Letters to The Editor
East Machias Legacy
I read with great interest your April article about East Machias, as I was born there and spent twelve years living there when my father was a teacher, coach, and principal at Washington Academy. Your article mentions in passing that "the region was once an important shipbuilding and lumbering center," and indeed it was. One firm, Pope & Talbot, was started in East Machias by Andrew Jackson Pope, the brother of my great-grandfather, and William C. Talbot. These men traveled west to Port Gamble, Washington, and in 1853 opened what became the oldest continuously operating sawmill in North America. They came back to East Machias to recruit help for their lumber mills and proceeded to lay out the town of Port Gamble with homes that were architecturally reminiscent of East Machias. In the middle of the town they built St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the same design as the Congregational Church in East Machias.
Several years ago I visited Port Gamble while the Pope and Talbot Lumber Company was in full swing, and I was absolutely overwhelmed when everywhere I looked there were pictures and artifacts from East Machias. The little cemetery there was filled with headstones that read from Machias, East Machias, Jonesboro, Jonesport - all these men and their families who had left their homes and businesses way Down East in Maine in the mid-1800s to test their skills against the untamed West.
I have lived "away" from East Machias for several years now but my roots will always be there and the wild, primitive beauty of the place will always be in my soul.
-Carole Ann Pope
Good news! The Length and Breadth of Maine, by Stanley Bearce Attwood and cited in your April article about deciphering Maine maps as out of print, is indeed back in print. The Maine Genealogical Society has worked with the University of Maine Press in Orono to bring this valuable resource to all who love Maine. This is a book that belongs on the shelf of every Mainer and everyone who loves Maine. -Cheryl Willis Patten
I loved reading your May article on the infamous Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston fight forty years ago in Lewiston. At the time, I was a student at Bates College and attended Liston's press conference at the Poland Springs Resort with my college friend, Kelley. We both dressed up as reporters to get in, and Kelley asked Liston a question that actually ended up being printed in Sports Illustrated.
On the afternoon of the fight, Kelley and I snuck into the Central Maine Youth Center by posing as food vendors. Once inside, I scouted for a good seat that was unoccupied, hid my vendor's jacket, and proceeded to a seat in the second row ringside. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the woman next to me was Ali's wife, Sonja. Next to her were Ali's mother and father. We all chatted, and they very willingly autographed a fight brochure for me.
At the post-fight interview, Sonja stood with me as Howard Cosell interviewed Ali. Unfortunately, I never got Ali's signature, but I did take the sticker identifying my seat off the back of my chair and put it on my program. It wasn't as precious as the champion's signature would have been, but it does help prove that although I may be one of the fifty thousand who claim to have been there, I am one of only two thousand or fewer who can prove their presence.
Severna Park, Maryland