Words were originally magic and to this day words have retained much of their magical power.   Sigmund Freud, 1915   

Do you enjoy reading good old-fashioned stories about real people, days of simplicity and satisfyingly pleasant days of long ago?  We can never go back except in our recollection. 

Looking for a special article I came across the city edition of the Journal Tribune printed Jan. 26, 1984.  On the yellowed paper headlines read: “Inside today, centennial issue celebrates our 100th year. The Daily Journal was founded 100 years ago 1884-1984. At this time, 2017 it is 133 years. The history of the early newspaper in the United States was inextricably interwoven. 

It took time for me to read through the 18 pages packed full of the moments of history in our communities.  A treasure trove of history that delivers one heck of a punch! 

A rich reading of the past is the life immigrants lived while working in the mills. Children worked in the mills as soon they were tall enough to reach the frames. The closing of the mills during the 1950s and 1960s was extremely serious. When I visit the mills I envision all the people walking through the halls. 

Looking back on 100 years of history this special edition marks 100 years since Col. Charles Prescott published the first issue of the Biddeford Daily Journal. I can only slightly skim and briefly mention all the great information the newspaper communicates brilliantly.

The issue is divided into four sections. Through pictures and stories they tried to show what it was like to live in Biddeford and Saco a 100 years ago. There is discussion of history, politics, health, churches, sports, people, and have highlighted news from events from each decade.

Some of those events were major: the 1936 flood, the 1947 fire that roared through York County leaving scars that remain today and the closing of St. Louis High School in 1970 that led to shock and dismay in Biddeford. The closing of the parochial high school struck hard at the city’s Franco American community.  St Louis High closed its doors forever. It is still missed. Another project was the start of a proposal to build a family YMCA in Northern York County. 

The 18 pages just skimmed the surface of 100 years of life in York County. It takes 100 years of daily newspapers to do the job thoroughly. In the third section they updated the description of local schools, mills, health care and more.  They have also talked to several area residents who have been alive for all or most of the last 100 years and can tell, first hand, what has changed.

The newspaper communicates brilliantly the personal tales about different families. Through their stories they touched on different aspects of local life. 

There is so much history involved in our community and in every change. I found the newspaper’s stories fascinating.  Such as the Deering story-a fortune built on lumber. Can you imagine the log drives on the Saco River?

There was an article about a severe blizzard, on April 7, 1882, packing 50 mph winds that left York County paralyzed up to two feet of snow and 12-foot snow drifts. Forecasters said what was being labeled the Blizzard of ‘82 is among the worst ever to hit Southern Maine. 

I wonder what they would think of the Nor’easter that rolled into Maine on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 clobbering the state with blizzard snow up to 18 inches or more.   As far as our eyes can see there is a dazzling wonderland of whiteness. 

Old pictures tell part of the story. They show downtown Biddeford and Saco Streets paved with   mud or dust, with hitching posts where electric light posts stand today.  Tied to wagons were horses waiting to take shoppers home.

Someday we will be 100 years in the treasured past. Probably snowbound. 


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