With vacation season nearing, a new book that examines Maine culture has just hit stores across the state, highlighting the state through the decades.

“Maine Memories: A Vintage Picture Postcard Tour,” by John Brunkowski and Michael Closen, recently was published by Schiffer Publishing. It explores the Pine Tree State through more than 350 vintage postcards and mementos in nine chapters, from “The Way Life Should Be” to Bridging the Gap.

Authors Brunkowski and Closen are from away, but they’ve been visiting Maine for nearly 30 years. They’ve camped and traveled in an RV in the state but now are homeowners in Eastport, where they live for most of the year.

“We are not originally from Maine. … We chose Maine. We took early retirement from our real jobs and have been doing things like writing and consulting over the last few years,” Closen said in a phone interview Thursday.

It was that choice, he said, that made he and Brunkowski uniquely suited to create this book, drawing from postcards and other memorabilia in their own collection to craft a look at Maine through the eyes of travelers.

“We’ve noticed over time, by being up here so much, that no one had ever done this. We are the first ones to do a statewide collection of images from postcards of Maine,” Closen said, noting several communities have done individual books. “We thought, ‘What a tragedy! This is Vacationland, and it’s visited by millions of travelers each year.’”

The book, which contains postcards from as many as 100 years ago, is less about history and more about nostalgia — a look at times past through the mementos people gather and send to loved ones.

Closen and Brunkowski were inspired by their own love of postcard collecting and past success in creating postcard image-driven books, including “Camper & RV Humor: The Illustrated Story of Camping Comedy,” which was released earlier this year.

“Postcard collecting is not what it used to be, but it almost seems like there’s a bit of a revival going on. We think the publisher did a great job with the

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,” Closen said.

Many of the postcards they collected at postcard shows, via eBay and by visiting antique shops are unused — pristine artifacts from years of Maine tourism. But others have a more personal note to them.

“The postcards that are used — the ones that have actually been sent — of course have messages on the back of them, and they’re delightful. We read every one of them,” Closen said. Some are even highlighted in the book, including a postcard mailed in 1934 from Bangor to New Brunswick, Canada, on page 78, which read, “Am having the time of my life. Lovely drive here.”

“Maine Memories,” which retails for $24.99, is available at the Maine State Museum shop and in bookstores and gift shops throughout Maine in Augusta, Bangor, Bar Harbor, Hermon, Old Orchard Beach, Portland and elsewhere.

FOR MORE, see the Bangor Daily News at www.bangordailynews.com

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