My birthday road trip this year was to Hope, Freedom, Liberty, and Union. My favorite of these wonderfully named towns was Union, with its beautiful downtown common. There were several visual cues in the common referring to “Come Spring,” a novel by Ben Ames Williams published in 1940, which tells the tale of the first settlers of Union, then known as “Sterlingtown.” Sterlingtown became incorporated as Union in 1780, when there were 19 families. “Come Spring” fictionalizes the story of these families.
Despite being 866 pages, the book kept me interested throughout with good characters, humor, and mostly the wonderful descriptions of every day life in these early days of Maine settlement. It also contains one of the longest courtships I’ve ever read in fiction, a wonderful love story, and a strong and likeable main female character.
In Union’s common is a map of Sterlingtown, which can be found in the book endpages, as well as a plaque under a tree dedicated to Ben Ames Williams (1889 – 1953). What a treat to “discover” a Maine author (Williams vacationed in Maine, and set several of his works there) whom I have not read, especially after visiting Union. I need to return there again, now that I’ve read this book that further explores the history of Union.
My husband, daughter, and I enjoyed a wonderful boat cruise aboard the Blue Nun motoring around Casco Bay last Tuesday evening courtesy of Steve and Chris McDuffie. They generously donated the trip as a raffle fundraiser for the Long Island Library and my husband won the prize. Steve asked us where we wanted to go and since we had never seen Portland Head and Two Lights from “the other side,” we decided to boat down the coast to Cape Elizabeth.
The weather was perfect with a warm breeze and clear skies. Chris surprised us with some delicious snacks and my husband was able to snap several beautiful photographs of the area. As I took in the surrounding landscape and wildlife with binoculars, my daughter quizzed Chris on the local history and happenings of the islands.
On the return leg of the trip, we spotted the new Nova Star ferry coming in to dock at Portland’s Ocean Gateway Pier and a friendly harbor seal poked his head up to check us out. Steve took us around the back side of Peaks Island and with one last look at Fort Gorges, we got back to Portland just in time to take in a lovely sunset. We all had a marvelous time. Thank you to the McDuffies for making a two-hour boat ride such a memorable occasion.
Deborah Clark, Raymond, ME (with photographs by Craig Clark)
As the new consultant for the Southern Maine Library District, I have been visiting all the public libraries in Cumberland, York, and southern Oxford Counties. The Art & Soul Festival provided the perfect opportunity for me to tour the Long Island Community Library, meet the staff and trustees, as well as learn a little about island living. I was so impressed by the efforts of those I met (Library Director Nancy Jordan, trustees Nancy Noble, Patty Temple, and Connie Brayley, and organizer Mary McAleney) and by the strong community support for the library event.
I especially liked the “Bling Room” with fun costume jewelry for sale and bought a nice patriotic pin. My husband and I browsed the book sale and art auction offerings and while I was speaking with library staff, my husband was persuaded by student volunteers to buy some raffle tickets. We couldn’t stay for the drawings as we needed to catch our ferry back to Portland and were shocked to hear later that he had won one of the gift baskets! Thanks everyone for the great visit to the island.
Deborah A. Clark,
Maine State Library
This collection of pottery, on loan from Carl and Pauline Silveri, represents Portland and local Maine potters from about 1840 to the early 1920s, including E. Swasey & Company of Portland ME, a company which at one time was one of New England’s most prolific pottery works and today is all but forgotten.
Eban Swasey was a potter who apprenticed in Exeter NH in the mid-1800s. In 1875 he and his partner, Rufus Lamson, moved to Portland ME and established the Portland Earthen Ware Manufactory, producing redware. Swasey and Lamson eventually went their separate ways, and in 1890 Swasey established E. Swasey & Co. at 273 Commercial Street in Portland.
In 1897, Swasey’s youngest son Perley joined the company, which became a sizeable enterprise by the turn of the century. Eban died in 1906, but the business carried on until finally sputtering out of business in the Depression. The factory buildings are still there on Commercial Street – refurbished and with the “E. Swasey” logos freshly restored on the end of the mill, they serve today as an office park.
There are also documents in the exhibit related to the E. Swasey & Co. Other Portland pottery companies in the exhibit include J.E. Goold and Geo. A. Young Co.
10 more days until Art & Soul, our annual fundraiser for the Long Island Community Library. Here are our intrepid library volunteers selling raffle tickets on July 4th, at the Long Island Fourth of July parade. The winning raffle tickets will buy you a wonderful themed basket, or a personalized cruise on the bay.
Stop by the library and see the kid’s rainy day basket, a blueberry bucket filled with surprises donated by Ivy Hall Gift Shop (Evergreen United Methodist Church outreach), a Maine Lottery Tree, a chocolate basket, a lobster bake basket, an Irish basket, and a mailboat run basket.
AND the FIRST ticket drawn will be treated to an afternoon trip around Casco Bay with Steve and Chris McDuffie on the BLUE NUN. Room for six, destination to be determined by Captain and winner and weather.
Tickets are 3 for $5.00 (stapled together) or $2.00 per ticket. The tickets are sold at the library, from library volunteers & from Mary McAleney, 207-799-4306, firstname.lastname@example.org
See you in 10 days!
ART & SOUL Festival
Long Island Community Library
Long Island Library & Learning Center
Saturday, July 19, 2014, 10-2
At 2pm: Raffle drawings, silent auction results and books $1.00 a bag
Books— Fiction, fact and fantasy
Food— Scrumptious sweets and savory snacks
Jewelry— Baubles, beads and bling
Art— Auction of awesome art treasures
Raffle— Bountiful baskets, plenty of prizes
Raffle Tickets sold at the library, library volunteers &
Mary McAleney 207-799-4306 email@example.com
We look forward to seeing you there (and thank you for supporting our library)
The Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance (MWPA) announced the winners of the 2014 Maine Literary Awards.
The winners for book awards included Roxana Robinson for “Sparta” in fiction; Al Lamanda for “Sunrise” in crime fiction; Mark D. Diehl for “Seventeen: Book One” in speculative fiction; Lincoln Paine for “The Sea and Civilization” in nonfiction; Peter Korn for “Why We Make Things and Why it Matters” in memoir; Christian Barter for “In Someone Else’s House” in poetry; Lynn Plourde for “You’re Wearing THAT to School?!” in children’s; Maria Padian for “Out of Nowhere” in young adult; Martha White for “E.B. White on Dogs” in anthology; Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto for “New England Gardener’s Year” in the John N. Cole Award for Maine-themed nonfiction; and Elizabeth W. Garber and Michael Weymouth for “Maine (Island Time)” for excellence in publishing.
For more information see:
Somehow cats and books go together. Most librarians I know own cats. Some libraries have resident cats (see Dewey : the small-town library cat who touched the world by Vicki Myron, a copy of which is at the Long Island Community Library). Many bookstores have cats too. Our own Longfellow Books on Monument Square in Portland has teamed up with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland to offer a temporary bookstore home to help kitties find a new family to love. First there was Gus, and then Alexia, and most recently Bob – all have been adopted. What a wonderful idea!
For all you book lovers, here is some good news! There is a new bookstore in downtown Portland, and it’s beautiful. Sherman’s Books and Stationery has come to town, just opening in the Old Port on Exchange Street. It’s a visual treat inside – not only lots of attractive and appealing books, but lovely items to go with them. I was there on Earth Day (April 22) and a lot of earthy and green items caught my eye. There is a huge children’s area. Many of the books are reasonably priced.
Sherman’s Books was founded by Bill Sherman in 1886 in Bar Harbor. (They advertise themselves as “Maine’s oldest bookstore.”) There are stores in Camden, Freeport, and Bar Harbor. And now Portland! Lucky us. It’s so nice to see another Maine business come to our area.
For more information see www.shermans.com
In honor of National Poetry Month (April), I would like to honor poets who write books – not of poetry, but prose. These are some of my favorite books. I just read Simon Armitage’s Walking home : a poet’s journey. Published in 2013, this book details his walk along the Pennine Way in England, which is much like America’s Appalachian Trail. Armitage exchanges room and board at various venues for reading his poems, to a variety of audiences, including appreciative, at times. Not only did I learn about this trail, but I enjoyed Armitage’s wit and honesty about himself.
This book brought to mind another wonderful book, by Baron Wormser, The Road washes out in spring: a poet’s memoir of living off the grid. Baron Wormser was the Poet Laureate of Maine in 2000, and at the time of his book, lived in Madison, Maine, where he was a librarian for the local school district. Anyone who lives rural in Maine (and experiences mud season) will appreciate and enjoy this book.
So, here’s to poets everywhere, especially those who write prose!