Articles by Wayne E. Reilly

The old Bangor Auditorium was the scene of opera and roller skating as well as the annual Eastern Maine Automobile Show

Autos transformed Maine a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 17, 2013, at 4:50 p.m.
The automobile was transforming Maine a century ago. Only a dozen years after the first machine chugged hesitantly through Bangor, scaring horses and angering farmers, the future was clear. Here are a few examples of the changes on the horizon taken from Bangor’s two daily newspapers leading up to the …
Merrill Trust Company and a section of the “White Way,” stretching from Exchange Street to Bangor'’s old City Hall at Hammond and Columbia streets, as they appeared lit up for the city’'s Food Fair and Winter Carnival in 1913.

Winter Food Fair featured lots of lights a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 03, 2013, at 3:43 p.m.
Before the modern supermarket and the big box store, and certainly long before the Bangor Mall, the Queen City of the East had its annual Food Fair and Winter Carnival. The purpose of the event, held at City Hall in 1913 a century ago, was to stir up business during …
The Bijou Theater in Bangor, probably in the 1920s. The theater played host to many of the top Broadway acts of the day, including Mae West.

Mae West played Bangor’s Bijou

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 23, 2012, at 8:57 a.m.
Hardeen, the handcuff king, also known as Harry Houdini’s brother, was the headliner at the Bijou in Bangor in mid-December, 1912, a century ago. The next week, the top billing went to Mae West, fresh from Hammerstein’s Victoria Theater in New York. The teenage “singing comedienne” impressed audiences with her …
Advertisements like this one in the Bangor Daily Commercial on Dec. 27, 1912 indicated the close ties Mainers had with the West.

Migration West caused Maine’s population to stagnate

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 08, 2012, at 12:58 p.m.
The year 1840 was an important one in Maine history. That was the year the U.S. Census reported Maine’s population was growing much more slowly than the rest of the nation. Maine wasn’t getting smaller, but it wasn’t growing fast enough to keep up with most other states. Its population …
Wayne Reilly

New immigrants formed clubs in old Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on Nov. 24, 2012, at 1:51 p.m.
BANGOR, Maine — On Thanksgiving afternoon, Nov. 28, 1912, a century ago this week, the Ancient Order of Hibernians held its annual Old Folks’ Card Party in its meeting hall at 107 Union St. Thirty-five tables were set up for 100 players. More than a score of spectators watched from …

Barry’s book on Maine deserves a place on the shelf

By Wayne E. Reilly on Nov. 17, 2012, at 4:55 p.m.
“MAINE: The Wilder Half of New England” by William David Barry, Tilbury House, Publishers, 290 pages, $30. Why would anyone take the time to write a history of a state? Finding historical similarities between Madawaska and Kittery, which must have a lot more in common with Portsmouth, N.H., is a …

Bangor’s TB crusade led to open-air school

By Wayne E. Reilly on Nov. 12, 2012, at 8:15 p.m.
Bangor people mobilized to fight tuberculosis a century ago. Hundreds of Bangoreans had died of the disease in the last couple of decades, and many more were ill. Everyone knew a victim. Anyone with a persistent cough or a pale face was under suspicion. The effort to eradicate this dread …
Exchange Street in Bangor was filled with thousands of people election night, Nov. 5, 1912, watching voting results broadcast from a stereopticon projector onto a large screen across the street from the Bangor Daily News. Election results were also interspersed with movies and vaudeville until midnight at the Bijou and Graphic theaters, seen in the foreground. Union Station can be seen across the end of the street.

Magic lanterns lit up Bangor streets with 1912 election results

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 27, 2012, at 3:49 p.m.
A century ago, long before TV, radio or the Internet, thousands of people gathered in downtown Bangor to watch national election returns magnified on giant screens in front of the city’s two newspaper buildings. Movie theaters and private clubs also became gathering places for political junkies wanting to get the …
The expedition’s Demi Sedan Franklin swerved onto trolley tracks in Dayton, Ohio in an effort to avoid hitting a milk truck.

Transcontinental autoists braved hardships

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 13, 2012, at 11:12 a.m.
I received an email recently from a reader who had discovered among some family papers a printed account of a nearly century-old automobile expedition from Bangor to San Diego, Calif., by four adventurers. Karen Walker of Veazie wondered who these old-time autoists were. Their names were not familiar to her. …

Who was who in Bangor a century ago?

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 30, 2012, at 8:01 p.m.
Who was who in Bangor a century ago? I don’t mean the glittering socialites or the windiest politicos — the people who get their names in the newspaper all the time. I mean the really important people, the people who tried to keep their names out of the newspapers or …
The Metropolitan Cafe was located on Broad Street in the Devil’s Half Acre.

Where was the Devil’s Half Acre?

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 16, 2012, at 5:08 p.m.
Anyone familiar with Bangor’s history has heard of the Devil’s Half Acre, alias Hell’s Half Acre or The Acre. History buffs know that Satan’s playground was a half mythical center for merriment and mayhem, a place where loggers, sailors and other workingmen gathered to spend their cash on whiskey and …

Monster parades marched through Bangor on Labor Day

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 03, 2012, at 9:54 p.m.
What happened to Labor Day — the monster parades and brass bands, the worker pride, the bombastic speeches about the “honor and dignity” of laboring men and women? Here’s a glimpse of what used to go on in Bangor. On Labor Day, 1912, between 800 and 1,000 workingmen representing different …
Source: Bangor Daily News, April 25, 1904

The exploits of Minnie Gilbert, ‘Queen of Thieves’

By Wayne E. Reilly on Aug. 18, 2012, at 1:29 p.m.
During the early years of the 20th century, a gang of yeggmen — contemporary slang for burglars who blew up safes — terrorized Maine’s small-town post offices, train stations, stores and other places where valuables were stored. The activities of what was originally called the Boston Shorty Gang first appeared …
Wayne Reilly

Odd Fellows convention a century ago highlighted African Americans in Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on Aug. 05, 2012, at 11:36 a.m.
Early on the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 8, 1912, a century ago this week, a group of African-American men wearing dress suits and silk hats lined up for a parade in Bangor’s East Market Square, where city hall is currently located. Accompanied by the Brewer Band playing Sousa marches and …

Shipbuilding’s ‘golden days’ disappeared quickly on the Penobscot

By Wayne E. Reilly on July 22, 2012, at 11:59 a.m.
When Isaiah K. Stetson died in 1940, a newspaper headline over the prominent Bangorean’s obituary identified him as having been associated with “Shipbuilding’s Golden Days.” Shipbuilding once had been a major industry along the Penobscot all the way to the head of navigation at Bangor and Brewer. For the Stetson …
Wayne Reilly

Bangor club women waged war on flies with children’s help

By Wayne E. Reilly on July 08, 2012, at 12:18 p.m.
A century ago, in the age of the swill pail and the manure heap, back when window screens were still a luxury, the sight of a common house fly zooming through your kitchen could provoke pandemonium. That was when fears of typhoid, diphtheria, cholera and other serious illnesses believed to …
Touring autoists checked their machines into the Bangor Motor Company for servicing while they were staying at the nearby Bangor House a century ago. This advertisement appeared in Bangor newspapers on Aug. 28, 1912.

New Bangor Auto Club lobbied for better roads

By Wayne E. Reilly on June 24, 2012, at 4:10 p.m.
When bicycles became the rage in the 1890s, Bangoreans founded a new country club catering to enthusiasts. Located on the shore of Pushaw Lake, the Niben Club became a gathering place for “wheelmen” in the summer and ice boat enthusiasts in the winter. While mainly a social club, it lobbied …
Harry Atwood, the daredevil aviator, gazed down on Main Street in this postcard commemorating the Bangor Street Fair and Carnival of 1912. Atwood’'s appearance at the event was intended to mark the Queen City’'s recovery from the great fire of the year before.

First aeroplane soared over Bangor like ‘graceful white-winged bird’

By Wayne E. Reilly on June 10, 2012, at 9:33 p.m.
The Bangor Street Fair and Carnival was held a century ago to celebrate the Queen City’s recovery from the great fire that had devastated much of the downtown the year before. Bangor had seen plenty of circuses, carnivals and fairs over the years, but this one was going to be …
Wayne Reilly

Bangor trolley took off ‘like a bullet’

By Wayne E. Reilly on May 13, 2012, at 5:16 p.m.
Bangor’s electric trolley system, just 23 years old a century ago, was a wonder to behold, connecting downtown Bangor with the city’s outskirts as well as nearby towns like Hampden, Old Town and Charleston. Workers, the elderly, youngsters, poor people and others without horses or automobiles could travel cheaply and …
Mercantile Square looking toward West Market Square.

Gas blast rocked Bangor a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 29, 2012, at 4:09 p.m.
A huge explosion reverberated through downtown Bangor just after 3 p.m. on April 26, 1912, a century ago last week. A blast in an old brick reservoir under busy Mercantile Square left a crater 30 feet in diameter, unsealing a piece of the city’s infrastructure that most people had forgotten …
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