After the North Pond Hermit story broke, a few folks quipped: “This story is so great. How can anything else ever top this for Maine, Obviously fodder?” The North Pond Hermit story is great, no doubt, but Maine has a rich history of interesting and odd stories going back to the birth of the state. And while few pack the human interest punch made possible by a man who has lived alone in the woods for 27 years, many are still fascinating and fun. Here is a sampling of some of the Maine, Obviously stories that have run in the first half of April:
- In 1889, suspected witch Becky Murch made the news for moving out of her home in Jonesport. Murch actually sounds like she was pretty great in that she lived alone and “caught fish, dug clams and cultivated a small garden on her island.” The story, however, reports that “If she wished that a farmer might have the rheumatism until it twisted him out of shape, he received the full order inside of a year.” When they put the law on her, she allegedly turned her wrath to animals she was unable to get her hands on for her farm.
- In other witch news, in 1901, a man accused a woman of being a witch, making herself invisible, and pulling the lynchpin out of one of his wagon axle. He was then greatly offended when he was informed “that witchcraft wasn’t recognized in law these days.”
- Completing our witch story trilogy, in 1996, a spirit medium was ousted from the Temple Heights Spiritual Church and Camp on the claim that she was a witch. “The fact that she sometimes wore black clothing and liked cats also were used against her.”
- There was the time a burglar stopped a tourist’s heart in Old Orchard Beach, or the time a burglar was thwarted with a fake heart attack, or the time a burglar broke into Lisa’s Restaurant in Augusta and was discovered after he got drunk and passed out in the basement.
- I bet few remember how, due to a clerical error, a spy scare was stirred up in 1942. Because the tenses were switched in a memo advising New England residents “as to how spies might operate should they enter the area,” people were led to believe that Maine had been infiltrated.
- And then Nazi spies would actually come ashore 2 years later.
- Frank Sinatra couldn’t stand Maine summers.
- Or how about—and this is a new favorite—the time when “A 12-foot, 200-pound scaly green robot described by its creator as ‘hideous and horrible’ came close to causing panic in” Rangely? The part man, part lizard, part robot was found in a walk-in cooler at Doc Grant’s Restaurant. It turned out that the robot belonged to its creator, James Marshall (pictured above with said creation), “who said he built the monster over a two-year period. He said he intended it for a traveling show, ‘Terrors of the Unknown,’and wanted to test it in the cooler for an appearance in Alaska.” You can see a poster for the traveling show below, and read more about the incident at the great alternative Maine history blog Strange Maine here.
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