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May 2018 • Volume 147

Finding Fort Andross
A closer look inside Brunswick's former textile mill

3
Editors' note
S
itting squarely at the end of Maine Street, Fort Andross anchors our town’s
commercial district.
Bowdoin students don’t make too many trips to the Fort. We go for the
flea market—some for the farmers’ market—and often to Frontier for movies and
coffee. But throughout the building, one finds over 100 of businesses of all types.
It might be Brunswick’s premiere office building—but it’s also mixed use, home to
artists’ studios, a soda manufacturer, three exercise businesses and a multi-floor self
storage business.
We are fascinated by the mill’s present residents but also by the mill’s history
and its continual role as an economic engine in our community. In this issue, we
hope to bring you inside the Fort. You’ll find stories that cover the scope—profiles
of businesses, spaces and artists, a visual timeline —but don’t cover everything.
There’s so much to explore.
We hope this special edition sheds some light on this important element of our
community.
A special thank you to all those who helped make this possible. We would like to
acknowledge Anthony Gatti and Coleman Burke of Waterfront Maine, Scott Han-
son and the everyone who works in Fort Andross and keeps it a lively place. O

Front and back cover photographed by Jenny Ibsen
This and opposite page photographed by Ann Basu

ESTABLISHED 1871

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The Bowdoin Orient is a student-run weekly publication dedicated to providing news and information
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the Orient pursues such content freely and thoroughly, following professional journalistic standards in
writing and reporting. The Orient is committed to serving as an open forum for thoughtful and diverse
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This special edition of the Bowdoin Orient was produced by:
Executive Editor: Jenny Ibsen
Editors: Harry DiPrinzio, Sarah Drumm, Isabelle Hallé, Ellice Lueders, Alyce McFadden, Calder McHugh, Jessica Piper
Layout editors: Ann Basu, Emma Bezilla and Ian Stewart
Copy Editors: Rachael Allen, Nell Fitzgerald, Shinhee Kang, Louisa Moore, Allison Wei

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2 FORT ANDROSS
THE FORT THROUGH THE YEARS 1
FORT OF THE FUTURE 8
LIFE, IN ROWS OF STORAGE BOXES 11
BISBEE FINDS TRUTH IN NAILS 12
AGING AND ALONE IN THE OLDEST STATE 14
INDEPENDENT RADIO ON AM 990 15
DEBORAH TODD BRINGS TILED FLOORS ALIVE 17
FIRST-FLOOR FIGHT CLUB 18
HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT INTERACTION ON THE RIVER 20
FRONTIER: BRUNSWICK'S HOME FOR CONVERSATION 21
TRASK'05 TURNS TRASH INTO ART 22
MARKETING MAINE AGRICULTURE 24
RELICS FOR SALE IN A MODERN AGE 26

3
The Fort through During King Philip’s War, the English
built Fort Andros, a small garrison
named for Edmund Andros a colonial
administrator, on the site of the

the years
current mill. After a series of violent
conflicts with the Abenakis, settlers
built Fort George, of stone, in 1715 as
another bulwark of their settlement.
Fort George was dismantled in 1736.

BY FARIA NASRUDDIN
Images compiled from the Maine Historical Society
and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

1600 1650 1700

Pejepscot Falls, where the Fort sits today,
was used for fishing by Abenakis, who lived
in what is now the Brunswick-Topsham
area. Pejepscot means 'the long rocky rapids
part of the river.' When the English arrived
in Maine, they commercialized the fishing In the early 1700s, the
industry. In 1632, Thomas Purchase was Pejepscot Company, the
granted settlement of the Pejepscot area by corporate entity entrusted
the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Purchase with the area by the colonial
and other settlers traded with the Abenaki government, split the land of
for some time, however, this ended with the Brunswick and Topsham and
violent King Philip’s War in 1675. incorporated each as towns.
In 1717, Brunswick officially
became a township by the
vote of the General Court
of Massachusetts. Pejepscot
Company proprietors were
in charge of allocating the
plots of land.

4 FORT ANDROSS
In 1753, the towns
started to dam the
Androscoggin to
serve sawmill. Soon
after, additional
dams were put in
the area including The only surviving section of the original
“Middle Dam” 1836 mill is the Granite Picker House,
that served “Fort which sits behind the current Fort and
Privilege,” another remains empty.
mill further up
the Androscoggin,
In 1808, the Brunswick Cotton Manufac-
for saw and grist
turing Co. builds the first cotton mill in
milling.
Maine on the site of Fort Andros. This mill
ultimately fails in 1812, but is purchased and
expanded by the Maine Cotton and Woolen
Factory Company the same year.

Bowdoin College is established in 1794.

1750 1800 1850

The Brunswick Company, formed by 14 prominent local businessmen
and one business woman, Narcissa Stone, entered the textile manufac-
turing business in 1835. The Company bought land on both sides of
Middle Dam to control water power and build a stone mill building to
spin cotton. This mill held 5,120 cotton spinning machines and is the first
structure on the Fort Andross property that lasts, in part until this day.

Between 1843 and 1848, the mill is owned and
operated by various companies, including Kimbell
and Coburn and the Worumbo Company.

5
In the 1890s, the Heights neighbor-
hood in Topsham was developed for
the workers at the Mill. The swing-
ing bridge connecting the two was
developed to facilitate travel between
the two neighborhoods. The workers’
tenements no longer remain, however,
interested parties can still stroll past it
the mill owners and administrators’ job
The mill was notorious for
houses along the crest of the hill on the to
the poor condition of its ten-
Brunswick side of the swinging bridge. tu
ement houses where workers
lived; the majority of whom
were French-Canadian
immigrants. These workers
were actively recruited
from rural areas in Quebec
starting in the 1850s. French
Canadians immigrated into
the area throughout the
19th century and into the
20th. At the turn of the the
20th century, 40 percent
of Brunswick’s population
was of French-Canadian
heritage.

1850 1900
In 1853 the Boston-based Cabot Company is
In 1923, the mill is completed as it
organized and brings the mill into its kinship
stands today. The end wall (near the
network, a group that mobilized and accu-
Antiques Shop) is metal instead of
mulated capital throughout New England
brick, since the Cabot Manufacturing
colonies. In 1857, the Company fails under a
Company had future plans to expand.
high debt load and reforms as a new company.
In this period, the mill’s owners
This reborn business, which was made up of
discovered they could operate in the
largely the same group of Boston investors,
South for a cheaper cost, and mills
purchases the mill at auction.
stopped expanding in the Northeast.
The mill also begins more rapid expansion
during this period. Maine Street, then Main
Street, was rerouted to make room for the
growing mill. The mill is pictured below on
the left shore of the Androscoggin circa 1896.

6 FORT ANDROSS
The construction of US-1 in the 1970s
wiped out the adjacent tenement
houses previously occupied by
French-Canadian workers. To this
When Verney shut down the mill, day, Brunswick continues to support
it put more than 900 workers out of a French-Canadian community, seen
jobs. Since then, it has taken 40 years in St. John’s Catholic Church, Catholic
to fully repurpose the structure. Pic- fraternal organizations like the
tured are the members of the Cabot Knights of Columbus, local markets
Mill Baseball Team circa 1930. like Tess’ and Michaud’s and the Coleman Burke, a New York-
French family names inscribed on old based lawyer and real estate
buildings along Maine Street. investor sets out to invest in
Maine waterfront properties.
He forms Waterfront Maine
and purchases the decaying
and mostly-vacant mill in
1986. The first store to open
in the newly owned mill is the
antiques store in 1987; this was
the beginning of the process of
redeveloping the mill.

1950 2000
In the 1960s, parts of the former mill
were rented out. Auerbach Shoe and a
bowling alley secured some of the first
leases and began operation in 1963.
The Cabot Manufacturing Company Sen. Edmund Muskie from Maine
sells the mill to the Verney Corpo- established the Clean Water Act
ration in 1941. In the 1950s, the mill through the EPA. CWA was inspired
stops operation and ships machinery in part by the Androscoggin, which at
to the South. the time was one of the top 10 most
polluted rivers in America. Students
could smell the Cabot mill run-off
from the river. People dumped their
trash in the river year-round, piling
their trash atop ice in the winter.
After years of enforcement, the CWA
eventually made the Androscoggin a
friendly waterfront for Fort Andross
and other redevelopments taking over
abandoned mill sites.

7
Fort of the Future
Room by room, an old textile factory is reimagined
WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY IBSEN

8 FORT ANDROSS
F
our floors of evenly-spaced windows finding tenants and ensuring that current ten-
tower over the Androscoggin River. ants are cared for. “We have people calling for
The faded brick structure stands firm, a new space and we tell them we have a wait-
bookending Maine Street just before Topsh- ing list,” Gatti explains. “We’re always walking
am. Though unassuming from the exterior, through the building looking for improve-
Fort Andross is a place bustling with motion ments.”
– hundreds of individuals enter and exit every “There were years when it was two steps
day, each with a unique purpose. On a given forward, three steps back. Over the last five
morning, woodworkers and attorneys alike years, it’s been two forward, one back.”
arrive from their daily commute, prepared Back in the 1980s, Burke and Gatti strug-
for a full day at work. Passersby stop in for gled to find long-term tenants to invest in the
a warm coffee at Frontier, locals stop in for
their weekly exercise class. Over 100 tenants
are dispersed through the mill, hallway after
hallway.Though full with businesses, there
are still empty spots in the enormous laby-
rinth.
Fort Andross as it exists today is the result of
32 years of investment from Coleman Burke, a
New York-based lawyer and real-estate inves-
tor who purchased the mill in 1986. “My wife
came from Maine, near Falmouth, [so] I de-
cided to look in Maine. It was a natural,” Burke
explained. Fort Andross is one of three mills in
Maine that Burke owns through his company
Waterfront Maine. Waterfront Properties, an
affiliate of Waterfront Maine, was founded in
1983 by Burke when he purchased his first mill
of 1,200,000 square feet in New York City.
“I’ve found the real estate business so ex-
citing. It goes back to the old adage—‘They're
not making any more of it.’ And, when you get space, resulting in piecemeal development.
a mill that's going to be there 500 years from “When I came along, I would just build one art
now, you keep it.” studio at a time on an open floor,” Gatti noted.
Burke recognizes the longevity of Fort An- John Bisbee, a former Bowdoin professor, was
dross as an iconic structure, one that must be the first artist to rent a studio space in the Fort.
ready to adapt as demand changes. “It wasn’t really built perfectly. It was built only
Fort Andross was previously known as because we didn’t have a lot of money to get
the Cabot Mill, a textile manufacturing fac- started. We’d get a tenant and just build it. If
tory, which at its height, employed over 1000 we could do it all again, we’d really engineer it
workers in the early 20th century. The building correctly.”
is broken into sections, Mills One, Two and That’s when Burke started Cumberland
Three, referencing their previous lives as an Self-Storage, the first “tenant” in the building.
industrial hub. The hardwood floors and stag- Burke and Gatti also started the Cabot Mill
gered interior columns survive as a reminder Antique Mall and the weekend Flea Market.
of the past—a remnant of the once-open These three businesses occupy prime real es-
floors, covered with steel plates and lined with tate, which only emphasizes their unique role
machinery. in a constantly changing building.
When Burke acquired the building in the “If we plopped this in Portland, it would be
1980s, it was in desperate need of repair. The full of large businesses,” Gatti explained. Pierce
ground had broken boards, the walls were Atwood, the mill that Waterfront Maine owns
dirty and the roof leaked. “The windows were in Portland, is fully occupied by fewer than
falling out regularly,” Burke recalled. ten tenants. Fort Andross has over 100 ten-
In 1993, Burke was joined by Anthony ants, which is indicative of the role it plays in
“Tony” Gatti, the current landlord of Fort the Brunswick economy. “But, because it’s in
Andross and Managing Partner of Waterfront Brunswick, and it is what it is, it’s mixed use.
Maine. While Burke is regularly located at his It has weathered different storms of the econ-
New York office, Gatti is the man behind the omy.”
scenes in Brunswick, overseeing the Fort on a Piecing together the Fort, repair by repair,
daily basis. one tenant at a time, over the course of three
On an average day, Gatti is responsible for decades has allowed Fort Andross to become

9
Previous page: Coleman Burke (center left) and
Anthony Gatti (center right) stand with members of
the Brunswick Downtown Association at the 30th
Anniversary of Fort Andross. Photo courtesy of
Anthony Gatti. This page, clockwise from top left:
Hardwood floors (left) and columns (right) line the
building as remnants of its previous interior. Wide,
white hallways with a range of studios and businesses
snake through the building.

the eclectic beehive it is today. service elevator creaks as one swings open the ered the possibility of building apartments in
“We began with 100,000 square foot office wide doors, pulling down the metal gate be- Fort Andross.
space and people thought we were crazy to hind them. These artifacts are reminders of the “I think there's room for apartments and
do that much office space in Brunswick. But, Fort’s longstanding history. I think they will rent,” Gatti speculated. “I
we survived. We were lean and mean in those “It will go on to greater days,” Burke de- think if we built them, we'd rent every one
days,” Burke recalled. clared. of them and they'll stay full. It's just going to
Over time, they replaced the leaking roof, The future of the Fort is reliant on the require a master plan and lots of money.”
put in new hardwood floors, installed new building’s continued ability to foster change. “We'll do that very carefully, if at all,”
windows and fixed up the boilers. The im- The investment put in my burke and Gatti Burke noted.
provements needed over time have become in the last thirty years has preserved an oth- Even if this were to happen, Gatti says the
much more manageable. erwise obsolete buillding; in the future, this Fort will always remain mixed-use.
“It wasn’t free but it definitely came with investment might take form as apartments. “For this much square footage, I don’t
somebody who had the heart to want to dig in Inititally hesitant to create residential think it could ever be any one thing. I don't
and do a slow approach like we’ve been doing. spaces in the Fort, Burke and Gatti are now think it could even be apartments,” Gatti
I wouldn’t say it’s the best way to do it, the way considering the prospect. Adding apart- added.
we limped along, but when you finally see the ments would give the once industrial space After all, the eclecticism of the Fort is
light at the end of the tunnel and you finally get a residential quality, not unlike the converted what makes it unique. Its piece-by-piece con-
there, it’s such a reward.” loft spaces that have become popular luxury struction has allowed it to adapt over time,
On Saturday mornings, during the lively rentals in many larger cities, including Port- weathering each storm it encounters.
commotion of the morning gathering at the land. “I think we're finally at that home stretch
farmers’ market, one might notice the open Since Burke and Gatti were involved in where the mill is becoming complete. And,
floorplan: a taste of what the entire building acquiring a mill in Waterville in 2017, which we'll just continue to do improvements as we
might have felt like in its former role. The old houses 67 loft apartments, they have consid- go.” O

10 FORT ANDROSS
Amidst rows of storage
space, life exists
BY ROHINI KURUP • PHOTOGRAPHY BY GWEN DAVIDSON

F
or many, Cumberland Self Storage eryday items to the absurd.
signifies transition: a temporary place “A lot of people will move their house in.
to store belongings. But for the past They bring in a room full of stuff and another
11 years, Manager Steve Howe has been room full. You put it all together and it makes
a constant friendly face to greet and help sense. Other people bring such a hodgepodge
customers. of things—it looks like you’re walking into a
“A lot of people think it’s dull and boring— flea market when you look at their unit,” he
you just sit on your butt all day long and don’t said.
do anything—but that’s not the case. I’m not One customer stands out in Howe’s memory.
really in the office that much unless I’m deal- “I had one fellow who called me up and
ing with someone. There’s always work, main- asked me if I had a ten-by-twelve available.
tenance, things to check, things to do, so I stay He said, ‘Do you have a problem with stuffed
busy that way,” said Howe. animals?’ I said no. So he comes over about 15
When Waterfront Maine purchased minutes later with this mounted head,” Howe
the Fort Andross Mill Complex in 1986, recounted.
a small storage facility was one of the first He says the best part of the job is talking
businesses to occupy the space. Through the to scores of people, particularly Bowdoin stu-
intervening years, Cumberland Self Storage dents who make up a sizeable portion of cus-
has grown to over 700 units. It’s easy to get tomers in the summer months.
lost in the maze of storage units, but if you “You get to meet all kinds of people that
manage to find your way through you’ll ex- you would never imagine you’d ever meet. I’ve
perience one of Brunswick’s best views of learned how to pronounce a whole lot of new
the Androscoggin River. names, especially from the students who come
It’s not just old couches and dorm room from all over the world,” he said. “Everybody’s
items that people store; during his years at got a different story. Most of the time they’re
Cumberland Storage, Howe has seen great willing to share it to a point—if not the first
variety in what people come in with, from ev- time around, the second or third.” O

11
ARTISTS

This page: Artist John Bisbee in his fourth-floor studio in Fort Andross. He's preparing for his upcoming solo show at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Ameri-
can Steel,. Opposite page: American Steel features realistic imagery, such as oysters, an axe and a bathtub, along with text from Bisbee's carefully crafted alphabets.

John Bisbee hammers steel into dark truths
BY ISABELLE HALLE • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN

J
ohn Bisbee has exclusively welded Before beginning his most recent piece, many elements will eventually form a co-
nails for the past 32 years. Bisbee had always considered himself to be hesive narrative centering on America and
“I thought it was just a little phase, a strict abstractionist. Trump.
and it wasn’t,” said the artist in his river- “These were objects sealed in their own “These are perilous days where people
side Fort Andross workshop, where he has conceptual juices that didn’t have any larger are feeling permission to revert back to ter-
worked since 1996. interaction or interplay or commentary on rible tribalisms and ancient hatreds. Quite
His large studio space overlooks the An- this wacky world,” he said. disgusting,” said Bisbee. “So I’m diving in.”
droscoggin, which is home to myriad sculp- However, since the 2016 presidential Bisbee’s piece walks the line between lev-
tures ranging in scale from letters no bigger election, the artist has been hard at work ity and gravity with intention.
than a human hand, to floor-to-ceiling geo- on a piece that diverges drastically from his “I’m just trying to sucker-punch people
metric structures. past artwork. with beauty and then kick ‘em in the stom-
Bisbee, whose thick white beard is tinged “For the first time in my life, I’m doing ach with some pretty heavy-duty, potential-
a pale green, is a former Bowdoin professor basically three things that I have mocked ly dark truths,” he said. “But I don’t know
and the first artist to take up residence in my entire adult creative career: realism, po- what the show is till it’s done. And hopefully
the former mill. He works day after day in litical satire and text,” said Bisbee. even then, I won’t really fully get it.”
his workshop, joined by a team of six former When finished, the piece will fill an en- Bisbee’s installation will open on June 30
students of the College who are all artists in tire room at the Center for Maine Contem- and be on display through October 14. O
their own rights. porary Art in Rockland. The installation’s

12 FORT ANDROSS
13
"There is definitely an underreported
and underrecognized public health
and social justice issue that has long
gone unrecognized." PATRICIA KIMBALL

Aging and alone
Organizations combat elder abuse in an aging state
BY ELIZABETH FOSLER-JONES

W
ith a median age of 44.5 years, Maine state who bring tons of experience,” said Patricia incapacitated and/or dependent adults.
is the oldest state in the United States. Kimball, the executive director of the institute. APS runs a 24-hour intake line and receives,
An aging population presents a va- “What if we activated that population so it's on average, around 1,200 calls a month. From
riety of challenges. Brunswick itself has three about workforce development and changing the calls they receive, 600-800 of those go to the
senior housing facilities, one of which is Mid workforce policy so that older people can be district office to be investigated.
Coast Senior Health Center. Mid Coast Senior supported in the workplace.” “The number of calls a month we are getting
Health is home for four different types of senior While Watson recognizes the vast amount to APS is growing just about every month,” said
living communities—varying by level of care of potential resources offered to elders, many of Salvo. “I'd like to think that some of that isn't
needed—and has around 100 residents. them are limited to those with adequate finan- just that more people are being abused or that
“What we want to support through Mid cial means. we could have more and more elderly people
Coast Parkview Health is healthy aging and “Right now, we have plenty of options for in Maine, but we also try to do a lot of public
living well and being healthy for as long as you people, however, a lot of those options are for education and we'll go out and speak to groups,
can be,” said Kim Watson, administrator of Mid people who can afford it and we are more re- nursing facility staff or law enforcement.”
Coast Senior Health Center. “We need to think stricted in what we have to offer for those who Isolation can be a common sentiment
more as a community about living life fully rec- can limited financial means,” said Watson. among elders and Watson acknowledges that
ognizing that life has meaning and purpose all “A lot of our work is raising awareness about living in an senior living home—where activi-
the way through.” elder abuse in general. ‘What are the signs and ties and social events are abundant—provides
An issue that often lacks attention is that of symptoms?’ If you know somebody that might many with a sense of community.
elder abuse. The problem is notoriously under- be experiencing that, how can you reach out, “We know that part of our mental health is
reported and difficult to measure, but a 2015 what kind of support services are available?” our connection with other people, and so it's
study published in the New England Journal of said Kimball. not always the best thing for everyone to live by
Medicine estimated that one in 10 elders expe- Started in 1994, the Elder Abuse Institute themselves in their own homes until the end of
rienced abuse, including physical, psychologi- registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organi- their lives.” said Watson. “A lot of people thrive
cal, verbal or sexual abuse, financial exploitation zation in 2001. It has helped over 350 people in their community where there's a lot of social
or neglect. throughout its years. connection.”
The Elder Abuse Institute of Maine focuses “There is definitely an underreported and Kimball also noted the benefits of building
uniquely on combating adult and elder abuse. underrecognized public health and social jus- resilient communities both elders and young
Its office is tucked on the third floor of the Fort tice issue that has long gone unrecognized,” said people can live in.
Andross. Kimball. “We hope that things are changing and “If we build stronger communities and sup-
The organization—created with the help of our belief is that a large part of that is living in port people then we reduce isolation, more peo-
a federal grant in 2009—focuses on transition- an ageist society and how we think about older ple will be able to watch for their neighbor and
al housing for elders who have been abused people.” more,” said Kimball. “The other thing is, when
and also has a large education and outreach Erin Salvo, the associate director of Adult you build communities for young people and
component. Protective Services (APS)—a governmental or- when you build communities for older people,
“Rather than looking at that silver tsunami, ganization that works to combat adult abuse— you are building communities for everyone, not
like, ‘This is an awful issue,’ we should be look- oversees a unit charged with investigating calls an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. You are building communities
ing at it like there's a ton of older people in the of potential abuse, neglect and exploitation for everybody can live and thrive in.” O

14 FORT ANDROSS
Jim Bleikamp makes producing local radio
his last (and hopefully lasting) project
BY CALDER MCHUGH • PHOTOGRAPHY BY EZRA SUNSHINE

L
eaning back comfortably in a well- someone intimately familiar, at this point, tions, which allowed big conglomerates to
worn chair, Jim Bleikamp describes with the customs and speech patterns of buy up huge numbers of stations.
how he has gone “über-local.” his listeners. “So it was kind of an accident “Now, you have three or four large
The president of Radio 9 WCME, housed initially that I landed here in Fort Andross. companies that own hundreds of stations,”
in the heart of Fort Andross and found I was actually just with somebody who Bleikamp says. “Interestingly, virtually all of
at AM 900, he says, “You could tune in to pointed out the building on the street and those companies have been through at least
the station every hour and figure that the said, ‘That’d be a nice place for you to be.’ My one bankruptcy. Radio works best when it’s
Northern boundary of the world is maybe initial thought was that we might not be able done like we’re doing it here, on a very local
Rockland and the Southern boundary is to afford to locate it here.” level, where everything is locally handled
Freeport. That’s how we operate.” He couldn’t be more pleased with his and locally controlled. We keep a very close
The station, which began in 1955 and choice. watch on what we do here. You’ve got people
broadcast into the 1970s, was on hiatus until “I mean, we’re right here in what may be running some of these big companies right
Bleikamp decided to start it up again in 2012 the most prominent building in town. We’re now who are not even sure about what they
after 12 years working for the Wall Street pretty happy,” he says. own.”
Journal’s radio news in New York City. The Fort, and its prominence in the As a counterbalancing measure, Bleikamp
“Ever since I was a little kid I was fasci- Brunswick community, has an inverse rela- has decided to stay local in midcoast Maine
nated by radio,” he said. “On several levels, tionship with WCME. As the radio station and continue to shuttle in and out of his
I was always interested in these people you was thriving in the 1950s and 60s, the Fort little Fort Andross office, attending every
heard that you couldn’t see, and the sound was becoming barren. The Verney Corpo- community function he hears about. He has
coupled with imagination.” ration ceased operations in the Fort in the even begun to don the unofficial uniform of
His experience with the medium shows. mid-1950s, putting 900 people out of work. white-collar, working Mainers—the reliable
Bleikamp runs much of the station’s day to 60 years later, the two are thriving together, polo shirt and khakis combination. Today is
day operations, and his comfort behind a and helping one another do so. Sunday, and he is leaving soon to attend a
switchboard is immediately evident upon For its part, WCME has plans to expand, meeting at the Brunswick Masonic Lodge.
walking into the small office on the first floor moving onto an FM frequency in addition It is clear that in his six years at the helm
of the Fort. In fact, he is so deeply concen- to the existing AM channel. According to of WCME, Bleikamp has put down deep
trated when I arrive that he snaps “what?” Bleikamp, he can do so because of the local roots in the community. Despite his serious
as I walk through the door. Bleikamp is no nature of the station, and because even in a nature and voice filled with gravitas, likely
nonsense, but after I remind him of our in- rapidly shifting media climate, people still from years of speaking to the airwaves, he
terview time, he lightens up and recounts listen to the radio. has found simple joy in his locale.
how he came to his location by happy acci- WCME is a bit of an anomaly in the ra- “We plan to be here for a long time,” he
dent. dio world. About two decades ago, the FCC says. “This is the last station I expect to work
“I’m from away,” Bleikamp says like significantly pared down ownership restric- at and the last place that I hope to live.” O

15
ARTISTS

16 FORT ANDROSS
Opposite page: Deborah Todd hand-paints tiles with intricate designs. This page, clockwise from top: Todd has several kilns to fire her ceramic tiles in cycles
throughout the week. She has a large collection of glazes, which she rubs onto each ceramic tile before firing, and stacks upon stacks of tiles, organized by color.

Deborah Todd brings tiled floors alive
BY SABRINA LIN • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN

D
eborah Todd crafts every one of her Today her painted tiles can be found in creasingly spontaneous style of design.
colorful ceramic tiles by hand, from the homes of George Lucas, Mariah Carey “I was taught Japanese brush painting by
start to finish, through a process she and Pat Benatar, among many others. this wonderful monk in Boston and after all
invented at the start of her career 37 years ago Working from a studio on the ground these years I'm finally remembering that,”
as the apprentice to a potter in Northampton, floor of the Fort, Todd relishes the freedom said Todd. “[So now I’m] just trying to do
Massachusetts. of her medium, using a clay of her own more open work, just relying on the brush
“I didn’t know what the hell I [was] formula and imbuing the tiles with life and to tell me what to do.”
doing. I didn’t have any barriers. I never color. She deeply appreciates the element of For Todd, the act of crafting tiles has
looked at a tile magazine—I think that chance in her work, reflected in the nuanc- grown into a state of zen-like contemplation.
helped,” she said. “People told me I couldn't es in hue and texture that occur naturally “People don't understand that the mo-
do tiles like this, putting stain directly on— through her handcrafted practice. notony is wonderful. It’s sort of very med-
well, why not?” Over the years, she has a adopted an in- itative,” she said. O

17
H
idden in the basement of Fort An-
dross, First Class Fitness & MMA

FIRST FLOOR
is easily overlooked by many of the
Fort’s visitors.
“Fort Andross is such a giant building that a
lot of people don't really know we're there,” said

FIGHT CLUB owner John Raio. “I mean, unless you happen to
walk by our door and see all the bags hanging,
you won't know that there's an MMA gym in
the building.”
BY ROITHER GONZALES • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN For Raio, mixed martial arts (MMA) always
carried a certain appeal. He wrestled in high
school and college and was interested in com-
peting in mixed martial arts.
“It looks barbaric watching it from the
outside, but when you get into it, it’s actu-
ally pretty interesting,” said Raio. “It’s made
up of separate disciplines. I mean MMA is
composed of different sports like wrestling,
jiu-jitsu, and karate.”
Mixed martial arts was not always prevalent,
or even legal, in Maine. But when the Maine
state legislature legalized and created regula-
tions for MMA in 2010, opportunity struck and
Raio decided to take action.
“I started training when I found it was le-
gal, and then I found a gym in Brunswick and
started training there. Then I jumped around
to different gyms in Maine, so I could get
well-rounded. And then I started my own gym
five years ago,” said Raio.
Today, First Class Fitness & MMA is a bus-
tling gym that boasts over a hundred members
from all over New England. His patrons also
come from different walks of life—some are
policemen, carpenters, teachers, Bowdoin stu-
dents, and even children.
In addition to running the gym weekday
evenings, both Raio, a employee at Bath Iron-
works, and his wife, a teacher, work full-time
jobs. He knows how hard it can be to maintain
work-life balance, and is especially proud that
his gym provides normal people with the op-
portunity to participate in MMA or pursue a
healthier lifestyle.
Yet for Raio and many of his patrons, the
gym isn’t only a place to train.
“For some people, life can just be stressful
depending on whether you're a police officer
or a teacher. Some people come here and they
don't have a lot of social connections,” said Raio.
“And then, you come to our gym and realize
that everyone is just really friendly and helpful
and it becomes more of a family to be honest.”
This welcoming environment is part of the
reason why his gym is so successful.
“We've had classes that have just doubled
in the past year largely through just word of
mouth. My wife and I just really enjoy being
around people, so I think that just helps busi-
ness grow,” he said. O

18 FORT ANDROSS
First Class Fitness & MMA occupies a home on the ground
floor of Fort Andross. Owner John Raio (top left) works with
his wife (on her back, middle left)and both work full-time
jobs in addition to running the gym. Both pages: Attendees
participate in a women's Brazillian jujitsu class, which meets on
Thursdays.

19
Dam those fish: human-environment
interaction on the Androscoggin River
BY JESSICA PIPER • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN

A
ny north-facing windows at Fort in the twentieth century was off the charts. a few dozen.”
Andross provide a full view of the Raw sewage. Fish didn’t like that either,” Meera Prasad ’19 spent last summer
Brunswick dam, a massive concrete Lichter said. studying shad movements on the Andro-
structure on the Androscoggin River with a The same textile and paper mills that pow- scoggin. While her sonar instruments doc-
capacity 19,000 kilowatt-hours, according to ered Brunswick’s growth proved disastrous umented several thousand shad each day
the Maine Governor’s Energy Office. Today’s for its fish. By the 1930s, the Androscoggin’s below the dam, DMR employees and volun-
dam is hydroelectric, owned by Brookfield population of sea-run fish was virtually gone, teers observed only one shad make it to the
Renewable, a subsidiary of the international
asset management company, but dams have
shaped Brunswick’s development for centu- "Dams were the first thing, then land clearance,
ries—the first was built in 1753 to serve the
town’s sawmills.
Although dams sparked Brunswick’s eco-
then the pollution from inudstry in the twentieth
nomic development, they haven’t been as
kind to the fish that inhabit the Androscog-
century was off the charts." JOHN LICHTER
gin. Migratory fish find it difficult to circum-
vent dams, making it difficult to reach their according to the Maine Department of Ma- top of the river ladder.
spawning grounds up river. rine Resources (DMR). Still, with time and Lichter has found that the ladder is effec-
Professor of Biology and Environmental intensive pollution abatement efforts, popu- tive only for alewives. He noted that salmon
Studies John Lichter is well-versed in the lations began to return in the 1970s. are sometimes able to make it up the ladder,
river’s history. In the 1980s, the DMR introduced a fish but are often beaten or injured along the way.
“The first dam in Brunswick was in 1753. restoration program in the Androscoggin. Since technology has improved since the
Now people back then knew that if they Complementing these efforts in 1982, Cen- fish ladder was constructed nearly 40 years
didn’t let the fish get by, they would lose the tral Maine Power added a new concept to the ago, Lichter is hopeful that changing the
fish, and they needed the fish. And so there dam—a fish ladder, designed to help species mechanism could help fish populations. He
was a river warden appointed who would just cross over the dam so they could continue suggested a fish elevator, which would essen-
say, ‘It’s time to let the alewifves through. It’s their spawning patterns further upstream. tially bring up fish in a bucket in certain time
time to let the shad through,’” Lichter said. The fish ladder and a viewing room are intervals, as a potential alternative.
While Brunswick’s original dam was made open to the public during the summer, giving In the present moment, there remains
from natural materials, later dams were con- visitors the chance to see some fish migration little impetus for change. The lease on the
structed out of concrete, eliminating the in action. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of Brunswick dam will come up in 2029, at
possibility for fish to move upstream. As the the ladder is hotly contested. Lichter’s re- which point the fish ladder—as well as other
centuries progressed, other environmental search has shown that the ladder only helps a aspects of the dam—may be reevaluated.
harms proved just as detrimental. few fish species. “It would mean less fish would be get-
“Dams were the first thing, then land “It doesn’t work at all for shad,” Lichter ting beat the hell on the side walls—you can
clearance, then the pollution from industry said. “Very few shad get up there, numbering quote me on that,” Lichter said. O

20 FORT ANDROSS
Frontier: Brunswick’s
home for conversation
and culture
BY KUNICA KUY • PHOTOGRAPHY BY PJ SEELERT

F
rontier brings more than food to the ed by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by
table. Igniting conversation about the police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014.
world beyond its rustic walls, Frontier, The documentary explores solidarity within
located in Fort Andross, describes itself as a communities which sparked a nationwide
“food, art and cultural destination.” Here, visi- movement.
tors share intimate conversations and globally In addition to exhibits and films, Frontier
inspired meals with views of the churning An- hosts a series of storytelling events known
droscoggin River below. People gather at wood as “Sound Bites,” in which Moth StorySlam
tables resting on wide-planked floors. Vibrant Champions and locals share true tales from
jazz echoes through the spacious building and their lives. This event sells out every time that
weaves itself through the stories being told. it’s hosted.
“It starts really as a focus around storytell- “Frontier brings in tellers that are local, but
ing,” said Frontier founder and owner Michael a majority of their participants are storytellers
Gilroy. “The theater, the art and music are fo- that come from The Moth podcast. And some
cused on making the world home.” stories are sad, some are absolutely hilarious,
Before founding Frontier, Gilroy led lengthy some are a mixture of all of those. Some are
expeditions around the globe—primarily politically charged, some are not politically
through Russia, China, parts of central Asia charged and some are deeply personal,” said
and into the Middle East. Morin.
“I did that work for about a decade, up until Gilroy feels that, despite online communi-
9/11, and really the world changed,” said Gilroy. ties and the abundance of digital media like
His goals shifted as he began to ponder ways podcasts, we still live in silence.
to bring these stories home. “Look at the world right now in particular.
“We’d like to bring some of those stories If anything, having this place is so critical for a
here. To give our community exposure and community to get engaged,” said Gilroy.
avenues for conversations and to expand ideas,” In its best form, Frontier is a space where
said Gilroy. silence ends and voices can be amplified.
Gilroy started screening films at Frontier 11 “Frontier is beyond just a business endeav-
years ago, but as the business grew, Sean Morin, or, this is not why we are here. If we can even
now Frontier’s programming director, stepped do the smallest bit to advocate and inform our
in and together they expanded their offerings. community, then we are thankful. Just as much
“We book film, we book community events, as they inform and educate us,” said Gilroy.
sometimes centered around the films, some- “Frontier is all about diversity, connecting
times centered around discussions and some- the world and creating the space for conversa-
times centered around both,” said Morin. tions,” said Morin.
Morin tends to steer more towards docu- At Frontier, the conversations are contin-
mentaries. uous.
“You get a film like ‘Whose Streets?’ that is “I feel that when you bring different people
a very, very important topic that we need to be together, that’s a catalyst for dynamic change
discussing right now, and if you’re not engag- and opportunity. And that could be one per-
ing within the theater you’re processing it and son that walks away from an event with a new
you’re engaging within the community of your perspective. And in order for that to happen,
own by taking that conversation outside,” said you got to create those environments for those
Morin. things to happen,” said Gilroy. O
“Whose Streets?” is a documentary that This article appears in the print edition of the
features the stories of the people involved in October 20, 2017 issue with the same headline.
the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, prompt-

21
ARTISTS

This page: Ian Trask's studio, located on the ground floor of the Fort, is home to myriad acquired objects. Opposite page: Trask's most recent projects involve pairing
found photograph positives in handheld light boxes to produce a new image. Plastic cartons, collected by donation throughout New York city, line the walls and ceilings
of his workspace—an inventive storage tactic. Found objects, such as bottle caps and elastic, are neatly collected into larger pieces.

Ian Trask '05 turns trash into art
BY ELIANA MILLER • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN

R
ather than continuing to work in biol- make it less about myself.” Trask turns his materials into projects of
ogy laboratories post-graduation, Ian Though he only took two visual arts classes all sizes, from silverware sculptures to textile
Trask ’05 opted to pick up trash. After while at Bowdoin, he has found a community installations that span multiple walls. The act
winding his way through various jobs, he
Caption like this, but with no kickers. ID people in Orient style.
of artists in Brunswick’s Fort Andross, years of collecting is integral to his artistic practice.
ended up as a groundskeeper at a hospital in after his graduation. “Sometimes I get rid of things, but most of
Massachusetts, cleaning parking lots and he His work is based completely on donated the time they just get tucked away and recircu-
ultimately deciding to use trash as a medium materials and changes based on what he ac- lated later,” he said. “The process of collecting
for art. quires. Trask’s latest piece consists of over 400 now is a little bit more open and is really open
“[While in Massachusetts,] I thought, ‘What “spores”—colorful spheres of various sizes to what other people are willing to give me.”
the hell am I doing with my life right now? And crafted with yarn, belts, children’s toys, plastics Currently, Trask has an exhibition in Bruns-
how did I find myself with an expensive degree and other found materials. wick’s Frank Brockton Gallery on Maine Street
from Bowdoin picking up parking lots?’” said “I’m always finding potential in this other- titled “Trash World.” He continues to be in-
Trask. “I tried to square up what I can do with wise discarded, unwanted, forgotten, neglected volved in the Bowdoin community by working
art and how it's still beneficial and how I can resource,” said Trask. part time at the Bowdoin Organic Garden. O

22 FORT ANDROSS
23
This page: At the weekend farmers' market, a plethora of greens, root vegetables, herbs and canned jams can be found, along with homemade breads, miso paste
and other food products. Opposite page: Also in attendance at the farmers' market is Wicked Sharp, a knife sharpening company based in South Portland.

Marketing Maine agriculture
The Brunswick Winter Market strives for accessibility, for buyers and sellers
BY EMILY COHEN • PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANN BASU

E
very Saturday from November to stamps and vouchers at its stands in several culture shows that between 2014 and 2016,
May, vendors selling goods from farmers’ markets in and around Brunswick. 16.4 percent of Maine households were
freshly-harvested mushrooms to Its stall in the Winter Market is one of the food insecure or had limited or uncertain
homemade body lotions shuffle in to fill the largest and most popular, spanning several access to enough food, the fifth highest
first floor of Fort Andross with their col- tables piled high with a variety of lettuces, proportion in the nation. According to a
orful stalls. This is the Brunswick Winter potatoes and more unusual vegetables, like 2017 study by the Good Shepherd Food
Market, where the vendors are as eclectic the delicate, mildly-mustardy green tatsoi. Bank and Preble Street, over 17 percent
and versatile as they are passionate about There was only a small break in the activity of residents in Maine’s two northernmost
their craft—whether it is cheese- and but- when I could talk to one of the vendors: Ali counties, Washington and Aroostook, faced
ter-making, coffee roasting or knife sharp- Briere ’20, a Bowdoin student who started food insecurity. Though the rate was lower
ening. working at Six River last summer. in Cumberland County—where Brunswick
Like many others in Maine, the market Ali knew she wanted to work on a farm and Portland are located—at 13.8 percent, it
exudes a strong sense of community and an after going to the Common Ground Fair had highest number of food insecure people
appreciation for local goods. It also occu- during the fall of her first year. The fair is an at 40,330.
pies a unique space in one of the more afflu- annual celebration of rural living in Maine Those counties that face the highest level
ent parts of Maine as it attempts to reconcile and local farmers and goods. “This is really of food insecurity have their own farmers’
two statewide trends: the increasing impor- special,” she remembered thinking, and she markets, and they’re trying to bring more
tance of and interest in local agriculture and was hooked. attention to them. The Maine Federation
the persistence of food insecurity. This market–this slice of Maine–Ali said, of Farmers’ Markets created a “Washing-
Eating locally and organic is expensive, is “pretty elite.” ton County Farmers’ Market Trail,” in an
which is hard to reconcile with Maine, a “It's cost prohibitive for people who don't endeavor to bring more shoppers up north.
state one of the highest rates of food insecu- have a lot of money, which does not repre- But the markets in those highly-food inse-
rity in the nation. sent the culture of Maine because some cure counties are much fewer and farther
Six River Farm, an organic vegetable large percentage of Maine is food insecure,” between than here in Cumberland County,
grower in Bowdoinham, strives to make its she said. where there are at least four markets within
produce accessible, accepting federal food A report by the U.S. Department of Agri- a three-mile radius of Bowdoin’s campus.

24 FORT ANDROSS
The Winter Market has made efforts to did it,” she said. They’re also doing it dif- many Mainers face.
include a variety of vendors. Beyond the ferently, she explained, using organic, slow “There are efforts, but I'd say it's still
produce stands, vendors in the Winter methods, unlike some big, corporate farms hard to marry those—the shopping local
Market sell yarn, ceramics and natural in the Midwest. and not having a lot of money, right?” she
beauty products. One of the most special- The culture within the market is also said. “Systematically it's rigged against
ized stalls in the market is Wicked Sharp. distinct. Vendors help each other out. They people who don't have a lot of money.”
Run by retired husband and wife David give each other discounts, Sara said, point- She mentioned Cultivating Communi-
and Sara, Wicked Sharp will sharpen your ing to the Six River Farm’s extensive array ty, a non-profit based in Portland, which
knives, scissors or gardening tools (though of produce across and over a little from aims to connect people of all ages with the
David has also done food processor blades, Wicked Sharp’s stall. It’s in another corner benefits of farming, offering training and
shovels and a tool used specifically to cut of the market, but the distance is the only a classes as well as affordable produce. She
reeds for bassoons) while you shop around couple yards. They’re within shouting dis- also said that Six River and other farms
the market. Offering the service in a farm- tance, if you can hear over the din of knife in the midcoast area donate leftover pro-
ers’ market, Sara explained, supports the sharpening, vibrant conversation between duce to the food pantry and kitchen at
other vendors. It just makes sense, in her old friends and ever-changing live mu- Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program
opinion, for the produce to go with the sic, which today is a one-woman show of (MCHPP). Still, Ali said, there’s a world
tools necessary to prepare it. folksy violin accompaniment. of difference between this market over-
From her knife-sharpening market Ali agreed that the enclosed setting of looking the river and MCHPP, not even
experiences, Sara has noticed something the Winter Market sets it apart from other a mile away.
unique about Maine agriculture as well. markets. Now that it’s officially spring, the Win-
She’s originally from the Midwest, and she “Especially in this market, there's a ter Market will close for the season and
lived on a small family farm there for a strong sense of community, and all the many of the vendors will move outdoors.
while. The farmers represented at the Win- vendors know each other,” Ali said. “I While those markets may feel different
ter Market are young, Sara said, and they think that's a big thing: everything's so from the cozy Fort Andross setting, they
have a different mindset about farming. close since we're inside. People are closer.” all work toward the same goal: connecting
“I’m older, so I've seen the change over These parts of Maine’s farmers’ market vendors, shoppers and a broad apprecia-
the years, but farmers are different now culture are great, but Ali admitted that it’s tion for Maine-made goods. And they’ll
than they were when I was a kid… They're a difficult task to reconcile the gap between still have to work toward making that ac-
not just doing this because they're father the market’s goals and the economic reality cessible for all. O

25
Relics for sale, in a modern age
Vendors at the Waterfront Flea Market relish in their trade. Others, maybe not so much.
BY EMILY COHEN • PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANN BASU

N
ext door to the Winter Market is with stuff. It’s a bit daunting: it can be hard at the items as if they were in a museum.
the Waterfront Flea Market. In fact, to tell where one stall ends and another That’s part of the novelty of a flea market,
customers have to walk past the flea begins, and because the booths don’t move and part of the reason to go. When I asked
market to get to the winter market. A lot of between market days, vendors can easily Jack what made this market unique from
people pause before the flea market, look, keep adding to their stock. The space defi- other flea markets, he answered profound-
a bit confused and intrigued, at the couple nitely seems bigger than that where the ly, and correctly, “Every place is unique
of mismatched chairs out front, but many winter market is housed, though I’m not because nobody has the same stuff. That's
just continue to the other market. The flea sure if it is. what's unique about them.”
market’s plight is the reverse of the winter Jack, sporting a Stetson hat and a white But few people are buying here, today or
market’s: it’s on the losing end of a recent beard almost as long as his shoulder-length any day, since online sales are increasingly
trend. hair, has a booth in the back corner, recog- surpassing in-person exchanges in stores
Flea markets are big in Maine. In the nizable by its disorder. He said he’s tried and markets like this one. Sylvia Rose runs
summer, they dot vacant lots along Route several to clean up a little bit and make it a stall entirely dedicated to dolls and their
1, some consisting of stalls, others akin to more “accessible,” but he keeps adding new accessories, and she has noticed a change
a tailgate, vendors selling out of their truck items and it just becomes messy again. over the 14 or so years she’s been in this
beds. There are also chic indoor flea mar- “Each booth reflects a little bit of how flea market.
kets, like the Portland Flea-For-All, whose the person is. If you look at my booth,” he "Well of course the flea markets aren't
high-end collection of vintage and artisan said as we walk into his booth, “I'm not one what they used to be. Antiques have taken
pieces matches Portland’s quirky, hip and of those people who will accessorize. This a nosedive, and particularly dolls,” she said.
increasingly pricey vibe. is my booth. Welcome to it.” “They're not as well received as they used to
The Waterfront Flea Market defies cat- Jack’s mish-mash includes ceramic tea- be.”
egorization. It’s indoors, year-round, with pots, a couple of doors and lamps and a She’s been “dealing in dolls” for over 45
no particular curatorial theme. Row after wooden bed frame that he’s particularly years and used to be a traveling saleswom-
row of stalls are completely filled, some proud to have snagged. “Nothing really an throughout New England. The constant
with a specialty (dolls, baseball cards), extravagant,” he said. He doesn’t have a packing up and moving became unsus-
but most with a mish-mash of tchotchkes, particular theme because there are no real tainable, so she set up shop here at Fort
furniture, toys, ceramic and books. Some collectors anymore. “It's a hit or miss type Andross. Dozens and dozens of dolls, in all
items look worn and well-used, but others of thing,” he lamented. shapes and sizes, fill Sylvia’s shelves, along
could be brand new. There are definitely fewer people here with their accoutrements. Sylvia perches
A soft jazz tune flows out of overhead than next door at the winter market. Most in the middle, where she can keep an eye
speakers as I wander through the rows of of the people I see walking around are on the dolls, ready to chat up anyone who
closely packed stalls even more packed doing just that—walking around, looking shares her passion.

26 FORT ANDROSS
“There still are collectors, adult collec-
tors, who love dolls like I do. And they
collect and come and we talk about them,
and maybe they'll buy one and maybe they
won't,” she said. “But it's OK."
Neither Sylvia nor Jack is in it for the
money anymore. They, like many vendors
at markets around the state, find value in
the social interactions with buyers and
other sellers—the communal aspect that
draws people off the highway and into
crowds of stalls and tables—and that’s what
they stick around for.
“I may be from the old school, but I will
not go online to sell. I've been told that I'm
losing money. I don't care … I'd rather deal “I think that having the farmer's market
with the customers like this,” Jack said. “I next door helps, brings in people who have
think that's half of the thing.” lived in the area all their lives and never
“I love meeting new people, and what's knew we were here until they went to the
more fun than sitting and talking with farmers’ market and saw us,” she said.
people who have the same interests you When that happens, it’s just a happy co-
do?" said Sylvia. incidence, and maybe they’ll get a sale out
Both the winter market and the flea of it. At this point, Sylvia and Jack are just
market emphasize community, but in dif- having fun. Jack likes to sit in the market
ferent ways. While the flea market finds and play guitar with his friend Tom, and
much of its appeal within, among the ven- “sell something in the meantime.” Vendors
dors, the winter market’s connection to a support one another.
wider ethos of Maine agriculture and lo- “The people here are friendly,” said Syl-
calism pervades and draws people in. via. “It's like a big family. They're honest.”
The winter market’s success has actually She paused.
helped the flea market, too, Sylvia noted. “Mostly." O

27
2 FORT ANDROSS