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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

During the Hours of Darkness

This week, in my never-ending search for all things odd and ghostly, I’ve been exploring the oldest region in the country – New England! Today the state of Maine has captured my attention. Home of the largest toothpick factory in the United States, Maine encompasses nearly as many square miles as the other five New England states combined, and like most of our states still carries a few odd old laws on their books. For instance, it is customary to bring your shotgun to church on Sunday - in the event of a Native American attack, and stepping out of a plane in flight is prohibited.  I hear they make the best Clam “Chowda”, but for now, it’s the charm of the coastline that lures me with summoning harbors so deep as to port the lot of worldwide Navy fleets!

Accessible only by boat or helicopter, the Seguin Island Lighthouse stately stands as Maine’s tallest and second oldest maritime watchtower; overlooking breathtaking views of the mainland and mid-Atlantic coast.  The winters are long and understandably desolate for a young Keeper’s wife, and to alleviate her boredom her husband ordered a piano.  The young wife immediately took to the clavichord and proceeded to play the only song for which sheet music had been provided; over and over. And over again. Driven quite insane by the inveterate repertoire, her husband took an ax to the piano one night, before using it on his wife, and then himself.  According to legend, the piano was never truly silenced; for a lone melodic stanza tinkles soft on wintry seaboard breeze, and soothes the plight of the Keeper’s soul; ever searching for she who plays.         

Note to Self: Not all Superhighways are fast and free. Sometimes you have to waitand pay! Toll roads? Meanwhile, back on the mainland
It can be challenging enough to find a headstone by day, but imagine traipsing around the Old Anderson Cemetery in Windham, Maine – at night!  Dating back to the 1700’s and accommodating many more than just the Anderson family, this place has raised hackles in broad daylight when visitors returning to their cars find the doors wide open. But its popularity is derived from activities detected after-hours; when you need permission to be there. One of the more obvious, yet benign attractions is a three-foot mound; designating the resting spot of a decorated soldier, in a veritable sea of markers placed on flat ground. Then there is the ‘den’, a cave-like area inhabited by an unfriendly entity with hot, fetid breath; which shows up in pictures as a red orb. If you’re still feeling brave, you can visit the mausoleum and listen to someone (something?) knocking to be let out. If you’re like me, by now you’re high-tailing it out of there as shadows furtively dart between trees, only to find your dome light on in a car that won’t unlock!  (Note: Cell Phones do sometimes work out there - thankfully)

If you were to use one of these settings in a story, which one would it be? Have you been or would you visit either place? 

Thanks for coming along!


  1. Hi, Diedre!

    I remember the time I tried my hand at selling toothpicks door to door. Charging $50 for each one, I used the slogan "At this price... they HAVE to be good!" I made only one sale, to my mama, before my business went bust, leaving me stuck with a 20,000 pick inventory. Today, decades later, I am reminded of that ill fated enterprise at the conclusion of every meal. :)

    I love lighthouses and have visited a few. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on the northern tip of Long Beach Island, New Jersey, is a lovely spot. It would drive me mad to hear the same piano melody over and over again, especially if the wife was playing "Chopsticks." :)

    If I was writing a spooky story I would use the Anderson Cemetery as a setting. I would also enjoy visiting that graveyard to see if any of my ancestors are buried there. Shirley we must all be related somehow. :) Like you I would totally freak if I heard a knocking or tapping sound in a place that is supposed to be dead silent, such as a mausoleum. I can imagine running to my car to make a getaway and finding the word "REDRUM" written in blood on the windshield. :)

    Thank you for the entertaining stories, dear friend Diedre, and enjoy the rest of your week!

    1. Hi Shady!
      Thanks for coming along :-)
      Those were some expensive toothpicks! Did your Mom really buy one?
      I wondered too, which sheet music might have been provided to a first-time piano owner;-)
      Have you ever noticed how every lighthouse has a story? Must be the inherent isolation.
      I'd probably use the cemetery for my setting as well, because like you, it's my family name (great-grandparents). I'd want to make sure we're behavin' or at least acting sufficiently ghostly! I would absolutely have to find out what that knocking is.
      Ha! "REDRUM" on your windshield :-)
      Have a great week, my friend!

  2. I would love to go to Maine to see all of the lighthouses and eat a bunch of seafood.

    Gosh. I hate toll roads. I don't have them in my city, but if I go anywhere near Orlando I get hit with a lot.

    1. Hi Chrys!
      Lighthouses in general fascinate me, so you can imagine how excited I get about the stories - ha!
      Toll roads are quite foreign to me, perplexing too. I pay for fuel, taxes, insurance and now I must pay to drive on a stretch of road? Reminds me of the mordidas (bites) at the border.
      I'd love to try the seafood! Other than Mexico, the closest I've ever had was at a local Seafood chain ;-)

  3. I'd like to visit more of Maine. Years ago I ventured a short ways into the state to have a lobster dinner. On my current trip we'll be close, but won't have time to visit the state. Maybe another time. I've been craving some good clam chowder.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi Arlee!
      Maine sure has a lot to offer for any adventuresome seafood lover! I love their accents too;-)
      Now I'm craving lobster!
      Thanks for taking time to visit, Arlee. You must be incredibly busy enjoying the sights and friends and family included in your summer roadtrip. Can't wait to read about your travels.

  4. Thanks to an older cartoon, I used to think it took an entire tree to make one toothpick.
    How does one take an ax to themselves? Now THAT would be a feat I'd love to watch, errrrr, well.Maybe not. But you know what I mean.
    You would think instead of being driven insane by the single song, it would have been more prudent to invest in a few more pieces of sheet music she could have practiced with.

    1. Hi Jeffrey!
      An entire tree - ha! Funny, the things we believe when we're young.
      How he possibly took an ax to himself was a puzzle to me as well, when there are so many more efficient ways to accomplish the task. Perhaps a classic case of Chinese Whispers (the telephone game)?
      You'd have made the perfect lightkeeper, so practical and considerate :-) Though I understand in winter, the ice and snow renders the entire island unreachable. I don't mind being alone, but I don't know that I could go that long ;-)
      Glad to have you along, thanks!

  5. So hard to choose, they are all creepy in their own way. I think the lighthouse one would be my pick. Perhaps have the living deal with the disgruntled wife.
    Thanks for visiting my blog with your kind comments. I have been in a deep hole with whether I can write or not. But I have not stopped. I appreciate the encouragement.
    I would love to go to Maine. I'm reaching the part of my life where I don't know if I will make it certain places. I still think of getting a van and heading out.

    1. Hi Ann!
      Glad to have you along on my virtual summer tour of places other than Arizona :-)
      Somehow I bet you'd know more than one song on the piano, whereby creating your own unique timeless story to be told again and again ;-)
      I enjoy your blogs very much, Ann. I think you're a natural communicator and present your thoughts with such genuine, gentle candor that folks can't resist. By all means, write. It's not whether you can - you already know that - it's whether you do. And I definitely think you should!
      Like you, my list of places I'd planned to visit is more a series of wistful notations of sweet dreams. Your thought of getting a van is a delightful indicator of the adventurous spirit I've come to know and admire in you! Even if you don't hop into a van, hold onto that thought!

  6. I visited Boston and Maine ten years ago but I didn't see all the spooky stuff I wanted because I was with someone who was very negative about that stuff. Now I want to go back!!!

    1. Hi Stephanie!
      Yeah, there's something to be said for choosing the right adventure partner ;-) And even when they say they're willing, you may get that incredulous, last minute "I'm not going in there!" look - ha!

  7. I never been to Boston or Maine I'd like to go someday. Enjoyed the post
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

    1. Hi Juneta!
      These places are certainly different than the desert; where I live, though nevertheless fascinating ;-)
      Thanks for coming along!

  8. I haven't visited either place. I think the piano story would be the one I'd use. As soon as you mentioned the piano, I said, "Uh oh!" I knew it was going to be something! I'd probably pitch it as, "The Shining in a lighthouse," lol.

    1. Hi Quanie!
      "The Shining..." Ha! Do you think pianos are haunted, my friend? Come to think of it, there's a reason I don't have one in my house ;-)
      Good to see you!


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