On our many visits to Lubec, we’d often stop at Fort Knox, across the Penobscot River from Bucksport. From the fort and as we crossed the nearby bridge, we had a great view of the busy town of Bucksport, including the big paper mill along the river.
So I looked forward to reading Still Mill, published by North Country Press and edited by Patricia Ranzoni. But I have to say, this book far exceeded my expectations.
The book features lots of stories and poems about Bucksport and the paper mill, written by the people who worked in the mill and lived in the town. The stories are very interesting, but what I also enjoyed was the biographical information about each writer. And I learned a lot.
For example, I had no idea how dangerous it was to work in the mill. Some died, and those stories are very sad. Lots of workers actually walked to work, some long distances. One man, walking home in a blizzard, froze to death.
The strength of townspeople was impressive, including their success in preventing a coal plant from locating in Bucksport. This was a real caring community, eager to step up to help each other.
As our family drove through Bucksport in those days, it was obviously a very busy bustling town. I enjoyed the stories about local businesses, including the popular ice cream shop where we often stopped for ice cream.
Many of the writers grew up as members of the 4-H club, something I did too, growing up in Winthrop. For a while, my folks were the 4-H club leaders.
The biography of Jacqueline Willett Dunbar is a good example of these interesting people. They moved into a home with no electricity, no running water, no bathroom, no heat, and no phone! She called the home marvelous. Not sure I’d describe it that way! But Dunbar’s story is not unusual for Bucksport home owners in the “good old days.”
Dunbar also said, “We all loved deer hunting as a family there and had a farm pond for swimming and skating and raising trout.” Good for them!
The first Bucksport paper mill opened in 2014, and in its heyday provided 1200 jobs, jobs that served four generations, through several different owners. In 2014, Verso Paper abruptly closed the mill. At one time, Bucksport Mill and Bucksport Paper was the number one paper mill and paper in the world, when it was St. Regis Paper.
I must thank editor Patricia Ranzoni and all those who contributed stories and poems for this wonderful book, and North Country Press for publishing it.