I live on an island where stories cling to patches of dirt and leaning buildings the way an oak leaf clings to a branch in winter. The porch of my own house, for example, apparently doubled as the venue for a lobster business decades ago. The authors of “A Glimpse of Old Peaks Island: Through Rose-Colored Glasses” no doubt know the stories my house, as well as most others, could tell. Luckily for us, Alice Boyce, Eunice Curran, Reta Morrill, Ellin Gallant, and Joyce O’Brien decided to share their memories of Peaks Island, vivid snapshots beginning prior to the World War II era in Casco Bay.
“A Glimpse of Old Peaks Island” includes chapters that highlight different eras of the island’s history, as well as a biographical chapter for each author. In some ways, their memories render the island of the past as an unrecognizable place. The book takes us back to a Peaks Island with “hurdy gurdy men,” working windmills, and a fleet of busy taxis. It takes us back to the era when ice houses towered over the island’s ponds, waiting to store mountains of harvested ice for summer use. It takes us back to the war days when the sight of a tall, quiet man in a strange coat entering the store could trigger rumors of German spies walking about the island.
Although we no longer have working windmills, the Peaks Environmental Action Team is installing a anemometer tower to determine the feasibility of a power-generating wind turbine. While there aren’t island farmers selling fresh eggs and vegetables from the back of lumbering trucks anymore, chickens still run chaotically through our streets and a community garden project is, pardon the pun, taking root.
As Boyce, Curran, Morrill, Gallant, and O’Brien write “We have attempted to ‘paint a picture’ of what life was like with this collection of memories from our childhood. So much has changed yet so much remains the same. It was then, and still is, a most beautiful island.” I couldn’t agree more.