Letters to the Editor
Read what our readers have to say about Maine.
Maine in Your Words
I recently sat down with a cup of coffee and your January issue. After enjoying the many descriptions of the place that I moved away from years back (only to return — and I’ve never slept better), I’ve decided this issue will stick around for years to come. I hope to leave it out when visitors come from out of state, and refer back to it the next time a hint of wanderlust enters my heart.
“The essence of Maine in a sentence,” indeed! It’s Down East’s ability to think of it, capture it, and share it with us, warming our hearts in the midst of a winter cold spell. Congratulations on a superb issue.
I enjoyed reading Richard Ford’s edgy comments about the “real Maine,” or the lack of it, in your January issue. If we accept that there are components of the Maine experience that aren’t “real,” then there must be people who are not “real” Mainers, either. I agree with Ford that this type of thinking puts people and places into neat compartments, but is divisive and corrosive. Maine isn’t a storybook, and we need to honor and welcome a diverse mix of people and places.
—Cynthia A. Dill
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
It took twenty-four pages of Down East to describe “the real Maine” and all that was needed was one word: Perfect.
—H. Jean Bozak
Your January issue is fabulous! May I make a suggestion? Down East should publish a book titled, Maine In Your Words and Pictures, an expansion of this issue but including a wide array of Maine photos. I get so lost reading your magazine; I tell my wife, “I’m going to Maine” when I sit and read it. To have a book that I could peruse, complete with peoples’ writings and stories of what a “real Mainer” is, but enhanced with more photos that stir the heart and quicken the memories. It would be almost heaven! Please?
Bel Air, Maryland
I just read through my Down East, as it arrived today. So interesting how diverse the state is. Everyone has an opinion, a memory, or a special place that brings Maine home to them. I was born and brought up in Washington County, roots go back to the Mayflower and the original land grants and even to Nova Scotia. I’ve been away now for twenty years, but will always be a Mainer. Love it when I have time to enjoy the unique things to see, eat, and do when I visit every year and spend time with the real Maine, my family.
Wake Forest, North Carolina
The real Maine is whatever airport gate you are sitting at for a direct flight to Maine, when you have been out and about in the world for a time and are heading home. When all of a sudden people look you in the eye again and smile.
—Amanda Hagaman Gallant
The real Maine is crossing the Piscataqua River from New Hampshire into Maine and breathing a sigh of relief. Ahhhh! You’re home. Even the air smells better.
—Jennifer Lenor Stone
Sure wish I had seen the call to writers about what Maine is to them! I hope this becomes an annual story. It was one of my favorite issues. Makes me so homesick! Thank you for this issue.
—Mari Draughon Davies
Editor’s Note: To participate in future features like this “Maine in Your Words,” sign up at www.DownEast.com
Where in Maine?
I was pleased to see the great photo in your January issue of the Portland Breakwater Light, built by the Portland Company less than a mile away from the light’s present location. The round, smooth body of the breakwater lighthouse was rolled in the enormous rolling mill that the Portland Company used to roll the boiler shells for steam locomotives, massive and industrial boilers, and tanks of all sorts, as I note in my book, The Portland Co. 1846-1982.
In your photo, that is Fort Gorges in Portland Harbor behind the lighthouse, and Peaks Island off to the right. I agree, the Portland Breakwater Light is indeed a very beautiful cast-iron creation and extremely unique.
Portland Breakwater Light, the subject of your January mystery photo, is also known as “Bug Light.” According to William Jordan’s History of Cape Elizabeth, the breakwater was built by Levi Strout (a relative of mine) and Isaac Center, beginning in August of 1838. Utilizing sturdy stone sloops from Chebeague, 68,176 tons of granite blocks, granite ashlar, and grout were transported from New Meadows and other places along the coast. When completed in 1852, the breakwater was four hundred yards in length. It measured in width ten feet at the base and nine feet, four inches at the top with a total height of four feet. The total cost of the breakwater came to approximately $110,000.
The Portland Breakwater Light, which is actually in South Portland, was first lighted in June of 1875. I worked for the Portland Pipeline that operated two piers not far from the light and drove by “Bug Light” daily during the summers of the early seventies, though the light was not in commission at that time. Its restoration began in 1989, but it deteriorated in the 1990s. The Rotary Club of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth and the Spring Point Ledge Light Trust completed a second restoration and relighted the light on August 14, 2002. It is considered the crown jewel of Bug Light Park.
Corpus Christi, Texas