‘Tis the season to talk about supernatural happenings, spooky legends, and way-out-there stories —and author Earl Brechlin’s got them.
From Kittery to Eastport, from Fort Kent to Monhegan, Maine is home to natural wonders, quirky characters, remarkable inventors, and haunting ghosts and legends. Whether it’s Moxie Nerve Food, the North American Wife Carrying Competition, UFO abductions along the Allagash, or Katahdin’s role in creating Bambi, this book by long-time journalist Earl Brechlin celebrates all that makes the state unique—both real and imagined
—partial book description
In fact, his latest book, Wild! Weird! Wonderful! Maine, published by Islandport Press, has more than 300 true stories about Maine culled down from some 600 stories he gathered over a period of years as a journalist and in his travels as a Maine Registered Guide.
“When you try to define ‘Maine’ there’s no one thing that can, which is why it’s neat to find all of these legends and stories about the culture and spirit of Maine is and how it has gotten to where it is today,” he said. “All of these stories are pieces of it.”
Brechlin, a journalist for more than 35 years and author of four Maine and New England books, traveled all around the state in search of every left-of-center and unexplained story he could find.
“As A Guide, and someone who just loves Maine, I was everywhere, up in Aroostook County, over in Rangeley, down in the southern parts of the state and there are always these quirky little things about each town to discover.”
In his book, for example, readers will be introduced tothe Meddybemps Howler, the Phippsburg Screecher, the Ghost of Catherine’s Hill and the Cherryfield Goat Man to name a few.
“The early farmers, loggers, settlers, and the original Native Americans had this connection to the land and you’re walking with those ghosts everywhere you go in Maine, so the spirit of those folks is part of the landscape,” said Brechlin.
Brechlin also painstakingly acquired more than 2,500 drawings, engravings, photographs, and illustrations to go with each story.
The book is broken up into regional sections with a map and grid number that corresponds with The Maine Gazetteer, so the book itself is a road trip guide.
Best and Worst Of Baby Care Share Cemetery
(Excerpt from ‘Wild! Weird! Wonderful! Maine’) One of the saddest events in Midcoast Maine history was the discovery of the naked body of a five-month-old baby boy floating in water at the bottom of a Rockport lime quarry, near the town dump, on April 20, 1940.
Authorities determined the baby was already dead when it was put in the water. No cause could ever be determined. Birth records were checked and a $500 reward (Nearly $10,000 in today’s money) was offered but no leads were found and the body remained unclaimed.
Touched by the little boy’s plight, people donated money to give him a proper burial in the Sea View Cemetery....
A simple stone marks the spot. Caretakers frequently find toys, coins, stuffed animals, and other mementos at the grave site.
Ironically, in the same cemetery lies the grave of one of the world’s foremost child care experts, Pediatrician Benjamin Spock. In 1946 he wrote the “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,” which became the definitive source on raising children during the 1950s, 60s, 70s and beyond. More than 50 million copies have been sold. Dr. Spock, as he was known, had a house in Camden and loved to sail his boat Turtle. He died in 1988. M14, E3
The Unknown Baby Grave in Rockport
One of his stories from the Midcoast region centers around what he calls “The worst and best childcare in Rockport.”
“There was a baby found floating in a quarry in the 1940s and nobody knew who the baby belonged to,” he said. “So, people got together and put the funds into a gravestone in the Sea View Cemetery.”
The gravestone is engraved with the words “Unknown Unwanted, Baby Boy.”
“People still leave memorials and toys at this baby’s grave, but at the other end of this cemetery lies Dr. Benjamin Spock, the best of child care, who wrote The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, published in 1946,” said Brechlin.
If any of these stories bring to mind the kind of topics that prompted many of Stephen King’s novels and stories, Brechlin said another bizarre story he collected involves a real-life pet cemetery that Governor Baxter created on his property in Portland.
“Governor Baxter created this cemetery for all of his Irish setters and one horse,” he said. “And you can visit it to this day; it’s part of a walking trail on Mackworth Island. He had 17 Irish setters and 15 of them were named ‘Gary.’ He set off a controversy in that when one of his Garys died, he lowered the flag at the capital flown at half-mast, which the opposition party didn’t care for too much.”
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com