Riddle Me Mail - May
Maine: The Pine Tree State
This month's theme started with the statues and I couldn't resist the calling to do "Greetings from The Pine Tree State." The lady slipper will be in bloom from late May through June, the chickadee is our state bird, and we are one of the most forested states in the union. What your state's slogan?
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Tourist in My Own Town
Here are the posters I designed, along with short essays I wrote, about three statues in Portland.
He broke bread and corresponded with the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oscar Wilde, and Charles Dickens. Born in Portland, Maine, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a linguist, professor, and poet.
A graduate of Bowdoin College, Longfellow yearned for a life in literature. And so it was, under agreement with his alma mater, that he set out across the Atlantic to study European language and literature. And though he would return to teach at Bowdoin and then at Harvard College, writing would prove to be his vocation. Well-known works include Evangeline, “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” and “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
A best-selling author, Longfellow enjoyed considerable success with his work, but suffered tremendous loss in his personal life. His first wife and childhood friend, Mary Storer Potter, died following a miscarriage. And his second wife, Fanny Appleton, with whom he had six children, died after setting her dressing gown afire with candle wax. Forever saddened, he did little writing after Fanny’s death.
Sculptor Franklin Simmons’s bearded Longfellow sits with a stack of books at his feet and scroll in hand. Like Longfellow, Simmons was born in Maine and became a well-known artist in his day. A second sculpture by Simmons, Our Lady of Victories stands just blocks away in Monument Square. ■
Although the Hiker is larger than life and perched on a six-foot pedestal, the Spanish War Veterans memorial on the north lawn of Deering Oaks Park is easy to overlook.
But do look—it’s a beautiful statue. From the soldier’s wadded and rolled sleeves to the leather satchel reminiscent of today’s messenger bag, the details are captivating. The Hiker is sculptor Theo A.R. Kitson’s most well-known work--more than 50 copies of the statue are installed across the country.
Under the rallying cry “Remember the Maine,” the Spanish-American War secured Cuba’s independence from Spain and remains one of the shortest wars on record. But that’s only the beginning.
Dig a little deeper and fascinating tales of science, circumstance, and cowboys emerge. For it was during the Spanish-American War that army medical scientist Dr. Walter Reed isolated the cause and stemmed the transmission of yellow fever plaguing the troops; eager journalists and competing publishing magnates gave rise to the dirty business of yellow journalism; and Teddy Roosevelt’s volunteer militia, The Rough Riders, found glory.
It was a short war, but a war with a decidedly jaundice pallor. ■
Is there a copy of The Hiker near you? Click here and scroll down to see a listing of locations.
Barefoot with outstretched arms, The Little Water Girl is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Lillian Stevens, third president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and dedicated advocate for women and children.
Founded in 1874, to “combat the destructive powers of alcohol and the problems it was causing their families and society,” the WCTU banded together in prayer, protest, and pledge—a pledge of total abstinence from alcohol.
Battling saloon owners and eager to curb temptation facing their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers, the organization encouraged members to install public drinking fountains in their communities. Drinking fountains where “men could get a drink of water without entering saloons and staying for stronger drinks.”
A committed and independent Stevens travelled by carriage (and her horse Madge) some 50,000 miles lobbying for the WCTU and Prohibition. Ratified five years after Stevens’s death Prohibition was not to last. Today, 140 years later, the WCTU continues to advocate for total abstinence of alcohol, illegal drugs, pornography, and gambling.
The Little Water Girl by British sculptor George E. Wade was commissioned by the WCTU for display at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. More than 70 fountains inspired by the WCTU initiative remain standing across the United States, Canada, England, and Australia. Copies of The Little Water Girl can be found in Chicago, Detroit, and London. ■
Thanks for reading along!