Island Stories

Of the more than 3,000 islands off the coast of Maine, only 14 have year round inhabitants. One is Islesboro with a population of less than 600 people. It has a K-12 school and, unlike most islands, it is accessible by ferry leaving from Lincolnville Beach which  makes it possible for islanders to work and attend school on the mainland.

At the ferry landing there is a lighthouse which, like so many others, is no longer active.

If one doesn’t mind climbing narrow, rickety steps to the top,  there is a nice view of Penobscot Bay and the mainland.

There was a time when Indians summered on Islesboro, fishing and trapping.  Early white settlers earned their living farming and fishing.  Some of the history of these early inhabitants is in the Islesboro Sailors Memorial Museum and the Islesboro Historical Society and Museum.

At one time, Islesboro was home to the largest commercial shipping fleet in Penobscot Bay.  Life on the island changed, however, in the late 1800’s when wealthy folks from away discovered it and built stately homes, many of which are being used today by fifth and sixth generations of families.  As wealthy folks began spending time on Islesboro, the islanders adapted to their needs by becoming  carpenters and gardeners thus livelihood became more dependent on summer people.   Would you be surprised to learn that it took some time for the islanders to develop a cordial relationship with their new neighbors?

Islesboro, with its beautiful vistas, is like stepping back in time.

It is peaceful and a wonderful setting for relaxing or exploring.  A number of celebrities have found it a place to spend time without being bothered. For many years the pace was slow and transportation was by horse drawn carriage. It wasn’t until 1932 after summer people were gone that islanders voted to allow cars on the island.  That was a radical change, but it made life easier for those who were there year round.

Islesboro is just one of Maine’s islands with a rich history, and it’s fascinating to learn about past and present life on many of them.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Hamilton: My Take

23658880_2002841116409422_3647036226683360056_nWhen there is as much hype surrounding an event as has happened with the block buster show Hamilton, one can only wonder if it is as good as advertised.  The answer is an enthusiastic YES! I held off going during its Houston run because the tickets are pricey, but at the last minute there were some single seats available for a somewhat reasonable price, and I bit ending up with a great seat close to the stage.

What immediately grabbed me is the energy of the production which the audience responded to in kind.  Throughout the performance, theater goers were showing their appreciation with cheers and hands together.  I was among them, but there was something else that generated my response, and that is the sheer genius of the show.

41Va8thFjQL._SL500_As the story goes, the creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was inspired by Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton.  Now, I read the book and while I learned much about Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries, I got so bogged down in detail that I couldn’t imagine being creatively inspired.  Thankfully, Miranda did not have the same response.  As a result, he presents American history with a lesser known founding father, Hamilton, as the central character surrounded by the more familiar Washington, Jefferson, Madison and others.

There is no question that Hamilton is successful theater, but I think it is more than that.  It is a reminder that perhaps we don’t know as much about history as we might.  Alexander Hamilton has been little more than a blip on the screen with reference to him being that he was the first Secretary of the Treasury and that he was killed by Aaron Burr.  What the play does is enlarge his role among the founding fathers and engage an audience by entertaining with fact.  There were a lot of young people in the theater, and I doubt they were thinking about Hamilton being a learning opportunity but there it was. As I observed their faces and responded to their cheers, I couldn’t help but wonder if they might be inspired to pay more attention to history and current events if it were presented more creatively.

Not often do I leave theater with so many thoughts swirling in my head.  I have such appreciation for Chernow for having written a book about a relatively obscure historical person and for Miranda whose unique creative response has had such impact.  Not everyone will have the opportunity to see Hamilton on stage, but I’m betting its influence will be felt far and wide.  It is not theater that I will soon forget, and it will be interesting to see what the followup is.

Oh, if you happen to have opportunity to see the show, I recommend listening to the music in advance as it makes it easier to follow during the performance.  The soundtrack is on uTube.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Roma: A Quick Stop

These days when we travel a long distance we give ourselves a day or two to recuperate and adjust to the time change. This trip involved flying into Rome, a great place to get your feet on the ground.

This being a short visit, we didn’t want to spend hours waiting in line for some of the major attractions, so we opted to visit Galleria Borghese where we’d never been. The gallery is located in the villa begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V. The cardinal used it as a country villa at the edge of Rome.

Borghese was an early patron of Bernini, and the sculptures in his collection are amazing.

From every angle there is such detail.

Up close the expressions tell a story of their own as seen here between Daphne and Apollo.

Just as there is great strength represented in Bernini’s creations,

there is grace and beauty.

While it was difficult to pick a favorite from such magnificent creations, David preparing to slay Goliath may have been it. Again, a story is depicted so powerfully.

In addition to sculpture, there is a great collection of paintings with works by such names as Carvaggio, Raphael and Titian.

As much as I liked the paintings, what fascinated me were the ceilings in every room.

It wasn’t just that the work was beautiful, it was that it was so three dimensional as to make some of the work seem more sculpted than painted.

Finished marveling at the work inside Galleria Borghese, we began walking back to our hotel with a slight detour to the Spanish Steps. There you can always count on merging with masses of humanity which reminds you of all the people who visit Rome to experience the wonder it has to offer. If one has to make a quick stop, this is a wonderful place to do it.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Last Flight

Exploring the Moosehead Lake region, we spied a sign pointing down a dirt road to a B 52 Memorial. We couldn’t imagine what that would be, but there was only one way to find out and that was to take the road.
It was a bumpy, dusty ride made tolerable by magnificent fall color .
In the distance were mountains, one of which we commented resembled an elephant. We later learned that it was called Elephant Mountain and was part of what we were about to experience.

Seven miles or so down the road, we arrived at the site to be welcomed by a sign giving indication we were going to experience something we’d not expected.

Before we’d walked too far, we saw what was the first of many airplane parts.

Needless to say that was sobering.

Debris was scattered throughout a heavily wooded area which made us wonder how and when such an obviously devastating accident had occurred.

As we continued further into the area, we became more solemn as even larger remains littered the forest.

At last, we came to the place where some questions were answered. We were surprised that anyone could have survived such a tragic crash and wondered how the survivors were rescued in such an isolated area.

When we returned to the inn later in the day, the first thing we did was research the event. It occurred January 1963 on a routine exercise that you can learn more about here. What was astonishing is that the two survivors withstood -30 degree temperatures in a snowy terrain for hours before being rescued. With today’s sophisticated location equipment they would have been found much sooner.

Needless to say, we were very moved by what we saw and appreciative of the effort to honor the men whose lives were lost.

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

A Quick Stop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen my daughter moved to Franklin, Tennessee, several years ago, the hubby thought that good enough reason to drive the long road from Houston to Maine and back again.  It’s a long way for a quick twice a year stop, but I always enjoy the time we have there not only because of the visit with the daughter’s family but because Franklin is part of my earliest memories.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWould you believe I was born there right in this building that at one time was a hospital? My first view of this unimposing structure stopped me in my tracks as it triggered a distant memory of a photograph of my mother standing on those steps holding an infant that was me, otherwise I would have walked by it with no thought.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow the spot is identified with a historical marker that names Dr. Tandy Rice as one of the hospital’s founders.  It was he who brought me into this world and got me started on life’s journey.

Most of my Franklin memories revolve around my great grandmother’s house.  What a wonderful place it was to play hide and seek, and she had an old out of tune pump organ that kept me entertained for hours.  The house is still there, and not too long ago I knocked on the door, explained to the current owners my history there and they were kind enough to let me in.  The old place has been updated, but the wonderful crown molding and stair railings are still there.

My memories are of a very sleepy small town, but that is not the case today.  Franklin is a very hip place with trendy shops and eateries.

One that many of you may know is the City Farmhouse that in addition to the shop hosts popup shows that draw visitors from all over the southeast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADowntown doesn’t claim all the changes. The area around Franklin, including some of my family’s former property,  has become home to large estates and horse farms.  Many belong to country music stars and a few Hollywood types.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing that hasn’t changed in Franklin is its southern pride.  Right in the middle of town is this towering sculpture honoring the fighting men of the Confederacy. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALook real close and you’ll notice part of the soldier’s hat brim is missing.  It is said to have broken during the shipping/installation process, and it was deemed appropriate to leave it.

FranklinIf memory serves me, Franklin was the unintended site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. That battle transformed Carnton Plantation into a hospital and a burial ground for the men who died there.

Yes, Franklin causes me to wax nostalgic, and I am glad that it is part of my history.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Destination: Castine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of our favorite boat outings is to Castine, Maine, one of the oldest communities in North America.  Since the 1600’s it has been continuously occupied by settlers from France, Holland, England and  colonial America.  It has also been home to several Native American nations, so as you might guess, Castine has a rich and colorful history.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACastine is not a big town.  Most of the shops and eateries are right in the center.

Were it not for the Maine Maritime Academy where young men and women are trained for a life involving the sea, there would be few full time residents.

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In the 1630’s, the French built Fort Pentagoet, which was later destroyed by the Dutch.

IMG_4889Today, an historic inn is all that bears the name.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocated up the road from the original fort, the inn is on the site of a hall occupied by English troops in the 1800’s.  Are you beginning to get a feel for Castine’s varied history?

Back to the inn, it is a trip back in time which makes it desirable for visitors.

For us, it is an annual destination where we meet boater friends for cocktails on the porch and a delightful dinner.

It is always fun to stroll around Castine to see stunning examples of Federal and Greek-Revival style homes that were built by wealthy pre-Civil War merchant families. For a peek inside one of these beautifully restored old homes, it’s worth taking a look here.   Many of you will recognize the work of one of your favorite fellow bloggers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn any given day, Castine is a wonderful lunch destination, and for us, it takes less time to get there by water than by car. It is a treat to tie up at the public dock and walk a few steps to Dennett’s Wharf for a tasty bite.

While there, you never know what you are going to see happening in or on the water.  Yep, Maine is the way life should be!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Hauntingly Realistic

There is much that is familiar in Washington, DC.

Washington DCThere’s the capitol building with its impressive dome

Washington DCand the Washington Monument standing tall against an evening sky.

Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
Washington DC
Lincoln Memorial
Washington DC
MLK Memorial

There are memorials to Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King as well as reminders of World Wars I and II and the Vietnam War.

Washington DCAll are inspiring, but for me nothing stands out like the Korean War Memorial with its bigger than life figures that are hauntingly realistic.  Garbed in battle attire covered by ponchos to protect from monsoon rains, the ghostly figures represent  a nighttime patrol seemingly ready for combat.

Washington DCEach face is unique.  

Washington DCWary.  Tense.

Washington DCSoldiers quietly communicate, caution one another.

Washington DCThe Korean War may not be one that we know the most about, but this dramatic memorial honors the men and women who defended a country they never knew and a people they never met.

Next time you are in Washington, DC, don’t miss going to this stunning installation.  I can’t imagine your not being moved.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

History Comes Alive

9780446558884_p0_v1_s260x420I recently read Widow of the South by Robert Hicks.  It is historical fiction set during the Civil War and revolves around the Battle of Franklin and the makeshift hospital for Confederate soldiers at Carnton Plantation.

FranklinSince part of my family now lives in Franklin, Tennessee, on a recent visit I was particularly interested in exploring the plantation and learning more about what actually happened there.

Carnton Plantation back view
Carnton Plantation back view

While the house is original, the guide was quick to point out that whatever interior description was presented in the book was fabricated because no information on that subject exists.

FranklinThe interior has been restored to represent the style of the period,Franklin

but it does not likely reflect the original decor.

Franklin  In any case, the rooms that are open are quite charming.  Keep in mind the plantation was used as a hospital, so whatever stains were on the floor were identified as blood stains which added to the drama of the visit.

Carnton garden
Carnton garden

In addition to the main building is a lovely garden and a few still standing outbuildings.

FranklinThese include a smokehouse and one of the quarters that was used to house slaves.

Franklin

I was not surprised to see a loom there as most of the household linens of the time were  woven by slaves.  I have such appreciation for the skill it took to create on such primitive equipment.  My loom is light years removed from this.

FranklinAs a hospital, Carnton was used to treat thousands of Confederate soldiers who were wounded in the carnage that was the Battle of Franklin where nearly 11,000 men from both sides were killed.  Some 1400 of the soldiers treated at Carnton died there and were buried in trenches close to the house.    About a year and a half after the battle, Carrie and John McGavock had the bodies exhumed, placed in individual pine boxes and interred on a site close to the McGavock family cemetery.

FranklinToday it is preserved as the McGavock Confederate Cemetery and is a grim reminder of lives so needlessly lost.

FranklinThe cemetery is arranged by state and each area bears a marker with the name of the state and the number of men from there who were killed.

Carnton Plantation is just part of the surprising amount of history in and around Franklin, and it is beautifully chronicled with historical markers at every turn.  This makes the area a very interesting one to visit, and I can’t wait to go back.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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