Down East 2013 ©
Where in Maine?
What a wonderful picture of the Bigelow mountains from the Sugarloaf Golf Club in your November issue. The hike along the Appalachian Trail from Avery Peak (named after Myron Avery, the central figure in the development of the Appalachian Trail in Maine) over to West Peak and on to the Horns is magnificent. And when you come back down, a swim in Flagstaff Lake caps off the day.
Your November mystery photograph
reminds me of the time my best friend and I snowshoed up the Firewarden’s Trail to the saddle point between West and Avery peaks. It was a cold February day and the steepness of the trail required you to pull yourself up by grabbing hold of tree branches, and for every two steps, you slid backwards one. After a full day of this arduous work we breached the saddle point, but where we expected the Appalachian Trail to be, there was nothing but a blanket of snow. After a few moments of confusion verging on panic, we realized that we were actually standing on top of the shelter, which was completely buried in snow. We used our snowshoes as shovels to dig down to the shelter and tunnel under the overhang, which afforded enough space for us to crawl in to sleep. I have hiked over the Bigelow Range many times from every direction, but that February’s trip back in my high school years always comes to mind when I see this majestic mountain.
Back to bowdoinham
I thoroughly enjoyed Edgar Allen Beem’s November article about that crafty town, Bowdoinham. It brought back fond memories of old days and old friends, among them Carlo Pittore and David Berry. But c’mon. To see the sun set over Merrymeeting Bay, you’d have to be in Woolwich or North Bath. I admit it’s easy to get turned around here in northern California where the sea is always on the wrong side, but the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. So does the moon. To see it rise over Bowdoinham, you’d have to be on a high hill in West Bowdoin or down on Brown’s Point with the town behind you. As for David’s oyster boat, he did (and maybe still does) hoist a sail for a pleasure jaunt, but he could never “sail” it for business among the little coves and inlets.
I must add that Monica Wood’s October article about growing up in Mexico was one of the finest and most moving you have ever published. Down East always takes this ex-pat back to Maine, where I spent most of my life.
Fort Bragg, California
How Funny is Maine?
While your November “How Funny is Maine?” article does justice to the storytellers of Maine, I am surprised that you left out the sage of West Paris, Joe Perham. I listened to his stories for years and always enjoyed him as much as John McDonald, Tim Sample, and Dodge and Bryan.
None of your November articles that touch on the fiftieth anniversary of the Bert and I records includes a mention of what became of Robert Bryan, who usually spoke the part of Bert in the original renditions. In the early 1960s, Bryan was a history teacher and chaplain at Choate School in Connecticut. In the summer of 1961 he established a mission on the lower north shore of Quebec that would later become the Quebec-Labrador Foundation: Atlantic Center for the Environment. Reverend Bryan is the chairman of this organization, which creates “models for stewardship of natural resources and cultural heritage that can be applied worldwide,” according to its Web site. In the half-century since he paired with Dodge to produce those classic records, he has demonstrated a deep commitment to people, community betterment, and strengthening international relations.
—Richard D. Hull
Editor’s Note: In fact, Down East contributing editor Rob Sneddon did contact Bryan but was unable to interview him because the reverend’s numerous activities in remote northern Canada keep him so busy.