Historian, ‘Fireside Chats’ author to discuss book in Belfast
BELFAST — Writer Jeff Shula and historian Megan Pinette will discuss the recently published Fireside Chats: Conversations that Reveal the Character – and Characters – of Waldo County’s Colorful Past, Sunday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m., at Left Bank Books in Belfast.
Almost 30 years ago, Shula was a staff writer for the Waldo Independent, a weekly newspaper published in Belfast. Also at the paper was photographer Peggy McKenna. Together, the two produced a series of
interviews with and photographs of some of Waldo County’s oldest and most colorful “characters” that ran weekly in the winters of 1990 and 1991.
Now, 18 of those interviews and accompanying photographs have been compiled into a black-and-white book.
In his Foreword, Shula wrote behind-the-scenes tales of how the series made it from concept to print, including the “rule” that the subjects “had to be old – Boston Post Cane material or close to it – and had to be a good storyteller. That pretty much came with the territory if you lived in Maine from the early 1900s through most of the century.”
“Indeed, if the 18 people featured in Fireside Chats share anything in common, it’s their storytelling ability,” said Left Bank Books, in a news release. “Vivacious Vivian Dow opines on drugs, divorce, education and the environment while Milo Blood gives a blow-by-blow account of the time he killed a deer with a jackknife.”
These Waldo County “characters” include a Bowdoin graduate who majored in classical Greek; a two-time state champion woodchopper; a Monroe man who liked to ascend rooftops and balance on chimneys on one foot; and an 85-year-old who got her master’s degree at age 50 and still wants “to know things.”
Each interview is accompanied by photographer McKenna’s black-and-white photographs that, as Daniel Rowland writes in his Introduction, reflect her “intense and obviously sincere interest that she took
in each subject and his or her life. The resulting mysterious chemistry is evident in each of her images.”
Fireside Chats was published in memory of McKenna, who passed away in 2014.
Fireside Chats was a collaborative project involving dozens of volunteers and several local organizations including the Penobscot Marine Museum, the Belfast Historical Society (of which Pinette is president), the
Maine Community Foundation, and the Belfast Free Library.
“Reservations are strongly encouraged for this free talk and book signing. Seating is limited, but there’s plenty of standing room!” said Left Bank Books.
Call (338-9009) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to reserve a seat or pre-order copies of Fireside Chats.
Left Bank Books is located in downtown Belfast at 109 Church Street in the historic Opera House.
There’s ample parking in front of the store and in a public parking lot adjacent to the Opera House.