Letters to the Editor
Read what our readers have to say about Maine.
Where in Maine?
We were thrilled to see the beautiful winter photo of the East Machias River in your January issue. My wife and I ministered at the First Baptist Church (built in 1834) shown on the left side of the river, while our son and daughter attended Washington Academy (established in 1792) up the hill on the right side of the river. East Machias is one of the most uniquely beautiful places in Maine. Eagles soar over its riverbanks, seals play in the river below the rapids, and salmon are free to roam upriver now that the hydro-electric dam has been removed. The railroad tracks on the left bank of the river have been removed and the roadbed is now open as a Down East trail . Most of all, the people are as authentic Down East Mainers as you’ll find anywhere along coastal Route 1.
—Reverend Dan and Connie Michaud
New Gloucester, Maine
The scene displayed in your January “Where in Maine?” section is none other than the beautiful village of East Machias. I was a student at the University of Maine at Machias in the 1980s, and I know the scene well. The First Baptist Church, in the foreground of the photograph, was a landmark for me as I traveled between the college and my home in central Penobscot County. Thank you for stirring old memories of friends and of
college days now long since passed.
—William O. Chesley
I instantly recognized my hometown of East Machias in your January issue. It is a beautiful little village, snow-covered or not. The dark shingled building used to be Gatcomb’s grocery store. To the left of the church was the Town Hall School; it burned many years ago, and the municipal building stands there now. I remember going with my father to watch fishermen dipping for alewives at the dam above the hydro station. All the old ways of commerce might be gone, but it still remains a great Maine town, uncluttered by urban sprawl and full of wonderful residents.
Remembering the Gaslight
Your January article about dining in Maine neglected to include among Portland’s early restaurants the Gaslight, located on Exchange Street in the block above Fore Street. Elizabeth and Richard DeFranco owned the restaurant and opened it in the late 1960s or very early 1970s. Richard was chef and Elizabeth also cooked. Their food was superb — equal to any found in Portland’s finest eating establishments. The Gaslight was a bright star among the decayed and boarded-up buildings on Exchange Street. We who frequented the Gaslight (the clientele was large) would say the DeFrancos were the precursors of Portland’s famed cuisine.
I read with interest your December “North by East” item about Mainers’ tendency to back into a parking space. I recall that when studying for the driver’s test years ago it was “illegal to back out into a state numbered route.” I just studied the current manual and could find no reference to it being illegal, but I did find this: “Because it is hard to see while you are backing, try to do as little backing as possible. Avoid backing into traffic. When you enter a driveway or parking space, back into it unless signs forbid it. That way you will be going forward when you pull out.”
We have the misfortune of living within a half mile of the wind turbines on Vinalhaven, the subject of your December “Talk of Maine” article. Imagine how you would feel if turbines were built in your neighborhood and suddenly you were forced into an unimaginable situation? There are so many families in Maine that are overwhelmed trying to deal with problems related to wind farms because the Maine state noise regulations are outdated and inappropriate for neighborhoods. I sincerely hope that you take the time to cover the whole story, not just for those of us who are struggling on Vinalhaven, but also for the many families in places such as Mars Hill.
Vinalhaven and Rockland, Maine
A quote in our article about Damariscotta artist Jake Day (“The Mainer Who Found Bambi,” December 2009), should have been attributed to the Lincoln County News, rather than the Lincoln County Weekly. Down East apologizes for the error.
Down East welcomes feedback from our readers. Letters to the editor should be sent electronically to email@example.com or via U.S. mail to Down East magazine, PO Box 679, Camden, ME 04843, or submit it through www.DownEast.com. All correspondence must include your name, address, and daytime telephone number. Submitted letters may be edited for length and clarity and may be published in any medium. All letters become the property of Down East.