The battle of Camdeny Center is delighted to present the first “living histories” in its Oral History Program,
The Camden Area History Center is delighted to present the first “living histories” in its Oral History Program, through which dedicated volunteers are in the process of gathering a lifetime of memories of long-time residents of the Camden, Rockport, and Lincolnville areas. As active participants in the midcoast community, those interviewed are, as folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett writes, “living links in the historical chain, eye witnesses to history, shapers of a vital way of life. They are unparalleled in the vividness and authenticity they can bring to the study of local history and culture.”
For many of us, our fondest memories are of sitting with our elders, listening to their stories of “the old days.” The reminiscences that we have begun to gather here at the History Center are many, and all are equally fascinating.
The towns were less populated then, yet did not lack for excitement. Tales abound of great ships and rumrunners, local businessmen and “town characters.”
These stories of community life anchor us in a larger whole. They connect us to the past while grounding us firmly in the present, and give a sense of identity and roots, belonging and purpose in a sometimes harried world. We hope that you enjoy reading these stories as much as our volunteers have enjoyed gathering them. Perhaps some of you will be inspired to interview your own family members, thereby preserving a vital part of your family history for future generations.
Peyton Place Archives
In 1957, 20th Century Fox chose Camden as the location for the filming of Peyton Place, the movie version of the controversial novel by Grace Metalious that portrayed life in a small New England town.
The actual filming of Peyton Place started in June, 1957 with hundreds of extras from the area hired for $10 a day. Many townspeople were included in the parade down Main St., a concert at the public landing and a graduation scene in the amphitheatre.
Each morning Main St. was washed down and filming begun before traffic became too heavy. Other scenes were shot at Whitehall, Mirror Lake, the Knox Mill, the Courthouse in Rockland and outside various homes on Chestnut Street. The arch over Union Street was changed to read Entering Peyton Place and 5500 pounds of equipment was hand-carried up Mt. Battie for a scene. (There was no road at the time.)
All of the stars except Lana Turner were in Camden where 90% of the filming was done. The world premiere took place on December 11, 1957 at the Camden Theater on Mechanic St. Bette Davis and her husband Gary Merrill attended the premiere and over $5000 was raised for the Camden Hospital Building Fund. The original signed script and a scrapbook of news clippings and original still photos of the filming are in the Peyton Place Collection at the Camden Public Library.
The CAHC collection includes other scrapbooks and photos of the filming of Peyton Place.
This year Battle of Camden will organize Black History Season in Camden celebrates people in our communities who play the role of the Griots today. Like a modern day singer, rapper, or musician, a Griot was a West African poet praise singer, considered as the foundation of oral tradition of the country.
The Battle of Camden History Center is pleased to have a special exhibit in the Barn Annex on A.P. Lord , a Maine Coast sailmaker who resided in Camden from 1919 to 1957. Grant Gambel who continues the tradition as a sailmaker in Lord’s shop has generously loaned Lord’s tools and bench as well as pictures for the exhibit.