the store’s safe seemed to have disappeared only to reappear with no explanation.
    Despite this, Burr said he doesn’t feel frightened at the store.
    You can read a full account of the investigation here on the Kennebunk Post's website.

    The Landing Store has a great website as well, with detailed historical information and imagery from the store's past, which dates back to its original incarnation in 1872 at a different location. You can view the site here: http://www.thelandingstore.com/

    Friday, September 12, 2008

    mystery photo from South Portland

    A new-old mystery photo to enjoy this weekend....
    The picture was taken in the Redbank Village housing development, in 1947
    (and can be clicked for a larger scan).
    What is going on here ?

    Dare to venture a guess ??

    Eastern Cemetery feature

    The Maine Ghost Hunters recently paid a daytime visit to Eastern Cemetery, one of Portland's oldest graveyards. The result is a great post packed with historical and site-specific information, but best of all they include some great photos of the delicious headstones that populate the graves there. Read their full post here.

    Photo by Maine Ghost Hunters.

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    Calling all haunters!

    In past years (see 2006 article here), I have posted about the highly recommended Maine haunt attraction, Fright at the Fort, held each October at historic, haunted Fort Knox. This year is no different (except in that I expect to actually visit it myself this Halloween).

    The Friends of Fort Knox are beginning to ramp up for their annual horrific event by seeking additional volunteers. These volunteers are being sought to help haunt the dark passageways and spaces of the venerable old Fort during what has come to be known as one of Maine’s largest Halloween season events. Even if you find yourself unable to muster the appropriate ghoulish spirit to scare the pants of shivering mortals, you may still help out by serving as group tour guides or as security helpers.

    Fright at the Fort has attracted over 10,000 visitors in the past and event organizers hope to top that number this year. This year, for the first time Fright will be held on five different nights, concluding on Halloween, Friday, October 31. Fright will also be conducted on Fridays/Saturdays, October 17, 18, 24 and 25, from 5:30 to 9 PM (visitors should arrive by 8:30 PM).

    The Friends of Fort Knox use revenue generated from Fright at the Fort in preservation projects for the State historic site. Last year’s Fright proceeds are currently funding emergency masonry repair at Fort Knox.

    Volunteers interested in helping out are encouraged to contact the Friends of Fort Knox at 469-6553 or email fofk1[at]aol.com. People interested in additional event information may go to the Friends’ web site fortknox.maineguide.com

    BOO! ...I mean, "Baaa!"

    Fainting goats at a Newcastle farm made the news recently. For the ridiculously silly video interview Bill Green did with their owner, and perhaps the cutest "Baaaa"-ing you've ever heard, click here:

    In recent years, fainting goats have become overnight YouTube stars, because of their comedic value -- to say nothing of their cuteness.


    For those of you unfamiliar with fainting goats, the breed has an exceptional trait -- when startled, they stiffen their legs and topple over in a dead "faint" to great effect.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Anderson Cemetery, Windham

    The Maine Ghost Hunters have been busy! They recently blogged about their trip to Anderson Cemetery in Windham, and it looks like it was a great expedition. Like any cemetery, it has some interesting history associated with it, but the cemetery also includes a number of highly unique gravesites. (Photos available on their blog.)
    The reason we did a pre-investigation of the Anderson Cemetery is because we've been made aware of paranormal activity that has taken place here for quite a few years. We've heard about weird mists, plasma, strange sounds, apparitions, orb activity, and other supernatural occurrences. We did a dry run in an impromptu attempt at capturing EVP's, and took quite a few daytime pictures at the location, some of which yielded a few question-worthy results.
    The Maine Ghost Hunters' official site is located at http://www.maineghosthunters.org/

    Illustration (c)Michelle Souliere.

    Machete wielding mayhem

    Well, another one for the books. While I was enjoying my next-to-last day of vacation, someone in Chesuncook decided to have at his neighbor with a machete. Those things are NOT something to mess around with! Sometimes a small town can get TOO small, sounds like. Read on after article for more machete updates.
    Man, 61, arrested in machete ‘flailing’
    By Diana Bowley, Bangor Daily News Staff

    CHESUNCOOK, Maine — A feud between two residents in this remote Piscataquis County community took a turn for the worse late Friday afternoon when one of them allegedly pulled out a machete and started “flailing” it at the other, police said.

    As a result of the incident, seasonal resident Francis Henry, 61, of Norridgewock was arrested for criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and was taken to Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft.

    Henry was released shortly after midnight after posting $500 cash bail. Per his bail conditions, Henry may have neither direct nor indirect contract with Chesuncook Lake House owner David Surprenant nor can he return to Chesuncook. He is expected to make his initial court appearance on Oct. 27 in 13th District Court in Dover-Foxcroft.

    Henry and a handful of other longtime landowners in this community began feuding with the Surprenant family in 2005 over the location of a section of Main Street. That feuding has since spilled over to other aspects of the community, including the community gravel pile, which is what prompted Friday’s incident, according to Investigator Guy Dow of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department.

    “I feel this problem in Chesuncook is going to continue until someone gets seriously hurt; they’re taking it very personal and they’re carrying weapons,” Dow said upon his midnight arrival at the jail.

    Surprenant called the Maine Warden Service after the incident at approximately 4 p.m. and wardens notified the Sheriff’s Department. Wardens Sgt. Ron Dunham and Tom McKenney boated to Chesuncook and were joined later by Warden Bob Johansen. The trio stayed to keep the peace until Dow arrived at about 6 p.m.

    Henry reportedly told Dow he had gone to the public landing Friday afternoon through the woods where he had intended to take photographs of boats owned by Surprenant that he believed were docked illegally. On his return, Henry stopped at the gravel pit where Surprenant and his two young sons were digging out gravel and he began taking photographs of the boys, Dow said. He said Surprenant asked Henry to stop and when he did not, Surprenant got off his tractor. An argument ensued.

    Henry claimed Surprenant unsnapped a pistol he carried. Surprenant said he did so only after Henry pulled out a machete and began flailing it around before Surprenant and his sons, according to Dow.

    Henry claimed he had no machete and none was found during a search of the area, Dow said. Surprenant, however, had tape-recorded the entire incident and provided the tape to Dow for his investigation.

    “There’s a lot of hatred and discontent in that community,” Dow said.

    That discontent surfaced when Surprenant, the former road agent in the Unorganized Territory, discovered that one of three housekeeping cabins he had constructed violated state regulations because it was within 75 feet of the county road. Researching his deed later, Surprenant found an error in the location of the road, which removed the violation.

    Based on Surprenant’s findings and a survey they commissioned, Piscataquis County commissioners authorized Surprenant to move about 20 feet of the road from his land to the north. That move upset other property owners who said Main Street had been in the same location for more than 50 years and should not have been moved.

    The disagreement prompted seasonal resident Bruce Bailey to file a civil lawsuit in 2006 against the commissioners and Surprenant. The lawsuit later was dismissed with prejudice; however, an agreement signed by the parties that allows for use of part of the new road approved by the commissioners and the use of a short stretch of abutting state-owned land must be completed.

    The agreement signed by both parties allows Surprenant the 75-foot setback he needs, and will provide a release deed to Bailey for the portion of the original deeded right of way used by the Bailey family to reach their camp, Attorney Erik Stumpfel, who represents the county, said last year.

    To complete its obligation, the county had to get signatures on property release deeds, including one from the Department of Conservation. Now that those deeds have been secured and signed, the commissioners are expected to finish the agreement at their next meeting.

    That agreement is not expected to bring peace to this small wilderness community since Henry believes Surprenant is violating laws and getting away with it, according to Dow. He said Henry sought out Surprenant with the intent to cause trouble. “He didn’t have to go to the gravel pit but he did,” Dow said.

    Dow said he’s not sure what the answer is but worries that the discontent is going to fester in the isolated community until someone gets hurt or killed.

    Mainers have developed a real penchant for machetes this summer.

    -- On August 29th, an Auburn man attacked his former employer with a machete. Story here.

    -- On May 27th, a Pittston family was subject to a brutal attack in their home. Story here at the Sun Journal.

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    Mechanical Gorilla Rescue

    Yes, I know. You read the title, you say, "WHAT?!!" But really, folks! The story first appeared in the Bangor Daily News on September 3rd, while I was off on a week's vacation. The things I miss! I swear. Thanks to Cranky Yankee over at the New England Anomaly for pointing this out.

    Don't worry, it has a happy ending!
    East Machias store owner wants kidnapped gorilla returned
    By Diana Graettinger
    Bangor Daily News Staff

    EAST MACHIAS — A giant gorilla was kidnapped in broad daylight Sunday from in front of Sandy’s Sales on Route 1.

    No ransom demand had come from the kidnappers as of Tuesday, but the Maine State Police are investigating and have put out an all-points bulletin on the primate — an 8-foot mechanical ape.

    The gorilla has been a favorite local attraction at the year-round flea market store, and owner Lowell Miller, 79, wants it back, no questions asked.

    It was last seen standing with its hand on the sign in front of Sandy’s Sales. Miller did not know it was missing until he started to close up on Sunday. He thought his clerk had wheeled it inside, and the clerk thought Miller had.

    “None of us saw him take it,” Miller said Tuesday.

    Miller was surprised the gorilla was missing because of its weight.

    “That had a platform in the bottom made out of cement. I had to wheel it out with the wheels on it. Then inside it had motors in it, and you plugged it in and the arms went up and down and it turned sideways,” he said.

    “Who the hell would ever steal a gorilla as heavy as that thing was?” Miller said Tuesday.

    Miller believes the gorilla may be hiding in a teenager’s bedroom, and police suspect it may be holed up in some college students’ apartment.

    “I don’t know if it is exactly at the college,” Sgt. Jeff Ingemi of the Maine State Police said Tuesday. “I think that it is more likely at a college apartment.”

    Miller said he has owned the gorilla for about 10 years. He said it was valued at around $1,500.

    Miller’s gorilla is a rubbernecker’s delight as motorists pass by the store.

    “It is noticeable,” Miller said. “How many people have a gorilla outside?”

    This is not the first time the gorilla has run into trouble, but it’s the first time it has turned up missing.

    One time, Miller said, a customer ran into it in the store’s parking lot.

    “He went downtown drinking and telling everybody, ‘Hey, I just ran over Sandy’s monkey,’” Miller said.

    It cost Miller $75 to have the gorilla repaired that time.

    Miller said he wasn’t interested in having anyone arrested, he just wants his mechanical primate to come home.

    When I went to check up on the story on my return, lo and behold -- a miracle!
    Stolen gorilla found in Vermont cornfield
    By Diana Graettinger
    Bangor Daily News Staff

    EAST MACHIAS, Maine — A power-driven gorilla that has been missing since the Labor Day weekend turned up over the weekend in a cornfield in Swanton, Vermont.
    The gorilla that belonged to Sandy’s Sales was taken from in front of the Route 1 store the Sunday before Labor Day. For a time, police believed it might be in a student’s apartment in the Machias area.

    It was only after the owner of the Ohio-based company that had built the mechanical monkey got involved that things began to happen. Ken Booth made a video and put it on YouTube quoting a story that ran in the Bangor Daily News about the missing monkey. He offered a $500 reward.

    [See original video here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMljYsfjUg0]

    Shortly after the cyberspace detective work started, there was a response from the kidnapper. That video was also posted on YouTube.

    [See kidnapper's response here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp5uKaXjDE8&watch_response]

    Dressed in black from head to toe, the masked man working with a sock puppet said he wanted $1 million — then said he was just kidding. Finally, he said he just wanted to unload the beast.

    Within hours, the mechanical giant was picked up by the Vermont State Police and taken to the Troop A barracks in St. Albans, Vermont.
    Poor gorilla! I hope he gets home quickly. He's had a looooong, strange trip.

    Free Ugly Art!

    Well, the world is a funny place, and some say the art world is an even funnier one. Witness this ad on Portland's Craigslist, which my roommate brought to my attention. Anyone want some art?


    Apparently the folks at The Church of Reason pursue the rehabilitation of unwanted art regularly.

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Haunted Tours in Portland!

    Hello all -- we are pleased to announce that Gordon Tweedie is once again running his excellent walking tours of Portland's Old Port and waterfront areas. You can find them online at Wicked Walking Tours. Tours depart nightly at 8:00pm from Bell Buoy Park in front of the ferry terminal (by Flatbread Pizza and RiRa's on Commercial Street), and are about an hour and a quarter in length. Call to find out details about other tour times and daytime tours in season.

    For questions or to make reservations, call (207)730-0490, or check out www.wickedwalkingtours.com. As the flyer notes, “your credit is no good in the afterlife,” so tickets are cash only ($15; $13 for seniors and children under 12).

    I wrote a review of the tours for The Bollard last fall, and was pleased to hear that Tweedie had started them up again for the summer season into the fall this year. Here's my review, for those of you who missed it:
    A Wicked Treat for October Wanderers
    By Michelle Souliere

    The fog came curling in off Portland Harbor as I waited by the ferry terminal to meet the guide for Portland’s new Wicked Walking Tours. It was the perfect night for a tour of old Portland’s haunted waterfront streets. Ships moved in and out of the pier slips with their lights glowing softly as I sat on a wooden bench. Across the water came the mournful sound of fog horns.

    Raising high a lantern, Gordon Tweedie introduced himself. His resume is impressive. Tweedie is an accomplished baritone, and has toured extensively in both Europe and the U.S. He currently teaches at the Portland Conservatory of Music. He created Wicked Walking Tours with a tiny start-up budget, spent entirely on printing full-color flyers and posters, which he has sown around Portland at hotels and other public spots. Like a spell cast wide, his colorful lures draw people in a few at a time. Like me, they are enticed by a unique chance to hear about a side of Portland’s history few among the living know about.

    Tweedie's tale-telling is woven from a variety of sources. In addition to poking around at the Maine Historical Society, he has painstakingly collected scores of ghost stories from people who live and work downtown. The stories are many and varied, from office workers who have seen the Jolly Roger sailing past their third floor conference room windows, to spectral traces of escapees from one of Portland’s great fires, doomed to repeat their hurried exits over and over again.

    Other tales are woven from documented historic events, or are retellings of lore about past Portland personalities. The flyer advertises such eerie delicacies as a disembodied diva, a ghostly pirate ship, a cursed society lady, and a minister who escaped Indian attacks only to be subsequently burned as a witch. (While no witches were actually burned down in Salem, it is true that in the late 1600s, during the witchcraft craze, onetime Portland resident and minister George Burroughs was hanged as one of the accused after being roughly hauled away from his Wells dinner table. These are the kind of facts you don’t find on plaques commemorating local history.)

    The tour is well worth the hour-and-a-quarter spent in Tweedie’s company. He is an inventive entertainer who can pick up and drop an accent with ease, and he tells his tales with obvious enthusiasm. The walking tour provided good opportunities to check out the backsides of buildings one seldom sees in the course of everyday travels. It wends its way around the Old Port, focusing on the wharves, Commercial Street, Fore Street, Exchange Street, and their connecting lanes, stopping here and there for a little storytelling along the way.

    Photo by Michelle Souliere

    Friday, September 05, 2008

    mystery photo !

    All right, fellow Maine Olympians !

    Here's a track meet photo (the original is a Kodachrome slide) taken in 1954.
    The image can be clicked to show the full sized scan.

    Can you guess where this is ???