The back of the postcard reads: “Louise and Robert on a sleigh ride with Chris the man who cares for Billy’s trotting horses. This is Wm’s horse.” ~ Albert J.
The children on a sleigh ride in Machias, Maine, are my Mom and her brother, Louise and Robert Johnson. Billy is their uncle, Billy Means and Wm is William Means, the children’s grandfather. The horse drawn sleigh is on the wooden bridge across the Machias River with the Getchell Grist Mill and the roofline of the Phoenix Opera House in the background.
Among the family photos stored in the attic of my great grandparents home, there are two of a parade in Machias, my hometown.
The firetruck has 1926 Machias Fire Department on the side. I cannot read the side of the horse drawn cart. I am imagining what it was like to fight a fire with horses and no fire hydrants, hand pumping water from a source. Fighting fires was important as many Maine towns and cities were devastated in fast-moving fires in the early 1900s.
No one could forget the Great Fire of 1911 in Bangor.
“Unquestionably the worst disaster to strike the Queen City, the Great Fire of 1911 reshaped the city’s landscape, burning 55 acres, destroying 267 buildings, damaging 100 more and causing $3,188,081.90 in losses and damage. The conflagration left 75 families homeless, most of whom had lived from Harlow Street to Center Street to lower French Street. It destroyed more than 100 businesses during a nine-hour span.”