Shoutin' Into the Fog: Growing Up on Maine's Ragged Edgeby Thomas Hanna
Shoutin' Into the Fog is a gritty Depression-era memoir of life in Midcoast Maine. Author Thomas Hanna, a longtime resident of Bath, grew up in the village of Five Islands on Georgetown Island, in a small, crowded bungalow pieced together on the edge of a swamp with secondhand wood and cardboard. He was the eldest son and the second of eight children born to his
Shoutin' Into the Fog is a gritty Depression-era memoir of life in Midcoast Maine. Author Thomas Hanna, a longtime resident of Bath, grew up in the village of Five Islands on Georgetown Island, in a small, crowded bungalow pieced together on the edge of a swamp with secondhand wood and cardboard. He was the eldest son and the second of eight children born to his young mother and his father, a World War I veteran big on dreams, but low on luck. Drawing on insight gleaned from his eighty years, Hanna's Shoutin' Into the Fog is a book written with sensitivity, humor, and subtle emotion about a hardscrabble way of life, old-time Maine, and the meaning of both family and forgiveness. His personal tale casts an honest light not only on his own family, but helps illuminate a way of life common to the coast in the 1920s and 1930s that is slowly fading from memory.
- Islandport Press, Incorporated
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- New Edition
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- 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.69(d)
Read an Excerpt
I was three when we five Hannas finally moved into the bungalow in 1929. All five of us lived in one large room. Bright-orange sheathing paper covered the wall studs and ceiling joists. More paper partitioned off a corner of the bungalow where my father and mother slept. The children shared the open space with the kitchen and the living room.
Mary was born a year later in 1930. We still didn't have our front steps. We did have a screen door, nailed shut to keep little Mary from taking a six-foot headfirst tumble. On stifling summer evenings the front door was opened to let in the Sheepscot Bay breezes, but mostly we got outhouse fragrances. Irving and I loved to sit by the door on those evenings to listen to the peeper chorus, and watch the fat gray spiders climb down their webs under the eaves to wait for the swarms of mosquitoes that rose up from the swamp and whined around our door. The mosquitoes were quite adept at finding the pencil holes Irving had poked through the screen. We had the welts to prove it.
Our one-room home arrangement lasted until the day I noticed how Cora was built different from me. When I asked my father how come she had a couple of parts missing, he allowed it was about time the girls had a room of their own.
Right away he sat down at the kitchen table and went to work on the five-room floor plan he'd had to settle for. On the south side, there would be two thirteen-by-twelve rooms, the kitchen and the living room. Then he laid out three bedrooms on the north side facing Schoolhouse Road: a twelve-by-ten master bedroom and two twelve-by-eights. We children would get the small rooms; Irving and I in the middle and the two girls on the end.
Theorange sheathing paper came down as he framed out the rooms. It hadn't been much use anyway, mainly because my father hadn't taken into account that children have sharp elbows suitable for poking holes. Strips of one-inch board nailed together made the studding. The National Biscuit Company provided the wallboard. They shipped their cookies and crackers to P. B. Savage's General Store, where my Grandpa Rowe worked (and which, under a different name, was started by his ancestors and which he had once owned himself), in heavy, corrugated, brown cardboard cartons. Percy Savage was happy to part with the empties.
My father carted the cardboard home and our National Biscuit rooms took shape. He tacked the cardboard to the studs and sealed the seams with gummed paper. Somehow he came by an old door, painted white, for his bedroom. My mother hung heavy curtains made of cretonne in the doorways of our rooms. The door and the flowery drapes brightened the house, but the cardboard walls were drab, even to my young eyes. Not even the frayed divan or the faded carpet (castoffs from a Malden Island cottage), the picture of my mother's late mother on one wall, or my mother's rocking chair could add much to it. But it was just for the time being, my father promised could afford something more solid.
The cardboard was still in place the day he died."
Meet the Author
Thomas L. Hanna was a longtime resident of Bath, Maine. Raised in the village of Five Islands on Georgetown Island in Midcoast Maine, he left home at seventeen to join the U.S. Navy during World War II, and eventually made the Navy his career. He retired as a senior chief operations specialist after twenty years of service, and began a second career as a value engineer at Bath Iron Works. He retired in 1988 after twenty-two years. Then, using writing skills he had honed in the Navy and at BIW, he began writing for publication. His articles have appeared in Down East, Reminisce, and Good Old Days. Hanna died in 2008 at age eighty-one.
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