April 30, 2011
The Great Bangor Fire
It was a pleasure to do this show. Having grown up in Bangor, it was a significant event in my city's life and I wonder if it even affected me. Certainly I grew up aware of the importance of the event and was always aware of the community's pride in responding to the devastation and rebuilding Bangor.
I was unable to find a single totally authoritarian written source for information about the fire. I would think it remains a fine topic of a Master's thesis.
However, we do have a number of fine historians who have done some work on the fire. Dick Shaw who was at Bangor High with me, was able to direct me through the story. He also provided images that give us the best look at the conflagration.
The family of C. P. Lee leaves us an invaluable record of the fire. His audio tape is worth listening to. It jives with everything I was able to learn about the fire and I'm sure will become a bigger part of the public record.
Dana Lippitt at the Bangor Historical Society was very kind as were Matt Costello and Paul Tower at the Hose 5 Fire Museum, Dana Lippitt of the Bangor Historical Society and Stephen Burrill at Mt. Hope Cemetery. My Bangor High Class of '71 mate Michael Pullen was extremely helpful to me regarding urban planning and architecture which were crucial to the city's rebuilding.
While we were able to discuss "jiggers," (wagons with the beds suspended off dropped axels which leaves the bed about a foot of the ground for easy loading) I was not able to talk about "Bangor ladders." These were ladders with braces on the outside, like outriggers, which enabled extra tall ladders to be used more safely. Matt and Paul told me they have visited other parts of the country and when those firefighters find out that they are from Bangor, they are inevitably asked, "Is that where the Bangor ladder was invented?" It was invented in Bangor, in fact, it was invented by a firefighter at the Hose 5 Fire Museum on State Street at Maple, which is my old neighborhood.
I am generally proud of the work I do on Bill Green's Maine. We work hard, make decisions on the fly and lay down what I think is a consistent product and we do so economically. With 39 years in the business, I usually stand quietly through criticism confident that I came pretty close to doing the best that I can. I do not present "The Great Bangor Fire" story with such confidence. I hope that it is good enough to "honor" the town I grew up in. I hope the people who live in Bangor find it worthy.
I also want to say I love Bangor. It was a terrific place to grow up. I was given an inordinate amount of opportunity and have lived a reasonably prosperous and happy life in large part because of where I'm from.
It was a great pleasure to do the show. I hope you enjoy it. If you have any ideas or suggestions or information that will help make the record more complete, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org