Jan. 14, 1943: Author Laura E. Richards dies in Gardiner, where she spent most of her adult life. Richards won, with her sisters, a Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for “Julia Ward Howe, 1819-1910,” a biography of their mother, who wrote the words to the song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Laura E. Richards, photo circa 1902

Richards, a Boston native, moved to Gardiner in 1876 with her architect husband, Henry Richards. She wrote more than 90 books during her career. One of them, the 1890 novel “Captain January,” was made into a silent movie in 1924, then a 1936 movie with sound starring child actor Shirley Temple (1928-2014). Richards also was a founder of several community institutions in Gardiner. An elementary school in the city is named after her, and her home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The ice disk on the Presumpscot River in Westbrook captured the attention of people well beyond. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Jan. 14, 2019: Three years after reports of a 10-foot-long snake eating a beaver near the Presumpscot River in Westbrook stimulated a lot of speculative chatter among the city’s residents, another natural phenomenon on the river gives them even more to talk about.

A rare spinning ice disk about 300 feet in diameter forms in the river, drawing a parade of spectators from around the region and eventually drawing worldwide attention.

The disk lasts for several days, surviving bouts of warm weather and an attack by a chain-saw-wielding man from New Jersey who claims he is trying to carve the disk into a giant peace sign, before finally breaking up. At one point, a photographer noticed that the disk had become frozen to the riverbank, so he ventured out onto the river on a paddleboard and used that and an ice pick to set the ice disk free so that it could resume spinning.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society.

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