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Bristol Area Lions hear from author Van Reid 04/25/2010

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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Lion John Janell presenting a certificate of appreciation to Van Reid, a Maine historical author.


Van Reid is a true Mainer to quote his website “Three sides of his family have been living on the coast of Maine since the mid-eighteenth century. The fourth side came from Norway 900 years after the Vikings.” He lives in Edgecomb with his wife and their two children.

Reid worked at the Maine Coast Book Shop for 11 years. His series of books began locally as a serialized novel in the Lincoln County Weekly. This was picked up by a publisher and with some editing became his first book “Cordelia Underwood or the Marvelous Adventures of the Moosepath League” in 1998.

He started his talk with an early 20th century story about his uncle Irving, who at that time was the tallest resident of Edgecomb and thought to be the strongest. One day he was at the local general store with his mother and two brothers. They watched a barrel of pickles being rolled into the store. He was challenged to a bet of $1 by a visitor that he could not heft that barrel back out to the wagon on his shoulder He turned to his mother and asked her to please set it up on the counter so he could get a good grip on it. She did and they turned and saw $1 on the floor, the visitor had left.

Reid did a lot of his research at the library in Augusta, reading Portland’s Eastern Argus, a popular newspaper in the late 1800’s. Portland was the third largest seaport on the East coast at that time and much of his first book took place there. He visited the old Custom House, but he could not find out how it operated so he had to imagine it. After he wrote his first book which had an extensive section on doing business at the Custom House, he received a call from Nick Dean, a noted scholar of maritime history. He told Reid; “I just finished reading your chapter about the Custom House. I think you got it spot on and I think you made it all up.”

Reid also talked about dealing with his New York publisher over stylistic differences. Every time he used the subjunctive mood copy-editors would change it to the more modern usage. After they made six changes and hearing Reid’s objection again, his editor said: “Even E.B. White (author of “Elements of Style) says you don’t have to use the subjunctive mood. Well”, said Reid: “he lived in Maine for a long time and should have known better.” There was a long silence on the phone. After that, there were no more changes in his use of the subjunctive mood. He tries to say true to the dialect and usage of the era.

He ended with a story of a farmer from Jefferson who died and went up to Heaven and met St. Peter at the pearly gate. He was asked who he was and where he was from and told St. Peter his name and that he was from Lincoln County in Maine. Well St. Peter looked him up in the book and said; “Here you are please go right in, but you probably won’t like it.”

Van Reid has two more books in the works.

The next dinner meeting of the Bristol Area Lions will be on Mon. May 3 at 6 p.m. at the Willing Workers Hall in New Harbor. Our speaker will be Alan Pooley and we will hear about the Lincoln County Community Theater.

To attend the meeting, please call Al Rottner at 677-2095 to make a reservation. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions call John Janell at 563-7402.

The annual “Elmer Tarr Roadside Clean-up Day” is this Sat. May 1, meet at the Willing Worker’s Hall at 8:30 am wearing stout shoes or boots and gloves.

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