‘Fireside Chats’ returns to Belfast

Oct 10, 2018
The popular story/photo features in the Waldo Independent had a hand-drawn logo.

Belfast — “Fireside Chats” will be the topic of the Belfast Historical Society’s meeting Monday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Abbott Room of Belfast Free Library, 106 High St.

The program will include a PowerPoint presentation compiled by Kevin Johnson, photo archivist at the Penobscot Marine Museum, and spoken interpretations of several of the original “Chats.”

Almost 30 years ago, photographer Peggy McKenna and staff writer Jeff Shula, both working for Belfast's Waldo Independent newspaper, produced a lengthy series of interviews/photo spreads called "Fireside Chats."

These stories focused on wise, colorful old-timers whose lives spanned most of the 20th century. From their favorite rocking chair or their kitchen table, they told their life stories. The tales, in addition to revealing the resilience and humanity of each person, also opened a window into the challenges and joys of Waldo County life in a bygone era.

McKenna died in May 2014, and her photographs and negatives were donated to the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, where they have been catalogued and put into archival storage. The Belfast Historical Society and Museum has received a grant from the William and Emily Muir Fund of the Maine Community Foundation to publish a book of interviews and photographs of Waldo County seniors which first appeared as “Fireside Chats” in the Waldo Independent in the 1990s.

The public is invited to enjoy an evening of selected “Chats” and the opportunity to pre-buy a copy of the book, which is currently in pre-publication. Cost is $18, cash or check.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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