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Bill White grew up on a farm in Ludlow, Maine in the 1940s and 50s. His grandfather, Nehemiah, lived in a cabin on the property. And Bill says Nehemiah was important to him for many reasons – two stand out.

First, he instilled in Bill a love for the outdoors. So much so that bill became an environmental scientist. And second, Nehemiah was exactly what a young boy needed growing up – even though it drove Bill’s mother crazy.

Bill was interviewed at the Houlton Historical Society in the fall of 2010.

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Basket makers George Neptune with his grandmother, Molly Neptune Parker (photo by Peter Dembski).

George Neptune is a master basket maker. That’s quite an accomplishment for a 21-year-old – the title of master is usually bestowed on older practitioners. For generations, the Neptunes have kept alive the traditional art of basket making. George is the latest generation. He learned from his grandmother, Molly Neptune Parker.

George Neptune was recorded at the 2010 American Folk Festival.

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Irene Coady lights up the keys and buttons!  (Photo by Kathleen Mundell)

There’s a substantial population of Franco-Americans in the Lewiston-Auburn area of Maine. For the French speaking community there, music springs from the heart of their homes. Especially around Christmas.

Irene Coady and Lorraine Ouellette were recorded at the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston.

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Buster Prout details the unique qualities of his hand-built Merrymeeting Bay Gunning Float, a duck hunting boat.

It’s probably fair to say that Merrymeeting Bay is the duck hunting capital of Maine. Buster Prout can testify to that. He’s lived his whole life right near the bay in Bowdoinham and started hunting at age twelve, in the 1950s. And to say Buster’s an avid duck hunter and guide would be an understatement.

“Actually,” Buster says, “duck huntin’ is addictive I think.”

Buster Prout was interviewed as part of the Merrymeeting Bay Oral History Project which was sponsored by the Maine Maritime Museum and funded by the Merrymeeting Bay Trust.

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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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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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