April 05, 2020

Video cameras capture vivid tales of Bangor’s present to be uncovered by future generations

BANGOR — Stories abounded Thursday at the Bangor Public Library, not all of them from the tomes lining the freshly painted walls.

Throughout the day, 25 residents recorded their daily activities, their hopes and dreams and even their frustrations, as part of “A Day in The Life of the Community,” a time capsule project called TimeStoppers.

Nervous at first, community members soon began to enjoy their soliloquies in front of the camera, which was provided by WLBZ-TV (Channel 2). Deb Farnham, the station’s public services director, drew participants out with pointed questions about living in Bangor, about the problems that beset society and about the future.

The tapes, along with documents and photographs from organizations and people, will be deposited in the time capsule that will be buried outside the children’s room and opened in 2046.

“All of us wonder, `Gosh, what on earth have I got to talk about?”‘ said Irv Marsters, a member of the TimeStoppers committee who roamed the catalog room Thursday, inviting patrons to talk about themselves. “But we’ve all got stories to tell.”

“Have fun, relax!” he urged three teen-agers who reluctantly agreed to talk to the camera.

Soon, the teens were speaking their minds freely, letting people 50 years down the road know that youngsters living in the 1990s have their share of problems.

“Kids aren’t loved as they should be at home,” said Rachael Dickinson, 19, of Bangor, a health care assistant. “In general today, kids are really lost and don’t know where to find anything.”

“Drugs are everywhere,” said Kristen Anderson, a Bangor High School senior who was in the middle of mid-term examinations. “It’s crazy the numbers of kids who are doing drugs to fit in.”

But Kurt, her 19-year-old brother, a student at Unity College, reassured listeners.

The future isn’t necessarily bleak, he said, “as long as parents raise their kids to be God-fearing, the same way ours reared us.”

For Pam Doiron, a Bangor mother of two, participating in the time capsule project was the perfect way to spend a winter morning.

With Christian, 4, and Cara, 2, snuggled against her, Doiron enumerated for the camera the children’s favorite activities, which included taking walks around Bangor’s tree-lined streets, listening to weekly band concerts in the city’s parks, swimming in Hampden’s Lura E. Hoit pool, visiting the Bangor Mall and watching the many area parades.

Meanwhile, Fifth Street Middle School teacher Paul Butler bounded up the library stairs Thursday morning, holding a notebook filled with essays and poems for the time capsule written by youngsters in his seventh-grade English class.

“I challenged students to put together their unique perspectives on their place in the community and about their place in Bangor’s future,” the teacher said.

One pupil wrote about what it was like to grow up in Houlton and move to Bangor only to realize that “it wasn’t the big city she thought it was, but a close-knit community similar to the one she had left,” Butler said.

Other students reflected on their experiences during the Ice Storm of ’98, while two designed a computer layout of what “kids in the ’90s like in fashion, movies and sports,” according to the teacher.

Later, 6 1/2-year-old Lyndsey Wood of Bangor recalled for the camera how the library’s new catalog room “used to be the children’s section,” and how she would visit the library with her Head Start group.

“I like to remember the past,” the little blond girl said shyly.

Tow-haired Joshua Michaud, 5, happily sat on his mother’s lap with his sister, Heather, 4, and recounted his love for Disney movies, rock ‘n’ roll, Tonka trucks and strawberry ice cream.

His mother, Sally Michaud of Bangor, said the time capsule project could help people trace their heritage.

“I’m trying to do my family’s genealogy and I’m stumped,” she said. “All I’ve got are these little scraps of paper. Maybe down the road, by viewing this, people won’t have as tough a job.”

Another Bangor mother spoke wistfully to the camera.

“I hope my kids have a better time and an easier way than I did,” said Jill Perkins, who works part-time to support her family.

David Munsell, 77, of Veazie was happy to tell listeners about his volunteer position as a Christian counselor at the Penobscot County Jail.

“By introducing inmates to Jesus and having them turn away from their enemy, Satan, they find a brand new life,” he said.

The time capsule project received a stamp of approval from the Legislature. Sen. Buddy Murray, D-Bangor, brought in a proclamation recognizing the TimeStoppers program as an effort to “preserve the past, capture the present and prepare for the future.”

Sitting before the camera, Pete Beitzell, 35, of Bangor said he hopes that 50 years will find people “acting more thoughtfully and responsibly, and not blaming society for everything.”

Beitzell, a cashier at Shaw’s Supermarket and a part-time landlord, has another aspiration.

“I hope by the time people watch this that I’m retired to a space station,” he said.

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