New book by Waterville author gets rave reviews

by Jeanne Marquis

Michelle Shores

When you discover the compelling combination of a haunting mystery, unexpected plot twists and romantic conflict, you know this is a story that needs to be written. That was exactly what author Michelle E. Shores, of Waterville, thought when she stumbled across the Nelly Butler ghost hauntings of Franklin, Maine. This spark of an idea grew into the novel, The Gathering Room – A Tale of Nelly Butler.

Shores has had a lifelong love of history, genealogy and was already a nonfiction author of historical records, so a typical evening for Shores would be to pursue historical records. On Halloween night of 2015, Shores came across The Nelly Butler Hauntings: A Documentary History edited by Marcus LiBrizzi and Dennis Boyd. She became obsessed with this legend. It was a six-year long obsession that took her through the process of researching and writing a story, which she said at some points seemed to mysteriously write itself.

The Gathering Room is based on real people – Nelly Butler, George Butler, Lydia Blaisdell and Reverend Abraham Cummings – living in the late 1700s in an early port town of coastal Maine. Author Shores found actual written testimonies of the appearances of the ghost of Nelly and skillfully used these accounts as the foundation for her novel. She developed other fictional characters based on her research of her own genealogy and family portraits from the time period.

Shores’ accuracy for historical details and knowledge of life in early New England came from her two earlier nonfiction books, Vital Records of Bangor, Maine, Volume 1 and 2. Both of these works are part of the collection of the National Library of Congress.

As Shores wove the plot to fill the gaps left by historical records, she drew from her own imagination and detailed research of the customs of the times. Shores explains, “I knew that I needed to write a wedding scene for George and Nelly, and I started researching 18th century, 19th century wedding customs. I came upon the custom of putting the little ring in the posset to find out who the next bride was going to be, whereas we throw the bouquet. They created this custard-like alcoholic drink called posset, and they would put a little ring in it. Whoever found the ring would be the next one to get married.”

Shores tells people the book wrote itself. The ring, a theme running through the book, is one example of why she feels this to be true. She told of another incident of how an idea came to her more mysteriously. Shores was working on her book while on vacation with her husband in Jamaica and was typing along rapidly because the words were flowing. She looked over the text and saw the phrase “sardonic smile.” She didn’t remember ever using that word before and wasn’t quite sure what the word precisely meant. She had her husband, who was sitting on the beach next to her look it up on his tablet. Sardonic was the exact adjective she needed for this description.

Shores has begun to hear from fans of her book who tell her the book is a gripping story that’s hard to tear themselves away. Shore remarked, “I had one woman who went out on her deck to start reading, and read until it got dark, realizing she was already on page 142.”

Another reader purchased the book while camping in Bar Harbor, and she realized how close she was to Franklin. She drove over there and located George Butler’s gravestone. She took a photo of The Gathering Room book next to George’s gravestone and posted it on the book’s Facebook page. Shores said, “My book cover is the exact same color as his gravestone. How weird? And I did not do that on purpose. I did not know. I had not even seen George’s gravestone.” Perhaps, this was another aspect of the book that was mysteriously meant to be? Readers will have to judge that for themselves.

The Gathering Room – A Tale of Nelly Butler offers all the elements of an intriguing winter read and a very welcomed holiday gift. This ghostly legend, which once divided a small town on the coast of Maine 200 years ago, comes to life through the writing of Michelle E. Shores. The Gathering Room is available for purchase at

LIFE ON THE PLAINS: The legend of Ginjine Hill

Radio Flyer sleds

by Roland D. Hallee

This week we’re going to continue with our look at Life on the Plains during the winter, that we first took a look at two weeks ago.

Besides the hard work of shoveling the driveway following every snowstorm – lots of nor’easters – we had a good time playing in the white stuff. Two weeks ago we talked about the massive snow banks created from moving all that snow, and how we fashioned tunnels through them, usually culminating with a “snow” fort on the end, facing the street. From there we would spend much time making snowballs – conditions permitting – and creating a cache. When the time was right, and unsuspecting kids walking by, we would send a barrage of snowballs their way. Sometimes they couldn’t figure out from where they came. Many laughs, and many snowball fights ensued.

To fortify our fortress, we would take a shoebox, pack it with snow, creating a “brick” and mounted them on top of the snow mound for added protection. Our fort was the “cat’s meow”. On especially cold days, we would squirt some water in the shoebox to freeze the snow, and make a hard brick that would better withstand an onslaught from the other side. Our mother was never impressed when we came home with our mittens soaking wet.

And then there was the sledding. At the end of one of the streets in the neighborhood – Lockwood Alley – was a steep hill that connected with Silver Street, just about across the street from the location of the old Morning Sentinel building. The city would blockade the hill during the winter for the neighborhood kids to sled without the danger of oncoming traffic. The elevation was called the “Ginjine Hill” (pronounced Jin-Jine). I’m only guessing here because no one really knew how to spell the word, nor do we, still to this day, know from where the name came. The hill is no longer there, dismantled during the downtown urban renewal project in the 1960s that produced the Concourse.

There were many adventures there. We would all show up with our Radio Flyers, a sleek sled made of wood, with steel runners. Believe it or not, I still have mine. Before the initial run, we would wax up the runners to make the sleds super fast. We would line up three – sometimes four – wide to see who had the fastest sled. However, there was a hazard at the bottom of the hill where it flattened out. It was a low spot in the road that could launch a sled airborne, along with its rider. We all knew it was there.

Not only did we want to see who had the fastest sled, along with who could glide the farthest, you also had to maintain control of the sled. Many a contestant would go flying off the vehicle when it would encounter that dip in the road, sending the occupant one way, and the sled the other. There were also times when the ejected rider would collide with a steel fence that surrounded the first house at the bottom. Many times we would walk away unscathed, but on a few occasions, the operator had to go home for “repairs,” and not to the sled.

Of course, being 10-12 years old, we had no fear, which didn’t always bode well. Many a crash would bring out roaring laughter from the others, until we discovered some injuries. Of course, the older boys would always look out for the younger.

The Ginjine Hill was at the northern end of The Plains, but many kids knew the legend.

Local author’s novel gets “stellar” review

by Roy E. Perry

Set in Waterville, Maine, Lucy’s in the Neighborhood, by David M. Carew, is an intriguing and stellar whodunit—a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Miss Lucy Bouchier is the owner and proprietor of Lucy’s in the Neighborhood, a popular corner market, in Waterville. The corner market is near the Two-Cent Bridge, and there Lucy specializes in serving up tasty Italian sandwiches, pizza, and whoopie pies. At age 64, Lucy is the star of the show. Specializing in her own zany brand of humor and with a loving heart as big as the State of Maine, she passes the downtime in her store by sharing stories from her past with her best friend and coworker, Jasmine. One day Lucy launches into the true story of a horrendous crime from 1972.

The story centers around the assault of a pretty teenager, 17-year-old Katherine Ambers, and her death two weeks after the assault. Investigating the case is Detective Ed O’Shaughnessy. Before her death, the only clue that Katherine is able to give O’Shaughnessy is that the assailant kept saying “animal” and “cracker” or “animal cracker.”

O’Shaughnessy has two “quasi”-suspects or “persons of interest” who may have committed the crime: a white racist named O’Casey (a supporter of George Wallace for President) and an alcoholic Black man named Curtis Jackson, the father of Mo (“Slo-Mo”) Jackson, a great friend of William Brady, a fellow teenager and Lucy’s boyfriend. The most obvious suspect is O’Casey, but why is Curtis Jackson so eager to “get the heck out of Dodge”—that is, leave Waterville—before Mo’s school term is over?

Detective O’Shaughnessy is indefatigable in his pursuit of the murderer, but time passes and the case becomes cold. But then Mr. Carew adroitly employs a literary device known as deus ex machina, which provides the identity of the criminal. But still: Will there ever be justice for Katherine Ambers?

Lucy’s in the Neighborhood is a tantalizing work of art and a fascinating study of the interaction of colorful characters. Featuring superb dialogue, it is an engaging, entertaining, intelligent look at the human condition. Lucy’s in the Neighborhood may be ordered online at Maine Authors Publishing or Amazon.

Roy E. Perry wrote book reviews for The Tennessean and Nashville Banner for more than 30 years.

Veterans honored at Northern Light

In the photo, Tim Dentry, right, president and CEO of Northern Light Health, thanks Charlotte Bolduc (veteran), left, with Michelle Rossignol, back, manager of Life Enrichment at Lakewood.

On Veterans day, November 11, 2022, resident veterans were honored at Northern Light Continuing Care, Lakewood, in a special ceremony. Ron Cunningham, chaplain of Northern Light Home Care & Hospice led the event. Tim Dentry, president and CEO of Northern Light Health, delivered a heartfelt message to the veterans. Downeast Brass Quintet opened up the ceremony with their beautiful United States Armed Forces medley. Susan Roy, LSW, MHA, supervisor of Clinical Hospice Services of Northern Light Home Care and Hospice, shared a reading reflecting on our service men and women.

Parade of Lights returns after two-year hiatus

Fairfield Police Officer Casey Dugas makes his way across the Waterville/Winslow Bridge during the Parade of Lights, on Saturday, November 26. (photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine Photography)

by Amarinda Keys
Children’s Discovery Museum

After two years, the beloved Parade of Lights was back! This annual event has drawn thousands of families for many years and serves as a fun and festive kickoff to the holiday season. The Children’s Discovery Museum was excited to collaborate with the town of Winslow and the city Waterville to host this wonderful event. The museum is working to create a brand-new play space for Central Maine. While they anxiously wait to open the doors of their new location, they are excited to coordinate such a wonderful event for the community.

The 2022 Parade of Lights was held on Saturday, November 26. Floats assembled at the Winslow High School, traveled down Benton Avenue, crossed the bridge, traveled up Main Street, in Waterville, and dispersed at the Elm Street/College Avenue/Main Street crossing. Santa made his entrance in a horse-drawn carriage. Floats included dancers from SP4D, a collection of Jeeps from Central Maine Jeep Owners, and fire trucks and police cruisers from local towns. This year’s parade included a panel of judges. The winning float was Living Water Community Church and their float featured The Chronicles of Narnia scene with characters. Runner-up was Hamlin’s Marine, with the most festively-lit boat the judges had ever seen. This year’s Grand Marshal, sponsored by Central Maine Motors, was a longtime volunteer and local martial arts instructor and photographer, Mark Huard.

As always, the parade also kicked off the Kringleville season, a long-standing holiday tradition that is now organized by the Children’s Discovery Museum. Santa will be visiting children in his house at Head of Falls each weekend from 1 – 4 p.m., leading up to Christmas. Many weekends feature free hot chocolate, giveaways and special activities thanks to local businesses and organizations. Every child who visited with Santa will leave with a book donated by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and Marden’s. Families will also be offered the opportunity to purchase a photo with Santa, courtesy of Central Maine Photography. For more information about Kringleville, including updates for the 2022 year, please visit

Members of the Stage Presence Dance team, in Winslow, led Santa Claus in to Winslow/Waterville during the Parade of Lights, on November 26. From left to right, Malyn Beaster, Dinah Lemelin, Emmy Carlson, Lizzie Schmitt, Lexi Reynolds, Hayden Gates, Haley Martin, Addie Blackstone, Ailie Rancourt-Smith, Nevaeh Mason, Autumn Sawyer, Brooklynn Ferreira, Addie Benavente and Jayda-Ray Atkinson. (photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine Photography)

LIFE ON THE PLAINS: Winters on the Plains were challenging

by Roland D. Hallee

Winters on The Plains in the 1950s and ‘60s were a challenge, to say the least. Anyone of my generation will remember winters back then, for some reason, were a lot rougher than they are today. In my opinion, winters now are nothing compared to back then.

We would get blizzard after blizzard of 14 inches or more on a regular basis. And, they didn’t call off school because of a few snowflakes. Most of us, whether it was Notre Dame School, South Grammar, or St. Francis School, walked. Only kids that lived “in the country” were bussed.

My dad would say – and I relayed that to my children later – “In my days, we walked to school in blizzards, and it was uphill both ways.”

Other challenges also presented themselves. Like snow removal. The city had plows to take care of the streets, but there were not a lot of privateers who plowed driveways. Besides, my dad had four strapping boys, and our grandfather lived next door.

We would put on our snow suits, boots, hats and mittens, and out the door we’d go. I remember a few times when we couldn’t even open the door due to the snow drifts against the door, which eventually prompted my dad and grandfather to install panels on the porches to keep the snow from drifting.

Using snow scoops and shovels, we began the process of shoveling, and clearing, the snow from a 100-foot-long driveway.

Of course, there were some “incidences”. One time, while shoveling the front walkway and steps, my younger brother stood on the railing of the porch to knock down some icycles. Well, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when it presented itself. I gave him a gentle nudge, and he fell head first into a snow bank. With only his legs from the knees down showing, and wiggling, – I laughed – my grandfather was able to pull him out in short order. But, I can tell you right now, that did not go unpunished. But, thinking back, it was worth it.

The snowbanks would get so high, I would estimate probably seven to eight feet, once the work was done, we would take out the shovels, and begin to dig out tunnels, and chambers, where we would stash snowballs for a later assault on neighborhood kids. Oh, how I loved those snowball fights.

Once the activities were complete, we would head indoors where our mother was waiting to handle our wet clothes. She would have the woodstove going, and we would sit in front of it with our feet on the door to get them thawed. Hot chocolate and cookies would usually be included in this ritual.

At school, the boys would go out at recess and head to the towering snowbanks at the end of the church parking lot, where the nuns discouraged us from going. And there, we played “king of the mountain”. Some of the bigger guys would go to the top of the mounds, and others would try to ascend to the summit and displace the “kings”. Sometimes, it turned into a melee, and the nuns so disapproved of such actions.

Winters were tough, but so were we.

EVENTS: Waterville Rotary Club launches annual charity auction

The 59th annual Waterville Rotary Auction with hundreds of gifts, services and unique items will once again be held on-line through If you would like more information about the online auction November 27 through December 3, 2022, please see our webpage for details: You may also actively bid and participate in the auction simply by visiting: Bidding opens at 6 p.m. on November 27.

The Waterville Rotary Club hosts the auction each year in late November to benefit what Rotarians determine to be among the worthiest causes of the region. Every year, for more than half a century, this important community event has supported Rotary’s efforts to make a difference in our community.
Proceeds from our 2022 Rotary Online Auction will again go to support community programs and initiatives. Early childhood development and education help to ensure a bright future for our community’s most vulnerable and valuable asset, our children.

The goal is to support the construction of the new Children’s Discovery Museum and the development of a second natural play area at Educare Central Maine. Together, we can make a difference for the children served by both amazing organizations located in Waterville.

Rotary Club of Waterville thanks the business community for its support and contribution to the local community.

For more information about the Rotary, visit the website at

Happy birthday to a dear friend

Rena Harding, center

Rena Harding, of Albion, spent her 100th birthday on October 29, 2022, at home with family and friends.

Rena is the daughter of the late Lesley and Gertrude Bailey, of Palermo. Rena’s last sister, Natalie Coro, of Waterville, attended her party.

She has four children, Eugene, Athene, Sheldon and Neil as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Karen Noyes Moody made a beautiful birthday cake.

I have spent many good times at Rena’s home and I was treated so nicely; she calls me her “little girl”. She worked very hard through the years and I am so happy that she had a nice birthday. She deserves it.

I love you and wish you more birthdays.

Ruth Fuller
China Village

Volunteers still needed for Festival of Trees

Additional volunteers are still needed as the Alfond Youth & Community Center presents Family Festival of Trees again this holiday season, continuing a proud tradition begun by the Sukeforth family in 2015.

When you participate in this event, you are creating or continuing a fabulous holiday tradition. At the same time, the money you help raise supports our families in the community experiencing food insecurity through the services of Alfond Youth & Community Center and reinforces workforce development projects in the region.

Who doesn’t love a beautiful holiday tree? Imagine over fifty trees and the beauty and creativity represented. This wonderful family tradition will be held at The Elm, 21 College Ave., Waterville from November 18-20 and November 25-27. Hours on Fridays and Saturdays will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 27 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drawings for tree winners will begin on Sunday, November 27 at 5 p.m.

A daily 50/50 drawing will be held each day of the event, with the final 50/50 drawing held at 4 p.m. at the close of the event. You do not need to be present to win – winners will be contacted by phone each day.

The Family Festival of Trees will provide a magical experience the whole family can enjoy. Admission for ages 12 and over is just $2 per person, with children under 12 admitted free. Free children’s books will also be distributed, while supplies last. Purchase and drop your individual tree tickets (just .50 each) into the container of your favorite tree and you could go home at the end of the event with a beautifully decorated tree complete with all the gift cards and merchandise displayed. Only cash payments are accepted for the admission, tree tickets and 50/50 entries; however, an ATM is available on site.

Please join in this magical experience. Whether you visit to view the trees on display or are willing to volunteer some time to help staff the event, it will be time well-spent – and you will be helping support your community through your participation.

For more information about the festival, or to volunteer, go online to If you would like to volunteer as a group, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Bonnie McBreairty,

LIFE ON THE PLAINS: Final pictorial walk along Water St.

Picher’s Furniture Store, at 88-90 Water St. The building is no longer there. It was located across from Gold St. intersection.

by Roland D. Hallee
Photos courtesy of E. Roger Hallee

A market at 162 Water St.

Behind the market, at 162-1/2 Water St., is what appears to be a tavern.

At 188 Water St., there appears
to be another tavern.