236 Cumberland Ave Portland Maine : Strange Happenings in Our Young Lives : A Family's Experience with the Supernatural, Not Spoken of in over 50 Years by Cheryl A. Blanchard - signed!
Trade paperback format. Recommended! Signed by the author, inside the back cover. Our review follows the synopsis, below!
This book, a Portland Maine memoir, describes a time over 50 years ago when author Cheryl Blanchard and her ten siblings found themselves living in a large apartment in Portland over Botto's Market between 1964 and 1971. It turned out to be a stranger experience than her parents ever bargained on when they moved from Lubec to Portland in search of work and opportunities.
“I never knew my family history would be so interesting to others,” Blanchard told reporter Joe McNerney of The Windham Eagle in a Dec 13, 2019 article.
This history would have been lost if one of Blanchard's friends hadn't encouraged her to write everything out, because as these events happened to her and her siblings, they were shut away and never discussed again. In the process of recording her own memories of those years, she sat down with her family in an effort to fill in some of the blanks. “You can’t imagine how wonderful it was,” she recalled fondly in her interview with McNerney. “We could all remember which things happened to whom. It all started flooding back.”
The events recounted in the book range widely between sweet little domestic details of a large family making do in a big new town, all the way to mystifying and horrifying incidents seen and heard within and near their home in the large apartment building at 236 Cumberland Avenue, which exists only as a large parking lot these days. [NOTE: I am utterly fascinated by several of Cheryl's accounts, but of significant note is the fact that their building's basement had a door leading to some of Portland's legendary tunnels!!! Maybe the next time they strip those parking lots for repaving they'll let some local archaeologists in???]
How did the family cope with the inexplicable turns their lives took them through? They stuck together, and they persisted. Their love of music, communicated to them by their father, made for many happy hours together even in the face of tragedy and fear.
This petite volume is eminently homemade, from the cover design to the unique layout of the text and stories inside. As you read Cheryl's stories and get to know the family and the strange environment they found themselves in, you will marvel at their fierce ability to band together, survive and thrive in the face of events that would have destroyed a lesser band of siblings.
Peppered with locations both familiar and long-gone from Portland's skylines and neighborhoods, and intimate details of daily life in limited circumstances, the stories step one to the next, drawing you further into their old apartment building. From strange lights and sounds to full-body apparitions emanating from the house, from mysterious fires to horrible unsolved accidents in front of their home, by the end of the book you will be rooting for the family, and wanting to learn more about the Portland that existed before the Franklin Arterial obliterated much of its Victorian self!