Letters to the Editor
Read what our readers have to say about Maine.
- Photography by: Sue Anne Hodges
Where in Maine?
The photo in your April issue is the Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor. Growing up, my siblings, cousins, and I would go to Bar Harbor from Southwest Harbor on rainy summer days for the matinees. More recently, as I attended the College of the Atlantic, I have been to many movies there and have made a tradition of seeing the Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers perform on Halloween. Nothing beats a summer day of bicycling the Park Loop Road, an ice cream from Mount Desert Ice Cream company, and a movie at the Criterion.
—Sarah Neilson, Arrowsic, Maine
That’s the beautiful art deco interior of the Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor as seen from one of the private seats in the loge. In the fifties, sixties, and seventies there would be two movie showings nightly, and for most films the lines would stretch around the block. Roy Blake, the longtime projectionist, was our neighbor, living on Kennebec Street, just a block from the theater. Coincidentally, the same antique projectors as the Criterion once had were used by my college and, after learning to use them there, I filled in occasionally for his successor. Mr. Blake, later owner Betty Jane (B.J.) Morrison, and now a group of volunteers have dedicated themselves to the restoration and preservation of this magnificent treasure, and much work remains to bring it back to glory. The fabulous marquee was restored and reinstalled last year and once again brilliantly announces what’s showing at the Criterion.
I performed in dance and piano recitals and plays there as a kid, got my first kiss in the loge, watched an untold number of films, and graduated from Bar Harbor High School in this incredible theater. It is thrilling to attend events there and I hope it will be gracing Bar Harbor for many generations to come. When in Bar Harbor, out-of-towners should make it a must-see destination.
—Martha B. Higgins
I thought Paul Doiron’s May “Editor’s Note” was written just for me as I, too, am a “Doiron.” I always wondered about Oiron when I saw the name in France; now you have set the record straight. Our family pronounces Doiron as “Door-in.” The listings of what you were called also ring a bell for me. During grade school I also had to hear “door-in/door-out.”
When I married I thought the abuse of my last name had ended; however, I found this was very short-lived. Alas, “Desrosiers,” another French surname, gets the same treatment.
Carol (Doiron) Desrosiers (Dez-rose-e-a)
Windham, New Hampshire
I enjoyed your editorial about an uncommon, mispronounced surname. I experienced the same thing while single (no offense to my Dad). My maiden name is Harnois (pronounced Harnwa), but butchered by the unknowns. It was especially difficult as a classroom teacher for many years. It was pronounced Har-no-iss, Harnis, and even Hanoi! I also discovered it to be an unusual French name and found very few listings even while in France.
So I sympathize with your dilemma. However, I solved mine back in 1980 when I married someone with the surname of Woods.
—Diane (Harnois) Woods
Bonjour! I couldn’t resist the French greeting. I am also a Franco-American and my last name is Jalbert. Living here in Fort Worth with a French surname is really fun. My last name has been mispronounced umpteen times — my husband and I have actually received mail addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Jailbird.”We finally decided to tell people who couldn’t spell or pronounce our last name that it was spelled like Albert but with a J. That didn’t work too well; we started receiving mail addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. J. Albert.” So we just gave up and let them spell it and pronounce it any old way they wanted.
Fort Worth, Texas
Cape Elizabeth Shipwreck
I read with interest your descriptive piece accompanying the photo of the Oakey L. Alexander in the March issue. Perhaps you’d like a little bit of additional information.
My husband, Paul Murray, grew up in Cape Elizabeth, part of a large family who had been on the Cape for generations. On the day that the Oakey L. Alexander wrecked, many of Paul’s relatives were teenagers or young adults, and many of them assisted the Coast Guard with the rescue.
Although he and I are not able to identify each of the individuals in the photograph, we do know that among the local civilian rescuers were his father, Douglas Murray, at least two of his uncles, their cousins, and perhaps others. The book Shipwrecks Around Maine by William P. Quinn contains several photos of the ship and the rescue. Most of the Murray boys went on to become firefighters or rescue squad members. My mother-in-law, Patricia Cash Murray Harmon, was also there, and describes the day as follows:
“They didn’t call off school for the storm, but when we got to school [Cape Elizabeth High School] there was no power. The bus driver took us by [High Head] on the way home, so we could see what was happening.”
Pat also adds some background to the rhetorical question you posed when you wrote: “And who could have imagined that Earle Drinkwater, commanding officer at the nearby Coast Guard Lifeboat Station at Two Lights, would succeed on his first try in using a mortar to launch an eighteen-pound weight onto the ship’s bridge. . . . ” Apparently, he didn’t. The breeches buoy was “old-fashioned technology” (Pat’s words) even in 1947, and the guys “had to go wake up Rocky Dennison because he was the only one who knew how to do it.”
Matinicus Island, Maine
- Photography by: Sue Anne Hodges