Monday, July 20, 2020

Farewell to Maine

New Harbor on Pemaquid Point, 1982

As a photographer and writer who is intensely involved with documenting a world that is passing away, I can identify with Kosti Ruohomaa, who keenly felt the passing of the world he loved. A Maine native who was a top photojournalist for the Black Star agency in the 1940s and '50s, producing photo essays for Life and other national magazines, he also documented the Maine that then was, and was already changing. Using simple tools (mostly a twin-lens reflex) and simple methods, he made the photographs for his book Night Train at Wiscasset Station, a poignant visual poem to a place and time he loved and did not want to see pass away.

1982. Louise on the beach at Pine Point, where her
father took her walking when she was a small chilld.

My own copy of  Night Train at Wiscasset Station is falling apart from age and use, but it's well worth seeking out a copy at a used book store or online service such as Ruohomaa was a great photographer who did great work with cameras that most of today's photographers would consider totally inadequate.

Louise picking up shells at Pine Point, 1982

Tony King, whose career overlapped Ruohomaa's, also experienced some of this: "Every chance I got I used to ramble around the countryside. I was never looking for specific subjects but I was liable to photograph anything . . . ordinary places and everyday objects were good enough for me. I photographed what touched me, whatever stirred in me an admiring response. I noticed that few places I revisited over the years had been improved in my absence."

Old Orchard Beach, 1982

As I've said before, we visited Maine three times in the '80s and loved it. But our 2019 trip: not so much, although we explored places we hadn't been before and loved Acadia National Park.

House on the rocks, near Kennebunkport. 1982

So often, when we return to a place, we are subconsciously seeking to return to that time in our lives and the things we experienced. That, of course, can't really happen. But still . . . there are some places I would like to revisit -- Italy, for instance, and Hawaii; in fact, many places, because I simply couldn't see everything I wanted to see in the limited time I was there. I want to explore and see more of those places. But I won't expect to relive my life through them.

Low tide at Cape Neddick inlet, 1988

But Maine? The Maine of the 1980s was a place in time and I can't go back. Like an old girlfriend, I loved Maine, and now I bid her a fond farewell.

About the photos: All the photos in this post were made with Leica M3 cameras and Kodachrome 64 film except Cape Neddick inlet, which was made with an Olympus OM camera and Fujichrome 100 film.

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(Photographs copyright David B. Jenkins 1981-2020)

Soli Gloria Deo

To the glory of God alone

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