Dan Soucy thinks history should be told by the people who lived it, and he is planning a series of books to tell that history. The first is “Salt & Pines: Tales from Bygone Maine,” edited by Soucy and Jeanne Mason and printed by The History Press.

Soucy said Mason submitted a story about berrying with her grandmother and offered to help with the editing, so she deserves most of the credit for getting the book put together.

The book is described as being about “business in Maine,” but the word “business” is used loosely. A lot of the stories are about family life as well as working at sea, in farms and in mills.

Some of the writers are fairly well known, including Tim Sample and Trudy Chambers Price. Many are unknown.

But they all have interesting stories to tell. 

Q: How did you develop the idea for this book?

A: It is actually part of a larger project I have been trying to get going. Next year, we hope to go large scale with it. The basis of it is a Mark Twain quote, “History is always written by someone who wasn’t there.”

This is a project where we get the stories from people who actually lived in those bygone days, trying to bring it to life. 

Q: Were these pieces written specifically for this book, or were they found and reprinted?

A: They were written specifically for the book by the contributors. Jeanne went through a painstaking process of finding a lot of these. We have been working on it since 2008. 

Q: In the afterword, you say you are planning to do more of these books. How is that going?

A: The second is more a history of nature. What I did on the second one was delve back into old publications, newspapers, books and periodicals on the rusticators of Maine, and got a lot of pieces of people visiting resorts and roughing it in the back woods, things like that.

We just finished the body of work on that, and still have some editing. We haven’t sent it to History Press yet, but it should be out in a little while. 

Q: And you want more pieces from anyone who wants to write them? How is that going?

A: We’ve got a few of them. Some of the things we are getting are not from seasoned, professional writers, but they have a story to tell. What I would like to do is to have kind of a freestanding project of people volunteering to do the editing and work with people who are not professional writers. We could get some good quality out of that from a historical perspective. 

Q: How did you and Jeanne Mason get together on this? You live in Brunswick, but where does she live?

A: I put advertising in a few different publications looking for contributions. She replied with her story, and offered her assistance. She is a freelance professional editor. I think she is someplace in Arkansas. Her husband was working for the World Health Organization — he’s a doctor — and when a lot of the work was done on this, she was in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Q: Do you have a favorite piece in the book?

A: It’s kind of hard to say. I like Trudy Chambers Price’s story (“A Beautiful Stranger,” about her reaction to getting her first copies of her book “The Cows are Out”) and the ones by Luthera Burton Dawson (“Mainespeak” and “And Glory Shown Around,” about life on her family’s farm in Cushing).

Q: I really liked “Jane” by Ann Allen Brahms. It confused me a bit, though, because it is written in the first person, and the footnote said Jane has died. Is it fiction or oral history or what?

A: Jeanne told me that story was written by a friend of hers, and it is true. But that story is very similar to what a lot of people in Lewiston at that time went through. 

Q: What else are you working on?

A: I am working on a couple of other things, including a Civil War book about the battle of Portland Harbor, which really wasn’t a battle.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at

[email protected]


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