REVIEW POTPOURRI: Lost on a Mountain in Maine

Robert P. Tristram Coffin

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Robert P. Tristram (continued…)

Up until a few weeks ago, I was offering weekly paragraphs from Robert P. Tristram Coffin’s essay Kennebec Crystals, which is contained in the 1989 Maine Literature Project anthology, Maine Speaks. To briefly summarize previously offered information Professor Coffin (1892-1955) wrote 40 books that included poetry, novels and non-fiction, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and taught at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick. The essay gives a vivid account of the source of ice blocks that our local Kennebec River was world-renowned for and the arduous, methodically planned process by which they were extracted during the early to mid 1800’s.

Continuing from earlier:

“But back up on the farms, the men were grinding their picks. Women were laying out armfuls of gray socks with white heels and toes, piling up the flannel shirts, packing up bacon and ham and sausage meat and loaves. Boys were oiling harness and polishing the glass sidelights of headstalls. Chains were clinking and sheds were being piled with blankets and bedding and victuals and extra whiffletrees, cant dogs, picks and feed for the horses.

“Down along the river, the doors stood open in the big ice-houses, with sides lined with sawdust that for months had been shut in silence, except for the sharp thin music of wasps. Men were clearing out old roughage and rubbing the sections of track free of rust. Machinery was being oiled. Gouges and scrapers were being looked over and assembled by the river’s side.”

To be continued.

Lost on a Mountain in Maine

Donn Fendler at 12 years old

One of the state’s major attractions for adventurous campers and climbers is Mount Katahdin. I’ve yet to make the trek but one very exciting book I read decades ago was Donn Fendler’s Lost on a Mountain in Maine, which became a national best seller during World War II years. He was a 12-year-old who got separated from his Boy Scout group during a hike up the mountain in 1939 and, for nine days, made the mistake of wandering in all directions instead of staying in one spot. The terrors of survival in its wilderness were vividly recounted.








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