Thursday, April 30, 2009

White Barn

No, it's not Maine's only 5 star restaurant and inn, but it was found south from here a bit. I was out on an 'adventure' came around a corner and there it was--white, white-- quite stunning against an ice-blue sky. Ok, I'm looking for something in my office, in my desk. I know it's there, but just can't seem to find it. Then out of nowhere, I find that fountain pen, that cord for the camera, that copy of the letter I thought I had lost years ago. How funny that seems to be! Looking for something you need, but finding another. As I remember, there was even a Seinfeld episode about it. Losing something important to you, but finding something of equal value? This happens a lot to me. Just riding around, with or without the camera, and finding that 'little treat' around the next corner. Ha! This happen to anybody else, or just me?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tate House

Wow! 92° yesterday. Now, that had to break some record around here for an April day. It got me dreaming about summer again and some of my favorite places. Here's one. Built in 1755, the George and Mary Tate House sits atop the banks of the Fore River in the beautiful Stroudwater Village area of Greater Portland. This is the only Pre-Revolutionary War home, open to the public, that survived all the devastating fires in the city's history. If you're a history buff, or just enjoy old houses and beautiful summer gardens along a riverbank, you might want to put this on your 'to do list' this summer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


In 2007 this structure was added to my old junior high school. Buckminster Fuller would be proud of this geodesic dome built on the campus of Lincoln Middle School to teach students about solar panels, energy usage and sustainability. They received a $10,000 grant from Toyota help fund the building. Quite cool! Some things just can't be learned in a science book. Back in my Lincoln days, I joined the Science Club, under the direction of Mr. Walker, and got excited when he boiled the water away from a couple of large containers and watched them crinkle into themselves. Boy, things have changed quite a bit in seventh grade science classes these days!

Monday, April 27, 2009


It's the icon of the beach and summer in southern Maine... the Pier at OOB. Along with this tourist image, goes quite a history. The first 1,770 feet was built of steel in 1898. At the end was the Pier Casino, a ballroom with room for 5,000 dancers, that welcomed the likes of Guy Lombardo, Benny Goodman, Xavier Cugat, and Frank Sinatra. Over the years, storms reeked havoc on what was left. A huge fire, in the summer of 1969(as I remember, it was near the time of Armstrong's stroll on the lunar surface), took Noah's Ark, the two carousels, and the Jack and Jill slide. The Casino, at the end, was demolished in 1970, and a storm destroyed what was left in '78. The Pier, as we know today, was rebuilt in 1980. The Beach is still a happening place on summer nights with many of our Canadian friends, obnoxious t-shirt shops, Lisa's pizza and vinegar fries, over-flowing bars, fortune tellers, the constant ringing of games of chance from the large arcade, roaring motorcycles and those crowded sidewalks. Ah... summer in southern Maine. Can it really be coming?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Sunday AM is always a quiet time around here. Here's a shot looking up Congress Street towards Maine Medical Center. The good, the bad and the ugly! Many people have great fears associated with buildings like this. I won't go that far, but I'd have to say I have a genuine distaste for hospitals. Most of the times I've been in MMC, the situations have not been pleasant. However, July 9, 1986 was the exception, the birth of my son. One of the two best days of my life. I'll cherish these days forever. You want ugly? Just don't get me talking about the 'dog on the wall' and my Greyhound stories, traveling through the night on the NY Thruway for four years.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Red Barn

It's springtime along the Saco River, and things are beginning to change fast. I think I even see green grass in the 'backyard and beyond'. See! Summer is on the way! Another reason I know it's coming? Just got back from an April get-a-way to the Southwest... San Antonio! What a wonderful city, so family friendly in every way. The Riverwalk, Tex-Mex 24/7, Dos Equis(Stay thirsty, my friend!), FIESTA 2009, and we loved it! Made a few purchases along the way--bought a GREAT belt and a Texas Ranger 'star'(with my name on it) to pin on my shirt. Now, let 'em try to kick me around! Another harbinger of a summer on the way? Just got my Moodies tickets for the Meadowbrook Pavilian(NH) this August. Great venue to see the boys under August stars!
Going to be in the 70's today in and around the city! Can't beat those numbers in April, along the Saco and beyond.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Baxter Woods

This 30 acre nature preserve, loaded with hemlock, white oak and ash, provides a wonderful opportunity to just get away and take in an uninterrupted plot of nature's best. For the gang and I, it was always a fast way to get from Stevens to Forest on our bikes. One time, we got a rare treat. One path took you over near the back of the Motherhouse of St. Joseph's Convent. There was an open field out there, and one afternoon we just had to stop and take look. About fifteen nuns were having a softball game without the 'habits' of course. Now, if you grew up always seeing them in their basic black and white- prim and proper- this was a once in a lifetime image to remember.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Built in 1977, the Art Gallery on the Westbrook Campus campus of the University of New England is often called 'the little jewel'. I just call it 'the cube'. It's tucked away in the back of the campus along side the old Oak Grove Cemetery. Most residents of the city don't even know it exists! The times I've been inside, I'm always impressed with the space and how the shows are displayed. Inside, it looks a lot bigger than it seems outside. Is that confusing enough? Growing up, I remember watching Westbrook College field hockey games right where this building is located now. Haven't found it? It's worth getting your GPS out and taking in an upcoming show.
*Happy B-day( a day late) nephew S-!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I worked at Evergreen Cemetery summers for about ten years, high school through college and a few years beyond. Founded in 1855, it is the largest burial ground in the state, and one of the largest in New England. When I worked there, I think I knew the names of every street and road in this plot of 239 acres. Among the jobs I held were mowing lawns, trimming shrubs, raking leaves, digging graves and cleaning grave stones. Cleaning stones, granite and limestone, was my favorite. I worked with my old buddy Ray. He was, as they say, an old timer who lived his whole life in the city and had stories to prove it. His tales were countless, both entertaining and mind-boggling. He was a good friend and a good man. Here is a picture of Chisholm Tomb. Within, this beautiful structure, rests the remains of the Hugh Chisholm family. He founded International Paper Company in the state of Maine. It is the last mausoleum built in the cemetery, and I'm happy to say I never had to clean it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Palace Playland

For me, there's just something eerie, especially in daylight, about abandoned amusement parks. It's a bit haunting! Growing up, we got to spend one day a summer here. I can still hear, in my dreams, the sounds of the merry-go-round of little cars and trucks, with horns and bells ringing continuously. Later, summers in high school found me hitching alone to take in various concerts at the Palace Ballroom at OOB. Just about every Saturday night, there was a traveling show of chart-stoppers that I made myself go see. The Buckinghams, Gene Pitney, the Zombies, Peter and Gordon, the Grassroots, the Left Banke, the Searchers, the Temeloes, the Troggs, Manfred Mann, the Turtles, Tracy Nelson and Mother Earth were just a few of the entertaining shows I witnessed. The best? No question-- The Animals, with all original members. What a night! The Palace was a legendary place. The place to be, if you were into the 'music scene' at the time.


Monday, April 20, 2009

"Jesus Saves"

When I was in 5th Grade at St. Joseph's Grammar School, I joined the school's basketball team. All our games were played at the Granville Lee Recreation Center( we just called it Lee Rec.) located on Munjoy Hill, next to the old North School. Now, from Morrill's Corner that meant a long bus ride to Monument Square and a getting a transfer to get you up the 'hill. But traveling with a bunch of 5th Grade friends made it quite fun. There were always three games back to back to back involving teams from Butler, North, Emerson, St. Doms, St Pats, Cathedral and us. As I remember, Butler School had dominating teams when I wore the 'blue and gold', but a few years later Dad coached my brother's team to the Lee League Championship. After the games, like clockwork, we'd venture across the street to a small pizza joint, get a slice of pepperoni and some penny candy and begin to make our way down the 'hill' to the Square to catch a bus back home. It was quite a journey, but being with friends and 'downhill' made it go much faster. Along the way, we'd always pass this beautiful, old, granite church. It was a benchmark that we were almost to the bus stop. Sometimes in snow and hard-driving wind, this was important. There used to be a sign out front, that said simply "Jesus Saves". On days we lost, I use to question, jokingly... when? To this day, I have never forgotten that sign on those winter walks. Years later, I found it to be the the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church built in 1825. What a marvelous history it has too, coinciding with the early roots of the city. It's worth a read. This morning's early sun crests upon the spire and lights the way for the day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lost Icon

The angle on this one is interesting, I think... that's about it though. Where have all the people gone? This is the site of the first McDonald's Restaurant in the city. It became one of the first unofficial 'hangouts' for teens in the mid-Sixties. By 10PM most summer nights, the parking lot was packed with kids moving from car to car renewing old acquaintances and making new ones. P's maroon, Buick Wildcat was what we cruised in mostly. Big, and fast, with a powerful engine under the hood, we'd back into a parking space, buy 15¢ burgers and 11¢ fries, and think we had the world 'on the end of a string'. Now, when I look down on this 'ghost town', I wonder why the parking lot needed to be expanded to four times it size while it stays perpetually empty. Most of these establishments serve families these days, on the prowl for a relatively 'cheap' meal. It's devoid of teens- gone forever, a relic of a lost era.
* Note: about six or seven years later, I met my wife-to-be on Deering Avenue, and the rest is history. It's been a GREAT ride, E-. Today, Happy Anniversary to us! Can you say 34? I know you can!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Well, I'm a day late for Sky Friday, but this early morning dappled ceiling stopped me in my tracks for a look. The dunes were wet, cold, windy and unfriendly, but this sky was breathtaking. Came across this piece on one of my poetry sites awhile ago. It fits the feeling here.
By Peter Munro
Denting the edge of a sandflat,

footprints pool with water cold as blood

Light ripples the sapphire bay.

Through a muffle of haze

a bouy tells its shoal
like a soul
lost in its shell of skin.
That distant tolling frays

on the dune-grass that slices sand

above the highest tidal wrack.

A northerly ticks grains against green blades,

braids sunlight, salt, and the cry of a single gull.

At the whiskery touch of wind

he turns and sees his footprints
lead to him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sea Star

These early spring days, a stroll along most beaches around here still finds many cottages and rooming houses boarded up, not yet ready for the hustle and bustle of warm July afternoons. This is, and always has been, my favorite time to get to the water. The buildings always look so lonely and 'wanting' in early morning sun. While living on Stevens, my mother's aunt Francis spent her summers with us in Portland and daily took the bus to OOB, for her summer job. She worked at various rooming houses as a maid and just loved her job. Like most in our family, she had , as Mom would say, the 'gift of gab', and I'm sure loved sharing her stories and tall tales to guests and co-workers. Aunt Francis was a great storyteller, and evenings would regale us kids with wonderful stories of her exploits of the day. I still remember her coming and waking me up nights, anytime there was a thunderstorm brewing. "You awake?" She'd say. Well, "I am now." I'd return. Haha! Great memories. We all loved her summer visits. Oh, I almost forgot. She was the one who first introduced me to salt water taffy. She'd bring bags of it back to the house for us. I still think of her, anytime I'm enjoying a piece of striped, peppermint candy. Mmmm!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shadows Don't Lie!

Shadows don't lie! Through my teenage years, four magazines stood out above all others. LIFE, for its wonderful photographs, was a teaching tool for a budding relationship between myself and that camera. The Saturday Evening Post was another. I'd run for the magazine rack each time I visited my grandparents, next to the Dairy Queen, to check out the latest cover by some artist named Rockwell. I'm reading an autobiography of his right now. Sports Illustrated-- I actually had a subscription to it from seventh grade through high school. It was the bible for any young sports' addict. Lastly, there was Mad! Founded in 1952 by a couple of geniuses named Kurtsman and Gaines, I'd laugh for literally hours with it, after Eddie passed it on. Now, my favorite feature, when it appeared, was always "Shadows Don't Lie". The comic setup had two boxes side by side. One showing, for example, two really ugly people on a blind date, introducing themselves politely and saying all the right things. The second box would tell the 'truth' and show how one or both of them really felt about the meeting. One, at least, was always throwing up! Sick... but I loved it! HaHaHa! I'm still laughin'. I thought of this when I got back after a trip to the beach and saw this one. Reflections sometimes do, I guess.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

City Hall

Today, the Taxman Cometh, but let us not busy ourselves with the mundane right now. I haven't had much contact with City Hall in my years in the city, and most of my time visiting this building revolves around entertainment. Built in 1909, it houses what is now called Merrill Auditorium, and the site of some memorable times. My high school graduation was held here in the old City Hall Auditorium, as it was 'plainly' called back in the day. I remember it being one of those stifling, warm early June evenings. I languished through, almost three hours of speech after speech it seemed, for this benchmark ceremony to end, and the fun to begin... prom(no, I didn't attend... no one to go with. Poor me! Ha!) and parties(I did attend). Kendall, Paul, Tom and I had great fun! Another night, soon after, was when Jethro Tull first step foot in America. Ian Anderson and the boys put on a dynamic show! I was there, front row- middle, with some 'girl' friends. Thanks to 'comps' from Erebus. Anybody remember the old hippy-dippy head shop? Wild clothes, beads, boots, pipes, bongs etc anything you needed to look 'sharp' in the day. The touring musical, Cats, The Magic of Christmas and a talk by the 'wrapping' artist Christo (I still regret not going to NYC that next weekend and viewing The Gates in Central Park. It snowed. How beautiful it looked. Ah, the things we should have done...) were all stops here along my way. If I was there, it was important in my life, you could say. Knowledge, Rock, Musicals, Christmas and Art. It really is ALL about me!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just Stones

You can drive for miles and miles, over country roads in New England and one thing seems constant- those stone walls. Left behind when the glaciers melted, early settlers found these pieces of granite and limestone strewn across fields that needed to be farmed. These 'New England potatoes' helped replace the zig-zagging wooden fencing that had to be re-built often and were used to form the boundary lines between farms, and even helped pen in animals. Take a walk up through the woods on our property, and you'll find running stacks of granite, with some pieces too heavy for one person to move. In the fall and spring, with the leaves gone, it's a beautiful time, with late afternoon sun ricocheting through the trees, to view the walls. Quite beautiful, so peaceful and with quite a history, I bet!

Monday, April 13, 2009


You can't live in New England and not love 'em...stone walls. Brown, spring grass, meandering stone wall, sheep grazing off in the distance and the ocean not far away-- for some reason, I thought of Scotland when I saw this gate and wall, and of course my favorite writing of Frost.

Mending Wall
By Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast...
...He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Train Train!

This bridgework spans Park Avenue, just past Hadlock Field. As you can see, this once busy two track bridge is now down to one and not too busy at that. Most of the 'action' begins about a half mile ahead, behind the camera. From the relatively new AMTRAK station, the route called the Downeaster is a quite popular way to travel south to Boston and to connect beyond. In a childhood long gone- many a night, I do recall, in some state of slumber, listening to the lonesome whistle calls as Mountain Division trains came through the Morrill's Corner crossing. My upstairs bedroom was closest to the track and on summer nights with the windows open, it could be quite jostling in sleep. I remember thinking, what an exciting life, that of an engineer racing the iron horse through the pitch-black night. Alas but one trip in my childhood, but what great fun. Our adventure included leaving from the now long-gone Union Station and traveling to Boston Garden. No, not to see the Celtics(I wish!) but to take in the Roy Rogers' Cowboy Rodeo Show with my family. I still remember dressed in my cowboy gear and black hat(I wanted always to be the bad guy... I guess that explains it), being allowed to take my toy pistol and holster aboard the train. No problem... in simpler times. Hey, pardner how about a sarsparilla, and there won't be any trouble!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Just Say NO!

Let's keep it simple this morning. An early stroll on Custom House Wharf will afford you lots of opportunities to view the simple word NO! Now, many parts of the area definitely look deserted, uninhabited, and give a sense of economic blight, but don't be fooled. The wharf is very much alive, even in these uncertain times. As far back as I can remember, it has always had an allure for the camera, and certainly, establishments like the Porthole Restaurant, Harbor Fish, and the Comedy Connection pull, both natives and tourists, off Commercial Street daily.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Three Spires

"I never weary of great churches. It is my favorite kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

The construction of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception began in 1866, under the direction of noted New York architect, Patrick C. Keeley. The walls were almost up, when the July 4, 1866 'great fire' took them to the ground. Work on the structure began again in 1868 and was dedicated on September 8, 1869. The Cathedral has three distinctive steeples, the highest of which soars 204' high and is the tallest structure in Portland, overlooking Portland Harbor and Casco Bay. I love this view of it, against this gray, palette sky, up the Franklin Street Arterial's gently sloping rise.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Play Ball!

Today is Opening Day for the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. By afternoon the city will be buzzing with baseball fans. "American Baseball Family Group," a sculpture by Rhoda Sherbell, has been standing on the brick walkway outside of Hadlock Field, greeting fans, since 2007. The bronze sculpture portrays a family on their way to a day of viewing the 'grand ol' game'. Before it even appeared on the plaza, there were a couple of controversies hovering around it-- both a million miles away from baseball. One centered around(believe it or not) who controls public art in the city, and the other stemmed from the seemingly ethnic background of the family depicted not reflecting the modern diversity of our changing city population. In my opinion, a closer look at the sculpture, two years later, would lead anyone to say... why the controversies? Like a lot of artwork, that you meander by, and wonder about, it has grown on me. I like it! It fits!

'Dogs to watch? Easy money says to keep your eyes on Lars Anderson, Josh Reddick and Junichi Tazawa. They seem to be on the fast track to the Bigs!
Play Ball!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Native Americans called it Machigonne. Later in its history, it was called Casco and Falmouth, but I call it Portland. On most city vehicles, you'll find a seal showing a phoenix rising out of ashes, which aligns with its motto, Resurgam, ("I will rise again"), in reference to Portland's recovery from four devastating fires. The Great Fire, as it is called, occurred on July 4, 1866, right after the end of the Civil War. As story the goes, it started on Commercial Street and was likely caused by a firecracker celebrating Independence Day. Hundreds of homes and commercial buildings were destroyed, and over 10,000 citizens of the peninsula were displaced. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described his old home town: "Desolation! Desolation! Desolation! It reminds me of Pompeii." This early morning view at high tide, looking over Back Cove towards the city, has to be my favorite view of Portland. The Hill, Cathedral, Time and Temperature Building(as it is fondly called), City Hall, among others, are all iconic pieces of the skyline. As memory recalls, I 'drove' the Boulevard many times in our Chevrolet, cream and red station wagon, sitting on Dad's lap looking off at this view.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ice Out

Finally, the torrential spring rains overnight have taken most of the last remnants of winter around here away. The ice, covering the small spring down the road has dissolved, and the water has flooded its banks. Raft season comes to mind. This time of year, Leo, Eddie, the boys and I would get busy. The swampy area at the end Mayfield would overflow, signaling it was time to build our primitive rafts out of small timber pieces and any leftover wood we could find. It wouldn't take a lot time to build them. We had to hurry because the fun was over when the water receded. When construction ended, we boarded them, two to a raft, and preceded to enjoy ourselves, for days. Battling 'Tom and Huck-like', we'd see whose crude wood was the most 'water savvy'. Most times, we'd sink each other and put our friends in the brink! It was always a short, cold walk home for dry clothes. What fun!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Right of Passage

Forneiles, Sullivan, Kiely, Jensen, White, Consolo, Lepcio, Delock, Williams, Runnels, Gernert, Brewer, Geiger, Stephens, Green, Wilson, Wertz... the 1959 Red Sox... 75-79 good enough for 5th Place in the American League. Hope springs eternal! Always today! It's Opening Day 2009 at Fenway Park. Ah... things have certainly changed a bit from that '59 season. Back then, my transistor radio was never far away. And one thing is very true-- you never forget your first game at the Fens. It's a 'right of passage'. Dad and I headed south for the day. It was a double-header against the Detroit Tigers, and our seats were in the grandstands behind third base. I think I watched every pitch that afternoon and fell in love! Time passed and there came a time for J-. As he remembers, it was against Kirby Puckett and the Twins. So, on Opening Day for the beloved Sox, Fenway is an annex to our city up here. Today? Just three words... Go Red Sox!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Foggy Bottom

A foggy bottom- with apologies to the GWU campus area near DC, this is what came to mind this morning. I pass this rambling, broken-down farmhouse each day on my way to work. I have photographed it many times, in all sorts of weather and seasons. What caught my eye this morning was the edge of the fog line running up the slight hill. I have never seen it quite like this before. Spring is 'a long time coming' here in Maine. We often remark-- will it ever get here? When the cherry blossoms are out along the Potomac, we're still waiting for budding trees and early daffodils. But the week of spring(some just call it mud season), we get here, is worth it after all the snow and ice. I guess... sometimes I'm not quite sure!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Books 2

One way to beat a drizzling, foggy morning as the seasons change around here is to find a book and settle in. My plan is to take in the Maine Festival of the Book at USM. It's a day of workshops, book signings and sales. Looks like it's a full day to celebrate the art of writing and inspiration.


Friday, April 3, 2009


Hot off the press! Well, not really. I just heard it on the radio, while typing this. Congratulations going out this morning to Portland. Why? Forbes Magazine has just released its 2009 list of Most Livable Cities in the US, and guess who's Number 1? Good ol' P-town! This morning, my walk continues dockside with a look across the water towards the A.L. Griffin Inc. Ship Chandlery. Interesting word chandlery: a warehouse for goods, equipment and ship supplies. J's Oyster Bar is close by-- warm July afternoons, crabs, clams, oysters, beverages and the Sox on the big screen. Can it get any better?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Island Romance

Casco Bay Lines is the main ferry line that travels throughout the islands carrying passengers, vehicles and freight between Portland, and the islands of Peaks, Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long, Chebeague, and Cliff. There's a history here. The Casco Bay Steamboat Company began providng permanent year-round service to the Casco Bay Islands in 1878. A popular myth claims that there are 365 islands in the Bay(at low tide hahaha!)), hence the name also attributed to the islands, the Calandar Islands. If you come for a visit, there are lots of different ways to see the city and the surrounding area. You might want to try the water. I've taken the Sunset Cruise, the Moonlight Run and many day trips to Peaks. All highly recommended. My suggestion? Get to Peaks and walk or bike the circular roadway that follows the water around the island. If it's a Sunday afternoon, take in the weekly Reggae Fest at Jones Landing, or any other night view the stunning sunset, over Portland, from the front deck of the Inn on Peaks Island, sipping your favorite beverage. Quite relaxing!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Theme Day: Yellow

Today, April 1, is Theme Day on CityDailyPhoto.

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
—from “Eating Poetry” by Mark Strand

Happy 2009 National Poetry Month!
*Read a poem today; write a poem tomorrow.