Letters to The Editor
Where in Maine?
Your May "Where in Maine?" is Popham Beach; more specifically, the area at the mouth of Morse's River (with Seguin Island in the background) in that section of the beach known as the south shore. I am one of the chosen few who had the unforgettable privilege and experience of spending their entire childhood summers growing up at Popham Beach. From the day after school let out in June to the day before classes began in September, I lived in a bathing suit and never put on a pair of shoes.
I have many fond recollections of fishing for flounder with a hand line and sinker; the huge Fourth of July teepee or pyramid bonfires and the fireworks-display battles with Bay Pointers; playing in the tidal pools that formed at various locations on the beach (sometimes so large that we could build and float rafts in them); exploring with Bud Shepard the seagull nests and pools on Wood Island that were full of aquatic life; being rescued by the Coast Guard after John Morse and I capsized in a small sailboat at the mouth of the Kennebec River and were drifting by Pond Island on a strong out-going tide out to the open sea; discovering with Jack Hill the skeletal remains of the hulk, The Hanover that was shipwrecked at high tide on the sand bar to Wood Island with all lives lost; and, as I took my last walk along the beach at the end of summer when everyone else had returned home leaving me all alone, singing out to sea at the top of my lungs a rather bawdy parody to the song, "Somebody Stole my Gal" that I had learned from Bob Hill that summer.
—Donald A. Spear
Freeman Township, Maine
While I am sure that you will receive quite a few letters regarding your April article about the growing popularity of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Maine, I wanted to add my thoughts as well. As an avid motorcycle enthusiast and rider since the age of ten, I have to admit that I have watched with curious amusement as lemming-like neophyte riders from corporate America flock to what has turned into the fad of the last decade: the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. But I find nothing humorous about the comment in your article attributed to a Harley-Davidson-loving physician who flatly states, "Statistically, helmets are only effective from zero to twenty miles per hour."
In my decades of reviewing everything from routine local accident reports to the descriptions of motorcycle crash scenes related to me firsthand by friends who are paramedics to the landmark Hurt Study - which is, to date, the only comprehensive motorcycle crash analysis undertaken and is the only accredited treatise on the subject - I have never seen any statistics that would remotely support that doctor's comment. The most important finding from the Hurt Study is : "The use of the safety helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention or reduction of head injury. . . ." Nowhere is it stated that this only applies if the rider was traveling at "zero to twenty miles per hour."
I fully support the right of an individual to choose whether or not to wear a helmet (it is, after all, his or her head), but I think that it is near negligent for a physician to cite statistics that are spurious and at odds with the latest, widely recognized research.
Maine's Wildest Island
Your excellent June article "The Fight to Save Maine's Wildest Island" highlights the need for creative and collaborative approaches to protecting Maine's spectacular coastal lands. Though the article features Maine Coast Heritage Trust as buyer and steward of this magnificent island, we simply could not have succeeded in such an ambitious effort without many partners - foremost among them, the Land for Maine's Future Program, which awarded $1.4 million toward the project. We also want to recognize the essential role that our local, state, and federal partners play in managing most of the 245 coastal islands that MCHT has helped protect over our thirty-five year history. Marshall Island's significance stems in large part from our collective achievements on surrounding islands along the Maine coast. Thanks to all who have contributed to this remarkable legacy.
Dir. of Communications & Public Policy Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Why Honor Carson?
Interesting. Your May piece about Everett "Brownie" Carson notes that his organization, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, was instrumental in stopping the widening of the Maine Turnpike - the first time.
Elsewhere in the same issue ("Fewer accidents," North by East), Down East reports that since the widening was ultimately completed last year, the rate of accidents with injuries has decreased 30 percent on the improved section. Carson and company delayed the project, resulting in increased costs of completion, and, coincidentally, kept highway conditions in place that resulted in a greater number of injuries to residents and visitors.
And we're supposed to be grateful for his efforts?