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Teacher plans to record oral histories during sabbatical

By Stephen Betts | Jul 11, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts Diane Henderson, left, sits with her father, Karl Hurd.

Owls Head — Diane Henderson is taking a year off from teaching to record oral histories of older residents, with an emphasis on the fishing industry.

Henderson, a special education teacher at Oceanside Middle School, came up with the idea after hearing stories from her father, Karl Hurd. Hurd's family has had a long history of commercial fishing, and has lived in the area since before the American Revolution, she said.

"I'm looking for little anecdotal stories," Henderson said.

Hurd talked about spending summers as a child on Dix Island in the Muscle Ridge Channel, helping his father. He described how fish weirs were made from nylon rope and then pulled through a cauldron of burning tar-like material and laid out on the grass to harden.

The netting would stretch for 125 feet, and he remembers being covered with cold tar after the work.

Henderson said that is the type of story she is hoping to collect, along with subjects such as ice harvests from Chickawaukie Pond or the trolley that ran in the area.

Hurd, a World War II veteran, later became an engineer and then a longtime teacher at Rockland District Junior High School. He turns 92 in September.

Henderson said she wanted to preserve stories that her father and other older local residents have to share.

Anyone who knows of an older resident who could share stories may contact Henderson at

When she returns to school in September 2020, Henderson said, she will work with students who can do research on subjects such as fishing weirs. The students can then turn the stories into booklets and produce illustrations as a way to learn about local history.

Henderson has been a teacher for 26 years, 17 in the local school district.

When she made her request to the Regional School Unit 13 Board in April for the sabbatical, Superintendent John McDonald praised the proposal. He said that when he was in college, he did a similar project on Vinalhaven for the Northeast Folklore Archive.

"All those people are now gone, but their stories live on," the superintendent said.

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