The Bath landfill was closed this Monday in observance of Columbus Day, according to the sign on the gate.  Apparently they didn’t get the message that Maine’s government has chosen to get rid of Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous People’s Day (or “The Holiday Formerly Known as Columbus Day,” as I call it.)  I am normally a strict traditionalist when it comes to holidays (bring back Washington’s Birthday!) but you have to admit that Christopher Columbus was really a jerk.  He was brutal to the Taino Indians, obsessed with gold, and he never even realized that he had discovered a new continent.  Besides, the Vikings got here first.  So I agree that the Native Americans are more deserving of a holiday than the Admiral of the Ocean Sea.

Zac McDorr is the founder of the Bath Maine History Center on Facebook.You can reach him at [email protected]

I graduated from Morse in 1992, exactly 500 years after Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  There were doubts about him back then.  A century earlier there were none, according to the Bath High School newsletter, the PHI=RHONIAN, from October of 1892.  A day of celebration was planned.  First, a master of ceremonies read the Columbus Day (or Discovery Day) proclamation of President Benjamin Harrison, who had visited Bath the year before.  Harrison called Columbus the “pioneer of progress and enlightenment,” and encouraged all municipalities to celebrate the 400th anniversary of his famous voyage.

Next, some Civil War veterans raised the American flag, and the pupils saluted and sang the song “America.”  This was followed by scripture readings and prayer by the Rev. O.W. Folsom.  Several students then performed songs and speeches about Columbus.  These included “The Meaning of the Four Centuries” by Fred E. Taylor, the ode “Columbus’s Banner” by Miss Nellie Turner, “Achievements of Columbus” by Charles D. Moulton, “The World in Columbus’s Time” by Nellie Clark, “The Voyage of Columbus” by John H. Morse, “Columbus’s Vessels and Companions” by Florence Donnell, and “The Development of a Nation” by Carlotta McDonnough.  Finally, the students sang “Our Sailor King.”

A large parade was formed in the afternoon. Participants included a “Body of Wheelmen,” a platoon of police, a detachment of sailors from the Revenue Cutter Woodbury, the Hyde Light Guards, Post Sedgwick, The Knights of Pythias, a drum corps, the school board, and then the students. The parade started at the Bath High School, which stood where the present fire station is today.  It marched to Oak Street, down to Washington, up to North Street, and then back down Washington to Library Park.  From there it crossed the park, went up Front Street, and went down Center Street to the Alameda.  There Mayor Twitchell presided over a celebration with more singing and music from the school band.

All of this seems typical of the “old days.”  The old folks loved to organize grand ceremonies and celebrations for almost any occasion, and they really put some effort into it.  Columbus, I suppose, was just another excuse for a party.

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