Hello! Every seven days, for the rest of the year, This Week in Portland History is bringing to light a person or event from the city’s past.
Hi, everybody, it’s me again, giving you your weekly dose of Portland history. You know, I’ve only got about a half-dozen of these videos left to go before the series is done — and before I finish, I really need to toss out a big thank you to some folks that have really helped me out a lot this year. I’m talking about the Maine Historical Society and their priceless online resource: Maine Memory Network.
Maine Memory Network is a website where local historical societies around the state can upload their photos and documents into one centralized, searchable database. And it’s free for anyone, anywhere, to browse and enjoy. There are thousands of items to look at. They’ve been kind enough to give me access to the whole thing this year — and they’ve let me use anything I want for these posts.
I love browsing the photos, documents and posters — and not just for work. I do it for fun. Here’s a few of my favorite Portland-related photos.
This is Longfellow Square (above) around 1900. Those folks are waiting for a parade. See all those beautiful elm trees? That’s why they call Portland the Forest City. Sadly, all those trees are gone now.
Here’s a photo of Captain Ed Clarke (above) and his banjo on Great Chebeague Island around 1930. I don’t know anything about him, but I wish I did. He looks like a character.
This photograph (above) was taken by Sewall Merritt as he watched his ship, the Dorothy B. Barrett, sink off the coast of New Jersey on Aug. 14, 1918. It had just been struck by a torpedo fired from the German submarine U-117. Merritt was the 2nd Mate aboard the Maine-built ship and his father, William Merritt of South Portland, was the captain. He was in a lifeboat when he made the picture.
Here are two oxen (above) pulling a sled up Fore Street in Portland in about 1895. You can see the customs house in the background. The men are bundled up, and it looks cold.
German prison camp officials at stalag 17-B took these pictures (above) of Walter Hustus of South Portland after his capture during World War II. Hustus was a B-17 tailgunner. He was shot down on a bombing run over Germany on April 18, 1944. After his capture, he spent 13 months in the POW camp before making it back home to Maine on June 14, 1945.
Here’s an old view (above) of the city. This photo was taken from a plane. You can see the Expo Building on Park Avenue and Hadlock Field as it looked before the Sea Dogs came to town. Looks to me, like they’re having a road race or something.
The network has more than photos, too. Here’s (above) a “call to arms” announcing a meeting in Portland’s Market Square at the outbreak of the Civil War. Market Square was what they used to call Monument Square. This broadside was posted on the Park St. Church on April 21, 1861.
Here’s just one more photo. It’s a ski jumper (above) flying off a wooden ramp on the Western Prom in 1924. It was part of a winter carnival. Notice the lack of trees on the prom and no oil tanks in the distance. They say More than 5,000 spectators came to see this event.
And there you have it, the Maine Memory Network. It’s an amazing resource you should check out when you have a minute — actually, scratch that. Put aside a couple of hours. You’re going to need it.
Disclaimer: I’m not a historian. I owe everything I know to the dedicated research of those who have come before me. These character sketches and historical tidbits are assembled from multiple (often antique) sources and sprinkled with my own conjecture. I’m happy to be set straight or to learn more.