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DISCOVER

MAINE Volume 8, Issue 9

Maine’s History Magazine Southern Maine

Free 2012

www.discovermainemagazine.com Portland’s Early Italian Restaurant History Steeped in local family tradition

The Mysterious Stranger Of Gray One Confederate flag flies in the cemetery on Memorial Day

The Forgotten Village Of Ligonia In South Portland Home to Irish and Welsh immigrants


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Discover Maine

— Southern Maine —

~ Inside This Edition ~

Starting School Sixty Years Ago No “snow days” at Franklin Grammar School! by Charles Francis Frank Ricker The Blacksmith My grandfather’s story by Marilyn Ricker Bolduc The Mysterious Stranger Of Gray One Confederate flag flies in the cemetery on Memorial Day by Erick T. Gatcomb New Year’s Eve At Joy Valley Dance hall in Buxton remembered by Franklin Irish Whatever Happened To Tawny Godin? Miss America contestant had Maine roots by Charles Francis The Illustrious Thompson Family Immigrants who helped build Sanford by Charles Francis Fred Dow And The Portland Club The first of its kind in Maine, still thrives today by James Nalley Tragedy On A Sunday Afternoon Young father killed by cannon during Patriot celebration by Charles Francis The Forgotten Village Of Ligonia In South Portland Home to Irish and Welsh immigrants by Matthew Jude Barker The Switzerland Of America Sebago Lakes Region became recreational Mecca of the Northeast by Charles Francis Raymond Gervais’ Brush With Destiny Alfred sailor recalls war experience by Charles Francis Portland’s Early Italian Restaurant History Steeped in local family tradition by Craig Palmacci Out Of The Flames The Old Orchard Beach fire by Charles Francis Paramount Cameraman Catches Lift Bird’s-eye view attempted with balloons by Erick T. Gatcomb The Maine Irish Heritage Center Once the St. Dominic Catholic Church of Portland by Matthew Jude Barker Donald MacMillan: Maine’s Arctic Explorer Bowdoin graduate accompanied Peary to the North Pole in 1905 by James Nalley Silas Soule: The Forgotten Hero From Bath Army captain defended Indians and slaves by James Nalley Jake Day: Disney’s Damariscotta Secret Weapon Original Bambi was a Maine whitetail deer by Kevin Carpenter Story Of An Old-Time Schoolhouse A day at school in the early 1800s by Barbara Adams

Discover Maine Magazine Southern Maine Published Annually by CreMark, Inc. 10 Exchange Street, Suite 208 Portland, Maine 04101 (207) 874-7720 info@discovermainemagazine.com

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Designer & Editor Michele Farrar

Advertising & Sales Manager Tim Maxfield

Advertising & Sales Sarah Bellows Chris Biggar Ryan Bourgoin Tim Maxfield Craig Palmacci Andrew Woody

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Field Representatives George Tatro Dave Strater

Contributing Writers

Barbara Adams Matthew Jude Barker Marilyn Ricker Bolduc Kevin Carpenter Charles Francis fundy67@yahoo.ca Erick T. Gatcomb Franklin Irish James Nalley Craig Palmacci

Discover Maine Magazine is distributed to fraternal organizations, shopping centers, libraries, newsstands, grocery and convenience stores, hardware stores, lumber companies, motels, restaurants and other locations throughout this part of Maine. NO PART of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from CreMark, Inc. Copyright © 2011, CreMark, Inc.

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Front cover photo: Post Office at bayville district in boothbay Harbor

from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org All photos in Discover Maine’s Southern Maine edition show Maine as it used to be, and many are from local citizens who love this part of Maine. Photos are also provided from our collaboration with the Maine Historical Society and the Penobscot Marine Museum.


— Southern Maine —

Discover Maine

3

Notes From The Fayette Ridge by Michele Farrar

R

ecently I was watching TV with my old friend Bob, who lives up here on the ridge. I pointed out that the characters in TV shows never have to use the bathroom unless something is going to happen — either in the room they just left, or in the bathroom (perhaps snooping, hiding something, or escaping through the window). This brought on a discussion about television and movies in general. If you are watching a movie or television show and the character is watching a movie, it is almost always a really old classic. Bob says this is so as not to distract from the movie or show that we are watching. For instance, if the movie the characters are watching is “Gone With the Wind,” or any Jimmy Stuart movie, most likely we are not going to think that we would really rather be watching that movie instead. This makes good sense to me. If the characters were watching Sandra Bullock in “Blind Side,” I might get it into my head to watch that instead. Bob also pointed out that nine times out of ten, if the characters are a group of two or more sitting on a couch, they inevitably have at least

one bowl of popcorn. I saw a show several days ago where one character said to the other, “Here’s some popcorn for you, just the way you like it — air-popped with no butter.” Bob gave a little snort and said “He should get her some pizza with no cheese while he’s at it.” I said I figured they were just trying to be realistic, but at the same time I noticed the “mom” was settled in on the couch wearing her work dress and heels. That did not look comfortable or realistic in any way. Bob says it’s because everyone is always in such a hurry. Either she didn’t have time to change, or the producers didn’t notice the error because they were in too much of a hurry to get it done. We’ve had plenty of time to watch movies here lately. For some reason, my internet service provider can’t figure out what’s wrong with my DSL service, and I’ve only had active internet for ten days out of the last 33. I’ve been holding on the phone with them so many times that I have memorized all of the recorded statements telling me how great their service is, and how their number one goal is to have all of their customers connected and happy. My favorite part is when they suggest I go to their website to get my questions answered more quickly. Obviously, I can’t go to the website if I don’t have service.

Bob says it’s part of living out in the woods. We can’t expect the same level of service because we’re off the beaten path. That’s why everyone on our road has generators. It’s also why you can only get a decent cell phone signal in certain areas of my house, and it’s never the “3G” that I pay for. I argue that if we don’t have the same level of service, we shouldn’t have to pay the same rates as those who do have reliable service. Bob agrees with me, but the electric, cell phone and internet companies do not. Sometimes we get together and have what we call “Oil Lamp Night.” This means we don’t use any electric lights, we heat with the woodstove, and we spend our time playing cards or reading. We do this in the winter when we can’t go camping. It’s amazing how much more relaxed I become. If there’s nothing running that can run wrong, there’s no stress to deal with. You should try it sometime. Stock up on lamp oil and firewood, and count your cards to make sure you have a full deck. Plan a light supper that doesn’t require cooking, change out of your work clothes and heels, and curl up on the couch for a game of cribbage or a good book. I saw it in a movie once, and it works like a charm.

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— Southern Maine —

Starting School Sixty Years Ago No “snow days” at Franklin Grammar School! by Charles Francis

B

me to the summer preschool run by the Episcopal nuns who then made their home in Newcastle. The nuns were associated with St. Andrews Church. It was while I was at the nuns’ school that I made a friendship that would last into adulthood. That friend was Stephen Jane. Stevie lived on Pump Street, almost directly in back of Franklin Grammar. Going to the nuns’ preschool is one of the two big events I remember from the summer of 1948. The other was the opening of the new Sheepscot River Bridge. I went to the opening of the bridge with Stevie and his parents, Bill and Mary Jane. The Walkers, Stevie’s aunt and uncle, lived in Alna, and the new bridge made it easier for them to visit. School with the nuns was a good deal different from first grade at the Franklin School. For one thing, the nuns taught just

eing well past the flush age of youth and a pension collector, I can no longer think of myself as youthful. Yet, it seems like only yesterday that I started first grade in the fall of 1948, at the end of World War II. I started public school at the Franklin Grammar School on Newcastle’s Mills Road. This is the road that runs by Great Salt Bay to Damariscotta Mills. We lived on the River Road, the road that runs to Boothbay. We lived just beyond the Lincoln Home. Back then we walked to school in all sorts of weather. On cold days we dressed as if we were going to explore the North Pole. Actually Franklin Grammar School was not my first classroom experience. Back in 1948 there was no kindergarten. At least Newcastle didn’t have a kindergarten. Most likely because of this lack, my parents sent

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a few students. We had naps and a cookie break. We had our naps on newspaper on the floor. Some of us actually did sleep, as it was summer and hot by the river. The cookie break consisted of milk and “dry” graham crackers. My dominant memory of those preschool days is of a picture of a knight in armor on the wall. The knight had a shield with a great cross on it. I assume he was a Crusader. Because we sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” on occasion, I always think of that picture when I hear or read of the Crusades or hear the old hymn. As much as I wish I could say Franklin Grammar was a one-room school, I can’t. It was a two-room school — at least when I was there. The room we first graders were in — the room on the right from the entrance — had the first three grades. The higher grades and another teacher were in the

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— Southern Maine —

Discover Maine

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Hilton’s Store and Post Office, Alna. Item #100014 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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Discover Maine

— Southern Maine —


— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 4)

room to the left of the entrance. My seat was next to the first row of second graders. The first day of school, the “big kid” next to me made a square with the fingers of both hands. He told me to stick my finger in. When I did, he jabbed his thumb nail in my finger. Right then, I wished I was back with the nuns. Franklin Grammar must have had a big furnace. On wet days we hung our woolen clothing and mittens near the vents for drying. Soon the room would smell as if a flock of sheep had moved in. Unlike the schools of today, snow could have piled ten feet high and no one would have considered closing school for the day. There were times, however, when the furnace acted up and the room began to smell. When this happened, we jumped with joy as we headed for home. Our school day started with the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. We spent a lot of time copying. We copied the letters of the alphabet. We copied numbers. And we tried to copy pictures of everything from animals to buildings to whatever happened to be in the books that were handed

out every day. I’m sure I must have drawn at least a thousand renderings of cars and trucks of the 1940s, especially the new 1948 Ford pickup. My mother kept one of my renderings of this now-vintage vehicle on the refrigerator for the school year before transferring it to a scrapbook. One day each week we brought in money to purchase war savings stamps. Most students brought in a dime, a quarter or a fiftycent piece, although you could purchase dollar- and five-dollar stamps. The stamps were to help pay off the country’s debt for World War II. Looking at my old and faded report card from that long ago year, I see that deportment was probably the most important subject. There are a variety of deportment categories, more than for any other area. The biggest in-school holiday celebration was for Valentine’s Day. We were supposed to dress in costumes. I had a giant red heart, like a sandwich board. It stretched from my chin to the tops of my shoes. On another occasion we took part in a costume parade at the Lincoln Home. I was dressed as a lobsterman. I had full lober-

Enjoy Discover Maine All Year! Discover Maine Magazine is published eight times each year in regional issues that span the entire State of Maine. Each issue is distributed for pick up, free of charge, only in the region for which it is published. It is possible to enjoy Discover Maine year ‘round by having all eight issues mailed directly to your home or office. Mailings are done four times. Name_________________________________________

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sterman’s gear including hip boots, sou’wester and even a pipe. I trundled a wheelbarrow with a lobster pot. My father attached wheels to the back legs of the wheelbarrow. I was billed as “Lobsterman Francis.” The get-up won me first prize. Later we had cake and cookies with the “old folks.” There was a bright green parrot at the home. We were cautioned to keep our fingers away from his beak. We wanted him to say something but he didn’t. The Franklin Grammar School with its cupola was a classic structure. To me it will always symbolize what a school should be. When portable classrooms were added to the Franklin Grammar grounds, I thought them a distraction to once untrammeled lines. When Franklin Grammar finally closed its doors to students in the late 1970s, it was as if a door had been firmly closed on my childhood. Maybe there are others who started school there in 1948 who felt the same.

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Discover Maine

— Southern Maine —

Street scene in Cornish. Item #105102 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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— Southern Maine —

Discover Maine

9

Frank Ricker The Blacksmith My grandfather’s story by Marilyn Ricker Bolduc

Wentworth Store after 1900. Frank Ricker’s second blacksmith shop is on the right. (Photo courtesy Marilyn Ricker Bolduc)

F

rank Ricker, my great grandfather, was a blacksmith for over 70 years. He was born in 1859 in North Lebanon, Maine. His great grandfather was the first settler in that part of town, arriv-

ing about 1777. In 1871 when Frank was 12 years old, he became an apprentice for a blacksmith. He learned his craft for the next nine years before starting his own business.

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Frank and his father, Charles Coffin Ricker, built a two-story workshop in North Lebanon in 1880. Frank’s blacksmith shop (Continued on page 10)

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Discover Maine 10

— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 9)

was downstairs and his father’s woodworking shop was upstairs. Frank and his father built a large shop because they had a contract with the owners of the Acton silver mines. They were hired to repair the equipment and shoe the work animals. Silver ore was discovered in 1877 on the Elder Goding Farm in South Acton near the North Lebanon line. Frank’s blacksmith shop was halfway between the silver mines and the railroad depot at Eastwood in Lebanon. There were around 20 silver mines and one gold mine. At peak operation there were about 550 men employed at the mines. Frank had a lot of business, so he hired seven men to work for him. Frank became very proficient at shoeing oxen because the mines used mostly oxen. When the mines went bankrupt, Frank was unable to continue such a large scale business. In the 1890s Frank became ill with some sort of abdominal or kidney problem. He was unable to work in his shop. After unsuccessfully trying to rent the shop he converted it into a general store. He eventually regained his health and built a small blacksmith shop next to the store. Frank married Georgietta Shapleigh in 1882. She died during childbirth in 1883. He then married Aurelia Wentworth in 1885 and they had seven children. Frank became the postmaster of North Lebanon in 1896 and he had a small post office in the store. In the 1900s Frank became partners with his brother-in-law, Will Wentworth. The store was named Ricker, Wentworth and Co. A few years later on January 1, 1906, Frank sold the store for $1,000 to the Wentworth brothers.

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Back, l to r: Merle Ricker (author’s father), Raymond Ricker (author’s grandfather), Frank Ricker (author’s great-grandfather). Front: Jimy Ricker (author’s brother). (Photo courtesy Marilyn Ricker Bolduc)

Doris Ricker Woodman, my aunt, passed down a lot of stories to her son Steve about Frank. She was quite a storyteller. She probably inherited that from Frank, because he was also known for telling a good story.

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— Southern Maine —

One of the stories she told was that Frank was ordered to give up the postmaster’s position. He was told to turn over the office equipment to his brother-in-law. Frank refused to do this and went into hiding. Supposedly there was a warrant out for his arrest so he hid at a friend’s house in Farmington, New Hampshire. Eventually, a deal was worked out. He then sold his share of the store to the Wentworths. He also gave up the postmaster’s position. Frank kept his blacksmith business. He repaired and maintained farm equipment, machinery and wagons, and shoed horses and oxen. He bought, sold and bred livestock. He sold horses, pigs, cows and chickens. He got nine and one half cents for a hen and six and one half cents for a rooster. He also sold milk to H.P. Hood and Son. By the 1940s Frank had very little business but he worked in his shop nearly every day. His wife had died in 1930, so he did what he was good at — he forged ox shoes. He made hundreds of them and hung them in the rafters of his shop. I was told that the roof sagged for many years from the weight of all those ox shoes. Wilbur Woodman, my uncle, came home

Discover Maine

from World War II in 1946 and worked with Frank for a while. He told of fitting iron tires to wagon wheels. Frank would make the tire slightly smaller than the wooden wheel. Then he would dig a small circular trench in the dirt, which he filled with dry bark. He laid the wagon tire in the trench, poured kerosene on the bark and lit it. By the time the bark burned down, the tire was red hot and had expanded so that it was now larger than the wooden wheel. The two men quickly grabbed the hot tire with tongs and dropped it on over the wheel. Then they quickly cooled the iron with water, causing the tire to shrink onto the wheel. Before being cooled, the hot tire briefly charred the wood underneath. This charred wood kept the underneath from rotting. Frank also taught my uncle to drill holes undersize and then drive a red-hot bolt through the hole to char the wood, which reduced rot around the bolt. My cousin Steve Woodman continues the work of our great-grandfather. He became an apprentice for a blacksmith in a study program through the University of Maine. His apprenticeship was at Strawberry Banks in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He learned

11

to repair farm tools, and to make replicas of household items and cooking utensils. He made fireplace equipment, door latches, hinges and repaired old guns. He had his own blacksmith business in the 1970s and still does some blacksmithing today. Steve has Frank’s ledgers from the blacksmith shop. Frank wrote them from 1881 to 1941. I got some of the information for this story from those ledgers. We do not know if some of the ledgers are missing. When Frank Ricker’s house was sold all the contents were thrown in the dump. Someone found and saved the ledgers, knowing Steve would be interested in them. Horses, wagons and horse-drawn implements dominated the blacksmith’s work long ago. Now, in modern times, there is mass-production, which makes it cheaper to replace than to repair. What was a necessity long ago is a leisure activity for most people in this day and age. Frank Ricker, the blacksmith, died quietly in his sleep in 1953 at the ripe old age of 94. I was told that he had worked that day in his blacksmith shop.  Other businesses from this area are featured in the color section.

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Discover Maine 12

— Southern Maine —

The Mysterious Stranger Of Gray One Confederate flag flies in the cemetery on Memorial Day by Erick T. Gatcomb

T

troops, including Company B, 10th Maine Volunteers, engaged twenty thousand Confederate troops led by Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who was under orders from Robert E. Lee to stop the Union’s advance on Richmond. There were more than 3,500 casualties and countless injuries. Lt. Colley was seriously injured in the battle and was quickly rushed to Alexandria Hospital, where he remained until his death on September 20. His parents, Amos and Sarah Colley, were notified of his death and asked whether they would like their only son’s body returned to Maine. It was procedure at the time for the family to pay the government for the care and transportation of fallen soldiers, and so the Colleys quickly sent payment.

he town of Gray is a giving town. During the Civil War, Gray sent more than a third of the adult male population to fight the Confederacy — proportionately more than any other Maine community. One of the roughly 200 soldiers offered by the town was a young man named Charles H. Colley, who joined the war in its earliest stages as a member of the first Maine Infantry in Company B, the Portland Mechanic Blues. A respected soldier, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant when the unit was folded into the 10th Maine Infantry Volunteers. One of the bloodiest campaigns of the Civil War was that of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. In the battle at Cedar Mountain on the afternoon of August 9, 1862, eight thousand Union

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— Southern Maine —

A couple of weeks later a plain pine casket arrived at the train station and was transported by horse and carriage to their white farm house on Colley Hill. It was here that the Lieutenant’s family opened the casket and was shocked to find a young man wearing a gray Confederate uniform. The Colleys contacted the government about the mix up and were told that the government had no provision to pay for the return shipping of the young Confederate soldier. The people of Gray took pity on the fallen young man and buried him with full honors in Gray Village Cemetery. The Ladies of Gray, women who had lost their husbands and sons in the war, later paid for a proper stone for the unknown soldier. The marble marker still stands and is inscribed: “Stranger. A soldier of the late war, died 1862. Erected by the Ladies of Gray.” The body of Lt. Charles H. Colley arrived in Gray a few weeks later and was buried very close to his unknown adversary. How the mix up occurred has never been solved, but historians speculate that the two soldiers may have died at the same time at Alexandria Hospital or even had similar names.

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High school in new Gloucester. Item #101723 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

Regardless, every Memorial Day since its inception, the Gray Village Cemetery is visited by townspeople who lay flowers and flags upon the graves of the 178 Union soldiers buried there. In a display of compassion and good will by the people of Gray, a

Confederate flag is secured for the occasion and is tenderly placed over the grave of an unknown young man who lies so far from home. Other businesses from this area are featured in the color section.

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Discover Maine 14

— Southern Maine —

New Year’s Eve At Joy valley Dance hall in Buxton remembered

by Franklin Irish

This was one New Year’s Eve back during World War II. Gas was rationed, and you had to know someone to get a slip for gas. The dealers didn’t care where it came from as long as they had a ticket to account for their gas. I think that night I had $5 for a

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ticket in the shipyard. Well, I had the gas, and Ted, my old friend and helper, was making his last stop. We didn’t know it that night, but he caught pneumonia and only lived a few days. I invited my nephew, Ralph, and his wife to go down with us. I think Joy Valley was in Buxton. (It’s long gone, but it was a famous old dance hall then.) That night the Katahdin Mountaineers were playing, and my friend Ted was playing the banjo. It was the only band I ever tried to dance by, and old Ted carried the beat. He really was the band. He had a weak bladder, and he had to go about every hour if he was drinking. He would get up and walk a crack to the toilet door. That was the only way you could tell he was drinking. He would walk a straight line. I’ve seen him come to work really drunk.

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We carried pocket levels. The boss would come up and say, “Ted, you’re not safe to go on the boat.” Ted would put out his level and hold it at arm’s length, and the bubble wouldn’t even quiver. The boss would keep out of my sight, and on we would go. I used to get some burlap, make him a bed in the comer of the tank, and he would pass out for a couple of hours, wake up, and begin where he left off the day before. He never fell that I know of. Anyway, that night we were dancing up by him when he got up to go, and I stopped in front of him. He almost ran over me before he recognized me. Then he said, “Wait here.” And he went on to the toilet. He came back and shook hands all around and said, “I’ll see you at intermission.” He sat down, picked up his banjo, and took back the lead without missing a beat. At inter-

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— Southern Maine —

mission, his boss hooked onto him, and I never got to talk with him again. At one minute to midnight, they turned out the lights. You were supposed to have your woman all picked out. Ralph and I had hold of our wives’ hands, but they had been the ones hanging on. At the stroke of twelve, the drummer hit one good blow, everybody kissed their partners, on came the lights, and we sang “Auld Lang Syne.” I expect my singing was like my spelling. I guess there was more than one toast. Believe me, 4 o’clock came darned quick. I didn’t look for Ted again that night. Two days later he died, and three days later I went to his funeral. He was my closest friend. Ralph had his own oil business, and he got some sleep. That was the last time we really celebrated the New Year. That was a 50-mile drive both ways. Even today, it would be tough working the next day. That was back when you really celebrated!  Other businesses from this area are featured in the color section.

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Post Office and store in West Buxton. Item #103011 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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Discover Maine 16

— Southern Maine —

Early days at Pine Point in Scarborough. Item #109198 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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— Southern Maine —

Discover Maine

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Whatever Happened To Tawny Godin? Miss America contestant had Maine roots by Charles Francis

T

he year 1976 was a banner year for Maine at Atlantic City. That year a Maine girl — even though she wasn’t representing Maine — was crowned Miss America. That Maine-born girl was Tawny Elaine Godin. Tawny’s Miss America statistics give Portland as her birthplace. However, her parents long considered Scarborough home, so you can decide which community deserves to be called Tawny’s hometown. A lot of Mainers watched the 1976 Miss America Pageant when they learned Tawny Godin was a native and that she stood a chance of winning the title. Part of the reason for this — other than the fact many Mainers knew the

Godins — was that overall, Maine has a dismal record at the pageant. Prior to ‘76, the state’s shining moment at the Miss America Pageant came when Allyn Warner of Falmouth, wearing the Miss Greater Portland crown, competed. Allyn, a vocalist, won the Preliminary Talent Contest. (A lot of Greater Portland area residents, this writer included, still remember a teenage Allyn performing in The Fantasticks at North Yarmouth Academy.) She went on to be Miss America Fourth Runner-up. If you wonder whether Tawny Godin really deserves to be called a Mainer, well, there is no question of that. The Godin family has Maine roots. Tawny was

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born to John and Connie (Gurney) Godin. John Godin was born in Lewiston, went to Hebron Academy and graduated from Edward Little High School in Auburn. He went to both Bates and the University of Maine before earning his undergraduate (Continued on page 18)

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— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 17)

Based on Sam’s Hollywood background, I figured that Tawny Little and Tawny Godin were one and the same. Tawny Godin did not become a judge. She was married for a brief time to a man named Little, hence Tawny Little. She was also married to John Schneider of Dukes of Hazzard fame for some three years. Today her married name is Welch. She has something of — a term film makers use — a filmography as both Tawny Schneider and Tawny Little. That filmography includes small parts in movies and television shows. Her most enduring screen presence would seem to be as a news anchor and as a reporter. Sam Manning remembers Tawny for her work on the LA television show AM Los Angeles, where she was co-host. Tawny did several other LA-based news-type shows as a host and as a reporter, and even made it to the national Good Morning America on a parttime basis. Her movie and television acting appearances seem to be one-time affairs. Probably the most notable movie Tawny appeared it was Rocky II. She played a reporter. In fact, most of her acting roles

degree at NYU. Though he worked around the country and the world for IBM, the Godins always kept their Scarborough home, and that was where they went when John retired. Tawny Godin represented New York at the Miss America Pageant. Mainers like me who saw her win the Miss America title may remember that she studied journalism and languages at Skidmore College. They may also remember her saying in response to a question about future aspirations that she wanted to be a judge. In fact, that is about all I remember of the Maine girl who became Miss America. I never heard anything more of her, that is, until recently. A year or so ago a friend of mine, a former Mainer named Sam Manning, who lives in Los Angeles, told me about a Maine native who had build quite a career for herself as a Los Angeles television personality. He said her name was Tawny Little and that she was a former Miss America. Sam Manning does freelance television work. Among other things, he has interviewed Elizabeth Taylor for Sky Satellite.

seem to be that of reporter. Tawny appeared in single episodes of a number of television shows, including Matt Houston, T. J. Hooker and The Greatest American Hero. Almost always she played the part of a reporter. Tawny retired in 1999. In 2006 she appeared in a Country Music Television special entitled “Greatest Miss America Moments.” It was a retrospective of the pageant. It would appear that Tawny Godin Welch used her education in journalism to good advantage. One wonders, however, if she ever thinks of her dream of being a judge? One also wonders how her career might have gone if she had chosen to make her home near that of her parents in Scarborough. Mainers have a way of sticking by their own, especially when they make it big beyond the state’s borders. One need only look at the likes of Stephen King or Joan Benoit Samuelson to realize the truth of this. 

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— Southern Maine —

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Hotel Parkfield in Kittery. Item #101404 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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— Southern Maine —

The Illustrious Thompson Family Immigrants who helped build Sanford by Charles Francis

I

t has been said so often that America is a land of immigrants that it has come to be accepted as commonplace. The same is, of course, true of Maine. Even those earliest of Mainers — the Red Paint People — who came here after the last Ice Age, were immigrants. Most often, however, we think of Maine immigrants in terms of those who came here in the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries. Included in their numbers are the Germans who settled Waldoboro, the Swedes of Aroostook County, the Russians of the Kennebec and the French and Irish, who came to work in the state’s mill towns. Oddly, however, one never thinks of those Mainers of British extraction as having descended from immigrants. One reason for this is that the United States is essentially an English-speaking nation. Another is that the American Revolution was fought mainly by British citizens to be free

of ties to the so-called mother country. Yet, those of British origin are as much descendants of immigrants as the Irish, the French or the Italians. In short, the United States is a land of hyphenated-Americans. This was so in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and will continue to be so. Immigrants and their descendants built this country as they did the state of Maine. The Thompsons of Sanford are a perfect example of how immigrants built the state. Joseph and Sophia Thompson came to Sanford from England in 1892. Three sons came with them: Samuel, John and Ernest. A fourth son, Clarence, was born in Sanford. Today, few would think of the Thompsons who immigrated to Sanford, or their children and their children’s children who were born here, as immigrants or as the descendants of immigrants. One reason for this is that the Thompsons immediately became a part of the community. Another is

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— Southern Maine —

oriented, community groups and organizations, each Thompson doing his part to make Sanford one of the most civic-minded communities in Maine. In his own way, the elder Joseph Thompson was a true pioneer. Like many immigrants who came to America in the late nineteenth century, he came to make a better life for himself and his family. Thompson and his three older sons were born in Halifax, England, the elder Thompson in 1858. After serving an apprenticeship in a British textile factory, Joseph Thompson left his family in England and crossed the Atlantic to Philadelphia where he found mill work. From there he went to Providence. All told, he spent some seven years in America, with yearly visits back to England to see his family before growing homesick. Hopeful that he could find decent work in Britain he returned briefly in 1890, only to realize the America was truly the land of opportunity. When the offer of employment at the Goodall Mills arose he took it. Besides devoting himself to his job at the Goodall Worsted Company and his family, Joseph Thompson found time to involve himself in a number of local organizations which

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did not exist in England. The most notable of these was the Unitarian Church. He also joined the Elks and was a member of the Sanford Town Club as well as the Masons. The two older Thompson sons, Samuel and John, completed their schooling in England. Samuel became his father’s chief righthand-man at the Goodall Mills, eventually becoming overseer of the mills at his father’s retirement. John became manager of the Sanford Ladies Department Store, and later part owner. The two younger brothers, Ernest and Clarence, graduated from Sanford High School. Ernest immediately went to work at the Goodall Mills. Then, when the United States declared war on Germany in April of 1917, Ernest Thompson became one of the very first Sanford residents to respond to his country’s call to service. Ernest Thompson served in a machine gun battalion, seeing action in some of the worst fighting on the western front. Following his discharge from the service, he returned to Sanford and the Goodall Mills. Clarence Thompson was the only son of Joseph Thompson to go on to higher education. Upon graduation from Sanford High

21

School, he enrolled at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. After working for three years in several Massachusetts pharmacies, he opened his own on Main Street in Sanford. All the Thompson brothers married and had children. It was Samuel Thompson’s son who qualified for the Naval Academy at Annapolis. Like their father, all the brothers were devoted to community service. They followed in his footsteps, joining the Elks and the Masons, and were members of the Sanford Town Club. Joseph Thompson died in 1929. He and Sophia were just months shy of celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. According to John Thompson’s eulogy, his death “occasioned profound regret and sorrow... for the entire community realized that his place would be difficult to fill...” He was further described as “typical of that class of citizens who maintained the institutions and liberties of this nation...” The first generations of Thompsons left a legacy in Sanford that is a lasting one. Truly they were of the stuff that helped make Maine what it is today.

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Discover Maine 22

— Southern Maine —

these players are from the Sanford High School baseball team of 1912. Front row left to right: Winfred Allen, Meyer Shalit '13. Second row left to right: Clarence thompson '12, leon Plaisted '12, Irmont Frost '14, Orville Morrill '14, Ivan Simpson '15. Item #5572 from the collections of the Maine Historical Society and www.vintageMaineImages.com “We care about you and your eyes”

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— Southern Maine —

Discover Maine

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Barber shop and pool room in South Portland. Item #102533 from the Eastern Illustrating &  Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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Discover Maine 24

— Southern Maine —

Fred Dow And The Portland Club The first of its kind in Maine, still thrives today by James Nalley n October 27, 1886 Fred N. Dow, a long-time resident and influential Portland figure, decided to transform his informal gatherings with friends into an official private club. Although the club’s purpose was to “discuss current events” with other influential Portland men, it primarily followed a Republican agenda, since Maine was controlled by the Republican Party during the period. The club would expand until it was recognized as the Republican Party’s de facto seat of power, and it eventually acquired a historic mansion on State Street where it still thrives to this day. Although it serves as one of the top locations for any social event in Portland, it has also managed to keep its hand on the political pulse of the city. Fred N. Dow was born in Portland on December 23, 1840. The son of an army general, he had come from a long line of

O

military officers that served in three wars beginning with the Revolutionary War. He

In 1886 Fred Dow officially formed the Portland Club, which was the first of its kind in Maine, as well as the second in the country. attended the Portland Academy and Portland High School, but dropped out at the age of 16 to take over his grandfather’s business. After the outbreak of the Civil War Dow volunteered for military service despite the objections from his father, who believed that his son’s strength was better suited for business and not on the battlefield. Due to his father’s influences as a high-ranking officer, Dow soon returned home. At the age of 24, he married Julia

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Dana, a daughter of a prominent lawyer in Portland. This was the period when he had begun his life-long interest in public affairs. From the mid-1860s on, Dow was noticed by the citizens of Portland, where he either created a quick collection of followers or enemies. According to Representative Men of Maine by Henry Chase, “A ready and effective speaker, a forcible writer, and enjoying an extensive acquaintance throughout the State of Maine, Dow secured an influential position in the councils of his party… It has been often said that he has earned more political opponents and friends than any other man in Portland.” In 1883 in response to an overwhelming request by the citizens of Portland, President Chester Arthur appointed Dow to the Collectorship of the Port of Portland. Three years later Dow, with his close and influential friends, officially formed the Portland Club, which

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— Southern Maine —

was the first of its kind in Maine as well as the second in the country. As written in the original by-laws, Wednesdays evenings were set aside for a special dinner and speaker series. The catered events would eventually become the talk of the town, and any invited speaker was well received with their remarks, often published in the following day’s newspaper. Their impressive roster of speakers has included Civil War General Joshua Chamberlain and even President Grover Cleveland. As the club thrived, Dow gained even more political power and eventually served in Maine’s House of Representatives from 1887 to 1890 and as Speaker of the House from 1889 to 1890. After Dow left political office he continued to be highly active in the Portland Club. In 1921 the club made its new home in the Hunnewell-Shepley mansion located on 156 State Street. It was a substantial residence built in 1805 by Boston architect Alexander Parris, who helped to define much of Portland’s skyline. After acquiring the mansion, John Calvin Stevens (serving as the club’s president) added a magnificent ballroom as well as the largest privately

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the Portland Club, ca. 1965. owned pool and billiards room in Maine. The room included a dozen mahogany playing tables, and one can only imagine what the topics of conversations were during the friendly games. Although the club’s founding era ended with the passing of Stevens in

1924 and Dow a decade later in 1934, the club continued on as an important Portland establishment. Today, the residence and club has maintained its 19th-century elegance with rooms (Continued on page 26)

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Discover Maine 26

— Southern Maine —

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filled with antique furniture and chandeliers, the original grand staircase and ballroom, and walls lined with a collection of artwork and the names of its former members. Only the billiards room includes obvious changes such as flat-screen televisions and surroundsound speakers. According to the Portland Club, “These are amenities that the founders of the club could not have conceived of, and might or might not have approved of, but which are especially popular today at Super Bowl and World Series times.” Although its appearance has remained pretty much as it used to be and the monthly Wednesday dinner and speaker events still occur, the club has adjusted to the changing times of the 20th century. They have welcomed women into its membership, and anyone over 21 years of age who “values good times and good company, and who shares the dedication to the preservation of this historic property.” They have even admitted Democrats! 

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Tragedy On A Sunday Afternoon Young father killed by cannon during Patriot celebration by Charles Francis wenty-eight year old Benjamin Tukey of Portland died on Sunday, October 28, 1777. He left behind a wife of less than two years, a comely lass named Hannah. He left an infant son bearing his own Christian name. He left his parents and twelve brothers and sisters. Benjamin Tukey died where Congress and Hampshire streets intersect. Back then Portland was known as Falmouth. Young Benjamin Tukey was killed not far from Grele’s [sic] Tavern. Given the manner of Tukey’s death, one wonders if drink could have been a factor. Even though it was a Sunday, there was alcohol in abundance. Benjamin Tukey was killed by the blast of a cannon. The blast took off his right arm. It was severed at the shoulder. Tukey was ramming home a charge when the gun went off. Given the circumstances, Tukey could well have had one too many and been lax about his task. The firing of the cannon on that now

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very distant October day had nothing to do with the defense of Falmouth. The occasion was the celebration of the greatest victory of the Revolution — the Battle of Saratoga. Benjamin Tukey’s death was tragic. There is no question as to that. It doesn’t matter if the cause of death be traced to alcohol, patriotic fervor, simple carelessness or some other intrinsic character flaw — it was a tragedy. The story of Benjamin Tukey’s untimely death has been told on numerous occasions. It appears in the nineteenth century Portland histories of William Willis and William Goold. It appears in recent twenty-first century anecdotal accounts of old Falmouth. It would seem there is something in the tale that transcends the immediacy of time and place, something that appeals to a permanent feature of human interest. There would appear to be something about the passing of Benjamin Tukey that has a permanency of theme akin to that of soap

opera, or maybe even grand opera. One does not have to look all that long to see in Benjamin Tukey’s death some of the elements of Greek tragedy. The background is that of war. Too, there is the tale of family ripped asunder. That Falmouth suffered during the American Revolution is a staple of Maine history. The fire-breathing Redcoat Mowatt fired and burned the town. Think of that event in terms of Greek drama. A mother, the Mother Country England, has turned on her child or children — Falmouth or the colonies as a whole. In looking at the burning of Falmouth as an act in a play, one must consider the psychology of the audience. In this case, the audience are the residents of Falmouth Neck and you who hear of the tale. The next act in the drama occurs with news of the Saratoga victory reaching Falmouth and the subsequent death of Benjamin Tukey. (Continued on page 28)


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— Southern Maine —

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The cannon that was contributing its voice to the general hullabaloo that long ago Sunday was a small one. It spoke repeatedly, though. It was fired often enough that it was always a bit warm to the touch. None of the stories of Benjamin Tukey’s passing say whether or not he fired the cannon before it took his life. Nor do they indicate whether he had experience with similar weapons of destruction. Firing a cannon is touchy and dangerous business. The hotter one gets, the more care must be taken swabbing it out before loading and tamping again. All sparks must be doused and gone. Undoubtedly this is where Benjamin failed. When Benjamin Tukey, the young father, rammed down his tamping rod, the cannon discharged. William Tukey, close by, saw his big brother fall to the ground. He saw Benjamin missing an arm. And he saw the blood stream from his brother’s mangled shoulder. What kind of a man was Benjamin Tukey? Did he carry the seeds of his destruction already in him? Was he of cocksure mindset? Did he have experience with cannon so that he should have known to take more care in what he was doing than he did? Did alcohol fog his judgement?

British General John Burgoyne surrendered on October 17. It was the first great Patriot success of the war. The victory was cause for Patriot celebration, especially in Falmouth where hundreds had endured a long winter of homelessness in 1775-76 thanks to a vengeful Mother Country. It is the old theme of the disruption of normal family life, where mother kills children out of spite. Depending on the version of the story one encounters, Benjamin Tukey received his fatal wound either late on the afternoon of October 28, or early that evening. Celebrating the Saratoga victory had been a daylong affair centering at Grele’s Tavern, which seemed to have an unending supply of rum punch and potent Madeira wine. Drinks were even passed out of tavern windows to the men firing a cannon to add to the general jollity of the occasion. At least one other member of the Tukey family besides Benjamin was among the Sunday celebrants. William Tukey accompanied his brother. William was eleven. Unlike his brother Benjamin, William would have an exceptionally long life. He would pass his ninety-second birthday.

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We don’t know. Human drama is most fascinating when it involves stresses and fractures in the fabric of family life. A young father or newly married husband dying on a battlefield is accompanied by the all too understandable sense of sacrifice. But what of a death like that of Benjamin Tukey, a death where validation is lacking? It is not in the least surprising that the death of Benjamin Tukey has attracted interest down to the present day. It arouses interest because it has as a background — the hate-filled struggle between people who ought to have loved each other, England and her American colonies. More than this, the tale of Benjamin Tukey embodies a terrible poignant tragedy. It is a poignancy that requires bad things happening to good people. It doesn’t matter if the good person is flawed, if he seems to be asking for it with his carelessness or arrogance. The story of Benjamin Tukey is of the stuff that catches our attention. Ancient Greek dramatists appreciated this, so too do soap opera and pulp fiction writers of the present day.

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the Patterson Block in Freeport. Item #114408 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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— Southern Maine —

The Forgotten village Of Ligonia In South Portland Home to Irish and Welsh immigrants by Matthew Jude Barker he area at the end of Main Street in South Portland, near Calvary Cemetery, was long known as Ligonia, and was home to many generations of Welsh, Irish, and English immigrants, as well as many others. It was probably named for Lygonia, an early land patent in Maine. The locality was home to many profitable businesses, including the Portland Rolling Mills, the Portland Kerosene Oil Company, the Cumberland Bone Company, and the Atwood Lead Company. These companies employed many immigrants. The land that Ligonia was built on was originally a horse racing track known as the Island Trotting Park, owned and operated by a local railroad contractor, William Baldwin, a native of County Cork, Ireland. It opened in the mid-1850s, and nearby Calvary Cemetery was developed a few years later. The track was a mile long and “the natural elasticity of the soil made it a peculiarly

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excellent race course, and the detached land being surrounded by water at high tide, it was given the name of the Island Track,” according to an 1890 Eastern Argus article. Author J. A. Carnes visited the site in 1857, Among the Welsh who resided in ligonia were families named thomas, lewis, Phillips, Bamber, and Brown. the Irish families were named Feeney, Foley, Cooley, McCarty, Walsh (Welch), Cummings, Galligan, Rogers, Murphy, Conley, Sullivan, McCourt, McGinnis, Ryan, McFarland, Mulkern, McGann, McGraw, Casey, lydon, and Ford.

describing it as a “beautiful location, with picturesque scenery in every direction.” Some notable horse and foot races were held here, but in the end the venture proved unprofitable for Baldwin and it was closed. A few years later when the Civil War erupted, the area was used as a troop training and quartering headquarters variously known as Camp King, McClellan, Butler, Abraham Lincoln, and Berry. After the war, the Portland Rolling Mills was opened here in early 1866 and it became a company town, complete with forty-five homes and sixty-five families by 1870. Called Ligonia, the village was comprised of eighty-five acres that included a school, auditorium, ball field, stores, and rows and rows of dark barn-red houses. Some of the old military barracks were modified into dwellings, while other homes were built on and off of what

became Central Avenue. Today in Calvary Cemetery, workers still dig up foundation stones from some of these structures. The Rolling Mills was financed by the famous Portland entrepreneur John Bundy Brown, and he managed the company until 1878. The firm produced railroad, bar, hoop, and other iron implements. By 1872 the company was turning out 14,000 tons of rails and employed over 200 men. A railroad bridge was built to bring the products to the Grand Trunk and Portland Terminal Companies’ rail lines along Commercial Street in Portland. The entire process, from manufacturing to train to shipment, was quite advanced for this area and the company realized substantial profits. The 1870 Federal Census enumerated twenty-seven Irish families and twentyseven Welsh families residing in Ligonia, along with a few Canadian, English, and American families. Many of the members of these families had been employed in the mills of Wales and Pennsylvania before settling in Ligonia in the mid- to late-1860s. The Welsh attended nearby Protestant churches and the Irish were communicants of Mount Calvary Chapel in Calvary Cemetery, built in 1860-1861. When an Irish person died, it was not far to go to be laid to rest. More than a few Irish were baptized, married, died, and buried in Ligonia. Among the Welsh who resided in Ligonia were families named Thomas, Lewis, Phillips, Bamber, and Brown. The Irish fam-

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— Southern Maine —

ilies were named Feeney, Foley, Cooley, McCarty, Walsh (Welch), Cummings, Galligan, Rogers, Murphy, Conley, Sullivan, McCourt, McGinnis, Ryan, McFarland, Mulkern, McGann, McGraw, Casey, Lydon, and Ford. Many of the Irish had lived and worked in England and Wales before coming to America. They settled in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Brunswick before coming to South Portland, then known as Cape Elizabeth. Many of the Irish were natives of the County Galway, including Mike Mulkern and his wife Julia, who had a daughter in England in 1867 before settling in Ligonia a year later. Galwegians Martin and Margaret Lydon McDonough had three children in Boston before coming here in 1867. Richard J. Walsh was born in Wales in 1844 and came to the United States with his Irishborn parents as a baby. His brother John was born in New Jersey in 1847, and three other brothers were born in Pennsylvania in the 1850s. By 1870 the Walsh family had settled in Ligonia. Richard Walsh raised a large family in Ligonia and was still working at the Rolling Mills in 1900, as were many other Irish.

One of the jobs that the Welsh and Irish became quite skilled at was that of a puddler. As local historian William B. Jordan, Jr. noted in his history of Cape Elizabeth, “The puddling process was quite difficult and required a great amount of skill on the part of the workmen.” One of these skilled workmen was Irishman Matthew Galligan, who immigrated to America, married, had several children in the Boston area, and then became a puddler at the Rolling Mills. Many Ligonians were also employed at the nearby Kerosene Works and the Atwood Lead Company, such as Irish immigrant Thomas Lynch, accidentally killed by inhaling gas in the fall of 1867. In 1872 the Portland Kerosene Oil Company had an invested capital of $209, 000 and produced some four million gallons of kerosene, naptha, and parafine a year. The Welsh, Irish, and other Rolling Mills families created a small, but quite active ethnic enclave in this part of South Portland. The mill hands even formed their own baseball team, the “Irons,” who competed favorably with the Portland Reds and other local ball teams. They also formed the Ligo-

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nia Cornet Band, and for many years their leader was William J. “Big John” Lewis, a Welshman who went on to national fame with the Richmond Light Infantry Band in the late 19th century. The Welsh also had their own church choir that sang in their native Welsh, a Celtic language. Some of the Irish, coming from Connemara, County Galway, would also have spoken in their Celtic language, Irish Gaelic. By the early 1900s most of the Irish and Welsh families had relocated to Portland; many others moved out of state. Ligonia was still active into the second decade of the 20th century, but then it finally faded away. The Rolling Mills was closed around 1920. The Irish families that remained continued to attend church at Mount Calvary Chapel until St. John the Evangelist Church was built in 1939-1940. The area that was once Ligonia, as well as surrounding localities such as Cash Corner, deserves a book of its own. It is hoped that this brief article might whet someone’s appetite to dig further into the untold story of this all-but-forgotten village. 

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Discover Maine 32

— Southern Maine —

Maine Central Railroad station at lisbon Falls. Item #114659 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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The Switzerland Of America Sebago Lakes Region became recreational Mecca of the Northeast by Charles Francis

D

uring the Gay 90s one of the more canny financial figures of turn-ofthe-twentieth century Maine began promoting the Sebago Lake Region as the premier recreational Mecca of the Northeast. This was Charles Goodridge of Deering Oaks. Goodridge was a major player in the tourist economy of the Sebago region in the decades around 1900 owning, among other things, the steamboat line which served the lakes and the Songo River. Goodridge promoted the Sebago region up and down the east coast, calling it the “Switzerland of America.” In particular, he extolled the virtues of the region’s pristine, sparkling lakes and the lavish vistas of its rolling hills and mountains. Charles Goodridge was more than just a canny financial opportunist. He was a master promoter, an advertising genius — perhaps the first of the great American masters

of advertising. Take, for example, his use of the term “Switzerland of America.” Sebago Lake is in that region of the state which the Maine tourism industry of today describes as the “Western Lakes and Mountains Region.” Though Goodridge never used this particular phraseology, he clearly had a somewhat similar mental picture in his own head when he called Sebago the “Switzerland of America.” Goodridge pamphlets, posters and other Sebago region advertising paraphernalia featured scenes of happy summer folk relaxing at the famous Bay of Naples Hotel, swimming and boating on the lakes and, above all, cruising on one of his numerous steamships that went by such names as Hawthorne, Longfellow, Hiawatha and Minnehaha. The above literary cadence of Goodridge pleasure craft is decidedly nineteenth cen-

tury. It has a distinct Maine flavor. Hawthorne and Longfellow spent a fair amount of time during their formative years in the Sebago region. Hiawatha and Minnehaha are characters in the Longfellow epic poem Hiawatha. Not all Goodridge vessels had literary connections, though. One was called Songo. The Songo’s genre — if one may appropriate the literary term — might be described as historical as opposed to literary. The name is just as fitting to the Maine setting as those of a literary nature, though. Here’s why. The Songo may be viewed as emblematic of the Goodridge fleet of vessels. As every Goodridge vessel was designed as a tourist attraction, it would be inappropriate to call the Songo a flagship, though some have dubbed her as such, if for no other reason than the fact that the Goodridge fleet went

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Discover Maine 34

— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 33)

mained small towns relying on cottage industries to subsist. The significance of water transportation to the development of the State of Maine is no more marked than in the Sebago-Long Lakes region, where two man-made water transportation systems played an integral part in the development of western Maine. These systems are the Songo Lock system and the Oxford-Cumberland Canal, both of which have been designated as state landmarks. The first form of public passenger service to serve Sebago region towns like Naples, Raymond and Bridgton was the stagecoach. Goods that were transported into and out of the region were carried on horse and ox-drawn wagons. The latter were replaced by the Oxford-Cumberland Canal, which had its heyday between 1830 and 1870. The canal ran from Harrison to Portland Harbor. It and the Songo Lock system originally consisted of twenty-eight locks. The latter system allowed boats to pass through the rivers connecting Sebago and Long Lakes. However, the major function of the entire system was the transport of

by the name “Songo River Line.” Charles Goodridge’s promotions were exceptionally successful. In 1897, the first year Goodridge’s Songo River Line operated, Goodridge steamships carried some 4000 passengers. This figure was nothing compared to those that followed, however. By the turn of the century, Goodridge vessels were carrying an average of 40,000 passengers a season. Moreover, the Sebago region had become one of the most popular tourist attractions in New England. However, none of this might have happened if it had not been for the Songo Lock system, which includes Songo Lock itself, the last wooden lock in Maine. Maine is a state of rivers and streams as well as coastline, bays and coves. While today highways are the chief means of transportation in Maine, waterways fulfilled that function for much of the state’s history. Without the state’s extensive system of rivers, the timber industry might never have developed as it did. Moreover, inland towns would have remained isolated communities and industrial centers would likely have re-

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commercial freight. In the late 1840s a group of Bridgton businessmen joined forces to purchase a steamer to provide passenger service to the towns joined by the system of locks. In 1847 their steamer the Fawn began plying the lakes and the Songo River. Down through the Civil War steamer service on the waterway was sporadic at best. Then in the late 1860s Bridgton businessman Charles Gibbs had a vision of Bridgton becoming a major tourist attraction. To this end he constructed a hotel on Pleasant Mountain and formed the Sebago Lakes Steamship Company, which operated into the 1890s when Gibbs divested himself of his interests. It was at this point that Charles Goodridge entered into the now budding tourist industry of the region. World War I brought a decline to Sebago tourism, which the steamship business never really weathered. In 1917 Goodridge sold off his interests. Although there were some attempts at keeping steamship service active after this, these ended with the Depression. Today motorboats have replaced the steamers of the Songo River Line and the canal barges that were once fixtures of a bygone way of life. It is difficult to imagine, however, how the Sebago and Long Lakes regions might have developed had it not been for its two man-made water systems. Certainly tourists would have been less inclined to travel to the “Switzerland of America.” Moreover, the other industries and business of the towns in the area might never have developed as they did. 

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Raymond Gervais’ Brush With Destiny Alfred sailor recalls war experience by Charles Francis he U.S.S. Seawolf (SS-197) has one of the most remarkable records of any American World War II submarine. Depending on the source, the Seawolf sunk twenty-one or maybe as many as twentyseven enemy vessels in the Pacific. The Seawolf may have damaged thirteen or more. The Seawolf ’s wartime record begins December 8, 1941 at Manila, and ends the beginning of October 1944 somewhere off the coast of Samar. The last time the Seawolf was heard from was October 3, 1944. She exchanged recognition signals with the U.S.S. Narwhal (SS167). What happened to the U.S.S. Seawolf is — to a certain extent — a matter of conjecture. She could have gone to the bottom due to human error, meaning crew error. She could have been sunk by an enemy vessel. Or, she could have succumbed to friendly fire. Authorities most often cite the latter

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possibility to account for her disappearance. One sailor who did not go down with the Seawolf was Raymond Gervais. Gervais’ most memorable World War II duty was as a crewman on the Seawolf. Toward the end of his life he told his granddaughter Marsha Malloy Sherer some of what it was like on board the SS-197. Sherer says “he never talked much about the war until he was near death and [then] it all spilled out.” Most of Gervais’ duty on the Seawolf occurred when she was stationed in Australia. That duty includes action off the Philippines and in the Java Sea. Gervais transferred or was transferred from the Seawolf at Pearl Harbor in 1943. Sherer’s mother was born in July of 1944. Marsha Malloy Sherer lives in Shapleigh. Shapleigh isn’t all that far from where the Gervais family made their home. It isn’t all that far from where the Seawolf was launched, either. Raymond Gervais’ roots

are in Alfred. The keel of the Seawolf, the submarine Raymond Gervais would serve on, was laid down at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. There would seem to be something of a coincidence in this. The Seawolf was launched December 1, 1939. A picture of the submarine and her crew taken at Portsmouth on August 5, 1940 shows Gervais in the fourth row. Raymond Gervais enlisted in the Army when he was seventeen, in 1932. A year later he became a Navy man. This happenstance brought him back close to the place his family called home. The coincidences don’t stop here, though. In the summer of 2009 Marsha Malloy Sherer, an emergency room nurse, visited her daughter in Connecticut. Sherer’s daughter, Brooke, is in the Coast Guard. As part of her visit with Brooke, Sherer spent some time at the Mystic Seaport: Museum of America and the Sea. There she saw a (Continued on page 36)


Discover Maine 36

— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 35)

eration Americans. When he couldn’t get a regular paying job in the Alfred area, Raymond left for Connecticut and the American Thread Company. He wasn’t the only Gervais to leave Maine and work at American Thread. Nor was he the only Gervais to leave that concern and enlist — brothers Albert and Norman did the same. As to why the Gervais brothers left the American Thread Company, that choice becomes obvious given working conditions, especially in the carding mills where Raymond and his brothers labored. Carding machines have powerful metal brushes. Workers feed the lap into the cards, whose fine metal teeth brush it so that all the fibers face the same direction. The cotton comes out of the cards in the form of long, thick strands of cotton known as sliver. Carding machines were dangerous: unwary workers sometimes lost fingers or arms in their crushing grip. In the first decades of the century, picker and card operators were almost entirely men, as the work generally was considered too strenuous and dangerous for women. These are among the reasons those who had the op-

replica of the Seawolf. The experience brought her grandfather’s stories back to her, stories that she is willing to share. Raymond Gervais’ story is like that of many young men who came of age during the Depression. Dissatisfied with opportunities as they existed in the early 1930s, Gervais enlisted in the military. He had been working at the American Thread Company in Willimantic, Connecticut. This single fact may just serve as the centering point of the story of Raymond Gervais, and that of his family. In a sense the story encapsulates the experiences of a good many Maine families of the first decades of the twentieth century. The Gervais family traces its origins to Quebec. They came to Maine, as did many French-Canadians in the decades before and after 1900, in hopes of building a new life. These new Mainers began to build families, and then when the economy soured they or their children looked elsewhere for their livelihood. Born in 1915, Raymond Gervais was one of ten children, all of whom were first gen-

tion left the American Thread Company — the work was exceptionally hard and dangerous. The military was preferable, even when the United States entered World War II. Raymond Gervais’ Navy stories of note have high points and low points. They include an encounter Gervais had with Amelia Earhart and the strafing of Japanese sailors at another occasion. The Amelia Earhart story involves the aviatrix’s first attempt to fly around the world. The strafing of the Japanese sailors is the sort of recital that seldom gets told. Raymond Gervais saw Amelia Earhart when he was stationed at the Navy’s Luke Field in Hawaii. He mistook the usually photogenic Earhart for a boy. Though it is largely ignored in the tales of Earhart’s last flight, the aviatrix originally intended to fly around the world from west to east. On March 17, 1937, Earhart and her crew flew the first leg of this trip starting from Oakland, California. Due to lubrication and problems with the propeller hubs’ variable pitch mechanisms, the aircraft needed servicing in Hawaii. Ultimately, the

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plane ended up at the United States Navy’s Luke Field. The flight resumed three days later from Luke Field and during the takeoff run, Earhart miscalculated. This miscalculation resulted in a ground-loop. Some witnesses at Luke Field said they saw a tire blow. Earhart thought either the plane’s right tire had blown or the right landing gear had collapsed. It was during the Luke Field stop that Raymond Gervais saw Earhart, mistaking her for a boy. As Marsha Malloy Sherer recalls, her grandfather couldn’t believe it when “he was told she was a woman.” With the plane severely damaged from the ground-loop, Earhart’s flight was called off and the aircraft was shipped by sea to the Lockheed facility back in California. The rest of that tale is the one that the world knows as ending in tragedy somewhere in the Pacific in July of 1937. Raymond Gervais liked submarine duty. He was a short man. His granddaughter says “he liked submarine duty because it was good for a short guy like him!” The Seawolf was stationed in Manila when the United States entered the war. That was where her first patrols started from. Later she was stationed in Darwin and Freemantle in Australia. The first three patrols of the Seawolf were uneventful. Starting with the fourth, however, all of that changed. On her fourth patrol in the Lompac Straits the Seawolf sunk an enemy transport and damaged three light cruisers and a freighter. On the fifth patrol she sank a freighter. On the sixth, she sank a tanker, a freighter-transport and damaged another tanker. That was how it went. The Seawolf seemed to have a charmed life. Raymond Gervais died in 1994. He was

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in his seventies when he told his granddaughter of the Seawolf and his time on her. That was when he told the story of shooting Japanese soldiers and sailors floating helpless in the sea. The soldiers and sailors were from vessels the Seawolf sunk. Gervais said “They were just floating in the water and had to be shot... that was awful.” It was this memory that kept Raymond Gervais from talking about his wartime experiences.

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Raymond Gervais’ fondest memories involved Maine. That explains why he returned and raised a family here when his Navy duty ended. Gervais settled in Stockton Springs. That’s where his granddaughter Marsha got to known him. That’s where Marsha Malloy Sherer heard stories of the area around Alfred, and in part explains why she moved to the region as an adult.

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— Southern Maine —

Portland’s Early Italian Restaurant History Steeped in local family tradition

by Craig Palmacci

T

hree great Italian-owned and operated Portland restaurants, steeped in local family tradition, provided a tremendous service to family and friends alike. As a youngster growing up in an Italian family in Portland in the 1960s, most family celebrations took us to the Village Café, The Sportsman’s Grill or DeMillo’s. I would like to share their histories, since they were all landmarks and integral parts of the community.

The village Café It all began in 1936. Vincenzo and Maria Reali, immigrants from Ceprano, Italy, 60 miles south of Rome, opened a little place on Newbury Street. They catered to families and friends and neighbors. At that time, Vincenzo knew little about cooking, let alone running a restaurant. When a customer asked Jimmy

(his friends called him that) for a meal, he would reach under the counter for a buzzer that summoned Maria. She would hurry down from their apartment next door in her high heeled shoes to prepare the order. The menu back then consisted of three entrees: spaghetti, spitzatelli (spareribs w/veal cacciatore) and tripe (pig intestines), a treat that customers eagerly looked forward to. The prices ranged between 20 and 30 cents per dish. As word spread, dockworkers and longshoremen from Portland’s busy waterfront started coming to the Café. Like Maria and Vincenzo, many of them were immigrants, mostly from Italy. Between the hearty and delicious food and the good company, people were drawn to the place. They felt at home. The Village then contained six stools and four booths. The restaurant was closed on Sundays,

Celebrating Portland’s

yet Vincenzo and Maria entertained many of their friends and good customers in their home. Maria treated them to homemade pasta and bread, and Vincenzo shared his homemade wine. He turned out thousands of gallons of wine in his day. He made his own press from railroad ties and a house jack. The winepress could be seen in the lobby as you entered the restaurant. Vincenzo proudly signed his name to it. Three generations of Realis have tended to The Village with love and devotion. When Vincenzo’s youngest son Amedeo returned home from a tour of duty with the Navy Seabees in World Ward II, his father asked him to help out in the restaurant for a couple weeks. Amedeo agreed to help out for two weeks and two weeks only. He had dreams of becoming an electrician. He and his seven

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— Southern Maine —

brothers and sisters had practically grown up in the kitchen, and he was glad to pitch in. Amedeo is pictured on the cover of the menu, standing in the front of the original Village Café. Two weeks stretched into 40 years. He never regretted not becoming an electrician. The Village was good to him. The post-war years were marked by growth of the country and The Village. During the first expansion in the late 1950s, Amedeo increased the size of the café to 18 booths. The second major expansion came in 1973, when he was able to seat 180 people. This was huge by Portland standards at the time. During this time Amedeo and his wife Anita had eight children of their own who grew up washing dishes, bussing tables and making salads, in between school and sports activities. Now retired, Amedeo has handed down the business to his oldest son, John. John began hanging around the kitchen at the age of ten, helping his father on Saturdays making pizza, chopping vegetables and doing anything his father would let him. He had a ball. When he

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first started, a clam dinner was $1.25, a huge sirloin steak was $2.00, and spaghetti and meatballs were sold for 95 cents. His salary at the time was lunch! His father never formally asked him to stay in the business, knowing from experience that the restaurant business was and is an extremely difficulty one, demanding hard work and very long hours. John had to make that decision for himself, which he did upon graduating from college in 1973. Like his father and his grandfather, he had become totally involved in every aspect of the business. He oversaw the computerization of the restaurant and its second major expansion in 1986 to a seating capacity of over 425.

The Sportsman’s grill The murals on the walls of the Sportsman’s Grill, 911 Congress Street in Portland, have led at least one diner to the popular Italian American restaurant. A Massachusetts man, lost in South Portland, asked the help of a local firefighter. He’d been told of a wonderful restaurant in the area, but he couldn’t re-

Celebrating Portland’s

39

member its name or where it was. The only thing he could remember was that it had murals on the walls. The firefighter directed the hungry traveler to the Sportsman’s. Delighted with his meal, the diner later related the story to James “Jimmy” Vasile, the man who opened the restaurant over 60 years ago. Vasile grew up in a family of five sisters and two brothers in an apartment house on Newbury Street. His neighbors were Amedeo Reali, who later opened the Village Café, and Don Valle, of Valle’s Restaurant fame. “A whole gang of us grew up together,” Vasile remembered. “I decided if they could do it, I could do it.” In the fall of 1950 Vasile married Pauline Marion St. Peter and decided to buy Cassety’s Restaurant, a two-room diner and bar on Congress Street. Renamed the Sportsman’s Grill, the restaurant served hamburgers, chowders, spaghetti and meatballs and beef stew. Vasile’s mother, Pauline Severino, and his wife prepared the spaghetti sauce and soups at home and carried them to the restaurant, where they (Continued on page 40)

Italian Heritage


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— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 39)

Jimmy Vasile ran his restaurant like a politician working a crowd. Since 1950 the owner of the Sportsman’s Grill welcomed diners to his restaurant with a slap on the back, a wave or a friendly word. Many of those feasting on the Sportsman’s Italian specialties — boiled dinners, lobsters, other seafood, and homecooked family fare —ate there every week or every day for years. As the restaurant grew more popular, Vasile expanded the kitchen and dining areas gradually, taking over a neighboring flower shop and grocery store. Finally, Sportsman’s Grill had a 45 by 35 foot kitchen, with ovens downstairs for the heavy cooking, where the cooks produced about 300 gallons of spaghetti sauce a week. In 1975 Vasile added a deli for take-out orders. The restaurant seated about 200 people at one time. On a typical day between 1,000 and 1,200 people came through the doors. Starting with only two employees — a waitress and a bartender — the Sportsman’s eventually had 64 employees on the payroll. The pictures on the walls of the restaurant’s bar

were heated in a tiny six by six foot kitchen. Vasile let his good food and inexpensive prices sell themselves along — with some help from his friends. An inveterate storyteller, Vasile used anecdotes to illustrate how popular the restaurant was among local people. One guy asked a Portland policeman where he could go for a good meal, Vasile related. The policeman said, “You follow me to the Sportsman’s Grill. If you don’t like the food there, I’ll pick up the tab.” Well, a little bit later, the guy looks up at the policeman and gives him a handful of cigars, he was so happy with his meal. “They all came here,” Vasile said of his customers.. It didn’t matter who they were — senators, doctors, or truck drivers.” The late Governor James Longley made a special point of stopping in at the Sportsman’s whenever he was in town. “He gave me hell for washing the pots and pans myself,” Vasile chuckled. Vasile explained to the Governor that a restaurant owner has to be able to do everything his crew can do, and then perform the tasks if necessary.

Celebrating Portland’s

lived up to its name. The heroes of almost every sport are there, from boxers to baseball players to horse racers. Vasile himself, along with half-brother Severino, owned several horses which they raced at Suffolk Downs. A box of carrot-tops left from salad makings and stored in a special room downstairs carried a 1985 label: “for Jimmy’s horse.” After 35 years as owner of The Sportsman’s Grill, Vasile, 67, sold the business to his halfbrother, John “Sonny” Severino, and Severino’s partner, Wayne Clark. Vasile always held the belief that good food at reasonable prices played a major role in the success of the Sportsman’s Grill. Unfortunately, to the sadness and dismay of many loyal customers, the restaurant closed its doors in 1999.

DiMillo’s

The following is an interview from 1985 with Steve Buckley (now with the Boston Herald) and Tony DiMillo: He was a street-smart kid from a low-grade Portland neighborhood; a poor kid who was only seven when his father died. His mother,

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who had five other children, worked as a welder at the shipyard in South Portland during World War II. But Tony DiMillo always knew the value of a dollar. At the age of 13, an age when most kids are playing baseball and hanging around street corners, Tony DiMillo had his first business experience. For the bargain price of $20 a month, he rented a shop in an old building on Monument Street and “did everything from shining shoes to running errands.” There was also a pinball machine in the store, and the pinball machine did a good business. The story goes that one day the owner of the building was in DiMillo’s shop, and he happened to be on hand to see the pinball machine being emptied. “He saw all those nickels,” DiMillo said, “and a week later he told me I couldn’t rent the store any more, that it had been rented to someone else. I knew what he had on his mind. Sure enough, a week later he opened the store himself. He knew he could make a few bucks on that pinball machine. But I was one step faster than he was. I went to the owner of the pinball machines and made my own deal with him. I moved to a new location, kept my machine, and the other guy was shut out. It was the first Tony DiMillo power play, the first time Tony DiMillo stood up to the big boys and won. The rented space on Monument Street run by a 13-year-old boy is now a multi-million dollar floating restaurant owned by a 51-year old man-about-town named Antonio “Tony” DiMillo. Known simply as “DiMillo’s,” the restaurant has become one of the shining jewels of Portland’s revitalized Old Port section and waterfront — not to mention a shining example of

what can happen when a street-smart kid uses hard work and common sense to beat the odds. Though he admits to being “a boring person to interview,” the words he speaks add up to success. What follows is a candid conversation with Steve Buckley in which DiMillo talks about his youth in Portland, his struggles to turn a one-time ferry boat into one of the finest restaurants in the country, and his plans for the future. Buckley: You’ve come a long way from that tiny storefront on Monument Street to owning one of the region’s most well-known restaurants. How did you get into the restaurant business? DiMillo: First of all, DiMillo’s isn’t just one of the most well-known restaurants in the region. It’s one of the most well-known restaurants in the country. With the exception of the Queen Mary in California, it’s the biggest floating restaurant in the country. And it’s one of the best, too. But my first place was Anthony’s, on Fore Street — yeah, 69 Fore Street. I opened it in 1958. My grandfather owned the building. Buckley: Did you have immediate success? DiMillo: I was still living hand-to-mouth at the time. I had dropped out of high school only a few weeks into my freshman year, so I was in no way a big shot, if that’s what you mean. I had no mind for figures back then, and I have no mind for figures now. But long, long before there was a DiMillo’s Restaurant, I got out of the restaurant business altogether. I don’t think too many people know that. It was killing me. I had bleeding ulcers. I didn’t think I could operate a restaurant business anymore. So I sold it to John Martin and Gus

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41

Barber — I sold it to them on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Buckley: What did you do then? DiMillo: I ran a convenience store. I couldn’t stand it. I was in it about a year, but I knew I had to get out. I was restless. There was no challenge to it. So I ran a place in Portland, the Capri Dine & Dance. It was a honky-tonk kind of bar. Buckley: What happened with that business? DiMillo: We were there for awhile, then we moved over to an establishment on Forest Avenue in Portland known as Bently’s. We stayed there until late 1965. Then we moved down to the waterfront on Commercial Street, when we bought what was then Theodore’s Lobster House. That was in 1965. They renamed it DiMillo’s and bit by bit started to expand the restaurant. Buckley: It seems that’s really when you became a public figure. You began to make headlines with all the expanding you were doing, and your restaurant was becoming very successful. But when did you get this idea of having a floating restaurant? DiMillo: It wasn’t really an idea. It was a (Continued on page 42)

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— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 41)

Buckley: Who are the people who backed you financially from the very beginning? DiMillo: I know this is unfair, but there is only one person I can think of who never turned me down, and that was my oilman many, many years ago. When I couldn’t pay him, and there were many of those times, he waited until I could. I’ve never forgotten that, and when you ask me a question like that, he’s the first person who comes to mind. Buckley: Has the restaurant been everything you hoped it would be? Don’t some people regard it as a gimmick? DiMillo: The restaurant has been everything I hoped it would be — and more. And it isn’t a gimmick. I can say that in all honesty simply because of the amount of business we do. We do a lot of business, and a lot of it is repeat business. When something is a gimmick, it only works with people the first time. Gimmicks don’t bring customers back. Buckley: Give me some numbers. DiMillo: Numbers? In a slow month like January, we get 600 people a day. During the

dream. It was something I had in the back of my mind for a long time, and I thought that someday I might try to make that dream come true. I read in a trade magazine about this ferry boat that was being sold by a group in Rhode Island. The boat was called the Newport. I had already purchased Long Island Wharf, we had the marina going up, and then I started turning my attentions to the restaurant. Originally, it was a car ferry — a 200 ft.long ferry boat. Of course, it’s been changed a lot over the years. Buckley: Where did the money come from? DiMillo: Well, I’d rather not say how much I paid for the boat, because I’m still having a fight with the assessor. As for the restaurant, it was something I had to put everything I had into. It was a big gamble, but it was something I thought could work. I also had to do a lot of selling around town. I had to find people who believed in this. Sometimes when you deal with bankers, they just want to see the bottom line.

summer we do 1,200 to 1,300 people a day. We do the largest dollar-volume business of any restaurant in Maine. And we have 182 employees. Buckley: You have hosted a number of famous people at DiMillo’s: Walter Cronkite, Geraldo Rivera. Do you enjoy meeting famous people? DiMillo: There are rich and famous people who come into the restaurant, but most of them don’t impress me. Hey, they don’t spend a lot of money, those people. The middle-class people do. They come to my restaurant because they want to have a good time, unwind. They’re willing to spend a buck or two on a good night. But I’m not saying I like middleclass people because they spend money. It’s just that I’m more comfortable with them. 

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Out Of The Flames The Old Orchard Beach fire by Charles Francis

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n August 15, 1907 Old Orchard Beach literally went up in flames. Almost every hotel and boarding house was destroyed. The town’s great resort landmarks like the Fiske House, the Seashore House, the Emerson and the Lawrence went up. Small businesses burned — a bowling alley, a pharmacy, a grocery store and a lumber mill. It was the height of the tourist season. People were injured and killed. One man was decapitated when a tank containing soda used for mixing confections exploded. Some of the tourists resorted to thievery and vandalism. Others conducted themselves as heroes. One of the latter was Mayor John J. Fitzgerald of Boston — “Honey Fitz.” Fitzgerald helped organize the fire fighters who came from Portland, Biddeford and Saco. In 1907 dollars the damage to Old Orchard Beach businesses exceeded $1,000,000. Insurance covered barely a tenth of this — $150,000. In today’s figures the cost would be astronomical. Old Orchard’s buildings were a disaster waiting to happen. They were wood. They stood right in the path of the prevailing westerlies, the winds that almost continually blow seaward from the interior. August 15 had a west wind.

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Old Orchard Beach had a volunteer fire department. It and the fire departments from Portland and other communities didn’t have the equipment to cope with the conflagration. Fire fighting was in its infancy. Biddeford sent its steam pumper, the Richard Vines. The Richard Vines was Biddeford’s most important piece of fire-fighting equipment back then. It had been purchased in 1868. The scene on the beach typified the confusion and frustration of the day. It was littered with valueless salvaged artifacts. One man had legs of lamb. A woman had a parrot. A couple of young men played pianos that had been trundled out of burning buildings. The famous pier was one of the few Old Orchard landmarks that suffered little damage. Only about fifty feet of it burned — the section closest to the beach. A fire boat pumped water on the pier. And the pier’s quick-thinking superintendent tore up a stretch of planks to keep flames from advancing. Old Orchard Beach would rise from the ashes of the fire like the proverbial Phoenix because the pier emerged from the fire relatively unscathed. The pier’s White Way would provide the impetus for the rebirth. In 1907 the pier stretched some 1800 feet

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into the ocean. There were concession stands on it. There were amusements on it. A good many were operated by the White Way Amusement Company. At the very end of the pier was the Casino. Some of the greatest names in entertainment of the early 1900s would help make the Old Orchard pier one of the stellar attractions on the east coast. This would, in turn, lead to the rebirth of the town of Old Orchard Beach. The entertainers would be brought in by the White Way Amusement Company. The president of the White Way Amusement Company was James Rundle of Biddeford. The day after the fire Rundle said it (Continued on page 44)

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— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 43)

the Hotel velvet in Old Orchard Beach, 1903. Detail of item #12154 from the collections of the Maine Historical Society and www.vintageMaineImages.com

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was the intention to keep the pier operating on a business as usual basis. This included bringing in entertainers and having dances. Entertainers would number the likes of W. C. Fields and Mae West. Bands like that of Maine’s own popular Henry Sprince would provide music for dances. In addition to serving as president of the White Way Amusement Company, James Rundle was the manager and part owner of the Biddeford Opera House. Rundle and his partner, Frederick Yates, turned the Biddeford Opera House into one of the premier year round road show venues in northern New England. The Opera House, with a seating capacity of over 1000, provided everything in the way of amenities that the stars of the day expected of theaters in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Not long after the Old Orchard fire, Rundle took over sole management and ownership of the Opera House. Rundle used the same entertainment connections that made the Biddeford Opera house a nexus of northern New England entertainment in his capacity as president of the White Way Amusement Company. Two years after the fire of 1907, in 1909, a storm hit Old Orchard Beach. The pier suffered extensive damage. The Casino was moved some 800 feet closer to shore. The pier’s primary business of attracting tourists continued, and the White Way Amusement Company under direction of James Rundle continued to bring in headlining entertainers. In the 1920s and later these headliners would have names like Fred Astaire and Benny Goodman. The Old Orchard Beach fire of 1907 brought about changes other than the continued embellishments to the famous pier. The Old Orchard Beach Volunteer Fire Department upgraded its fire fighting capacity. So, too, did the fire departments of the towns that that had answered Old Orchard’s call for mutual assistance only to discover they were helpless in the face of a conflagration of such magnitude. Biddeford added two new steam pumpers and an electric motor pumper to its equipment. The fire departments of Biddeford, Old Orchard, Saco and Portland had learned — to their dismay — the inherent destructiveness of full scale fire.


— Southern Maine —

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Paramount Cameraman Catches Lift Bird’s-eye view attempted with balloons by Erick T. Gatcomb he year 1937 was an eventful one for Paramount newsreel cameraman Al Mingalone. On May 6 he captured startling images of the terrific Hindenburg disaster and was recognized for his camera work. While his footage of the tragedy is today considered some of the finest of the Hindenburg, it was four months later that he gained real fame, and it all started in Old Orchard Beach. A Massachusetts company named Dewey & Almey sent a press release to Phil Coolidge at Paramount detailing their recent involvement in hydrogen-filled balloons for use in weather observation. Being a photographer, Coolidge began pondering the

T

media applications of these balloons and finally concocted a plan with his son and fellow newsreel photographer, Jake Coolidge.

The idea was to attach a few of these balloons to a cameraman and allow him to float roughly 30 feet above the ground to film local scenery. The idea was to attach a few of these balloons to a cameraman and allow him to float roughly 30 feet above the ground to film local scenery. Al Mingalone was informally

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given the assignment and quickly left for Old Orchard Beach. On September 27 at the Old Orchard Beach Country Club, Mingalone and the Coolidges inflated a few balloons and calculated how many they would need to elevate 165 pounds, the combined weight of Mingalone and his equipment. The flight was cancelled due to high winds and was rescheduled for the following day. The next morning the crew strapped Mingalone into a harness attached to a car bumper with a 100-foot tether. Jake Coolidge handed Mingalone a pair of scissors to use at the first sign of trouble. Thinking it all a joke, Al (Continued on page 46)

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Discover Maine 46

— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 45)

able to help. They followed him all the way to Kennebunkport where he was flying low enough that the crew could take action. Father Mullen — an accomplished marksman — jumped from the vehicle, dropped to one knee and fired several rounds from the rifle, popping enough of the balloons to trigger Mingalone’s descent. Nearly an hour after his harrowing flight began, Mingalone landed in a cornfield in North Kennebunkport where his lines became tangled in a tree. Two brothers (who had been helping the Coolidges at the golf course and also joined the chase for the terrified cameraman) managed to hold him down and free him from the harness and lines. When Coolidge’s car arrived at the scene, Jake told Al to shake hands with Father Mullen, whom he referred to as “the guy who shot you down.” Mingalone was happy to do so and smiled when Jake added, “You’d better

pocketed the scissors and chuckled. Also present was Father James J. Mullen, an aviation enthusiast, invited by the younger Coolidge. Father Mullen joked with the crew and held the rifle handed him by Jake Coolidge. After blessing the 26 balloons, Mullen watched as Mingalone jumped and rose 25 feet in the air. Not nearly high enough for decent footage, the crew agreed that more balloons must be added and so inflated and attached two more. The cameraman jumped again and rose to 100 feet, but the wind caught the balloons and began spinning Mingalone wildly. Thinking that an altitude of 300 feet would decrease the wind’s influence, the crew tied an additional five balloons to the harness and added a 200-foot extension to the tether. Again Mingalone jumped and quickly rose to a height of 100 feet. It was then that he felt a jerk and looked down to see that the tether had snapped and that he was at the wind’s mercy. Rising into a fog, Al’s visibility was impaired as he tried to pull himself the ten feet to the balloon lines. Wracked with cramps, he was unable to pull himself up and a sudden gust of wind caused him to drop his camera, 12 pounds of ballast. Shooting ever higher, he became entangled in the lines and estimated his altitude at 700 feet. Father Mullen joined the father and son Coolidge team as they ran for their car, parked a short distance away. Speeding off after the frightened cameraman, they spotted him flying over Biddeford but were un-

go to church next Sunday.” Mingalone and the crew went off in search of the lost camera and equipment, which was found a half-mile from the golf course, caked in mud but otherwise unscathed. Later that night Mingalone joined Father Mullen at the Country Club for a round of bridge and seemed unfazed by his 13-mile flight. Papers all across the country picked up the story and Mingalone became an overnight celebrity. It wasn’t long before he was a paid spokesman for Camel® cigarettes (“Getting the picture always comes first! With Camel’s help my digestion always stands up under the strain.”) and on July 10, 1938, Al won a National Headliners Award for the footage he took from the sky on that nerve-wracking autumn day in southern Maine. 

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— Southern Maine —

Discover Maine

47

Knight & Welch Garage, north Waterford. Item #101925 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

Come and enjoy Maine’s Winter Wonderland!

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Discover Maine Magazine has been brought to you free through the generous support of Maine businesses for the past 20 years, and we extend a special thanks to them. Please tell our advertisers how much you love Discover Maine Magazine by doing business with them whenever possible. Thanks for supporting those businesses that help us bring Maine’s history to you!


Discover Maine 48

— Southern Maine —

The Maine Irish Heritage Center Once the St. Dominic Catholic Church of Portland by Matthew Jude Barker

T

he Maine Irish Heritage Center (MIHC) is a non-profit entity that is housed in the old Saint Dominic Roman Catholic Church on the corner of Gray and State Streets, closed by the Catholic Diocese in 1998. Every week the center’s library assists genealogists searching for their Irish roots. The first St. Dominic Church was built in 1828 and dedicated in 1833 by Bishop Benedict J. Fenwick of Boston. The first pastor was Father Charles D. Ffrench, a Dominican originally from Galway City, Ireland. Ffrench, who returned to Ireland in 1838, operated the first Catholic school in Portland. The church was enlarged in 1850 and again in 1855 to accommodate the great number of Irish immigrants who settled in Portland, escaping an artificial famine, disease, oppressive laws, and callous landlords. In 1888 the church, under the pastorate of Father John W. Murphy, was dismantled and construction began on a new, far larger church. This new edifice was near to completion when Father Murphy suddenly died in 1892. It was dedicated a year later. Generations of Irish immigrants and their descendants worshipped at St. Dominic’s Church. It was indeed their church from cradle to grave; untold numbers were baptized here, received their First Communion and Confirmation here, attended the parish school, were married here, and had their funeral Mass in the church. It was indeed a sad day in 1997 when Bishop Joseph J. Gerry announced that the church had to close, due to an ever dwindling parish population (less than 200 families), the high costs of maintaining the building, and the estimated cost of renovating and restoring the church to its former glory ($1 million).

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— Southern Maine —

Immediately after the bishop’s announcement, a Friends of St. Dominic’s was founded by parishioners and other concerned individuals. They asked the Diocese to give them a year to prove that they could still be a viable parish. The Diocese balked at this from the get go. One communicant even remortgaged her house so that the group could hire a Canon lawyer and bring their cause before the Pope in Rome. Fundraisers were held, memorabilia was sold, and a history book was published to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the parish, all in hopes to save their beloved church. They did not want the old St. Dom’s to go quietly into the night. But in the end, it was to no avail. The church was closed, the last Mass in the lower church being held in December 1997. The building remained empty until May 1998, when the last Mass in the sanctuary was celebrated by Bishop Gerry and ten other priests. As many people picketed outside, eight hundred gathered inside to participate in the last

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Interior of St. Dominic’s Church

Discover Maine

49

service. A providential thunderstorm, to the amazement of all, began at the commencement of Mass and stopped at the end of Mass. Many people took it as a sign from God not to close the church. The Catholic Diocese of Maine eventually sold the buildings, including the old girls’ school (built in 1865), to the City of Portland. Over the next three years the city received numerous offers for the buildings — some wanted to create office space in the old church, others wanted to convert it into condominiums. One group even wanted to turn the former Catholic church into a mosque! But wiser heads prevailed and the city decided to hand the church over to a non-profit entity known as the Maine Irish Heritage Center, which was comprised of concerned individuals, members of the local Irish American Club, PROP, Portland West, and the Foundation for the Preservation of Saint Dominic’s. Since 2003 the Maine Irish Heritage (Continued on page 50)

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Discover Maine 50

— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 49)

The MIHC is home to an advanced genealogy and history library, which includes over twelve hundred volumes, all of which have been generously donated; as well as the Irish American Club of Maine; the Claddagh Mhor Pipe Band; A Company Of Girls; and the John Ford Studies Center. The center is also associated with the local Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Stilson School of Irish Dancers, and the Portland Hurling Club. On any given Monday night, you can hear the haunting melodies of the bagpipes, as members of the pipe band practice for upcoming events. The MIHC is also now the winter home of the Portland Farmer’s Market (commences in December). The library is filled with old photos, artifacts, school yearbooks, local histories and genealogies, city directories, old newspapers, and manuscripts. Donations come in weekly — one of the latest is the papers of Governor Joe Brennan’s longtime press secretary. It is also home to a large collection of memorabilia related to acclaimed Hollywood director John Ford, who was baptized at St. Dominic’s Church and served here as

Center has hosted Irish language and ceili (Irish dance) classes; lectures on Irish history; weddings and receptions; genealogy classes; John Ford events; fundraising auctions; open houses; the annual Claddagh Award dinner; St. Patrick’s Day dinners and parades; a golf tournament; “Irish night” at Sea Dogs and Red Claws games; genealogy roundtables; Civil War lectures; book launches and book signings; music concerts (including Schooner Fare); Bloomsday events; Celtic Christmas fairs; Labor Day breakfasts; a gubernatorial debate; and St. Dominic’s Parish and School Reunions. The MIHC was closed from May 2006 until the fall of 2008, after the 4100 lbs. church bell fell from its moorings and a Patriot’s Day storm wreaked havoc to the interior and exterior of the building. Money was raised and is still being raised to completely renovate the 120-year-old structure. The center was officially reopened in October 2008, with much fanfare, by the Irish Minister of Cultural Affairs Eamon O Cuiv, grandson of famous Irish president Eamonn de Valera.

an altar boy. The library continues to seek donations of books, yearbooks, directories, old photos, and the like. The library has three resident genealogists, Margaret Feeney LaCombe, Maureen Coyne Norris, and Matthew J. Barker, as well as a curator, Michael Connell, and a librarian, Susan Flaherty. Due to the efforts of Flaherty, the nationally acclaimed LINCOLN EXHIBIT will come to the center sometime next year. Local Irish-Americans Mary McAleney, P. Vincent O’Malley, and Patricia McBride are the great organizers and promoters of many of the center’s events. Many other dedicated individuals donate their time to the general welfare and upkeep of the center. For more information, see www.maineirish.com. or call 207-780-0118. Also see the center’s Facebook page. 

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— Southern Maine —

Discover Maine

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Farwell Street in lisbon. Item #101236 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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Discover Maine 52

— Southern Maine —

Donald MacMillan Maine’s Arctic Explorer Bowdoin graduate accompanied Peary to the North Pole in 1905 by James Nalley

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n March 1905 Donald MacMillan, a high school teacher at the Worcester Academy in Massachusetts, received a telegram from famed explorer Robert Peary that stated, “Have a place for you on North Pole trip. When can you meet me in Portland?” In his 1934 book How Peary Reached the North Pole, MacMillan recalled: “I stood for a few seconds pondering just what to do. After all these years of boyish fancy and imagination, of vain hopes, my opportunity had come! For the next few hours I was lost in another world, oblivious of school, dormitory duties, classes and gymnasium work. But why my delay? A few days before I had renewed my contract to teach another year at Worcester Academy. Should I plead off or break the contract? After much consideration I replied, ‘Sorry, but unable to accompany you this year.’” This difficult decision would prove to be the right one at the time. Months later, the newspaper’s headline read, “Peary Fails to Reach the Pole. The Party Lands Starving on Northern Shores of Greenland.” But this would only pique the interest of

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— Southern Maine —

MacMillan. He would go on to make more than 30 expeditions to the Arctic Circle, traveling a total of 300,000 miles. Donald B. MacMillan was born on November 10, 1874 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. When he was nine years old, Donald’s father, a captain on a Grand Banks fishing vessel, was lost at sea near the coast of Newfoundland. This would only be the beginning of his difficult childhood. His mother, unprepared to take on the financial responsibility for the family, began to make some difficult choices. According to the Provincetown Banner, she sent the oldest boy to live with his grandparents and gave up one daughter for adoption, while Donald and his two sisters remained at home. Donald attempted to help out by doing everything from diving for pennies off Railroad Wharf to picking cranberries. He even sold copies of his travel guide, Provincetown, or Odds and Ends from the Tip End. But in March 1886 Macmillan’s mother died and he was eventually sent to live in Freeport, Maine, with his sister and her husband. Despite the rough times, MacMillan still excelled in school and eventually attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, where he graduated with a degree in geology. After graduation he taught classes in Latin, physical education, and mathematics in a number of schools in both Maine and Massachusetts. During the summers, he spent his time working at a camp for boys teaching courses in seamanship. By mere chance, one of the boys happened to be the son of Robert Peary, and within the year, MacMillan received his first invitation to (Continued on page 54)

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53

Captain Donald Baxter MacMillan is shown here onboard his schooner Bowdoin in 1925 departing for an Arctic voyage. MacMillan named his vessel "Bowdoin," to honor his alma mater. He taught school for a few years before being recruited as an assistant by Admiral Robert E. Peary to sail on a 1908 Arctic expedition. Detail of item #12592 from the collections of the Maine Historical Society/Maine today Media on www.vintageMaineImages.com

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Discover Maine 54

— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 53)

Captain Donald Baxter MacMillan embarked on an Arctic voyage from Wiscasset on June 20, 1925. the national Geographic Society sponsored the trip. the first color photographs of the Arctic were taken on this trip. Item #12591 from the collections of the Maine Historical Society/Maine today Media on www.vintageMaineImages.com

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join Peary on an Arctic expedition, which he respectfully turned down. Peary subsequently invited MacMillan to join his 1908 journey to the North Pole. This time, MacMillan accepted. The 1908 journey was difficult, and with MacMillan’s choice of words such as “Bitter winds... stinging drifts... dogs dropping... and strength failing,” one can only imagine the overall challenge. On March 14, 1908 MacMillan succumbed to the frigid temperatures and frozen heels and turned back as Peary allegedly reached the North Pole 26 days later. After several years of work in Labrador, MacMillan organized his own Arctic expedition to Greenland in 1913. Called the “Crocker Land Expedition,” MacMillan stated that “In June 1906 Commander Peary...reported seeing land glimmering in the northwest, approximately 130 miles away across the Polar Sea. He did not go there, but he gave it a name in honor of the late George Crocker of the Peary Arctic Club. That is Crocker Land. Its boundaries and extant can only be guessed at, but I am

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— Southern Maine —

certain that strange animals will be found there, and I hope to discover a new race of men.” For two straight days MacMillan made a mad dash for this mysterious land, only to discover that it was just a mirage glimmering off the ice fields. Unfortunately, due to heavy ice conditions, MacMillan and his expedition had become stranded. After four years of waiting, the expedition was finally rescued by the S.S. Neptune in 1917. It was during these four long years that MacMillan formulated plans for a ship specially designed to handle the weather and difficulties of Arctic exploration. After serving for a brief period in the U.S. Navy during World War I, he raised money to build the ship of his dreams. In 1921, the vessel Bowdoin was officially launched in East Boothbay, and that summer he sailed to Baffin Island in Northern Canada for the first of many expeditions. In March 1935 at the age of 60, MacMillan married Miriam Look, the daughter of a long-time friend. Her similar interest and enthusiasm for his work in the Arctic inspired her to come with him on his trips.

After initial concern by MacMillan, the two continued expeditions together both exploring the region and taking supplies to the MacMillan-Moravian School, which he established in the Inuit town of Nain in Newfoundland. In 1954 at the age of 80, he made his final trip to the Arctic. Over the span of his 46-year career, MacMillan traveled more than 300,000 miles charting new territory, performing ground-breaking scientific research, and training future explorers. From his expeditions, he would bring back films and literally thousands of photographs of every region he set foot upon. His interest in the people even inspired him to piece together a dictionary of the Inuktikut language. He died on September 7, 1970 and was buried in Provincetown. For his achievements, he was awarded the Bowdoin Prize, which is given once every five years “to the graduate or former member of the College, or member of its Faculty at the time of the award, who shall have made during the period the most distinctive contribution in any field of human endeavor.” Today, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic

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Museum is located in Hubbard Hall at Bowdoin College. It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to Arctic Studies. Perhaps the Provincetown Banner stated it the best: “Through it all, the crushing ice, fierce storms, endless traveling, and novice sailors, Donald Macmillan remained calm, patient, and disciplined, steadied by a lifelong love of the sea and the knowledge that he was exactly where he wanted to be.”  Photo credit page 53: Donald Baxter MacMillan dressed in traditional Inughuit fur clothing. The Inughuits, also known as Polar Eskimos, are the indigenous people of northwest Greenland. Item #25027 from the collections of the Maine Historical Society/Maine Today Media on www.VintageMaineImages.com

Other businesses from this area are featured in the color section.

Cornelia C. Viek, CPA Complete Tax Services For: • Individuals • Small businesses • Partnerships • Corporations • Estates & Trusts

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Discover Maine 56

— Southern Maine —

Silas Soule: The Forgotten Hero From Bath Army captain defended Indians and slaves by James Nalley refused to fire, and swore that none but a coward would, for by this time hundreds of women and children were coming towards us, and getting on their knees for mercy…I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees, having their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized. That is what Captain Silas Soule wrote in a letter to Major Edward Wynkoop on December 14, 1864. Approximately two weeks earlier, Captain Soule and his company of soldiers were with a regiment in Sand Creek, Colorado. Under the command of Colonel John Chivington, the regiment was ordered to attack a Cheyenne settlement. Soule immediately noticed that a white flag and an American flag were hanging from the lodge of Black Kettle (chief of the Southern Cheyenne) and ordered his men to stay put. Chivington, on the other hand, attacked with such brutal force that it is now known as the Sand Creek Massacre. In February of the following year, Soule testified against Chivington in a formal hearing about the incident. Two months later, Soule lay dead in the streets of Denver with a bullet in his head. Silas Soule was born on July 26, 1838 in the city of Bath, Maine. The son of abolitionist parents who were involved in the New England Emigrant Aid Society, he adopted the principles by his early teens. These principles were so strong that his father and brother relocated to Kansas in 1854 to aid in the struggle to establish it as a “free” (anti-slavery) state. Less than one

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year later, Silas and the rest of the family arrived in Kansas, eager to help out. Shortly after the family was reunited in Kansas, Soule’s father, Amasa, established the home as a stop on the Underground Railroad, which was a secret network of safe houses and routes to ferry slaves to freedom. As stated by Silas’s sister, Anne Julia Soule in a 1929 interview, “Our house was on the Underground Railway. My brother Silas and (John) Brown were close friends. Silas went out on many a foray with him. I recall well when Brown came to our cabin one night with thirteen slaves — men, women and children. Silas took the whole thirteen from our home eight miles (away).” Up until the outbreak of the American Civil War, Soule would earn a reputation as a courageous fighter who always stood up for his beliefs. In July 1859 twenty pro-slavery men

crossed over the border of Kansas in search of escaped slaves. As Dr. John Doy, a doctor from Lawrence, escorted thirteen former slaves toward freedom in Iowa, the men ambushed Doy and arrested him. He was quickly tried and convicted for abducting slaves and sentenced to five years in prison. As he sat in jail in Missouri awaiting departure to the penitentiary, Soule convinced the guard on duty that he was delivering a message from Doy’s wife. The note simply stated, “Tonight, at twelve o’clock.” Later that night, a group of men led by Soule overpowered the guard, freed Doy and took him back across the border into Kansas. Soule’s skills were later used in an attempt to free his friend John Brown after he was captured in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. After he convinced a guard to let him visit Brown in his jail cell, Soule explained the plans to free Brown in the similar procedure

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— Southern Maine —

to Doy’s earlier rescue. But Brown had already decided to become a martyr for the cause and refused to be rescued. Days later, he was hung with the hopes that his death would help accelerate the possibility of an American Civil War over slavery. Brown’s death would affect Soule deeply and it only made him even more principled. In December of 1861 Soule enlisted in Company K in the 1st Colorado Volunteers after a one-year stint as a gold miner in the mountains of Colorado. Within three years, his exemplary service would get him quickly promoted to the rank of Captain and appointed as commander of Company D in the Colorado 1st Cavalry. It was in that position where Soule would witness one of the largest mass slaughters in United States history. On the morning of Nov. 29, 1864, more than 700 soldiers approached a Cheyenne settlement led by Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister known as the “Fighting Parson.” Already on record as stating his mission in life was “to kill Indians,” he ordered the regiment to attack despite the peace signals. With cannons and

Discover Maine

bullets pounding the village, the Indians scattered in a total panic. As Soule and his company watched in horror, the rest of the soldiers killed anything that moved. As an interpreter living in the village later recalled, “They were scalped, their brains knocked out...They ripped open women, clubbed little children, and knocked them in the head with their rifle butts.” After it was over, approximately 200 Indians — mostly women and children — had been murdered. Chivington, of course, was absolutely furious at Soule for his refusal to follow orders. But before he could do anything, the news had already spread to Washington D.C. and a formal investigation soon followed. Leading the complaint was Soule and his fellow officer Major Edward Wyncoop, who would both testify against Chivington. Despite the Chivington supporters’ claims of victory against a hostile force, rumors quickly spread about the fact that he attacked mostly women and children. On Feb. 15, 1865 Soule was the first to testify. According to the book “Extraordinary People in Extraordinary Times” by Patrick Mendoza, “Prior to his testimony,

57

Soule received numerous death threats. True to his nature, he was not intimidated.” His determination would come through as the hearings allowed Chivington to cross-examine Soule. For three days Chivington relentlessly questioned Soule, attacking everything from his service record to his false claims of “drunkenness.” As Mendoza states, “Unshaken, the young captain again showed his nemesis he would not be bullied, and survived the torturous questioning.” Meanwhile, physical fights had erupted in the streets of Denver between the pro- and anti-Chivington supporters. Despite continued death threats, Soule pushed forward. By late March 1865 Soule and his good friend Captain George Price took a trip to downtown Denver, where he asked Price to be his best man for his marriage to a local rancher’s daughter. Before the wedding, Soule told Price of his overwhelming premonition of doom, but it was quickly dismissed as paranoia. At approximately 10 p.m. on the night of April 23, 1865, Soule and his new wife returned home from visiting some friends. (Continued on page 58)

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Discover Maine 58

— Southern Maine —

(Continued from page 57)

According to Mendoza’s account in his book: After they had been inside a short time, a number of shots were fired in the upper part of the city, evidently to decoy him out and Captain started to ascertain the cause. While passing along Lawrence Street near F, he seems to have been met by the assassin and the indications are that both men fired at the same instant. Silas Soule lay dead with a bullet in his brain. The killer had dropped his gun and left a distinct, bloody trail leading away from the murder scene towards the military camp. Soule’s funeral was held three days later and the church was filled to capacity. In attendance were his widow, his fellow officers and even the governor. Although a private named Charles Squire was implicated in the murder, he was never tried. Soule’s murderer was never brought to justice. Chivington was forced to resign and lived the rest of his life in relative obscurity. 

Other businesses from this area are featured in the color section.

Center Street in Bath. Item #112951 from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

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207-443-2732 Just over the Bath bridge on the right


— Southern Maine —

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59

view of the Bayville district of Boothbay Harbor. Item #100091 from the Eastern Illustrating &  Publishing Co. Collection and www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org

Haggett Hill Kennels Boarding & Grooming for Dogs & Cats Day Care Mon.-Sat. 7am-6pm Sun. 7-9am • 5-8pm

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Discover Maine 60

— Southern Maine —

Jake Day: Disney’s Damariscotta Secret Weapon Original Bambi was a Maine whitetail deer by Kevin Carpenter

W

alt Disney’s Bambi has long been included in the pantheon of cinematic masterpieces. The film, adapted from the 1923 Felix Salten book, tells the story of nature’s fragility through the eyes of a young deer. Equal parts comic and poignant, Bambi has earned countless plaudits for the beauty and grace of its animation. Although Disney’s fifth animated classic has been seen and loved by millions, viewers can be forgiven for not knowing of the indelible impact that Maurice “Jake” Day of Damariscotta left on the film. After all, his name never appears in Bambi’s closing credits. Looking back, Jake Day and Bambi seemed almost destined to converge. At about the same time in the 1930s that Bambi entered pre-production at the Disney stu-

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dio, Day left his native Damariscotta for California. A veteran of the Great War, Day had achieved success illustrating children’s books and magazines, but he felt drawn west to the bright lights of Hollywood. Upon arrival, Jake began working as an artist for the Harman-Ising animation studio. Both Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising had long histories with Walt Disney before setting off on their own. In fact, both men had initially relocated to the West Coast at Disney’s behest, having worked for Walt back in Kansas City. Jake Day’s artistry quickly earned praise from his studio bosses and attracted the attention of their one-time mentor. Shortly thereafter, Day moved over to Walt Disney Productions. It did not take long for Jake Day to make his presence felt. During a production meeting, Walt Disney announced that a live deer would be brought into the studio for his animators to study and draw. In Bambi’s case, Walt planned to use a California mule deer as live reference for the titular character. But then Day spoke up and forever altered the course of the project. A proud Mainer and outdoorsman, he instead recommended a New England whitetail deer as a better model for Bambi. There may seem little significance in what type of deer was used to stand in for Bambi, but consider how different the film would be without the character’s now-iconic

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design. In any case, Disney agreed with Jake and wasted no time in dispatching him back to Maine on a quest for the perfect whitetail deer. Always an overachiever, Day actually found two fawns (with a little help from the Penobscot County Fish and Game Department) and sent them cross-country to the awaiting Disney animators. Appropriately named Bambi and Faline, both served as models for the movie characters of the same name. He also procured a wide variety of other woodland creatures to help Disney’s artists bring the film’s supporting cast to life. Jake Day’s work in Maine, though, was far from finished. He still had one assignment left to complete — sketch scenes of Maine’s forests as inspiration for Bambi’s background artists. Over the course of several weeks, Day traipsed through the wilderness of Baxter State Park near Katahdin in search of an idyllic setting. When he finally emerged from the woods, Day had a note-

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— Southern Maine —

book of drawings that captured the serenity and grace of the forest. Any viewer hoping to witness a faithful re-creation of these sketches in Bambi will unfortunately be disappointed. Ty Wong, the Disney Legend who painted the film’s background scenes, instead opted for a surreal, watercolor design. As he later told his fellow animators, “I tried to keep the thing very, very simple and create the atmosphere, the feeling of the forest.” Even though Jake’s initial research drawings were not followed to the letter, his work provided the inspiration for Wong’s beautiful imagery. When Jake Day returned to California, he found the Disney studio moving fullsteam ahead on Bambi. It was undoubtedly a very special film for Walt Disney. From his childhood spent on a Missouri farm, Walt had learned early the joys and power of nature. This would be a frequent message in Disney’s work, but Bambi was perhaps his boldest statement on the subject. It was to be a celebration of nature’s beauty — yet it did not ignore nature’s fragility. The Disney studio used the hunters to illustrate the struggle between the natural world and encroaching humanity. Sadly, the film could have been so much more. Reeling from the box office failures of Pinocchio and Fantasia, substantial cuts were made to Bambi during its production in order to keep the project afloat. When Walt Disney announced to his staff that large swaths of the film were being cancelled, several animators broke down in tears. Everyone, including Day himself, realized that some of Bambi’s raw ambition

must be sacrificed if the film had any hope of completion. Bambi’s world premiere was held on August 8, 1942 in London. But legend has it that the British capital was really Walt Disney’s second choice. Knowing full well the irreplaceable role Jake Day played in Bambi’s creation, Disney had hoped to honor him by premiering Bambi in Maine. The entire story shrouded in myth, questions still persist about the exact location of this proposed premiere. Some say Augusta, while others contend Walt hoped to stage the premiere in Damariscotta’s own Lincoln Theatre. Unfortunately, the state of Maine ultimately declined this opportunity because of the film’s fervent anti-hunting theme. Even if Bambi had premiered in Maine, residents would have been saddened not to see Jake Day’s name listed at the end of the film. While his influence remains undeniable, Jake technically did no animation or

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Discover Maine

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final artwork — a distinction that left him uncredited. Credit or no, Jake Day’s contributions to Bambi should not be overlooked. At its core, Bambi’s impact relied on the audience’s implicit belief in the realistic movement of the on-screen animals. While none of this animation came directly from Day’s hand, it could never have been possible without his valuable research back in Maine. Not long after Bambi’s release, Jake Day heeded the call of home and returned to Damariscotta. He built a successful livelihood painting coastal landscapes, and captured the heart of his hometown with his Christmas window dioramas each holiday season until his death in 1983. Although Day’s memory is still honored in Maine, one of his greatest accomplishments has too often gone unnoticed. After all, he was the man who brought a little Damariscotta charm to an American animated classic.

Other businesses from this area are featured in the color section.

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— Southern Maine —

Story Of An Old-Time Schoolhouse A day at school in the early 1800s by Barbara Adams

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n 1902, when asked by school boys about the school he had attended in his youth, ninety-year-old H.J. Smith of Parsonsfield told the boys the following story: “The house where I attended school was small, but as well-finished and convenient as yours. Our teachers were better qualified to impart useful knowledge than a majority of the teachers of the present day. In every town there were intelligent farmers who made teaching their winter business. “There were a few old shackled houses left standing, and it fell to my lot to spend the winter in one of them. It was the winter of 1829, one of the coldest winters on record.

“I was a boy of eighteen, and it was my second school. Evidently the schoolhouse was built by the first settlers of the town. It was one low story, about 25 by 20 feet. Half the clapboards had been torn from the outside to kindle the fire. The outside door at one corner opened into a small entry. A chimney some five feet square came next, and a desk beyond the chimney. This row filled one end of the house, leaving a space about 20 feet square for school purposes. The room was sealed up to the windows, three sides. “There was a seat against the walls, and three long planks in front of it, open at the ends and corners; also a seat for small schol-

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ars without anything in front, thus leaving the centers of the room unoccupied. “Here were gathered fifty boys and girls, ranging from four to twenty-four years in age, and from twenty to two hundred pounds in weight, wide awake and anxious to learn. All comfortably clothed in homespun, except for a dozen from ‘blueberry city.’ “A farmer had agreed to furnish wood for so much per week. He brought green wood, sled length, and the boys fitted it and built the fire in the fireplace by turn. The farmer scolded because we burned so much. One day we notified him that we needed a supply for the next morning. It came in shape of two very large and hard rock maple logs. At recess the big boys held a council, procured axes, and the chips fell for over an hour. “At night there was a half cord of wood in the yard. The next morning not a stick! Where was it? The fireplace, all of four feet wide and deep, was full, and a brisk fire burning. Pretty soon coals and brands came dropping down from somewhere. The room was getting more than warm. “I said to my little farmers, ‘I like a good fire these cold mornings but you have more than we need. Will you throw on some snow?’ They snowed the fire all day. At night we left a good fire burning and had a comfortable room next morning.”  Other businesses from this area are featured in the color section.

JaMEs C. DERby HousEWRigHT

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Restorations Traditional Timber Framing

(207) 832-0635

Cell 542-0115 • Waldoboro, ME


— Southern Maine —

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Directory Of Advertisers Business

Page

4 Seasons Guide Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Adams Auto Glass Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 Affordable Tree Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Alewives & Ales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Allen’s Drilling & Blasting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Anania’s Variety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Andrew Ames Logging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Anthony Mancini Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Babies Love Them . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Back Street Bistro & Wine Bar . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Bald Mountain Camps Resort . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Bangkok Garden Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Barn Door Café & Bakery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Bebe’s Burritos & Cantina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Benkay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Biddeford-Saco Chamber of Commerce . . . .15 Bill’s Carpentry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Bintliff ’s American Café . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Bob’s Clam Hut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Bonobo Wood Fire Pizza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Boothbay Harbor House of Pizza . . . . . . . . . .59 Bowdoin Town Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Brackett’s Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 Bruno’s Restaurant & Tavern . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Bucks Point Sporting Lodge & Camps . . . . . .34 C & J Chimney & Stove Service, LLC . . . . . . .62 Cabot Mill Antiques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Carrabassett Real Estate & Property Management 43 Casco Bay Micro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Casco Federal Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Cedar Mountain Cupolas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 China by the Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Cityside Auto Service, LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Clark Auto Parts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Clayton’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Cliff Roderick, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Clipper Merchant Tea House . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Cold River Vodka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Cole Harrison Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Colucci’s Hilltop Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Cornelia C. Viek CPA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 Country Charm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45 Craig’s Body Shop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 D & M Auto Repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 Dave’s Power Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Desmond Funeral Homes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 DiMillo’s Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Downeast Appliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Dunstan Ace Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Ed’s Grove . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Ed’s Stuff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Edward P. Roy, D.M.D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Fairground Café . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 Falmouth Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 Five Fields Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Flagstaff Area Business Association . . . . . . . .46 Frechette’s Ski Doo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Freeport Beads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Friendly Discount & Redemption . . . . . . . . . .14 Fryeburg Glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Fuji Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 Galeyrie Maps & Custom Frames . . . . . . . . . . .5 Gerry & Sons Snowmobiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Giles Rubbish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Gilmore’s Seafood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Gray Family Vision Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Business

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Graziano’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Grey Goose Masonry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Grill 233 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Gritty McDuff ’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Haggarty’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Haggett Hill Kennels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Hair Designers II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Hammond & Dargis CPAs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Hammond Lumber Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Harbor Fish Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Harraseeket Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Healthreach Community Health Centers . . . . .3 Healthreach Community Health Centers . . . .45 Hoggy’s Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Hoof N’ Woof . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Hughes Construction Co. Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Hydraulic Hose & Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Ideal Septic Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Italian Heritage Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 J. Edward Knight & Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 J.R. Hill & Sons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Jackman Power Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 James C. Derby Housewright . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 Jameson Tavern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 J’s Oyster Bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 K & J Heating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Ken York, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Knight Property Management . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Knights Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Koob’s Garage & Auto Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 L.V. Allen & Sons, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 La Familia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Larrabee Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Laurel Wood Floors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Ledgeview Assisted Living . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Lee’s Tire & Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54 Lilee’s Public House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Limerick Transmission Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Lincoln Canoe & Kayak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 Lisbon Fuel Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Log Cabin Labradoodles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Long Pond Camps & Guide Service . . . . . . . .45 Lord & Brooks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 LT Auctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Maine Historical Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Maine Pellet Sales LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Maine Woolens Outlet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Mama Bear’s Den . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 McVety’s Hearth & Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Midcoast Internet Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Mid-Maine Self Storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 New England Cupboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Niboban Camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 North Country Wind Bells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Northeast Laboratory Services . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Oak Hill Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Pat’s Pizza Bethel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Pat’s Pizza Yarmouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Penobscot Marine Museum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Pepperclub Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Phil’s Foreign Auto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Phoenix Studio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Pine State Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Pines Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Portland Pirates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Portland Plastic Pipe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Business

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Portland Regional Chamber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 R.W. Googins Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 Radon Removal Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Richard’s Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 Rick - Kevin Lewis Construction . . . . . . . . . .12 Risbara Bros. Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Robert W. Libby & Sons Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Rocco Leo II, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Rockbound Computers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Rodeway Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 Rogers Ace Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 Rottari Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Roy’s Tire & Auto Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Sacopee Valley Eye Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Sanford-Springvale Chamber . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Shadowed Birch Kennels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Shutter Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Simple Folk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 S-K Quality Fuels, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Skip Cahill Tire Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Sleepy Hollow Motel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Solon Corner Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 Solon Superette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 South Branch Lake Camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 South Bristol Fisherman’s Co-op . . . . . . . . . . .37 Southern Maine Tree LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Spartan Grill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 St. Nick’s Chimney Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Steve Brann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Steve Caiazzo Plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Stevens Electric & Pump Service . . . . . . . . . . .7 Stones Café & Bakery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 Stonewalls and Repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Stratton Plaza Hotel & Lounge . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Sunrise Grill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Swiss Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Thai 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Thai Garden Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 The Art Mart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 The Birches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 The Lodge at Kennebunk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 The Longfellow House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 The Looney Moose Café . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45 The Narrows Tavern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 The Solon Hotel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 The Theatre Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 The White Elephant Country Store . . . . . . . .43 Thornton Oaks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54 Tip Top Tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 TJ Michaud’s Tree Removal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Tom Fence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Travelers Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 Vail’s Tree Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Vindle Builders LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Ward Cedar Log Homes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Warren Auto Barn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Waterman’s Service Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Waterways Coffee Shop/Car Wash/Quick Lube . .11

Watson, Neal & York Funeral Home . . . . . . .11 Webbs Mills Variety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Wellness Chiropractic Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54 Whitney Tree Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 William Perry Cigar Lounge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Wilson’s Drug Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57


Southern Maine

Southern Maine Edition  

Southern Maine Edition 2011/12

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