Category Archives: June 22

Community theater, a photo blog and cataloguing books—what could be more perfect?

This evening (June 22) will be the opening night of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,” a musical production of the Watts Hall Community Players in Thomaston. St. George resident Lynna Henderson will be singing and dancing her heart out as a member of the chorus who also plays the wife of Joseph’s oldest brother, Reuben. This will be the group’s second production—last year the Players produced “The Music Man,” with Henderson in the role of Mrs. Paroo, the Irish mother of Marian (the librarian).

“The Players are a nice group,” Henderson says. “Last time I had a biggish role, now I’m in the chorus and I love it!”

Henderson has been performing in front of audiences since her childhood in Southern California. “I was in choirs from the time I was in first grade. When I was 11 the local community theater needed a child so they recruited me and I’ve been doing community theaters ever since. I have a degree in theater from the University of California Riverside—I was in the acting track there.”

College was where she met her husband, Peter, who was also in the theater program. “We played opposite each other in “You Can’t Take It With You”—he played Tony and I played Alice and that was that.”

After graduating, the couple packed up their Volkswagon van with everything they owned and headed to Boston. “Somebody said there was good theater in Boston, so that’s where we went. We got paying jobs and did community theater on the side.”

Eventually, Henderson says, Peter decided he’d like to get into radio. “So we moved up here in 1975 and moved into the loft over the garage [at Peter’s parent’s summer house on Eider Lane in Martinsville].” Peter’s parents, who had been coming to St. George in the summers throughout Peter’s childhood, had bought the house in 1969 from the progressive Southern journalist Hodding Carter II. Peter’s job hunt took the couple to every radio or television station they could find in this part of the country.

“We ended up in Bangor where Peter started with Channel 2 as a reporter. And that basically started the chain of his career moves. We had our first child in 1980 and moved to Portland when she was six months old. Then we moved to Providence, St. Petersburg, Fla., and then to Boston.” Ultimately Peter ended up working for CBS as a producer of the newsmagazine “48 Hours,” retiring from that work two years ago.

Henderson did a lot of community theater while the couple lived in Bangor, but raising young children made it difficult to continue until her daughter and son were older. When the Hendersons moved to Holliston, Mass., near Boston she got involved with a fundraiser production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”

“So that got my feet wet again. I became very active with Holliston’s Washington Street Players for the next 15 years. I directed, I acted, I moved sets, I ran the sound board if I had to. I was involved somehow with every show we did and we did three shows a year. It just worked. I was on the board and served as president for seven years.” Henderson was also working as a legal secretary, something she had begun doing while living in Florida.

When her mother-in-law died, leaving Peter’s 96-year-old father in their Quarry Hill residence by himself, the Hendersons decided it was time to make St. George their permanent home. The elder Hendersons had built a small year-round house down the driveway from their summer home at the edge of the water in 1975, which well suited the younger couple. “So I retired and moved up here to be available to Peter’s dad. We moved into this house on March 13, 2012. Peter had found out the day before that he was going to be working in Canada for three weeks. So we moved everything in and Peter left for Canada.”

Suddenly retired, without her theater life in Holliston and with a husband frequently on the road, Henderson began taking pictures of her new permanent surroundings—sunrises, wildlife, lobster boats. “At first I took them with my phone so Peter could see what he was missing. Then I got a real camera and my daughter made me a blog and the rest is history.”

That photo blog, StarStrukByLife.com, became, as Henderson says, “a hint of something creative” to do during those early days of retirement, and continues to occupy her nearly daily. She also began volunteering at the Jackson Memorial Library when it was still in its red bungalow at the edge of Main Street in Tenants Harbor. “I had put myself through college by working at the library at the university so the JML was a comfortable setting. And it was a perfect way to meet people.”

Now the library’s head cataloguer, Henderson works a two-hour shift twice a week, serves on a couple of committees and has begun helping out the Pre-K program by sitting with children who are receiving speech therapy through computer sessions.

After Peter’s father passed away at the age of 98, Henderson hoped to get back into community theater, but the Camden group had by then disbanded and the Maskers in Belfast was the only other option. “I didn’t want to drive in winter to Belfast so there was really no accessible theater group. Then I saw in Village Soup that there were auditions for ‘The Music Man’ in Thomaston.”
Henderson says she is pleased to have entered a new phase of her community theater life with the Watts Hall Community Players. Adding this to her daily photography blog and weekly library work makes for a “perfect life,” she says with satisfaction. “I will never live anywhere else,” she adds with certainty and a smile.­—JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

An overview of the quarries of St. George

There is a lot of curiosity about the history of the quarry industry in St. George. In this column I’d like to summarize the information known about the various quarries in town and in future columns I’ll spend some time focusing on each.

The mid-1800s saw the beginning of the granite industry in St. George.  Prior to that time, deeds providing granite rights to properties in St. George were common, but large-scale operations did not begin being established until the 1870s.

Spruce Head
Quarrying activities in Spruce Head were in full swing by 1850.  The census of that year shows 22 men working as “stone cutters,” with most of them living in the Spruce Head area.  Of the 22 men, there were seven Irishmen living together under one roof, probably a boarding house.  Which specific quarries were operating in Spruce Head in 1850 is not known for sure at this time, but the possibilities include Isaiah Fogg’s at Patten Point, as well as the quarry on Spruce Head Island.

The Atlantic Quarry, also known as Emery’s Quarry, was started by Joseph Emery and was located on the road between Route 73 and Island Avenue leading to Rackliff Island.
Eagle Quarry began operations in 1886.  This quarry was located, as you would expect, on the Eagle Quarry Road that goes down to Wheelers Bay from Route 73.

Long Cove
The main quarrying activity in Long Cove began in 1873 when the Smalley family sold land and granite rights to James M. Smith, Joseph Hume and William Birss.  These men were the foundation for the Long Cove Granite Co.  After some financial difficulties, these original owners sold out in 1882 to Booth Brothers.

George McConchie and George Green were operating a small quarry in 1889 near the intersection of Long Cove Road and Englishtown Road.

Further along the Englishtown Road, Altman & Co. operated a black granite quarry, later becoming known as Superior Black Granite Company.  This was in the 1920s and 1930s.

Clark Island
The quarry on the island, under the various owners over the years, began operations at least by the late 1850s and continued until the 1900s.

Glencoe Granite Co. was formed in 1894 and operated on the eastern bank of Long Cove.
The quarry on the mainland began in 1920 under the name of John Meehan & Son.  This quarry operated until the 1960s.

Willardham
Two quarries operated in the Willardham area, one at States Point and the other was known as Wildcat. The Willardham area got its name from the earliest settler in that area, John Willard.

The Islands
The islands of St. George known to have some degree of quarrying activity on them include Rackliff Island, Eagle Island and Mosquito Island.

Others
Many other small quarry operations have occurred in St. George.  They were of varying degrees of size and operated for varying periods of time.  There are quite a few people in town who can tell you of a quarry hole or outcropping on their land.  These are referred to as “motions” and they are defined as a small quarrying operation usually conducted by one man on his own property.  Men would typically work their motion during the times the major quarries were shut down.
—John M. Falla (Falla is an historian of local history who grew up in St. George and until recently served as the town’s manager. He notes that his sources for information on St. George’s quarry industry include Smalley’s History of St George, Grindle’s Tombstones and Paving Blocks: The History of the Maine Granite Industry, Neeson’s On Solid Granite, Brayley’s History of the Granite Industry of New England, as well as primary source material such as the Knox County Registry of Deeds.)

Fifth grade students study invasive species

By Brooke Hoppe

We have been working with Herring Gut Learning Center for about a week and a half, and we have been learning about invasive species. We have gone to Drift Inn Beach and Herring Gut Learning Center—and Herring Gut has also come to our classroom.

When we went to Drift Inn, we found green crabs, periwinkles, tunicates and sea potatoes. Did you know all four of these species are invasive? An invasive species is an animal, plant or fungus that goes to a specific location that it isn’t native to and invades it.

We have been using a website called Vital Signs (www.vitalsignsme.org). Vital Signs is a website where anyone can post pictures of a species you find and describe. Then you show when you found it and where you found it. Also, once you post it, scientists can confirm it if they think the information is true.

Green crabs are very invasive to Maine, and they are ruining business for clammers. One green crab can eat 40 half-inch clams a day! In 2016 clam landings fell 21 percent, from 9.3 million to 7.3 million pounds. That is the lowest total since 1991.

To help the problem, you could capture them and post it on Vital Signs to see if they are an invasive species, or you could eat them. You could even put them in your lobster traps and use them for bait.

Please spread the word about green crabs and the rest of the invasive species.

—Brooke Hoppe (Hoppe is a 5th grade student at the St. George School. She notes that she got some of the information in this piece from the Portland Press Herald.)

PHOTO: Amy Palmer

Thank you

Zach

Our family would like to thank all the very generous people who have given and continue to give to us, there are no words that could express how thankful we are. Our tragedy was and still is overwhelming. For many years we’ve been on the helping end, so the outpouring of generosity is overwhelming for us also. It’s easy to see why Zach didn’t want to live anywhere else but “St. George, the most awesomest town in the world.” We would also like to give a special thank you to the fire/EMS personnel, law enforcement and Burpee, Carpenter and Hutchins Funeral Home who took care of our boy, it’s not an easy job to do, especially when it’s close to home. God bless you all.

—Randy, Doris and Andrew Elwell

Layering meaning with a medium that gives dimension and luminosity

Port Clyde Sardine Factory 1930 by Otty Merrill

Tenants Harbor artist Otty Merrill was recently inducted into New England Wax (N.E.W.). N.E.W. is a professional organization founded in 2006 that connects artists in six New England states who work in the medium of encaustic. The name comes from the Greek enkaustikos “to burn in,” and is a medium made from melting and fusing together beeswax, damar resin and colorful pigments to create a hot waxy paint that is applied to a hard surface with a brush or other tool. This process yields a durable and rich optical effect that gives a painting dimension and luminosity. Developed as a durable medium in the 5th century B.C., encaustic painting was employed by the ancient Greeks to render the famous Egyptian Fayum funeral portraits, which remain colorful even today. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that encaustic painting experienced a revival seen in the works of noted artists such as Jasper Johns, Mark Perlman and Tony Scherman. Merrill is one of those few contemporary artists who has discovered the versatility of this medium.

But what especially distinguishes Merrill’s work is its content. “I create art that tells a story. I fall into the story and then try to step back and become the viewer rather than the maker.” She adds, “My hope is that I share an emotion or event that the viewer finds relevant to their own life, with a sense of mystery and joy.” To achieve illusive storytelling in her paintings, Merrill employs abstract realism, a style that fuses together recognizable forms with the unrecognizable. Therefore she often embeds in her work old photographs, script and found objects. This nuanced style allows viewers to discover layers of personal meaning and relevance.

Merrill’s journey in the fine arts is marked by experimentation with many media and styles. As a young child living in New Jersey, she says she had a natural attraction to drawing. After earning a degree in marketing from Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., Merrill worked in an advertising agency in New York City. In 1973 she moved to Sherborn, Mass. where she studied pottery at the Decordova Museum School in Lincoln, Mass., and also The School of The Museum of Fine Arts nearby. Eventually, she opened a small pottery business there and in 1983 co-founded the Sherborn Arts Center.  Two years later, Merrill moved to Amherst, N.H.,where she established a real estate company called Classic Properties, a boutique agency specializing in antique homes. By 1997, Merrill moved to Falmouth, Me., and continued to study fine arts at various schools and workshops in Santa Fe, Tucson, Provincetown and Kingston, N.Y. During her time in Tucson, she received advice from artist and gallery owner, Conrad Wilde, who told her to “make work only to satisfy your interests and curiosity.” Those inspiring words now hang in Merrill’s studio and guide her work.

Merrill began spending summers in Tenants Harbor in 1970 when she married Charlie, whose family roots were tied to the town. They became year-round residents after retiring in 2013.  Presently, Merrill divides her time between her studios in Tenants Harbor and in Portland, where she also participates in an artists’ cooperative named Running With Scissors. Growing up in an urban environment, Merrill has found a way to enjoy the stimulation of a bustling city and the tranquility of country living where she can avoid distractions. Both environments inspire and inform her work.

Merrill’s work appears at The Portland Art Gallery in the Old Port, where she is represented by Art Collector Maine. Additionally, she teaches encaustic workshops at 26 Split Rock Arts Center in South Thomaston and also at Rockland Center for the Arts. Her works will be exhibited at the Granite Gallery in Tenants Harbor from July 27 to August 2 this summer. Additional works may be viewed on her website, www.ottymerrill.com and also at newenglandwax.org.
—Katharine A. Cartwright

PHOTOS: Katharine Cartwright; artwork image courtesty of David and Lori Schwartz

Eighth grade creates a mural as a gift to the school

This spring our 8th graders have worked on a collaborative, clay tile mural that has been installed on an exterior wall of the school entrance as a gift to the school and community.  The students worked with local artist Randy Fein and their art teacher in order to create a piece of artwork which incorporates the natural beauty of our community and the environment.

Each student had to brainstorm ideas for their contribution then sketch those ideas on paper several times.  After the students developed their ideas, they discussed where the images should be placed on the mural.  They created a paper template to work from in which they placed their drawings while discussing placement.  The students rolled out slabs of clay in order to create the 45”x45” mural base.  Once the base was complete, they produced their contribution for the mural which has an “oceanic” theme and added them to the base. Grace Cody was excited to design the compass rose in the center. She thought that made a solid centerpiece that required many layers to complete.

The entire piece was cut into many pieces and fired in the kiln over the course of two weeks.  The students used powdered pigment from the south of France that Randy Fein shared with them.

The overarching goal of this project was for the students to make connections to our diverse, colorful, rich environment and to draw inspiration from their community while building confidence and learning the importance of voice.

Eighth grader Kyle Arey said, “We are proud to leave this mural as a gift to the school and hopefully we can show it to our children someday.”
—Julie Ryan, Art teacher, K-8, St. George School

PHOTO: Sonja Schmanska