Waiting for the hammer to fall

By Daniel Dunkle | Mar 21, 2019

“Here we stand or here we fall; History won't care at all,” Brian May, Queen

An April 1919 headline caught my eye, stating: “A REMARKABLE GAVEL.”

“The Knox Academy of Arts and Sciences has recently been presented with a gavel by C. Clifton Lufkin of Glencove. It is a unique and wonderful piece of workmanship, composed of 62 different kinds of wood as follows : The handle — Ash, hackmatack, locust and maple. The body — Oak, white pine, black walnut, plum, redwood, cocobola and hard pine.”

And on and on the letter writer goes. Even sumac is included, so my guess is that prolonged use of this gavel led to itchy palms. It even details different woods used to stencil the words “Knox Academy of Arts and Sciences.”

Each wood and color used represented a different aspect of science, including the eight planets, plants, animals, various color spectra and so on.

It was noted the gavel would be placed on display in a Rockland store window for all to behold its splendor. It would be used by the president of the Knox Academy of Arts and Sciences when he or she presided over the next meeting.

This led me to wonder what this group was. Online, I came across a bound copy from Harvard’s library of “The Maine Naturalist Journal,” which was produced by this Knox Academy. According to information in this venerable publication, it was published by the Academy at Thomaston, Maine. The academy’s secretary was listed as John H. Brubaker of Rockland. It contained articles on scientific matters, including insects, plants and marine biology from scientists all over the state, including articles from Dr. Edwin W. Gould of Rockland.

This was a really high-end scientific journal. It had beautiful illustrations and photos. It also had a tasteful page of local ads near the beginning of the book. Some of the firms advertised included Huston-Tuttle Book Co. of Rockland, Rockland Hardware Co. and taxidermist Niven C. Kalloch of Warren.

Divorces in the news

A look in the newspaper from 100 years ago also brought me to the alarming headline that “Divorces are increasing.” The report noted that figures just in from 1916 showed that about one marriage in every nine was “terminated in divorce.”

Concern about rising divorce rates was voiced in newscasts throughout my childhood, but when I looked up our present situation online, I was surprised by what is being reported.

World Economic Forum says “the US divorce rate began falling in the early 1990s and has since continued on an overall downward trend. In 1992, there were 4.8 divorces per 1,000 population. By 2016, this had dropped to 3.2. The falling divorce rate may have a lot to do with millennials’ attitudes to marriage.”

The report goes on to say, “Unlike baby boomers who married young regardless of their circumstances, millennials – and some Gen Xers – are choosing to marry once they have completed their education, have established their careers and have sound finances.”

Many of us have heard that something like 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, but that seems to be no longer the case, if it ever was. Young people are now waiting until they are financially stable to get married, and that milestone is coming at an ever-increasing age. Now the average marriage age for men is 30 and for women 28, according to Time. They are also much more likely to cohabit before marriage now, which is not really a new development.

People online disagree about whether these changes in rates of marriage, their timing and divorce rates is good or bad.

What do you think?

And now, This Day In History from the website: HISTORY.com:

1965: Martin Luther King, Jr. begins the march from Selma to Montgomery

“In the name of African-American voting rights, 3,200 civil rights demonstrators in Alabama, led by Martin Luther King Jr., begin a historic march from Selma to Montgomery, the state’s capital.”

In a previous march, 500 demonstrators from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had been viciously attacked by state troopers and a posse of men using nightsticks, tear gas and whips at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. Captured by television news teams, this event outraged the nation.

King’s next march was protected by federalized Alabama National Guardsmen and FBI agents. The civil rights groups had faced harsh opposition from Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

“On the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, King addressed live television cameras and a crowd of 25,000, just a few hundred feet from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where he got his start as a minister in 1954,” HISTORY states.

1952: The Moondog Coronation Ball is history’s first rock concert

On March 21, 1952, history’s first major rock-and-roll show took place as a promotion by a local radio station, drawing thousands of teenagers to the Cleveland Arena on a chilly Friday night.

“The “Moondog” in question was the legendary disk jockey Alan Freed, the self-styled “father of rock and roll,” who was then the host of the enormously popular “Moondog Show” on Cleveland AM radio station WJW,” HISTORY reports.

“…The event was to feature headliners Paul Williams and his Hucklebuckers and Tiny Grimes and the Rocking Highlanders (a black instrumental group that performed in Scottish kilts). In the end, however, the incredible popular demand for tickets proved to be the event’s undoing.”

“…An estimated 20,000-25,000 fans turned out for an event being held in an arena with a capacity of only 10,000. Less than an hour into the show, the massive overflow crowd broke through the gates that were keeping them outside, and police quickly moved in to stop the show almost as soon as it began. On the radio the very next evening, Alan Freed offered an apology to listeners who had tried to attend the canceled event. By way of explanation, Freed said: ‘If anyone … had told us that some 20 or 25,000 people would try to get into a dance — I suppose you would have been just like me. You would have laughed and said they were crazy.’”

Source of quote: Hammer To Fall lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.

Daniel Dunkle lives in Rockland. He is author of the novel, "The Scrimshaw Worm." Send in your stories, photos and memories via email at: ddunkle@villagesoup.com; or snail mail to: 91 Camden St., Suite 403, Rockland, ME 04841. Vintage Ink columns rely on back issues of The Courier-Gazette for source material. Other sources will be cited specifically.


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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 21, 2019 16:24

Great read. I love history. Sometimes it makes me laugh and sometimes it makes me cry!


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