Historical Portland

Love Letters of WW2 blog and book project content of Maine historical photos

Writer Scores Victory Scrapbook 1943

Posted by on Jan 3, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, High School Years, Historical Portland, Media, Photo, Portland Maine, Vintage Style, WW2, WWII Letter | 0 comments

Writer Scores Victory Scrapbook 1943

I remember as a child my father coaching me to catch the ball. “Keep your eye on the ball,” he’d always say. I was fortunate to spend several days with my mother over Christmas. I was organizing her front closet and delved into another old trunk. I found a scrapbook. I’d seen it before. We all have. It needs care and preservation so I brought it home to look at. I’m sure glad I did.

My dad made it. It commemorates his sports life at Deering High and Bowdoin College during 1942-1943. It’s ironic because I’m the one person in my immediate family that didn’t become a jock. Not for lack of talent. In high school I excelled in ballet and modern dance. I was also an equestrian in high school. But I preferred the pleasure of riding my horse to the hassle of competitions. I won a ribbon here and there in sports, one for swimming, a couple with my horse. But I never followed baseball or football. And I went to an all girls high school so that put a damper on things…I wanted to be a cheerleader. But not for all-girl volleyball.

My two older brother’s were basketball jocks in high school. My cousin Pete Ladd (on Arline’s side, her sister Ruth’s son) pitched for the Milwakee Brewers in the 1982 World Series. Nothing is more thrilling than watching your cousin pitch on TV.

So here I am, a non-sportsperson writing about my dad’s sports life in high school and college. Thank goodness Dad made this extraordinary catalogue of newspaper clippings from important games and turning points during the war.

Newspaper clipping 1942

Densmore Celebrates Birthday Beats Blue in a Post Stadium Tilt.

How much help can a writer expect? It’s amazing to think that in those days being a high school sports star would get you regular press coverage in the local news. My parents were both featured in the local Portland newspaper at various times including Arline with the headline “The Deering Girls had a Hoop Season”. I never realized she was that serious a player.  It’s super to see my dad like a Titan god killing the competition in a “hurling duel”. Dad in a duel! He truly is a star.

And then it’s incredible to look at his selected clippings from that most historical year at Bowdoin including watching each athlete leave, alone or in groups, called away to service. There’s a clipping of Mrs Roosevelt from the speech she gave at Bowdoin. Eleanor declared that the war would make you a better citizen.

Newspaper Clipping 1942

Densmore Best in Hurling Duel

Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks to 1200 at Bowdoin College

Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks to 1200 at Bowdoin College

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Love Letters 69th Wedding Anniversary

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Historical Portland, Photo, Vintage Style, WW2 | 0 comments

Sixty-nine years ago on July 27th Morris married Arline in a Congregational Church in Portland Maine. My dad died in 1999. Arline now lives in a condo in a large “hotel style” three hundred unit building inside Rossmoor, a huge gated retirement community in Walnut Creek, California.

Morris and Arline c.1946 Wedding Day

Morris and Arline c.1946 Wedding Day

Arline moved in four months ago from a townhouse.  I’ve been staying with her in a challenging process of introducing new household help, not easy. Arline doesn’t want any helpers, not any I choose anyway.

Today day started out rough. But I left for a few hours and it turned peaceful. I found a twenty dollar bill on the side walk. I fell asleep with my dog in the park. I’m just giving back to God my hope that this will all work out somehow so she can remain in her own beautiful condo.

In the evening, while snacking on an obscenly chocolate muffin- causing me to scold her for skipping dinner – Arline told me about a man that had plopped down next to her downstairs while she was sitting on a bench. It happened at about 5PM. “He told me his whole life story,” she said. Arline was amazed. She kept bringing it up.

Arline kept asking me questions to identify the timing. Maybe she correlated the man with something about her wedding day. I was so self absorbed I forgot it was her anniversary though she mentioned it two days ago. “He just kept talking and talking. He talked about WW2 and all about his life, and telling me everything about himself.” This is the first day anything like this has happened in years. It occurs to me now that Morris was sometimes like that – sometimes he’d just talk and talk but on a particular topic or theme.

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Arline’s Birthplace Photo c.1924

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in 1920s and 1930s, All Blog Posts, Historical Portland, Media, Portland Maine, Vintage Style | 0 comments

I was writing about a snow scene in front of my mother’s first house and came across this online–a photo of it! This is the house Arline was born in on Forest Avenue in Portland Maine.

House Where Arline was Born
Forest Ave., Maine c.1924

This photo is from the tax assessor and was taken the year of her birth in 1924. It was fun showing it to my mom, “Hey that’s my house!” She went on to fill me in, “There is a very high hill on the left there. We always had sleds. The neighbors would slide down to the sidewalks.”

It’s a winter scene and she was born in June. She imagines that’s papa out back. There was a shed out back. Steps up to the back door. In summer there was always a hammock on the front porch. The upstairs was an attic. “Funny, there’s no one I can share this with,” she says, “I mean anyone left who’d recognize our home.”

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Great Grandfather Arthur

Posted by on Dec 28, 2012 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Historical Portland, Media, Portland Maine, Vintage Style | 2 comments

My quest for family history on my mother’s side is turning up photos.

My Great Grandfather Arthur is Seated

This portrait is of my mother’s maternal grandfather and his brothers, here all pallbearers at their father’s funeral. Seated is her grandfather Arthur Edmund Thurlow, then L to R are his brother’s Winfred Scott, Harry Wesley, and Frank Eugene Thurlow.

For a time Arthur lived with his wife in the home of my mother’s cousins. On Sundays Arthur walked over to mom’s home on Forest Ave. (the house is still there, see below) with his Bible. The Berry’s owned the larger house below, they had a son and a daughter. And Arline’s house was in the back.

Her parents did’t have a car. Her dad had a truck at one point.

Arline’s Parent’s Home
Forest Ave., Portland, Maine

They’d be in the kitchen when Arthur visited because the children had their Sunday bath in a kitchen tub. Arthur would bounce Arline on his knee and sing her a little jingle. Mom loved it because the song was different each time, funny and surprising.

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