BANGOR, Maine — The story of a 12-year-old boy who spent nine days lost on Mount Katahdin draws hundreds of people every year to a book signing and program at Cole Land Transportation Museum, even though the book’s subject is now 87.
Donn Fendler, who co-wrote “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” in 1939 and never received a penny for his work, will again sign hundreds of autographs beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at the museum, 405 Perry Road. He will give a talk on his memories of his trek all those years ago at 1 p.m., then sign autographs afterward.
Fendler, a Tennessee resident who spends each summer in Maine and gives talks to schoolchildren as “a way to give back” to the state where so many people joined in the search and prayed for his safe return, cites his Boy Scout training and his faith that he would come through the experience safely as factors that helped sustain him over the nine days before he came out of the woods near a camp.
Participants in the annual event bring their own copies of Fendler’s book for an autograph or purchase a paperback copy at the museum. This year, there also will be a limited number of the new book Fendler has co-authored with Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Ben Bishop — a 72-page graphic novel called “Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness.” The book, published by Down East Books, costs $14.95.
Fendler, a career Army man, didn’t set out to become a Maine legend. But Maine schoolteachers thought the slim volume “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” was just right for young readers, and the book is still in print.
His yearly appearance at the Cole museum continues to be tremendously popular, according to Galen Cole, who founded the museum and joined Fendler on an airplane flight over the Katahdin area a few years ago with then-Conservation Commissioner Pat McGowan as pilot.
Fendler’s talk is free.
Cole Land Transportation Museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1-Nov. 11. Tickets are $7 for adults, free to those age 18 and under. For information, call 990-3600 or visit www.colemuseum.org.