Welcome to a journal of Westport Island, Maine. To locals, Westport Island is also known as “The Rock”. At this Rock Blog, you will find tidbits of island history, photographs, and items of interest. Comments, pictures, and personal histories from those with an interest in the Island are welcome.
Westport Island was originally called Jeremisquam and was a part of Edgecomb. It came to be known as Westport, because it was the west port of Edgecomb.
The Maine Historical Society’s digital library features the Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. House
The Maine Historical Society’s digital library, the Maine Memory Network (MMN), is featuring a digital exhibit that highlights a Westport Island treasure, the Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. House. As many long time islanders know, the entry hallway of the house is decorated with a panorama of marine murals that have captured the imagination of owners and visitors past and present. Current owners Bob and Callie Connor have become guardian angels of the murals.
The Connors have invested in preserving the murals, and they have become avid “art history detectives” intent on identifying the artist who left his, or her, mark on Westport Island. Since purchasing the house in 2013, the Connors have educated themselves on 19th century folk and marine muralists working in this area. They have networked with and invited experts on the works of famed Maine muralists Rufus Porter; his nephew, Jonathan Poor; and others working in a similar school of painting to view the murals. Through their research, the Connors have determined that a mural in the Five Islands Baptist Church in Georgetown is by the same artist.
One day, the Connors hope to identify their home’s muralist. Ideally, the exhibit at MMN will bring the story of the murals before more history detectives and elicit more clues that may help to solve this muralist whodunit.
See the MMN exhibit: Mural Mystery in Westport Island’s Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. House
Had both upsides and downsides…
Depending where you live on the island, tree buffering and drifting, Islanders reported from 23.5 inches to 3 feet of snow when the first blizzard of 2017 subsided on February 13. When life was back to normal, historic island landmarks — the Town Hall, the Community Church and the Baptist Church, as well as the Town Office, looked like wintry greeting card images.
The Westport Volunteer Fire Department’s hard-bottom inflatable boat just looked buried, and now it looks homeless.
The boat lost its home in February’s snow deluge. Snow accumulation caved in the boat’s portable garage. Only the frame of the garage still stands, so the boat is now exposed to the elements. Space is too limited inside the fire department bays to move the boat inside, and the plastic tarp has proven to be an inadequate solution.
There would be space inside the garage if it weren’t for “historic” Engine 1, which also needs to be inside. Engine 1 is no longer a regular, functioning member of the fire department; it is used only for parades and ceremonial events. …But, it is a sentimental favorite of many islanders, because it is the first fire truck purchased brand new for the island back in 1963.
Wanted: Covered parking for Engine 1
The fire department is seeking assistance from an island resident who might have unused space in a barn or garage to park Engine 1. The Engine is 23′ long, 7’9″ wide and 8’4″ high. If you can help the fire department by providing a temporary or ongoing shelter, please call Fire Chief Bob Mooney at 460-0367.
Vera is celebrated in the Maine Historical Society’s Veteran’s Voices exhibit
On February 2, about 160 people turned out for the opening of the Maine Historical Society’s Veterans’ Voices exhibit. The exhibit highlighted first-person stories of 10 Maine veterans from World War II to Afghanistan — one of whom was Westport Island’s 102-year old WWII veteran Vera Cleaves.
Unfortunately, Vera died on January 23, about one and one-half weeks before she was to be honored at the exhibit’s opening. At the opening reception, Vera was also to receive medals from the State of Maine for her service in the armed forces and as a veteran of World War II. Her nephew, Brad Cleaves, and his wife, Patty Latham, received the medals and certificates on Vera’s behalf from Adria Horn, Director of Maine Veterans’ Services. They were sensitive to Vera’s pride in her military service and made attendance at the opening a priority to accept Vera’s honors on behalf of the family.
With an introduction from Brenda Bonyun, Tilly Laskey from the Maine Historical Society visited and interviewed Vera in December. Vera reviewed and edited the narrative from the 2-hour interview. She was honored and grateful to the Maine Historical Society for commemorating her WWII service. My last image of Vera was seeing her smile as she looked at the poster for the upcoming exhibit. Vera was looking forward to attending the opening on February 2 and speaking with fellow veterans. She died knowing her story will be remembered.
Read Vera’s story. The exhibit will run at the Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland through April 29.
Taking the Penguin Plunge into Linekin Bay
Westport Islanders Edward and Lydia Kitfield have celebrated New Year’s Day since the early 2000’s by participating in the Boothbay Region YMCA’s Penguin Plunge. The chilly New Year’s benefit “plunge” into Linekin Bay from the public boat ramp on Murray Hill Road benefits the YMCA’s swimming program for second graders.
Lydia said that she and her husband were once part of a medical team on an excursion to Antarctica. They visited Deception Island which is home to a volcano and several crater bays. Lydia and Edward swam on Deception Island, and figured if they could swim in Antarctica, why not Maine. The two also take “dips” into the frigid waters of Montsweag Bay near their home from time to time… Wow!
May we all have the spirit and sense of adventure in 2017 shared by the Kitfields on this beautiful New Year’s Day!
Snapshots of a Westport Community Association event
As we draw the curtains on this Christmas season, a quick peek back at the Westport Community Association’s Island Christmas Program…
Thanks to Emily Small, Flutter Focus Photography, we have some photos to memorialize neighbors being neighbors: singing Christmas carols in the church and lighting the first community Christmas tree in many years — perhaps a new annual tradition. Join with your neighbors to be a part of next year’s celebration.
From the Westport Island Town Office
About 40 people filtered in and out of the Town Office’s annual holiday open house on Tuesday. They brought food, well wishes and appreciation for a small town way of life.
One of our newest residents made an appearance: 2-month old Ivan Wiles. Santa sledded in. And visitors got a listen to the newly formed duo of Santa and elf Richard Gray singing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” The performance left us looking forward to next year when they have had a tad more time to practice and learn the words.
To those who did not receive well wishes in person on Tuesday, Merry Christmas! May you enjoy time with friends and family and bring good memories of this holiday season into 2017.
Islanders turned out in record numbers
Voter turnout for state and national elections is generally strong on Westport Island, and this year was no exception. National voter turnout has been estimated at about 58 percent; state voter turnout at last check was about 67 percent.
Westport Island’s voter turnout edged 84 percent. Absentee voting — including mail and in-person — broke Island records at 111 voters, plus 6 out-of-country and military voters for a total of 117 voters. Another 405 headed to the polls on election day.
And if we were nominating Spirit of America volunteers today — the nominees would have to be the poll workers. They maintain the integrity of the process and make election day a pleasant one at the polls. Sandra Crehore, Cheryl Anderson, Pam Soule and Sam Soule put in hours before election day to prepare for the election; and they put in double digit hours on election day. Twelve vote counters worked in teams of two to count and reconcile their ballot counts in the hours after the polls closed. Thank you to all for a great job on a record-setting day.
How Westport Islanders voted the contested races:
The overall winning candidates and referendum votes are noted in italics. Also, note that Questions 1 and 2 are currently in a recount.
|President||Hillary Clinton (D)||241|
|Donald Trump (R)||219|
|Gary Johnson (L)||29|
|Jill Stein (G)||12|
|David McMullin ( )||1|
|U.S. House District #1||Mark Holbrook (R)||252|
|Chellie Pingree (D)||246|
|Maine Senate District #89||Dana Dow (R)||250|
|Christopher K. Johnson (D)||249|
|Maine House District #13||Stephanie Hawke (R)||234|
|Wendy Wolfe (I)||260|
|Question 1. Legalize Marijuana||Yes||272|
|Question 2. Tax for Public Education||Yes||251|
|Question 3. Gun Background Checks||Yes||243|
|Question 4. Increase Minimum Wage||Yes||288|
|Question 5. Ranked-Choice Voting||Yes||260|
|Question 6. Transportation Bond||Yes||332|
Masquerade and hocus pocus at the Town Hall
The Community Association’s annual Halloween party included pirates, a bat, a convict, a jester, a zombie bride, town elders and a fairy princess that turned her grandma into a rabbit. Were Vincent Van Gogh and King Arthur also spotted? No, it wasn’t Van Gogh! It was Bob Ross, PBS’s silly artist, promoting “his” philosophy that “there are no mistakes – just happy accidents.”
Fashionistas wore black and white, and the dashing Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara grabbed the spotlight. Scarlett was the belle of the ball with a hooped ball gown fashioned from drapes — with the rod still attached — winning her accolades for most original costume.
Deciding awards for most original, funniest and scariest costumes taxed Judges Deborah Williams, Christy Hopkins and Debbie Speed. All of the masqueraders exhibited award-winning Halloween spirit. One must wonder what the loon, who has been presiding over town hall events since 1889, thought of the Halloween hijinks.
Photo credits for “Bob Ross” to Johnny Scott and for the fairy princess to Laurie Jaramillo
Spirit of America 2016
On October 18, members of the Wright Landing Committee and the Horticulture Committee were honored as the 2016 Westport Island Spirit of America recipients. Spirit of America awards are given to individuals or groups which exemplify service to community.
The Wright Landing Committee and the Horticulture Committee, which was created to beautify the landing, have worked together to develop and manage the Wright Landing property as a public boat landing and park. Members devote many volunteer hours throughout the year in various ways to make our public landing accessible and welcoming to residents, fishermen, boaters and visitors. Their efforts have included:
- Applying for grants and managing funded improvements that added a walkway and jetty to improve the landing’s facilities as a boat ramp for residents, fishermen and visitors;
- Managing the overall improvement, development and landscaping of the public landing and park;
- Overseeing the annual installation and removal of the ramps and floats;
- Maintaining and advocating for the Wright Landing house and property;
- Creating and maintaining a landscaping design and perennial garden that has beautified the landing and provided a changing display of blooms and color from Spring into Fall; and
- Transforming the Wright property into a proud community landmark where town office staff routinely send new residents or prospective property purchasers – to see both its scenic beauty and its facilities for providing public access to the water.
The Wright Landing Committee and the Horticulture Committee have created a community asset which has garnered praise from residents, fishermen and visitors as well as representatives from area town conservation committees.
Not all members could be present at the Lincoln County awards ceremony, but all are recognized by the town in its award of appreciation — Wright Landing Committee: Richard DeVries, Chair; Al Andrews; Robert Morris; Ken Parsons; and Bruce Whittemore as well as past chair, Art Ballard, and John Nelson, in memoriam; and Horticulture Committee: Donna Curry, Chair; Emily Adler; Brad Adler; Elizabeth Lee; Gretchen McNamara and Debbie Williams.
Casco dives for fun at the Union Fair
Erin Bailey and her “bestie” Casco spent last weekend at a Seacoast DockDogs event at the Union Fair.
Casco, a 3-year old black lab, has taken to dock diving like a fish to water. From Seacoast DockDogs events to the Dock Dog World Championships last year in Dubuque, Iowa, Casco has excelled and earned the title “Master” Dock Dog.
At Union Fair, it was just about keeping cool and having fun — which is what he did. He was high energy — “pressing the fur” with his canine competitors and shaking paws with his fans. After grabbing some fries, he went on to capture some “big air” in a long jump to fetch his toy and splash the crowd — jumping over 20 feet. What fun. Go Erin and Casco…