Letters to the Editor
Read what our readers have to say about Maine.
Maine in the Civil War
The article by Colin Woodard in your April issue was one of the best on the War Between the States that I have ever seen. He presented a realistic picture of the decline of Maine since that time. Having lived in the South most of my life, I can say that the South never recovered, either.
Aberdeen, North Carolina
I’ve been subscribing to the Down East for quite some time, and enjoy it, but I especially liked your April issue. As a history buff, I found the article about the men from Maine who volunteered and bravely fought for the Union in the Civil War fascinating. And as a retired nurse who spent years in public health, I truly enjoyed reading Amy Sutherland’s “The Sea Nurse” and the wonderful work that Sharon Daley does on the offshore islands. Thank you so much for those two articles.
Ask An Architect
Thank you for the story in your April issue about things to consider when planning your dream home. However, it was three years too late for us. We learned the lessons the hard way. We built an addition and extensively remodeled my great-grandparents’ house and moved back to Maine. We went through three architects and two builders before we found an architect and builder who could meet our needs. In addition to the cost, the local building codes were challenging and varied from municipality to municipality. For example, our town has a thirty-foot height limit that killed our first design and prevents ceilings higher than eight feet. If anything, your estimate of $250 per square foot may be a little low. Building near the ocean is challenging because of the rocky ledge that may need to be blasted, the small coastal lot sizes, and parking around the “summer people.” We kept our cost down by living in the house during construction, helping out with the work, and negotiating with suppliers. My husband and I are delighted with the result.
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Some issues ago you attributed to Mark Twain a remark about the New England weather that, while correctly summarizing the situation, isn’t quite accurately his: “If you don’t like the New England weather, wait a minute,” and that statement does indeed sum up what most of us have felt at some point under hail, gale, thunderstorm, blizzard, and simple baking heat. But it lacks the elegance so regularly discovered in Mr. Clemens’ work. For example:
“There is a sumptuous variety about New England weather that compels the stranger’s admiration — and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to business; always getting up new designs and trying them on people to see how they will go. But it gets through more business in spring than any other season. In the spring I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours.” (Speech to the New England Society, December 22, 1876.)
I enjoy your own prose. Each month your direct discernment of some aspect of the Maine weather, character, people, art, perseverance, etc., broadens my scope.
—John A.S. Rogers
Plague of Pills
A couple of thoughts on your April article about Mainers’ addiction to prescription drugs. First I know we live in Maine, but you should lock your doors at night and secure your home from invasion: dead bolts on your doors, lock and close windows.
Second, your article ignores the studies on chronic pain done at Massachusetts General Hospital in the 1980s. Chronic pain sufferers need pain relief. Narcotics can be taken safely for decades without overdoses or addiction.
The fact that we have so many people in our jails for possession and use of illegal drugs shows that we have failed to educate. Furthermore, the drug counseling that these inmates receive does nothing but continue to misinform and not educate drug offenders. Drug problems need to be addressed by medical professionals. Throwing drug offenders in jail is a waste of tax dollars and does nothing but create misinformed prisoners, who by being in jail will become nothing but better criminals.
—Judson R. Duncan
Where in Maine?
Seeing the mystery picture in your April issue, with the natural light scoping the circular reading area of the Camden Public Library, I remember standing with my growing granddaughter, when she was learning to read on her own, and how she first read the words that surrounded the ceiling — an excerpt from Edna St.Vincent Millay’s poem, “Renascence.” From then on, we looked to the mountain and the sea as we approached and left the library with deeper vision, our hearts and minds enriched by the library itself; not only because of the books and the programs the library offers, but the kind people we befriended there as well.
I know this place! I am a lover of libraries, and Maine has many wonderful ones, but this is the lower reading room of the library that is two blocks from my home in Camden.
It is remarkable in so many ways. Through the windows in the background is a beautifully equipped children’s library — complete with dory, lighthouse, and train table — a daily stop for my visiting grandchildren. Book stacks, DVDs, and a community room are in the space behind the photographer. But here’s the great part, the room in your photograph is entirely below ground! The wonderful light streaming in comes from a glass cupola in the lawn above. The original library sits off to one side looking as it always has; I refer to the beautiful reading room resplendent with nautical art, wingback chairs, fireplace, and publications about Maine. In addition there is a magnificent window that overlooks the harbor and grass covering the room you photographed. Talk about green!