I was distressed to see the recent Press Herald article stating that the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association had consigned its banners to auction.

Certainly, MCMA should have launched a public campaign to save the banners for MCMA and Portland or at least in some Maine museum. Once separated, the banners’ historical significance diminishes and the opportunity to share in our past is lost.

MCMA has such potential. As early as 1815, it provided opportunities for training in crafts contributing to Portland’s economic growth. Maybe it is time once again to encourage the creation of more apprenticeships.

The MCMA library provided books for apprentices recommended by their instructors. Some of the techniques found in these books and the “secrets” passed on by the experienced craftsmen allowed Portland to be the leader in a variety of trades.

Although the MCMA ceased to offer free drawing lessons in 1988, something it had done since 1875, craft experts might once again be encouraged to offer instruction at Congress Street following in the tradition of John Calvin Stevens, who taught a class there in architectural drawing.

The MCMA could also be a repository of information about 19th century industry with its collection of invoices, business letters, tools, and of course the wonderful hand-painted silk banners some hundreds of craftsmen proudly displayed during parades and expositions.

I am intrigued by the possibilities this association might have to help further energize decorative arts and crafts in Portland, a place where creativity and productivity are flourishing.

I would ask the leadership of the MCMA to consider giving priority in the library to craft reference books, encouraging craft teaching on the premises, and appealing to Portland residents to contribute small items that reflect the trade history of Portland.

Elizabeth Suchar
Portland

 

Drowned homeless man deserved better care

 

I am writing this letter to you because I do not know who else to write to. This letter is regarding a 60-year-old homeless man, Peter Garland, who was found dead in the water near the Ocean Gateway terminal in Portland on the morning of July 20.

On July 18, Mr. Garland was taken by ambulance to one of Portland’s hospitals after falling face-first onto the rocks that line a parking lot on Congress Street next to Geno’s.

I know this because I am the one who found him, had a friend call an ambulance and then sat him up and mopped the blood from his face until medical help arrived.

You can imagine (or maybe you cannot) my dismay at reading that his was the body pulled from the harbor less than 48 hours later.

What I would like is for someone — anyone — to explain to me why this man was even released from the hospital. He was in desperate need of detoxification, probably in need of some sort of psychiatric evaluation, and definitely in need of shelter.

He may have been homeless and he may have been a drunk, but he was still a human being. Where is the responsibility? Where is the Hippocratic Oath (“First, do no harm,” for those of you who may not be familiar with it)?

How many more Peter Garlands are there going to be before someone steps up to the plate and stops treating Portland’s homeless population as subhuman throwaways? I remain disgusted.

Tanya Kelly
South Portland

 

High-speed toll lanes only an issue for those leaving

 

The letter from Dennis Gervais, “End delay on high-speed toll lanes” (July 23), reminded me of something I read in Modern Maturity years ago.

It read, “In the old days, if a person missed the stagecoach he was content to wait a day or two for the next one. Nowadays, we feel frustrated if we miss one section of a revolving door.”

I’m never in a hurry to leave Maine!

Ann Palmer
South Portland

 

Government services help even their harshest critics

 

Timmy the Tea Partier awakened early. Timmy pours a strong cup of coffee. Timmy does not consider that the federal government monitors his water supply to ensure a quality standard. Afterward, Timmy enjoys a walk around the block. He is so happy the government paid for and constructed sidewalks. It is much safer.

Timmy sees his youngest daughter off to board the taxpayer- funded school bus, which takes her to the taxpayer-funded, government-run school.

He then takes a shower. Timmy uses the government-subsidized, strictly regulated public water/sewer system. Timmy never complains about this service. Timmy’s oldest daughter is on her way to the taxpayer- funded, government-run library, to get information on federal government grants or loans for the state-subsidized university. They chat about their vacation, visiting the federal government-owned and maintained Grand Canyon.

Timmy’s mom calls, to tell him how excited she is that she is now able to cut back on her workload, because she will be collecting from the federal government-run Social Security and Medicare programs. Timmy is happy for his hardworking mother.

Timmy gets into his car and pulls out into the taxpayer-funded road. He passes several taxpayer-funded traffic lights and signs. Timmy stops at his FDIC-insured bank. As he approaches, Timmy notices a huge increase in police, fire and emergency medical services, all government-run and paid for by tax-payers.

Timmy pulls into the free parking lot, provided for patrons of the taxpayer-funded, government-run park.

Failing to see the irony, Timmy opens his trunk and removes his “No Socialism!” sign. Timmy believes in smaller government and less taxes. Timmy does not consider the number of government-run, socialist services that have enriched his life — all before 9 a.m.!

Matthew Anthony
Portland