Thursday, September 29, 2011

Old York's October events

The museums of Old York ( have released their October schedule, and I thought some of you in the area might have fun at some of the events, especially the Oct. 29 Haunted Historical Halloween celebration! :)


October 3 Needle Wizards. Join us every Monday morning as we socialize while sewing costumes for Old York's education interpreters. Whether you are good at cutting out patterns, hand-sewing caps, piecing skirts or sewing on the machine, we could use your help. Come to The Parsons Center upstairs in the gallery at 3 Lindsay Road for an hour or the whole morning. 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. For more information, email Cindi Young-Gomes at

October 6 Who Discovered York? Observe Columbus Day in a different way by learning about the several "discoveries" of York from the 1630s - 1900s. 7 p.m. at The Parsons Center. For more information, email

October 10 Needle Wizards. Every Monday from 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. upstairs at The Parsons Center. Email for more information.

October 12 Scarecrow Making. Learn the origins of the scarecrow while you make one to decorate your yard. Bring old clothes to stuff with leaves and create a crazy face out of cloth. 3-5 p.m. at The Parsons Center. Ages 6 and up, $8 per child ($6 members). Registration required. Email to sign up.

October 15 Marketfest! The Museums of Old York will be a busy place Saturday October 15th from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Jefferds Tavern will be open to the public for $1. Visitors can watch the Tavern Mistress cook a full meal over the open fire, enjoy traditional crafters, and check out our new upstairs exhibit on WWII home front efforts. Outside Jefferds Tavern children and adults can help press apples into cider, enjoy home baked goods and have fun making a rag doll at our kids table. The Parsons Center will be open for $1 with the upstairs exhibit on life in 17th century York, titled "The country heer is plentiful", open all day. Downstairs people can view the pies entered in our Autumn Pies contest, or have their photo taken in costume in our Old Time Photo Booth. The pies will be judged in the Parsons Center at 2 p.m. The 1719 Old Gaol will be open all day so people can see the original stone cells and learn about the prisoners incarcerated within. For $1 join us at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., or 3 p.m. to watch theatrical prisoner performances and hear stories told by the jail keeper! If you would like to enter a pie in the Autumn Pies contest, or are interested in volunteering at the Museum for Marketfest, please email

October 17 Needle Wizards. Every Monday from 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. upstairs at The Parsons Center. Email for more information.

October 19 Fall Fair Day. Join us for traditional fair activities and fall fun! Potato sack and three-legged races, human ox pull, skillet throw, bobbing for apples, leaf diving for treasure and apple cider pressing. 3-5 p.m. at The Parsons Center. Ages 6 and up, $8 per child ($6 members). Registration required. Email to sign up.

October 24 Needle Wizards. Every Monday from 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. upstairs at The Parsons Center. Email for more information.

October 26 Pumpkin Carving. Come carve pumpkins in front of the fire! Learn the history of Halloween as you transform your pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern and eat the seeds roasted over the open fire. Bring your own pumpkin. Knives, newspaper and cleanup will be provided. 3-5 p.m. at The Parsons Center. All ages are welcome. $5 suggested donation. Registration encouraged. Email to sign up.

October 29 Haunted Historical Halloween -- Where Facts are Scarier than Fiction! Join a tour of historic ghosts starting at The Parsons Center and traveling through the buildings and grounds at Old York. For the young or skittish, we offer storytelling in Jefferds Tavern and spooky games in the Parsons Center. 6 - 8 p.m. All ages are welcome. Members free. $5 for teens and adults and family rates for non-members. For more information, email

Thanks to Nancy Noble at the Maine Historical Society for tipping me off to this event! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

EVENT: New England vampire book launch

Fun stuff for those interested in the old New England vampire stories...

WHAT:book launch party for MERCY: The Last New England Vampire
WHEN: Saturday, October 1, 2011, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
WHERE: Eastern Cemetery, 224 Congress St, Portland, ME (Rain location: Portland Public Library, Main Branch, Teen Room)
FMI: Curious City, 207-420-1126

MERCY, the last New England vampire, was pulled forcibly from her tomb in 1892. The teen novel about this horrific true incident and the present-day girl who uncovers it will be launched at the Eastern Cemetery in Portland, Maine on Saturday, October 1st at 2:00 PM.

The author, Sarah L. Thomson will be reading and signing her novel while the ghost of Mercy walks the graveyard. Readers will have a chance to catch Mercy on film, to try out a choice of supernatural makeup (vampires, zombies, or ghosts), and to tour the graveyard with its caretakers, Spirits Alive. Spirits Alive will tell stories of other teen girls taken tragically at the turn of the century. Each reader will walk away with a memento of Mercy.

Mercy: The Last New England Vampire is published by Islandport Press and the event is sponsored by the Islandport Press, Portland Public Library, and Curious City.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lost and found graves

Speaking of graves in odd places, WABI-TV5 reported earlier this month on the discovery by a work crew of unexpected gravestones during a recent dig.
Construction Crews Uncover 19th Century Tombstones in Lincoln
by Laura Roberts - September 13th 2011 10:29pm

Lincoln - It was a normal day for construction workers in Lincoln until they dug up something strange.

"We're digging and putting in a new water line and just came across some white stones and we pulled them out to see what they were and found out they were headstones," said Jason Cameron, a worker for Maine Earth Construction.

Knowing this wasn't business as usual, they alerted town officials to what they had uncovered.
"Fortunately last night we did have a regularly scheduled town council meeting. We needed to get approval from our town council that they were okay with the project continuing. All work yesterday stopped for 25 feet from where the tombstones were found," said Shelly Crosby, Lincoln Town Clerk and Office Manager.

The town council gave construction crews permission to keep working but they're told to proceed cautiously in case any human remains are found.

"We started digging again today but we never found anything beyond that," said Cameron.

Meanwhile, Lincoln officials did some digging of their own in town records. They found out more about who these stones belonged to and matched their names to those already on a marker in the town cemetery.

"We brought the tombstones to our actual cemetery, they are here and then from there we're going to determine how we're going to proceed," said Crosby.

The town plans to unite the three stones with the larger marker in the cemetery, creating a more complete monument in these early town settlers' memories.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bear mystery meat?

The Press Herald reported this morning about an unusual occurrence in Portland, in which a bear was spotted "acting strangely" (WMTW) in the East Deering area, and was consequently shot by game wardens. WMTW also reported on the incident: Both sources declined to show photos of the dead bear, improving my morning immensely.
Black bear killed in Portland
The bear is initially spotted in a tree on Oregon Street early this morning.
From staff reports

PORTLAND — Officers of the Maine Warden Service shot and killed a black bear today around 7 a.m. in the woods off Veranda Street in the East Deering neighborhood.

Portland police reported the treed bear to the Wardens Service around 4:30 a.m. Wardens initially tried to tranquilize the bear, but were unable to, according to Portland police Lt. Jim Sweatt.

"It was getting to be 7 o'clock and you don't want school buses and firearms on the scene," Sweatt said.

The bear initially was spotted in a tree on Oregon Street, a residential area, before climbing down and running off, Sweatt said.

The wardens service said the bear weighed around 120 pounds. The hide is being sent to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife so researchers can determine the bear's sex and age and other factors.

The meat will be distributed to soup kitchens.

Not so sure about the decision to send the meat to the soup kitchens, unless the bear wasn't really "acting strangely," and was just a normal-acting bear that it was safer and more convenient to shoot.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not-so-fun while it lasts?

Bangor Daily News reported last week on an odd juxtaposition of graves and Funtown USA in Saco:
Saco workers to move graveyard amid Funtown/Splashtown
The Associated Press
Posted Sept. 16, 2011, at 9:24 a.m.

SACO, Maine — A small, 150-year-old private cemetery amid Maine’s Funtown/Splashtown USA is going to be moved.

Next week, municipal workers in Saco will help move the graves with the assistance of a local funeral director to the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Over the years the amusement park has grown up around the cemetery, believed to contain at least 17 graves.

In 2006, Bob Phillips, a retired postal service worker from New Hampshire whose grandparents are buried there, discovered a 10-foot-deep trench that was part of a park attraction passed within 10 feet of the cemetery, which he claimed was a violation of a state law requiring a 25-foot buffer around cemeteries.

Phillips family attorney Sandra Guay told the Portland Press Herald the family is happy the graves are being relocated.

5 years ago, the All Things Maine blog reported on the initial struggle to protect the graveyard from desecration by development. Read more:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The new Gazette is out!

Hear ye, hear ye! The so-called "Late Summer" issue of the Strange Maine Gazette is out and has hit the streets! Subscribers should have their copies any day now, and vendors will likewise have the new issue in hand -- they've all been mailed. If you're in Portland, you can find it at several locations in the downtown area (see below).
Places you can find copies of the Gazette right now:

-- The Green Hand Bookshop, 661 Congress St, Portland
-- Arabica Coffee, 2 Free St, Portland
-- Coast City Comics, 634 Congress St, Portland
-- Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, Portland
-- Strange Maine, 578 Congress St, Portland
-- Maine Historical Library, 489 Congress St, Portland
-- Coffee By Design, 620 Congress St, Portland

Places that will have their copies within the next few days:

-- Boat House Beverage, Long Island
-- Captain Perry's Cafe, Long Island
-- Little Dog Coffee, Brunswick
-- Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library
-- Maine Coast Bookshop, Damariscotta
-- Owl & Turtle Bookshop, Camden
-- Fort Knox, Prospect
-- Treasure Chest, Waterville
-- Lithgow Public Library, Augusta
-- Books Lines and Sinkers, Rangeley
-- Mr. Paperback, Ellsworth
-- Mr. Paperback, Dover-Foxcroft
-- Mr. Paperback, Farmington
-- Mr. Paperback, Caribou
-- Obadiah's Bohemian Cafe, Machias
-- Calais Bookshop, Calais
-- York's Book Store, Houlton

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Review: Sex, Drugs & Blueberries

Written by Crash Barry
reviewed by Michelle Souliere

At face value, Sex, Drugs and Blueberries is a painfully honest, raunchy, raw read, a fictive treatment of a not uncommon Maine way of life presented to the reader in an entertaining format. Crash Barry’s narration sucks you right into his too-real make-believe world. You are warned by the epigraph, before you even get to the text: “This is a story about how quickly things can go wrong. The characters and events are inventions of the author.”

It could be said that never was a book more aptly titled. Sex, Drugs and Blueberries is rife with all three, and Barry’s not about to deny it. Given a chance to do a reading from the book, he doesn’t shy away from plot points ripe with juicy material. It’s really something to see, and hear.

But at the real heart of the book is the ingredient that makes it both impossible to put down, and also difficult to read all at the same time. That unlabeled ingredient is the normal mishmash of circumstances and motives that creates the tangled dance that is life in the fields of Washington County, which in one way or another mirrors life wherever in the country it is hard to get by.

This is the territory where resources depend on what comes from the dirt and what you can scrounge or finagle to make ends meet when the dirt fails you. You may have other, better, more highly paid skills, but is there a market for them? Is it worth moving to a more tightly-packed urban environment where rent is high and skilled workers are a dime a dozen? Not usually, and so inevitably some folks find themselves sticking it out in the proverbial boonies, trying to get by without overextending themselves in futile efforts.

It is the life many people lead, the kind in which one constantly asks oneself if what one is doing is worth the price, where poor judgment can spell doom or survival, and the odds of either result are as unpredictable as the roll of dice. Your decisions are a double-edged sword -- do you do things that will allow a marginally fiscally-viable existence at the potential cost of your mental, physical, and emotional health? Do you do things that compromise your moral happiness in order to try to bridge that fiscal gap? That emotional deficit gap?

We could hash these choices out for hours, but luckily Barry has recorded at least one version of them and their results for us to read through, like some kind of entertaining dastardly variant of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story. But don’t expect me to give away the ending. You’ve gotta read it for yourself, just like I did. Do you have the guts to take a chance on a new author who may well be the Next Maine Great of Prose? Not many of his generation have spoken yet from our state’s ground, this is your big chance to hear the word first.

Sex, Drugs and Blueberries is available in softcover at your local bookstore now, or online via Barry’s website at

Fans will also be excited to know that Barry has just released another book, which is currently a bestseller at Longfellow Books in Portland -- Tough Island: True Stories from Matinicus, Maine. Those of you who have been to his readings at Longfellow Books know a Crash Barry reading is like NO OTHER!

For regular installments of his writing, please check the current issue of independent monthly The Bollard at a newsstand near you.

Cover art by Pat Corrigan.
Photo by Abraham Schechter