Saturday, April 6, 2013

A short(?) vacation

I am having significant right elbow pain; most of it probably caused by computer use.  Soooo, that means I have to cut back, especially the things that require typing.  Soooo, I am taking a short(?) break from my block.  I'll keep you informed.  Larry

Friday, April 5, 2013

Open season?

Hunters at Ragged Lake c1887 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
  Hunting in Maine is big business, it is now and it has been since before 1900.  People pay to come here and hunt, they pay for guides, rooms, food and the price of a non-resident license - all together not too cheap.
  Back in the earlier days that came to a camp, the Bullpen in Medford for example, hunted with a local guide, got the trophy skin or head and went home.  Not as simple now but it amounts to the same thing.  The big difference now are open seasons and closed seasons.  You can't hunt deer, for example, just any old time you want, you wait for November and then you can hunt.  Moose hunters enter a "lottery" for a chance to hunt, there are only about 1,000 permits handed out each year.
Ashland House, a hunting camp, in Ashland 1890.  Hunters pose with moose, deer, bear and geese - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
A Hunter in Sanford c1900 - click to enlarge
Photo: Sanford Historical Committee via

Thursday, April 4, 2013


A tin store sign for Dee's Ice Cream c1950 - click to enlarge
Photo: Pejepscot Historical Society via
  From the 1940's to 1970 Crystal Springs Farm in Brunswick made Dee's Ice Cream, it was an area favorite.  Crystal Springs Farms is now owned by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and is listed as a National Historical Landmark.
  Delivered throughout Maine to small grocery stores in it's own trucks, Dee's was never able to crack the "supermarket" market.  It was almost impossible to compete with the "little bit" lower prices in the increasingly popular super-markets.  In post-war Maine people wanted to be modern; I think now most folks might re-think that stance (just my opinion).
A Dee's pint, it came in a variety of flavors. - click to enlarge
Photo: Pejepscot Historical Society via
Any dairy worth it's salt produced sugar cones and ice cream wrapped up. - click to enlarge
Photo: Pejepscot Historical Society via

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Goodall Mills, Electric Railways and the Mousam River

Mousam River Electric Railway equipment c1910 - click to enlarge
Photo: Kennebunkport Historical Society via

  Thomas Goodall had immigrated from York, England, he started a woolen mill in Massachusetts to supply blankets to the Union Army.  His sons came to Maine to build more mills in the (then) Town of Sanford, on the banks of the Mousam River.  They needed supplies to make more of their textiles, therein lies the rub.
  The Rochester Railway ended at the border with Maine, they weren't interested in running a line in to Maine.  So...the Goodalls built their own railroad; The Mousam River Electric Railway to forerunner of the Sanford and Eastern Railroad I've written about last year.
  A dam was needed to supply electricity to power the railway and the mills - no problem they built dams three of them (only one remains).
  With all that up and running the mills expanded and grew.  By the time the mills closed in 1955 and the Goodalls left for the fertile fields of the Carolinas for tax break and cheaper labor the mills were really expansive.  They aren't in the Carolinas anymore either the search of cheaper labor lies in China.  What a sad tale.
The first dam in 1915, still standing. - click to enlarge
Photo: Sanford Historical Society via
The Goodall Mills in Sanford in the 1930s - click to enlarge, it's big
Wilbur think four sizes of building 5 (O&R) everyone else, just think

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A long ways to go, and a long time to get there.... paraphrase a song from "Smokey and the Bandit".  Henry (Harry) W. Lyon, Jr., who was born in Paris, Maine.  His parents had moved to Maine after his fathers retirement from the Navy as an Admiral.  The elder Lyon wanted Harry to attend the U S Naval Academy and Harry did but flunked out.
  Harry became a merchant sailor who started as a deck hand and ended as a ships master.  In 1928 a chance meeting changed his life forever; he met Australian Pilot Charles Kingsford Smith.
  Mr. Smith asked Harry to navigate the "Southern Cross", an airplane, on a trans-Pacific flight.  Harry who had been on/in an airplane only a few times, and had no experience as a Navigator agreed.  That's when the title of this piece comes in to play.
The "Southern Cross" in California 1928 - click to enlarge
Photo: Paris Cape Historical Society via
  The aircraft, a Fokker Tri-motor, had been outfitted with a new wooden wing, fuel tanks that could be quickly dumped so that they could add buoyancy, if needed, and just a few other "special" things.  The 14,400 pound airplane had a total of 675 horsepower and a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour.
  Just before 9AM on May 31, 1928 the craft took off from Oakland, California when they crossed the offshore Farrallone Islands, and the accompanying planes turned back they were left alone. 
  At 300 miles out they lost their radio beacon and faced 2100 miles to fly by dead reckoning.  When they spotted Mauna Kea Harry quickly guided them to Wheeler Field for a landing.  Time elapsed 27 hours 28 minutes.
  The next leg was to Fiji was a long one, 3,138 miles.  They took on fuel, 1,287 gallons of gasoline, and weighed a total of 15,800 pounds.  They also took 48 sandwiches, four quarts of coffee and four quarts of water for the four man crew: pilot, co-pilot, radioman and navigator.  After the plane finally lifted off from Wheeler they, once again, were on their own.  They hit some storms and finally landed on a Cricket field on Fiji some 34 hours and 33 minutes later, with only 30 gallons of gas left.
  Leaving Fiji for Australia with more sandwiches, coffee and water, they landed in Brisbane on June 9, 1928 at 10AM., 83 hours and 50 minutes later; and that's a long time to get there.  On landing Harry took a last look at the plane only to find that one section of the wing had been "fixed" with only bamboo and wire!
The four crew members - click to enlarge
Photo: Hamlin Memorial Library via

Thelma and Harry Lyon in Portland, Maine 1958
Photo: Paris Cape Historical Society via

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bringing home the cows?

  Out in Nelson County, North Dakota there were a family of cattle rustlers.  This is not the 1800s, this is present day.  The sheriff had a problem, he didn't want his men to just walk into a gun fight.
The US Customs and Border Protection Service called to offer help.  The sheriff accepted.
  The help came in the form of a Predator drone, with the drones help the family surrendered without a shot fired, and the cows came home.
A Predator drone at Grand Forks North Dakota Air National Guard Base
This drone is for Border Protection. - click to enlarge
Photo: MSGT David Lipp, Air National Guard via NBC news.
  A lot of folks don't want the police to use drones.  I'm for them if they help people, as in the above story.  I don't worry about the police, I have nothing to hide, well...if I have clothes on anyway.
  Drones can be used in search and rescue, finding lost people and helping to bring the cows home.
Some of the are small and could be carried in a car trunk, some are large and fixed wing and some are like a helicopter.  They're all useful, in the right hands.
An AeroVironment Qube drone - click to enlarge
Photo: AeroVironment via NBC News
Leptron Helicopter drone - click to enlarge
Photo: Leptron Corp. via NBC News

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Taking care of the Homeland in WWII

  During World War Two the U S Armed Forces were segregated.  As an example black men who joined the Navy often ended up with the dangerous job of handling munitions, here in this country.  I watched a video, probably on the news, showing men working at an ammunition dump and most of the workers were black sailors.  Once in a while a white sailor showed up, he was the supervisor.  The Army was segregated as well.  Because a railroad bridge had been blown up in Maine during World War One, the Army thought it might happen again; so they assigned a unit of black soldiers to guard the Grand Trunk Railway bridges.
  Why that particular railway?  The Grand Trunk ran from Portland, Maine to Montreal, Quebec.  It was the open water port during the winter months that Canada could rely on, it was seen as more important than other railways.
  The Army would send four men per bridge to guard it 24/7, little time off for these troops.
PFC Leonard Parks in North Yarmouth, 1942 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

  The black troops lived in boxcars or in a caboose, they had to rely on the residents for water.  They also often joined locals in church or playing baseball on their free time which was rare.
Drawing water, North Yarmouth, 1942 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
Soldiers in a truck, 1942 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via