An unpublished photo from Dec. 31, 1939. A story headlined “Barrows glorifies Maine potato in greetings at Shrine Club party” from page 6 of the Jan. 1, 1940, edition of the Portland Press Herald describes the pictured event as the annual New Year’s Eve dinner and dance held by the Kora Shrine Club of Portland at the ballroom of the Eastland Hotel.

An excerpt from that article reports that “Just as the clock struck midnight, a small automobile, drawing a trailer, entered the dining room. On the trailer was a huge Maine potato, labeled A No. 1, and as the band played the Maine Stein Song, Governor Lewis O. Barrows popped through the top and extended a New Year’s greeting and wish for peace and prosperity to the Shriners and their ladies.”


The photo at right was published on the front page of the Jan. 1, 1950, edition of the Portland Press Herald.

Original caption: “It’s a happy New Year little Rudolph Napolitano of 1051 Washingon Avenue is wishing everyone as he celebrates the birth of young 1950. And why shouldn’t he celebrate? Today is also his birthday. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Alphonse Napolitano, he was one of Portland’s New Year babies just a year ago.” Photo credited to Sunday Telegram Photographer Shepard. 


From the Jan. 2, 1988, Portland Press Herald: Comic juggler Randy Judkins performs at the Immanuel Baptist Church as part of the New Years/Portland celebrations of Dec. 31, 1987. Staff photo by David McDonald.

These photos come courtesy of the Portland Room of the Portland Public Library, which is in the process of organizing and conserving the archival collection of original Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram and Evening Express photographic negatives — a major collection that spans from 1937 to the 2005. In Flashback, we’ll share some of the highlights, as the archives continue to take shape. Find more at