Memories of a Maine Island by Marie Locke
Northeast Folklore

Memories of a Maine Island by Marie Locke

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Slightly oversized trade paperback format.  Extensively illustrated through 112 pages.  This is Northeast Folklore Vol 33, and is now out of print.

Turn-of-the-century life on Little Cranberry Island, Maine comes alive in the antique photographs of F.W. Morse. His beautiful glass plate images are accompanied by the vivid memories of his daughter Irene Morse Bartlett, a life-long island resident.

From the author:  As a kid I spent my summers on the Island. The Island being Islesford. Or rather the Village of Islesford, Little Cranberry Island, one of the five islands that make up the town of Cranberry Isles, located off the eastern way of Mount Desert Island, Maine. Since I had so many relatives living there I suppose we were considered more native than summer people. We camped out in my grandparent's boathouse, and my world revolved around the beach, my bike and general nosing around.

Still one to do a bit of nosing, a few summers back I decided to find out the story behind the glass plate photographs my great grandfather Fred Morse took on Islesford at the turn of the twentieth century. I started out by asking my Gram a few questions about the photographs, about her father and what life on the Island was like in the early nineteen hundreds.

Gram started to talk and she didn't stop for five years (she still hasn't). Meanwhile my Aunt Betty transcribed the audio tapes, I made sense of them and my Aunt Jo hauled endless artifacts - evidence of the stories that unfolded - out of Gram's attic. Gram told me stories of shipwrecks and farming and lobster fishing. Stories about growing up when wearing bloomers was considered scandalous and children wrote with quill pens in school. A time when the idea of tourists summering on the coast of Maine was new and novel.

This book is the story of my grandmother's recollections of growing up on Islesford in the early nineteen hundreds - in her own words as we recorded them - as well as a few bits of my own childhood memories of summers spent there. Many of the photographs were taken by my great-grandfather, printed from his original glass plate negatives which are still in remarkably good shape after spending decades in the attic.


"Memories of a Maine Island is a gem. The island is Little Cranberry, also known as the Village of Islesford, and the photographs are from glass plates by Fred Morse, Marie Locke's great-grandfather. These pictures conjure an era filled with summer visitors and fishermen, and the easy-to-follow narrative based on Locke's interviews with Gram (Irene Morse Bartlett) tells the lively story of Fred Morse, a fish skinner who married the storekeeper's daughter and, after her premature death from tuberculosis, studied photography in Illinois. Morse eventually married a young Irish girl whom he had met on Islesford and returned to run the store himself, recording island life in painterly photos. The photographs depict a way of life once common on many Maine islands but also specific to this particular place with its in-your-face view of the entire range of mountains on Mount Desert." -- The Boston Globe, 12/13/98