Literary event a ‘best seller’

Literary Evening started 38 years ago; this year’s was Thursday, Aug. 4. Erica Merrill, the organizer of the event, took contributions at the entrance and prepared the reception; Sarah Corson was the up-front host and presented the history of the birth of Literary Evening after the Grange closed and the Neighborhood House was born. The podium and chairs were placed at an unusual angle thanks to Gordon Bok’s assertion that this led to the best sound.

Sidney Callahan started the presentations reading about awe and wonder, and the relationship of awe to society. With the diminishment of awe comes an increase in selfishness; increased awe leads to increased sharing and altruism.

Skip Stevens was not able to be there; his brother-in-law Andy Kohn filled in and read some of Skip’s poetry. Starr Bright read “Laugh,” about our ability to choose our response when life is hard. Dick Atlee brought much laughter to the room by reciting “Fog,” about fog in Maine thick enough to use as furniture, and a song about a cup of tea to distract from problems. Barbara and Alden Hathaway read “The Raven,” followed by Emily Axelrod and another presentation on Fog. Grace Dolan-Sandrino spoke about the unrecognized violence against transgendered people. Jack Merrill read several poems, including “Neighbor,” about Ashley Bryan and their friendship. Anna Fernald read a piece about a fading photograph of two teenage girls, the possible directions of their lives and how much is wondered about when looking at old photos. Anna went on to say what each of the girls did and showed the photo of her and her sister when they were in their mid-teens. Kathy Lake recited “On Wanting to Talk to You and Hearing the Phone Ring and Ring and Ring.” Edna St. Vincent Millay was on hand thanks to Joy Sprague reading “We Were Very Tired, We Were Very Merry.” The evening was closed, as is the tradition, by Ashley Bryan reading poetry. He and the audience started out reciting Langston Hughes’ “My People,” after which Ashley recited poems by William Wordsworth and Emily Dickinson. Ashley has a new book coming out this fall, “Freedom over Me,” based on some official documents from the early 1800s that showed purchases of a number of slaves.

Islesford Boatworks’ new boat has been launched. The team chose a design in late 2014 that would take the summers of 2015 and 2016 to be built and launched. The one launched is Sea Salad; there was a choice of four names for the new one in progress, another two-season construction to be finished and launched next summer. There was a tie in the vote and talk of tossing a coin to decide which name. An idea was shared from the dock, and she’ll be A Tie instead. Thanks to Tony Archino and his staff, Allison Yanover and Mike Yanover, who helped out in the shop all summer. He also had four assistant instructors, Louise Chaplin, Isaac Philbrook, Shippen Savidge and Oliver Blank. Mary Elizabeth Prokopius ran all the events and behind the scenes stuff. Many people learned a lot about building. Peyton Eggleston worked with kids all summer, ending with a race of the cedar boats they’d made. The launch day thumbed its nose at the forecast of rain and was clear and warm. Many of the kids enjoyed time in the water.

There was an invitation to anyone to make things from wood, one for oneself, and at least one to auction for funds for the Boatworks. More on the auction and Islesford Fair next week, since it’s after this news goes to the press.

This past Saturday, the rock of Great Cranberry was rocking hard with a killer dinner dance party fundraiser for the Mount Desert Island High School scholarship for Joe Flores. It was organized by the thoughtful Helen Bertles, who gave the island not only a groovy evening but funds for one of our islanders to continue to educate himself by going to college.

The masterful chef at Hittys Cafe, Cesar, prepared the delicious dinner that included a mac and cheese bar (oh yes!), a nutritious salad and rich chocolatey lava cakes. The island tweens helped build and decorate an incredible dance floor for the evening. The first two to break it in were Tom Powells two-year-old son, Lou, and Darleen Sumners one-year-old daughter, Audree, who is now walking and rolling around. People of all ages came and swept the dance floor up with their sweet moves, busting a sweat all night long. The floor was filled with children, teenagers, the “young crowd” and adults (who danced the hardest, such as Sonia Colby, who didn’t quit putting on the moves). Those older island folks sure know how to party and could teach us kiddos a thing or two about having a good time.

There was even a surprise appearance of a blow-up orca that made it onto the dance floor. At the end of the night, some of the teens helped Helen clean up, and the sweet Kirsten Mair stayed to help as well. All in all, it was a night to remember, filled with laughter, smiles, positive energy, satisfied bellies and tired dancing feet.

Thank you, Marian Baker, for organizing the Blackbird/Raven/Crow Exhibition and silent auction. Thanks to Dan and Cynthia Lief for hosting the auction not only on the dock, but in some of the art gallery rooms as well. There were different kinds of presentations of the birds: designs on plates, clay raven busts, paintings, tiles, “a large and lively hand puppet” and a quart of “blackbird berry ice cream.” One wall-hanging piece was made of driftwood and was posted with the note “This ‘Beautiful Blackbird’ will also ‘drift’ into the Ashley Bryan auction tomorrow.” Not for bid was a lovely crow eating a cranberry. Another crow was on a lobster buoy with a worm of sea glass in its beak. Ashley Bryan submitted a plate, which was the prize of a ticket draw. Jack Merrill won the draw.

Adam Fisher of the Maine State Library spoke at the Islesford Historical Society’s annual meeting on Aug 2. He presented an overview of the digitization project. Thanks to the technology now available, historic paperwork, books, maps, genealogy, photographs and anything else can be scanned and preserved. Valuable and sensitive pieces can be used for research without leaving the collection, community or their protective storage.

Polly Bunker Day is coming up. Each year, the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society has elected to honor one of the island’s notable citizens. On Sunday, Aug. 14, they will celebrate the well-loved Pauline Bunker, better known as Polly. Those who know Polly or wish to know her are invited to attend the celebration from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A light lunch will be followed by a program with a fashion show, a short history and a poetry reading by Sam King. Both Sam and Polly are cancer survivors.

For those who don’t know Polly, she has run the little gift shop, the Whales Rib, since the 1970s. Her husband, Tud, built the shop first on the shore of Cranberry Cove, then later it was moved down the road, near their home. Customers go for more than buying a gift, as they get the warmest greeting, the latest news, a sympathetic ear or some sage advice. Polly was born and raised on the island. When she was 16, she began working at the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor and became the dining room manager for many years, working there from 1945 to 1970. She now runs her gift shop, where you can find her outside feeding the wild mallards and Guinea hens she cares so much for. Due to her care the, Guinea hens have hatched babies you can find crossing the road from field to field. These birds are integral members of our community, eating all the nasty ticks that may reside here. Because of those birds, we can feel safe running through tall grass without the fear of tick bites.

The night of Aug. 11-12 will be the biggest Perseid comet shower of the year. Here’s to clear weather and sleeping mosquitoes so we can go out and enjoy the streaks of light cutting across the sky.

The movies on Aug. 15 will be “The Secret Garden” and “Homeward Bound” (G) upstairs.

Malcolm Fernald’s birthday is Aug. 12, followed on Aug. 13 by Alden Hathaway. Joe Flores celebrates on Aug. 15. Jim Amuso and Serena Spurling each take July 17.

Happy birthday to all!

Sally Rowan and Kayla Gagnon

Sally Rowan and Kayla Gagnon

We look forward to reporting all the news. Send items to us by 5 p.m. on Sunday. For Islesford, email Sally Rowan at [email protected], and for Great Cranberry, email Kayla Gagnon at [email protected]
Sally Rowan and Kayla Gagnon

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