Sometimes when we interview folks for Story Bank, the stories we hear are more like snapshots. Audio photographs. One by one, they don’t say a lot. Strung together, they make well-rounded image of a life.

So it was with State Representative Joyce Fitzpatrick. Joyce spoke to us about growing up poor in Linneus, Maine.

Joyce Fitzpatrick was interviewed at the Houlton Historical Society in 2010.

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Kay Bell reminisces about the German POWs housed at a prison camp in Houlton during World War II.

It’s hard to imagine, but during World War II there were a handful of German P.O.W. camps in Maine. German soldiers were captured, brought to the states, and taken to places like Houlton. Kay Bell remembers. She says P.O.W.’s worked on her father’s potato farm.

Kay was recorded at the Houlton Historical Society in the fall of 2010.

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Pam Cunningham and Tracy Neptune Ray practice the craft of fancy basket making. Both Pam and Tracy are Penobscot Indians and they’ve learned the art of weaving sweetgrass and brown ash from tribal elders. They dropped into the Story Bank Maine mobile recording booth in 2009 to chat about their cultural heritage and learning to weave.

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When it comes to bees, Carol Cottrill may be the most passionate person in Maine. Carol is a Master Beekeeper. She raises bees in Rumford, Maine where she makes honey and beeswax products from her hives. Carol was recorded for Story Bank Maine in 2009.

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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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With all her duties as the First Lady of Maine, Karen Baldacci still finds time to garden — a lot of time. Indeed, gardening is one of her favorite pastimes. Mrs. Baldacci says she’s fortunate to live at the Governor’s Mansion (The Blaine House) because the gardens there were designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

For this podcast, Mrs. Baldacci was interviewed in the Story Bank recording booth at the 2009 Maine Folk Festival in Bangor.

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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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