Neat finds and fun stories

Biddeford High-Waterhouse Field Trivia!

Here is a fun tidbit I came across this afternoon while transcribing our History Index Cards (which will be in spreadsheet/database form in the near future for EVERYONE’S convenience!)

“Alfred L. Waterhouse will be honored Friday night [SEPTEMBER 24, 1954] , as Biddeford High’s home field, long known as “Alumni Field”, becomes officially “Alfred L. Waterhouse Field.”  (Biddeford Daily Journal, September 21, 1954: p.1 c.1).  –Another story ran in the paper that Satuday (September 25, 1954: p.1 c.1) all about the re-dedication of the playing field.

So now you know–the day that ALUMNI FIELD officially became WATERHOUSE FIELD was Friday, September 24, 1954.

Neat finds and fun stories

Ye olde almanacks

Sometimes it is easy to forget that agriculture was once a necessity of life for most of the people who lived in the area. If you didn’t grow it, you didn’t eat.  So besides a hoe and some land and a lot of hard work, what is one of the farmers most useful tools? The almanac!

We have a neat collection of almanacs which have finally made it upstairs thanks to the new shelving.  Our earliest almanac is from 1766 and was calculated for the meridian of Boston. It contains “Ephemeris; Aspects;  Spring tides; Judgments of the Weather; Feasts and Fasts of the Church; Courts in Massachusetts bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode-Island; Sun and moon’s rising and setting; Moons place; Time of High water;  Public roads; with the best Stages or Houses to put up at: Eelipses; with a Representation of the solar eclipse on the 5th August, &c. &c. &c. by Nathaniel Ames.” It is a neat little pamphlet, eight pages total and all the available space is used. Each month is chock full of information, and includes a small poem at the top of the page. There are little notes written in the margins and a flowing, elegant script.

I was curious to see how these developed over time, so I picked out the 1813 almanac to compare the contents–especially knowing the British conflict was a current event. Curiously enough the 1813 book is the Clergyman’s Almanack. It contains much of the astronomical and weather information, as well as a wealth of religious information, tables for stages, postage, currency conversion, missionary and bible societies and finally listings of college vacations.

What fascinating little snapshots of the day to day in New England! For a full listing of the collection check out the Catablog.
Front cover of a New England Farmer's Almanac from 1816

The notes around the margin of this almanac indicate that the owner planted barley, flaxseed and peas in May.
Interior pages and notes for a New England Farmer's Almanac in 1816

Neat finds and fun stories, New Stuff

L’année de la franco-américaine

This past spring Susan Pinette’s Franco-American history class at the University of Maine did a number of projects focused on cultural history with a Biddeford focus. The projects were unveiled at a really nice reception at the fab North Dam Mill (formerly Pepperell Mill Building #3), which I attended with my toddler in tow…luckily there were enough Memere’s in the room to keep her in cheese and grapes and it was a great gathering. There were a couple of web-based projects which I put links to on the library’s Local History & Genealogy webpage (still there, by the way), and the rest of the projects I hijacked to put out at the library’s opening for Dyke Hendricksen’s wonderful book The Franco-Americans of Maine . Last month we were lucky enough to host a book talk with Norman Beaupre discussing his newest novel, The Man with the Easel of Horn. All this plus Biddeford’s Maine Community Heritage Project team launched our awesome website in June…with lots of Franco coverage and more planned for the future. 

You’d think that would be pretty good coverage for the Francos…no way, hombre! We got an email last week from Dr. Pinette with a link to this fantastic radio program (aired September 7, 2010) produced by Biddeford native Jane Martin–now a Fulbright Scholar at McGill University in Montreal, QC. It’s a wonderful look into Martin’s own journey as a Franco as she learns her family history by talking and interviewing her parents and other family members.

Her story is one which many of us can identify. As the last of la survivance generations are starting to leave us, with their fierce Franco-ness, the children and grandchildren may not realize until it is too late the stories and culture which we are losing. The other side is that so many of the younger generations may only have one grandparent of French-Canadian origin and perhaps have never had that experience of coming from a “really French” family.

Luckily, with folks like Pinette, Beaupre, Hendricksen, and Martin we continue to experience and learn about the rich French-Canadian culture – past and present – of Biddeford in particular and in Maine as a whole. I am 1/4 Franco and love experiencing and learning about this rich, vibrant heritage that I never knew I had until about 10 years ago. My generation may not totally understand la survivance, but I think we can all agree nous n’oublierons jamais.

Neat finds and fun stories

The Legend of Francis Fortune

Another great history vignette by Sharon Cummins at Old News from Southern Maine, one of my very favorite history blogs. You can also find it in the June 10th York County Coast Star, along with the fabulous illustrations that always accompany Sharon’s work. Enjoy!

“The Legend of Francis Fortune”

Neat finds and fun stories, New Stuff

The “Item” tragedy at Biddeford Pool, 1909

Read the fascinating story of the capsizing of the boat “Item” while on an excursion to Biddeford Pool to view President Taft’s yacht “Sylph” at anchor. He was in the area to visit his sister-in-law’s summer home at the Pool. I’d never heard this story before, so this was quite interesting to read about! Thanks to Sharon Cummins at SoME Old News for this great item!

You can check out images of President Taft’s visit to Biddeford Pool from the library’s collection at Maine Memory Network.

Neat finds and fun stories

A mysterious little man

One day when I flipped over an image to place it on the scanner, the ghost of a jolly little boy was looking back at me. He is a pudgy little guy, maybe around age 5, holding a ball and smiling like crazy. I like to think he is laughing at the joy of getting to have his photograph taken. I have hung him on my wall, next to a photo of my own little child laughing. I don’t know who he is, but his photograph was behind this particular image long enough to burn a lasting image into the board. Of course there are no records about the donor of the picture, which would probably make a difference. What a great image, anyway!

Ghost image of a little boy holding a ball
Ghost image of a little boy holding a ball