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Bowdoinham, Maine sits right at the edge of Merrymeeting Bay, the confluence of five rivers including the Kennebec. The soil is rich and perfect for farming.

David Prout has farmed in Bowdoinham since the 1950’s. His father, Harry Prout, owned Merrymeeting Farms and was nicknamed “The Carrot King.” David and his good friend Frank Connors, a local historian, recall Merrymeeting Farms and chat about the importance of farmland preservation in Bowdoinham. This intervew was recorded in 2009 at Fort Andross, Brunswick.

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The city of Lewiston was once a hub of French-Canadian culture in Maine — so much so, Mona Lothian didn’t realize there was a language other than French until she went to school!

Mona stopped by the Story Bank recording booth at the 2009 American Folk Festival in Bangor. She reminisced about her Franco childhood in the 1950s, the decline of Franco culture, and what she does to maintain her traditions.

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Seventy-five year old John Connors is a master boat builder from St. Francis, Maine. His specialty is the bateau, a wooden river boat.

Seventeen year old Chase Jackson, from Allagash, Maine received a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship award from the Maine Arts Commission and is studying bateau building with John. Chase is learning the intricacies of a unique craft.

John agreed to be interviewed by Chase for Story Bank under one condition — they not talk about boat building!  Instead, John, motivated by the economic difficulties facing Maine and the nation, wanted to pass on stories to Chase about the Depression and the impact of WWII on northern Maine. We feature their chat on this edition of Story Bank Maine. Chase and John recorded this interview in the Story Bank Maine recording booth at the 2008 American Folk Festival.

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dondis & small.cropped

L to R – Meredith Dondis, Ruth Small, Sam Small, Edith Dondis. Photo by Kathleen Mundell.

Maine has a small but long-standing Jewish population. There are significant Jewish communities in Portland, Waterville, Biddford, Bangor, and Houlton.

Sam Small says you had to be a genius to survive and thrive as a Jew in a small town in rural Maine. Sam and his good friend Meredith Dondis grew up Jewish in the coastal town of Rockland. Now in their 80’s and 90’s, they both still live there. And, on this edition of Story Bank Maine, Sam and Meredith recount a few tales of early Jewish life. They were interviewed at Sam and Ruth Small’s home in 2007.

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Tad makes a turn to cut another row. Photo by Peter Dembski.

rTad Hunter makes a turn in his tractor to cut another row of hay. Photo by Peter Dembski.

1.TH at Barn

Tad Hunter surveys his field. Photo by Peter Dembski.

Cutting hay is an art for Tad Hunter. Instead of just mowing back and forth and back and forth, Tad creates patterns and designs in the fields he mows. Each time he turns to cut a new row, he says his view of the world changes through window of his tractor. He relishes the small variations in his landscape over the course of an afternoon of haying – the movement of the sun, the flight of a seagull, the appearance and disappearance of a fox.

Tad lives in Tosham, Maine. He’s a farmer and the director of the Topsham Fair. He was interviewed by Brenda Cummings in 2009 at Fort Andross, Brunswick in conjunction with the Five Rivers Arts Alliance.

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Gemma Laser knew she was raised differently than most kids her age in Dexter, Maine. Gemma’s parents moved to Maine in the 1970’s as part of the back-the-land-movement, when thousands of individuals and families left urban and suburban lives for a rural, environmentally centered lifestyle.

For Gemma, this meant she grew up without the “trappings” of modern life. For instance, she and her family lived in a passive solar, earth berm house with horses and an organic garden. She says “For me, it seemed like the world because it was this wonderful community and I didn’t know anything else and now, looking back on it, it is very different.”

Gemma recounts some of her experiences on this edition of Story Bank Maine.  She was interviewed in the Story Bank Maine mobile recording booth at the 2008 American Folk Festival in Bangor.

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Michael Corbin outside his restaurant "Cafe de la Place." Photo by Peter Dembski.

Michael Corbin is an Acadian Chef from Madawaska, Maine. Michael is forty-seven. He grew up in a Grand Isle in a family of six kids. Because his father died young, Michael says he and his brothers and sisters had to do a lot of the family chores. That’s where Michael learned to cook, at the apron strings of his mother and grandmother.

This recording was made in August 2008 in the Story Bank Maine mobile recording booth at the American Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine.

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The idea is simple. People have stories. Story Bank Maine records them for radio, the web and podcasts, and the participants.

Story Bank Maine uses a mobile recording booth to make recordings. Other times, we visit people at their homes. In some cases we record stories told at public events.

In all cases, we’re interested in people and their places in Maine. It’s that simple.

The recordings we make are often edited and produced for the public and community radio in Maine. We post those productions here and people can subscribe to the recordings as a podcast. We archive the recordings at the Maine Folklife Center. And, we provide a copy of the interview on CD for the participants.

Story Bank Maine is project of Cultural Resources, Inc. and the Maine Folklife Center. Kathleen Mundell is the project manager. Rob Rosenthal is the radio producer. Many thanks to The National Endowment for the Arts, The Maine Community Foundation, and the Davis Family Foundation for their generous support.

We hope you’ll check back often for new recordings and updates on our next recording sessions.


Kathleen and Rob

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