Johnny’s Bridge receives new history

johnny’s bridge has new origins

For an example of town column news content, here’s something on “Johnny’s Bridge,” mentioned elsewhere among pages I’ve written on Maine. This is a change not in the name itself but of the history of Johnny’s Bridge. Thankfully the name remains! Newcomers have sometimes changed place names in some of our communities, made now historic transitions from, for example, Mud Pond to Starlight Pond. And some newcomers would rather have their family name, say on a road, or have some other quirky designation in place of an old settler’s name. While Bean’s Corner is still locally known as such, those “from away” may not realize this and may use the Atlas name: East Be. East Be is in fact a hamlet, so no harm done.

Johnny’s Bridge, on the other hand, has itself been replaced, rebuilt a few times, most recently last year. And still, the name remains.

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the town column

main street

The Town Column is an intimate news item found in local weeklies, historically, across the nation. Relevant, in print, it’s fortunate to have town columns continue in the age of digitization. Rural community is greatly supported by the continuing institution of the local weekly. It informs us, but also defends all other communal institutions through reportage of everything from schools, town management, churches, clubs and societies, businesses, and local entertainment. But the town columns referred to in this Green and Blue House entry are, additionally, the cozy-news source, the one that makes the reader especially welcome and participating as an individual.

In our local are many columns, each representing rural town-news, towns associated in our territorial school district.

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Christmas works

Our series of three, on working xmas, begins HERE.

…There is a cold breeze outside the car, though nothing moves but a plastic rag knotted on a tree limb — the tree one of those slender naked beauties above the car. Just so light, the rag floats on an otherwise nonexistent breath available to any eye passing or peeping out the nursing home window. I’m parked below the Church between it and the nursing home, waiting for Mass to begin. I don’t recall ever being in a Catholic Church before.

All over New England, in old once-successful mill towns, one finds these astonishing structures in brick or stone. One day this granite mass before me will be christened a basilica. Now it is a reminder that those coming across the border, the French-Canadian immigrants, gave unstintingly out of a bounty of labor not well-paid. For these workers, especially, often were not well treated… and in Yankee communities they were often despised.

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Democracy in a small Maine town

HERE IS A VINTAGE CIRCA 1941 PHOTO OF A LOCAL TOWN HALL.

 

greenwood town hall

 

No account of Maine’s development and spirit would be complete without mention of its great sea-faring activities. Even before statehood in 1820, Maine produced ships for the military and for private merchant fleets. Maine had the lumber to produce ships, it had the ocean front–2500 miles of it–from which to commence. The CHRONICLE editor points out that sea-faring gave what would have been a fairly provincial existence the worldly experience necessary to broaden thought. Country boys were given a chance to learn the skill, gain in authority, and see places only dreamed of by many.

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killing the monster…or?

above our neighbors…sounds like someone’s up on the hillside, maybe just off from the ledge? with a muzzleloader, maybe a flintlock? maybe trying to kill the monster. R. says this about the gun because of its sound, a pre-BANG bang.

a monster? but more likely they practice now at dusk, nearly dark, in hope of shooting a deer during muzzleloader season. at this time of year, we wear hunter’s orange even when going out the door. very dim, raining out there now.

In this little world of learning,

a goodly heritage

CHRONICLE editor Lee included words about the village school in his collection of Maine writings. The educator Mary Ellen Chase writes of the old-time two-room school she attended as a child. She points out the flaws of the “system”; reuse of old books, obsolete maps, “harassed and overworked,” teachers. And she tells of its strengths: “pride in learning well,” “solidarity of outlook” and the instillation of morally strengthening ideas. In this little world of learning, foolishly considered narrow by some today, a love of learning flourished in Mary Ellen Chase as she glimpsed learning at levels higher than her own. Learning was something mysterious and wise, as she saw in “the beauty and order of common fractions” that an older student had transcribed on the board. In this I find the idea that knowing is not as enlivening as the process of learning. Once the thrill of revelation wears off, one wants to proceed through the process of learning afresh.

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Faith in Maine

My favorite selection in a particular book was written by Robert P. Tristram Coffin. So good were his words that I did not want to come to the end of them. His subject was “Cathedrals of the North,” a celebration of the Maine barn and the “worship” that is performed therein. He speaks of the fullness of summer being brought into the barn and stored against the leanness of winter. It is fed there to the patient beasts under the farmer’s care.

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fiction: rural town community roles

After leaving Ohio we moved a dozen times and finally got a home of our own in Maine. We need a self-cleaning house, because the down side is maintenance and cleaning. The upside is everything else. Or, we could hire a domestic.  Yes they work here in rural Maine. But they need to earn a living so that’s out for us.

oral history transcribed

How do you create a cast of characters? Start with societal roles and extrapolate with details related and unrelated to these roles. For instance, a writer has in mind a role of doctor in the community. Or shop-keeper, volunteer, lumberman, domestic, deputy, journalist, pastor, server, selectman, club-woman, and other roles, all helpful in developing characters. These roles or jobs are archetypal, starting writers on the road to peopling their novels. If you start with these in earnest, the muse may suggest quirks and morals, humors and tastes, suitable for these roles…or even carrying them off in new directions. You can also add in tiny bits you know from personal experience. So you’ll be an artisanal character quilter, taking tiny patches of incidents from life and using in mosaic to make these characters’ lives.

There are reasons for choosing roles aside from sub-creation of character. One of these is thematic.  A major theme of THE GOD’S CYCLE is small rural towns in transition.

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