Portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Carl Van Vechten, 1933.  Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Feb. 17, 1927: “The King’s Henchmen,” an American opera written by Deems Taylor and Rockland native, poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), opens successfully at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and becomes popular in book form as well.

Feb. 17, 1952: A 36-hour blizzard powered by high wind begins to envelop Maine, killing several people – including two lobstermen whose 30-foot boat sinks in a stormy gale off Port Clyde – and leaving more than 1,000 vehicles stranded on highways.

The Portland Press Herald, apparently combing a bookshelf literary anthology in search of mellifluous prose suited to the occasion, reports that “every city and hamlet in the southern two-thirds of the state was gripped in the deathly white hand of a winter vengeance beyond modern memory.”

The storm dumps 22 inches in Portland, the most the city has received in a single storm since 1935, and greater amounts inland. Bangor endures its deepest snowfall since 1918 and is essentially cut off from the rest of the world. In Saco, Dr. Joseph M. Patane resorts to using a horse and a sleigh to travel to Old Orchard Beach to deliver a baby.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: jowen@mainetoday.com.

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