Knox County — How do our landscapes change? What building or landscape feature do you remember from your childhood that isn’t there anymore?
Landscapes change many times due to natural causes or natural disasters. The recent super storm, which unfortunately had my name attached to it, changed familiar landscapes for thousands of people in the affected areas of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Maine got its share of those waves too, but we got off easier than other places. (See the video of the Breakwater during the storm from MCTV Channel 7 on the regular blog site).
Think about the famous boardwalk in Atlantic City and other places along the Jersey Shore and New York shores. Losing that landmark would be like everything down at our Public Landing just disappearing. Imagine the green where the Lobster Festival tents are erected every year and fisherman’s stage just gone; no granite wall; no restaurant on the pier; no boardwalk along the water; no moorings; and even no Public Landing itself. We could even see boats up on Main Street after a storm like that.
These concrete reminders of the places where you used to play as a kid; where you used to participate in activities are like a part of you dying. Sure, you still have the memories, but are they still “the same?”
David Dunkle’s recent story in the Courier, “Memory Lane,” discusses his feelings upon seeing his old childhood home again up in Hampden and how it had fallen into disrepair. It hurts us deeply to see our memories so desecrated. I’m thankful that the two places I grew up in the South End actually look even better now than they did when I lived in them. Not to say my father didn’t keep them up, he did; but I can see my grandfather now painting the peak in between the gingerbread up at the Fulton Street house because my father was too afraid to climb the ladder up that far.
There are two places from my youth where I remember marching and playing the snare drum while a member of the Port ‘O Rockland Drum and Bugle Corps, or the Corps as we called it, that no longer exist.
One is the old Samoset Hotel which burned in a fire on October 13, 1972, my Dad’s birthday. At that time he was a member of the Sheriff’s Department and helped to direct traffic in the event of a disaster like the Samoset fire. He very much regretted that he was sleeping when it burned and didn’t get to participate in the activities.
Anyway, before the old place burned and was replaced by the modern facility we know today, I as a member of the Corps, marched through the hotel. I can remember marching up and down a couple flights of stairs. I don’t know what the occasion was, but it was a lot of fun to see the expressions on people’s faces as we invaded the place.
The other place where I can remember marching and playing is on the field inside the Thomaston State Prison, which of course no longer exists. I remember walking past some cells and looking at the inmates out of the corner of my eye. The field itself sat down at the bottom of what must have been a quarry at one time. The sheer cliffs around the field were many feet high and looked like limestone or granite blocks as I remember it. We performed to a “captive” and very appreciative audience that day. Being a young girl, it was both scary and thrilling at the same time. As a grad student, I would return to “the farm” to interview an inmate for a story.
As for natural disasters, I was a very young girl in 1952 when the lower Main Street business district burned. Think about how that area has changed because of that terrible fire. The flames could be seen for miles across the water. It must have looked like the whole of Rockland was burning. I saw the bright red sky from our house on Mcloud Street. My father did go help with that fire as part of the Civil Defense team.
The landscape where I grew up in the South End is basically the same, the exception being the development of Sandy Beach and that picnic area and all the restaurants which border the area now. The thought of actual “chefs” preparing gourmet meals within spitting distance of our homes in the South End of my youth would have been laughable.
I have also noticed that the South End is fast becoming an extension of the artistic community enjoyed in the rest of the city. There are many artists who call the South End home and who have studios there.
We also have a Snow Marine Park where once was a marsh and a museum that honors our sailing heritage.
None of the South End changes would have occurred if the landscape hadn’t been changed initially by the coming of the credit card company. Some people say it was for the better, while others griped about traffic and being left out of the deal. Be that as it may, chances are that the changes are here to stay.
As for reminiscing about the old days, I have visited the old house on Mcloud Street once. The nice lady who owned it at the time gave me a tour. Funny how the rooms in the house looked so much larger when you are little.
I remembered the bathroom which stood off the kitchen which is still there. I expect it was added on when indoor plumbing was added and attached to the kitchen because that’s where the pipes were.
I could see the kitchen table sitting by the window which I used to sit under and draw on the underside of with crayons when a small child. I could see the red wooden cookie jar with the rooster decal on it (which I now have by the way). I could see my mother washing dishes by the sink and looking out her kitchen sink window. I can see the lacy curtains blowing in the summer breeze off the water.
The “mudroom” or what became our playroom off the entrance to the house is still there. Gone, however is the old barn with the “barn chamber” as we called it that you had to get to by climbing a ladder attached to the wall. The new garage sits facing the driveway now instead of next to the house. There is also an addition onto the side of the house in the front with an attached deck. An improvement to be sure.
The Fulton Street house is being maintained well. The additions of flower boxes along one side of the house make it look very inviting. I can still see my teenage and college friends coming home with me to spend some time in this house.
My own personal disaster happened three years ago when I lost my home in a flood. My present landscape is a flight of stairs up to my apartment. We saved some “things” and were helped by many people. Nanci and I and the cats are very thankful.
I sometimes wonder what my present world will look like after I’ve been gone for about 100 years. What disasters or “improvements” will change the face of what I was familiar with? Coming home these days is always a new experience as the face of the old home town now seems to change daily. I think that’s a good thing.
Do we now have to worry about the recent earthquakes that have occurred lately along the New England coast? You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Thanks for listening.