Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dear Strange Maine fans!

It is once again time for voting in the Portland Phoenix's "Best of 2011" poll!

BEST BLOG category:

Now, as in past years, we've been nominated in the Best Blog category, under "City Life," (we won in 2008 and 2009, but were ousted in 2010). However, this year there is a new development! This year, because of the publication of my book, Strange Maine: True Tales from the Pine Tree State, I landed in the author category as well! So, if you've read the book, enjoyed it, etc, and would like to help give me a shot at Best Author, I would be very happy if you also voted for me in this category. I'm up against some heavy hitters, so the odds are slim... but who knows?


Please note two important things:
1) You can vote once a day.
2) Your vote will not be counted until you click on the "VOTE NOW" button on the FINISH page, which can be reached at any time in the process by clicking the "SKIP TO FINISH" button on each page.

Thanks everyone!! :)

--Michelle Souliere, Editor

EVENT: Spirits Alive lecture series

Winter Lecture Series Continues
WHEN: Saturday, March 5, 2011, 10:00 am - 11:00 am
WHERE: Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland, ME
COST: Free, Donations Appreciated

TOPIC: Evergreen Cemetery Civil War Monument, 1895

Join us as Tom Desjardin, PhD, Chief Historian, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands will speak on "Civil War Heroes and Heroines Buried in Evergreen Cemetery."

Evergreen Cemetery is 239 acres located on Stevens Avenue. In addition to being the fourth city cemetery, it is a place to birdwatch and see numerous examples of Victorian memorial sculpture, and a experience the beauty of rural cemetery landscape.

Many civil war veterans are part of the over 65,000 interred in this cemetery, and a monument has been erected in their memory.

The last lecture in this series, "Death and Survival in the Civil War," will take place on March 26.

Find out more about the lecture series here:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The mystery of Jeremy Alex

The television show "Disappeared" focused on a 2004 missing person case from Maine earlier this month. Jeremy Alex, 28, disappeared from Northport almost 7 years ago. Since then, his father has started the Jeremy Alex Fund with the purpose of helping at-risk kids. Bangor Daily News revisits the story:
TV show to air about Maine man who disappeared in 2004
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 06, 2011, at 8:00 p.m.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a feature called Follow-up in which BDN staff update stories from the past to inform readers of the status of subjects covered in initial reports and any new developments.

NORTHPORT, Maine — Almost seven years ago, Jeremy Alex disappeared in the woods of Northport under mysterious circumstances.

Despite a $20,000 reward for information on his whereabouts, his family is still left with many questions, no answers — and no Jeremy.

They hope that a television program about him that airs Monday night on the Investigation Discovery channel’s series “Disappeared” will change that.

“There’s not too many things left to do that will spark an interest again,” his father, Ted Alex, said Friday from Portsmouth, N.H., where he lives. “We’re optimistic … Hopefully, somebody will call and give us some information.”

Jeremy, a landscaper who was in the process of moving to Northport from Islesboro, was 28 when he last was seen running into the woods off Pound Hill Road the evening of April 24, 2004. Although the disappearance was treated initially as a missing-person case, his family believes that the man they describe as kind and a free spirit may have been murdered.
Deputies found Jeremy’s car nearby, but were unable to locate him. A search was mounted immediately, but nothing was found. After the public was notified that Jeremy was missing, a second witness recalled seeing a man who matched his description run across Route 1 near Northport Marine at about the same time. That area also was searched extensively, but nothing was found.

For years, there were no more reliable clues, Ted Alex said last week. But about 2½ years ago, Jeremy’s driver’s license surfaced at a home on the shore in Northport along with a story of missed opportunity.

In 2004, a Northport couple was building a house on the ocean, and about a month after Jeremy disappeared, money started washing up onshore. Workers found about $30 in all, according to Alex.

About two weeks after that, Jeremy’s driver’s license washed up, too.

The couple had a bowl on their coffee table that was filled with everything that had floated in on the tides, and they put the license and the money in that. They never made the connection to the missing man. After the husband died, friends came to a get-together after his funeral. A retired highway patrol officer saw the driver’s license in the bowl and remembered hearing about Jeremy Alex.

“He called the police,” Ted Alex said. “He ended up e-mailing me about it, saying ‘I have $30 of Jeremy’s money and his license,’ which was obviously really bizarre.”
The $20,000 reward, too, has led to nothing more tangible than rumors, he said.
He remembered his son as a nice guy who struggled with addiction but loved snowboarding, chess, music, gardening and Maine.
Anyone with information about Jeremy Alex should call Trundy at the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office at 338-2040.

For more information, visit

The Jeremy Alex episode of “Disappeared” aired at 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, on the Discovery channel. See below for videoclip:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cat stuck in a sewer for 2 days

Karen Douglas isn't the only one having a rough February. This poor cat had a run-in with a 300-pound sewer grate! Ouch!! Maine Public Broadcasting Network reports:
Boots the Cat Endures Two-Day Ordeal in Maine Storm Drain
The seven-year old feline's head was stuck in the storm drain for two days.
02/17/2011 04:32 PM ET

A South Berwick veterinarian encountered an unusual case today--a cat that was brought in with a 300-pound sewer grate attached to its head.

Authorities say Boots the cat got it's head stuck in the grate on Highland Avenue in the southern Maine city and was trapped for two days. A passerby finally noticed the trapped feline and called the highway department for help.

After chipping ice away from the grate, crews brought the cat, sewer grate and all, in to Dr. Amanda Rizner at the South Berwick Animal Hospital. "And we extricated the cat from the sewer grate," Rizner says. "She just has some bumps and bruises and she was really cold from being stuck it the sewer grate, so we treated her hypothermia and her bumps and bruises."

Rizner says Boots, a seven-year-old spayed female, was scheduled to return home today and is expected to make a complete recovery.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ghost Hunters here and gone

The Village Soup reports on the recent visit of members of TAPS and their visit to Fort Knox in Prospect, near Bucksport.
'Ghost Hunters' wraps Fort Knox investigation
Show to air late March or April
Feb 12, 2011

Prospect — The Friends of Fort Knox, working in partnership with the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, has announced that the SyFy Channel’s "Ghost Hunters" TV program has concluded its paranormal investigation of the state historic site.

The investigation and filming began late Feb. 6 when the 19-member production crew arrived at Fort Knox. Leon Seymour, Friends of Fort Knox executive director, provided the investigators a tour of the site and recounted visitor reports of paranormal experiences. After the initial tour and overview, SyFy "Ghost Hunters" stars Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson began their investigation of the fort. Their efforts extended to approximately 3:30 a.m.

The investigation continued the evening of Feb. 7 into the following morning amidst brief snow showers. On the afternoon of Feb. 8, the "Ghost Hunters" production company interviewed individuals who had reported as having a paranormal experience at the fort to the Friends. One of those interviewed by the crew was local radio personality Sky Taylor, who reported hearing various sounds and even seeing an apparition. On Feb. 9, Bureau of Parks and Lands Historic Site Specialist Tom Desjardin provided the production company with a brief history of Fort Knox. The "Ghost Hunters" film crew spent the rest of the day shooting exterior shots of the fort from various locations and some shots of the town of Prospect.

On Feb. 11, Hawes and Wilson, presented their paranormal investigation findings to Seymour. This portion of the investigative process, known as "the reveal," will be kept confidential until the TV program airs.

"Ghost Hunters" producer Patrick Powell, based in California, told Seymour that he expects the Fort Knox episode to air in late March or April. The Friends of Fort Knox are giving some thought to having a screening party the night the episode airs on the SyFy channel. The organization says that they will release details and how the public may obtain tickets in the near future.
Individuals interested in learning more about the Friends of Fort Knox, special events and the history of the historic site are encouraged to visit
Full article source:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mowed over by a moose!

Bangor Daily News reports on one woman's encounter with a very big bull moose! "Douglass suffered an injured shoulder from the moose impact, another injured shoulder from hitting the ground, mild hypothermia and frostbite on her lower legs. She also suffered severe leg bruising, mostly from the difficult trip home without her snowshoes."
Orland woman: I was run over by a moose
By Karen Douglas, Special to the BDN
Posted Feb. 18, 2011, at 11:44 a.m.

ORLAND, Maine — [...] This winter’s exceptional snowfall prompted me to take up snowshoeing, and lately my three dogs and I have been regular visitors to the woods.
My dogs caught scent of something and took off. [...] I could hear them all barking like mad in the distance, which is generally not a good sign. My first thought was that they had encountered a porcupine and all I could think about as I made my way toward them was how much a veterinarian visit for quill removal was going to cost me this time.
As I clawed to the top of the embankment on the other side of the stream I saw him — a bull [moose] about 6 feet high at the shoulder. I’m 6 feet tall, and he was looking down at me. Mature bulls drop their antlers after mating season, to conserve energy for the winter, and this one was not sporting a set, so I assumed he was an adult. He also had a large “bell” on his neck.

The moose didn’t seem especially concerned about the three dogs barking at his heels. All three were keeping their distance, just making a lot of noise. The moose was standing under a grove of trees, where there was relatively little snow, munching on vegetation. I had heard that moose can be aggressive, but I was fooled into complacency by this moose’s calm demeanor. I thought the best thing to do was to grab the dogs’ leashes and lead them away before the moose got riled.

I made a wide circle as I approached. When I was about halfway to the dogs and out in the open, the moose charged. My right side was to the moose. I was trying to avoid direct eye contact, so I only saw him from my periphery just before he rammed me.

The force threw me to the ground. I stayed down, stunned, in a fetal position. I wanted to make certain that he wasn’t coming back to trample me or kick me in the head. All three dogs came over to empathetically lick my face, and I was able to grab the leash of the largest and loudest of the three dogs. I figured if I could lead him away, the other two would follow.

Content that the threat was gone, the moose went back to his spot under the trees to stand his ground.

I crawled with the leash in hand to a stand of trees where I could be out of sight before I stood again. [...] I realized that one snowshoe had been knocked off in the attack. I scanned the ground for it, but I didn’t see it. I wasn’t fond of the idea of revisiting the moose to fetch it. Had I realized how difficult it was going to be to hike out of the woods without snowshoes, I probably would have risked going back. I abandoned the remaining snowshoe because it wasn’t doing me any good.
Many times I had to crawl across the snow to make headway, pausing often, exhausted, wet and freezing, wondering why I had left my house without my cell phone that morning. I knew I was getting hypothermic because I was trying to tell the dogs that had now rejoined me to “just go home!” afraid that they would freeze. I heard myself slurring words. My feet and lower legs felt like slabs of meat fresh out of the freezer, but I didn’t dare pause to look closely. I just wanted to get myself to the safety of home, then worry about frostbite.
Read full article and see photo on the Bangor Daily News site:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

BOOM! Timing is everything!

Portland Daily Sun's Bob Higgins points out the timing of Maine Legislature's unexpected attempts to re-legalize fireworks in the Pine Tree State looks almost as though they were trying to shoot themselves in the foot. Why else would they time the debate to occur during Portland Firefighters Children’s Burn Foundation “Burn Awareness Week”?

If properly used under adult supervision, fireworks are no more dangerous than sparklers. But everybody forgets that last part about adult supervision. Adults have a hard enough time supervising themselves in this state, evidence being on the weekly police blotter. Let’s not add to the number of folks nicknamed “Lefty.”
Read the full run-down here:

Photo by Michelle Souliere. July 4th, 2007, fireworks on the Eastern Prom in Portland, ME.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Nominate for Best Blog?

If any of you feel inclined, I would be tremendously happy if you nominated the Strange Maine blog to be part of the annual contest for the Portland Phoenix's Best of Portland 2011 candidates!

Go here:

To complete your vote, make sure you click on the "FINISHED" button to submit your vote! You'll know you're official when you get to the page where they ask for your email before clicking the last button.

Many thanks, all! We didn't win last year, but I'd like to give it a try again this year! :)

Ghost Hunters at Fort Knox in Bucksport

Some of you may remember rumors from about a year ago that the television show Ghost Hunters was interested in paying a visit to Fort Knox, located across the Penobscot River from Bucksport, Maine. Now, seen on Fenceviewer and elsewhere, the confirmation of the soon-to-be visit of Ghost Hunters to Maine's own Fort Knox is official!

Some of you may remember the write-up I did a couple of years ago after my first visit to the Fort during their annual Paranormal and Psychic Faire: The episode will definitely be worth watching!
“Ghost Hunters” to Visit Fort Knox
Tuesday, February 01, 2011 at 4:10 pm

PROSPECT — SyFy television network’s “Ghost Hunters” program will film an episode of the popular series this month at Fort Knox.

A video crew will spend six days at the fort looking for evidence of “ectoplasmic apparitions,” according to a press release from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.
“The fort has the feel of a big, medieval dungeon, so it’s really natural for people to wonder if it’s haunted,” Desjardin said.

The park historian said there are no official reports of hauntings at Fort Knox, and only one soldier on record died while at the fort.

The fort’s barracks were not located in the fort, but in an unspecified wooden structure located somewhere on the fort property, Desjardin said. In 1866, an artilleryman, a new recruit that spoke only German, died of disease while stationed there.

“He was buried at the fort, but we don’t know where,” Desjardin continued. “No one knows where the burial ground is. It was never fenced off — and he’s the only occupant.”

Desjardin said he will give the video crew a tour of the fort, help with setting up and do a historical interview. The crew is expected to do two nights of investigation, the park historian said.

“We hope the crew will be prepared for winter nights on the Maine coast,” Desjardin said.

Leon Seymour, executive director of the Friends of Fort Knox, will serve as “the client” who points out where visitors have had unusual experiences.

For more information about “Ghost Hunters,” visit

Photo by Michelle Souliere, (c)2009.

Monday, February 07, 2011

EVENT: Stephen King story in Belfast

From the Waldo Village Soup!

WHAT: Åarhus Gallery's as if stories, an ongoing series of readings of short stories by Maine writers performed by Maine actors, present "The Reach," a lyrical winter ghost story by Stephen King
WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: Åarhus Gallery, 50 Main St., Belfast ME
FMI: (207)338-0001 aarhusgallery[at]

“The Reach” will be performed by Helen York and Bonnie VersbenCoeur, with musical accompaniment by Doug Ludwig. Suggested donation is $10.

The mission of as if stories is to showcase the work of Maine writers — the known, the lesser known, and the great unknown — by bringing their stories to life in live readings by Maine actors. Everyone is invited to join the growing and enthusiastic audience for this lively and compelling afternoon of story, music, art and conversation. Light refreshments will be served.

"The Reach" was first published in Yankee in 1981 under the title "Do the Dead Sing?", it was later collected in King's 1985 collection Skeleton Crew. [Source]

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Another UFO in Vassalboro?

Back in 2007, we posted a possible UFO sighting from Vassalboro that had appeared in the Kennebec Journal. This past week, I received an email from a reader who saw something herself, and was wondering if anyone else had any insight into the event (the "something like this" refers to the prior Vassalboro report):
I did and have seen something like this several times. I was at my mothers yesterday [Feb 4, 2011], in Vassalboro, Maine. It was around 3:10 pm and I was taking the dog out.

I saw an extremely large, sort of oval shaped object in the sky, it was not very high up or far away. It was super bright!!! Silver and light like a window (maybe) towards the upper part. It dissapeared within seconds. It was not a jet or plane. There were no clouds around it and no lines left behind as there are with jets.

I would like to know if anyone else saw it?
The National UFO Reporting Center site (NUFORC) lists multiple sightings in Vassalboro, ME, both recent and from the 1960s (you can click on links for additional details for each reported incident):

6/1/60 20:00 Oval, + multi experiences with unknown.

7/3/63 21:00 East Vassalboro, Black triangle with central orange light moving slowly across sky.

6/28/65 Disk, round about 300" in diameter, silver with windows, no sound

3/9/00 19:45 Saw bright crescent shape light through curtains; pulled back to reveal crescent with very bright beacon or headlight hovering over trees

8/28/01 21:00 Streaking fireball over central Maine

12/4/09 04:50 Circular light/orange craft out running a pursuing military helicopter

Friday, February 04, 2011

Velocipedic experiments in Gorham

In reading through Hugh McLellan's History of Gorham (1903) I found a tidbit about the venturesome attempts of some local citizens to find out what those there new-fangled velocipedes were all about. It sounds like they created a monster! I can only imagine what it looked like.
About the year 1820 an attempt was made to manufacture a velocipede in Gorham. The idea was suggested by a rough woodcut in an English magazine which had come into the possession of some one in the village.

A number of men subscribed small sums toward defraying the expense, and Mason Frost and George Hight undertook its construction; their only guide being the picture and its description in the book. The machine was built in the shop afterwards owned by Capt. Bailey, and which at that time stood close to the street, but was moved back about 1840 to its present location in Alfred Bailey's yard. Mason Frost, who was a carriage maker, got out the frame and wheels, while George Hight undertook the iron work.

The machine consisted of a stout piece of white oak, supported at each end by a sturdy oak wheel. The rider sat astride of this backbone, and propelled the vehicle by striking his toes against the ground. There were no pedals or other machinery to it. It was steered by an iron bridle, attached to the forward wheel; and, as represented, was able to go up hill as fast as an active man could walk, while it could spped down a moderate slope at the rate of about ten miles an hour, and on level ground nearly as fast.

At last the thing was completed, and a trial was made of it in the presence of a throng of interested spectators, but no one could do much with it, excepting to amuse the crowd. At this time there was no saddle or seat on it, but one was afterwards added. Frost was the only one able to make any headway at all on level ground, and he but little, while as to riding up hill, it was no go. The velocipede was finally stowed away in some corner, and the experiment abandoned.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The mad moose of Lewiston

Here's another piece of urban legend or folklore, depending on your preference for terminology.

Back in the mid-1980s, a friend of mine grew up in Lewiston, Maine. Her family lived on a sideroad off of Grove Street. Not too far away was a sandpit which was accessed via trails that ran past a marshy wildland that ran in back of the neighborhood.

Among the local kids who used to hang out in the sandpit, riding their bikes and so on, there was a story that circulated -- the Legend of the Brainless Moose!

Legend had it that the moose had a parasitic worm that entered its head through its ear and ate away at its brains over the years. The result was a crazed, rampaging moose with only half a brain left! If you heard rustling in the undergrowth, you knew the moose was coming, and you got out of there fast!

Lewiston is no stranger to rampaging and roaming moose, with or without brainworms, according to other friends who grew up in the area. I'm sure other groups of kids in the area had their own tales, but it'll be hard to top this one!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

St. Barnabas and its legends

I was recently sent a note from a reader who as a child had played in and around some foundation ruins at the corner of Norwood and Woodford Streets in Portland. Among his friends, legend had it that the foundation was the remains of the old St Barnabas Hospital or possibly an animal infirmary, and the 3- to 4- foot steel chute that transected it was used to dump bodies to the morgue. There were plenty of rumors that there were "forgotten" basements and sub-basements in the area with all types of hospital oddities in them.

While there is not a whole lot of info about St. Barnabas available upon a cursory search, between the web and the Portland Public Library I did find a few things.
The hospital, known alternately as "Saint Barnabas" and "Dr. Cousins' Private Hospital," was founded by Dr. William Lewis Cousins in 1904, opening its doors at 231 Woodfords Street to patients on July 21, 1905. Photos of the reception rooms and grounds bespeak a gracious impression, though no photos of patient facilities are shown. The hospital boasted a terraced lawn, a broad, glass-enclosed sun parlor, an elevator, and refrigerator ice gleaned exclusively from Sebago Lake.

To give you an idea of what type of hospital it was, here is a description of St. Barnabas' from an ad in the Journal of the Maine Medical Association, Vol X, No. 1, Aug. 1919, pg ii. The facility's expertise focused on ailments that required surgery, attended to in their state-of-the-art operating rooms on the 3rd floor, but cases with purely medical treatment options were accepted as well. 30 student nurses resided in a dormitory adjacent to the hospital.

A private institution for the care and treatment of all Surgical Diseases

Thoroughly modern in every respect, steam heating, vacuum cleaning, electric lighting and electric elevator, most modern fire protection including private alarm box, extinguishers in each room, corridors fitted with hose and water mains, and fire escapes surrounding the building. Abundance of private baths, latest and most approved operating room and laboratory facilities.

Complete X-Ray Outfit. Special attention given to diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract.

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR FIFTY -- Rates given upon application.

EXTRAS—Patients' private laundry, drugs, laboratory fees, operating room and special nurse. This latter is $2.50 per day.


Course of training extends over a period of three years, embracing instruction in both medical and surgical nursing including special branches. A maternity department offers valuable training in this important line of work. Nursing in private cases which forms such a very large portion of the work will be found of especial value as representing the class of practice encountered after graduation. Applicants must present satisfactory evidence of good health, morals and a degree of education equivalent to a four years' high school course or certificates from normal schools, academies and institutions of like standing.


is run in connection with the Training School for the assistance of physicians employing graduate nurses.

For information, write or telephone

Supt. Saint Barnabas Hospital

231 Woodford St., - Portland, Me.

So far as the foundation remembered by the reader goes, "The heating plant and boiler room is in a separate building a short distance from the Hospital. The garage, laundry, and engineer's rooms are also in this building, in addition to accommodations for the help." This location matched with his recollections of the location of the foundation.

[Source: Report of Work Done at Saint Barnabas Hospital from July 21, 1905 to January 1, 1914 (George D. Loring, Printer, 1914)]

Based on that information, we are guessing that the chute was for coal or other heating fuel. The stories of forgotten basements with hospital oddities in them is entirely likely-- according to the same report, "In the basement, which can be entered from a side street [Norwood???], is a well-equipped laboratory, and the storerooms."

Since the hospital seems to have specialized in surgical procedures, who knows...?

Among the available St. Barnabas info, I found a listing of the hospital rules. Some of them (especially #3!) seem so common sense you'd hope they wouldn't need to be told to folks, but I guess then as now people don't think clearly about how their actions affect those around them!

1. Do not deface walls or furniture, sit on sides of beds, talk in loud tones in wards or halls.

2. Relatives are allowed to see patients daily when the patients are convalescent.

3. Refuse of any kind must not be thrown into bath tubs or water closets, nor out of the windows, but will be placed in a proper receptacle and removed by a nurse.

4. Patients are not allowed access to the wards or private rooms unless by special permission, nor are they allowed to leave the premises without permission of the physician in charge.

5. Patients are required to bring sufficient clothing in order to make frequent changes. All laundry work must be done outside of hospital at the expense of patient.

6. Patients should not question nurses regarding ailments of other patients. Nurses are cautioned against answering such questions.