[Note: Can tell Mr. MacLeacheran must be “from away,” because he writes in the third paragraph the “northern Maine town of Bangor.” I was born and raised in The County. That’s northern Maine! I suppose we can all let it pass this time.]
By Mike MacLeacheran
“That’s where they found the eyeball in the fortune cookie,” says Stu Tinker, turning to point out a suburban Chinese restaurant from the window of his tour van. “Steve used to go with his wife Tabby to the Oriental Jade and it’s the inspiration for the scene in It. But you know he renamed it the Jade of the Orient, right?”
Stu Tinker is undeniably America’s biggest Stephen King fanboy, having owned a book shop for nine years that only sold titles by the horror author, and he’s once again stepped through the looking glass to chew over his favourite scene. It’s 9am on a dreary Saturday and we are sat in his van, the windscreen wipers adding a syncopated Psycho-like stab, while Stu obsesses over the devilish plot lines of It that lurk on the streets he grew up on.
The northern Maine town of Bangor is justifiably famous for its association with King, an author with more than 60 novels and close to 200 short stories, and it’s getting in the mood for two new film adaptations this summer. The first, The Dark Tower, starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba, arrived last week while an updated version of his cult classic It (famous for Pennywise the clown, whose chuckling, rotten voice still scares the bejesus out of plenty of adults) is out next month. “The producers wanted to film the new It here,” says Stu, noticeably irritated. “But they couldn’t get the money together, so they shot in Ottawa instead. Still, Bangor is Derry.”
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[NOTE: I’ve lived in California longer than I’ve lived in Maine, but the Pine Tree State runs like pine sap in my veins. And in all that time living in California, I’ve never learned to surf. Scared of the sharks, I suppose, or being driven into the ocean floor by a wave. But there’s surfing in Maine, too.]
Higgins Beach is just a few miles from Portland, but the surfer vibe is straight out of a Beach Boys song. Welcome to a laid-back coastal community loaded with yesteryear charm. Kids ride their bikes around town, surfers catch waves until night falls and the tides are a constant source of conversation. It’s an easy-breezy, ocean-studded getaway and an idyllic spot for a last summer hurrah or an autumn weekend by the Atlantic. This pocket-sized town is perfect for carefree, car-free travels.
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By Michael Shepherd
Calling himself “a history buff,” Gov. Paul LePage revised Civil War history as we know it in a Tuesday radio interview when discussing the racially charged violence in Virginia and saying “7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy.”
There is just a kernel of truth: Maine State Archivist David Cheever said that approximately 30 people are confirmed to have gone from Maine to the Confederacy, including students who left Bowdoin College in Brunswick and what is now Colby College in Waterville to fight, but they could have been from other parts of the country.
Maine’s history as one of the proudest Union states is well-documented. It sent about 73,000 people to war — a higher proportion than any other state — and more than 9,000 died, though there were some pockets of Southern sympathizers.
A few men with Maine ties became Confederate generals, including the Leeds-born Danville Leadbetter, the Avon-born Zebulon York and Josiah Gorgas, who controlled the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta from 1856 to 1858.
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