August 3 – 9, 2018Vol. 20, No. 9

How Maine Changed the World

by Martha F. Barkley

As with most of my reading, this book makes me want to find another one by the same author, in this case, 50 Things to Do in Maine Before You Die, another young adult read also by Nancy Griffin. I must check again with our wonderful Belgrade Public Library.

We are so fortunate to have this gem of a public place in our summer midst and year round, especially for children and young adults just discovering the power of learning. Knowledge changes our lives and this one book shows in particular detail how Maine has already changed the world, beyond our Maine borders: people, places and objects (inventions). There are surprises on every single page…

M*A*S*H reruns on television remain a favorite in our home. Who knew that Dr. H. Richard Hornberger of Bremen, Maine wrote the original comedic story about his experience in the Korean Conflict? I did not. The 1970 movie based on his 1968 book was different from the ever popular later television series. In fact, the author did not care for the rather anti-war character Hawkeye (Alan Alda) as portrayed and televised during the Vietnam War era.

This is the summer of paper bags, not plastic, please! Margaret Knight from York, Maine is the inventor of the machine that makes that flat-bottomed paper bag. She invented and patented so many other creations that Knight has been nicknamed our "female Edison". It is good to shop at Reny's, Christy's and Day's Stores where paper bags are happily provided and often the young folks take my heavy bags to the car in the hot parking area.

The world renowned Dorothea Dix is from Hamden, Maine. She trained Louisa May Alcott in Washington, DC to be a nurse for Civil War wounded. "Dragon Dix" was her nickname due to a bossy personality in handling many Army nurses. One way to get the job done, right?

Who knew that John Ford was originally from Cape Elizabeth? So far he is the only American director of movies to earn four Academy Awards: The Informer (1936), The Grapes of Wrath (1941), How Green Was My Valley (1942), and The Quiet Man (1953). My favorite is the Irish story How Green Was My Valley with John Wayne…What is yours?

Another favorite is On Golden Pond by local Ernest Richard Thompson, playwright, director and writer. [Thompson's play was turned into a movie of the same name, which won Academy Awards in 1982 for Thompson (Best Adapted Screenplay) and for the movie's co-stars, Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda (Best Leading Actress and Actor).]

This 135-page young adult book has so much to offer to all ages, young and not so young. Even picture reading children will learn along with you because every page has a great photo, drawing or illustration of interest. The only thing missing for me was a map of Maine to show where all these famed places are. I kept Googling for maps.

Camp Powhatan in Otisfield was a new locale in Maine for me. "This camp is as important as anything being done by statesmen or politicians, because it creates hope. Without that understanding — that love — conflict is created," according to Senator George Mitchell.

"Seeds of Peace" began in 1993 with an idea of children from Arab-Israeli conflict zones coming together for camp in Maine…success grew and grew. Now the children attending are from every possible place of conflict in the world you can think of: over 25 listed on page 21, if you are curious, dear reader…

Samantha Smith was honored in a local parade upon her return from Russia to Manchester, Maine, our Belgrade neighbor. We were boating on Lake Cobbessee that particular parade day, so we heard about her letter-writing to Yuri Andropov in 1982 when he became the Soviet premier.

What a lesson in letter writing for kids in 2018. Samantha helped bridge the gap during the Cold War. Her lovely statue in bronze can be seen just outside our Maine State Museum in Augusta. One letter written by a ten year old made a difference in U.S.-Soviet relations during a difficult time.

Albion native Elijah Parish Lovejoy has a huge 110-foot high monument in Alton, Illinois, honoring his journalism and persistence. Read about his struggles and why his fame goes way beyond our Maine borders. I noticed many of these world changers were graduates of Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, or the Orono campus of our state university. Our colleges and libraries help bring about change and improvement for all, inside Maine and outside our fair state.

Check this title out of Belgrade Public Library. If others by this author are not available, try interlibrary loan with a librarian's assistance. Almost every person featured in this short book has multiple biographies out there to select from. Many Margaret Chase Smith histories are at her home and museum in Skowhegan, not that far away. She was the only Senator that dared to speak out! Not even President Eisenhower had the gumption she had at that time. Go see the Eisenhower room added to Smith's lovely home on the river.

All three librarians here in Belgrade this summer are very helpful indeed, as they were last summer, too. Air-conditioned and comfortable if you do not care to jump into the lake to cool off! Better yet, swim in the lake AND go to our local library.