July 14, 2011

A Sense of Place



     A sense of place…

     Tim Landy, my friend and leader of the former Foothills Writers Group, was always emphasizing this sense of place, something I could never relate to. I once wrote an article on Tim’s visit to Ireland, where he sought his sense of place beyond the more than rolling hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

     As I said, I couldn’t relate to his feelings of sense of place.

     That is, until the first time I set my feet on Lamoine Beach, Maine, at the junction where the       meets Frenchman Bay.

     I’d never even heard of Lamoine Beach before I began doing my genealogy research, during which I learned French immigrant Louis des Isles arrived there, married a local-born English/Irish girl, Mary (Rogers) Googins. The couple birthed eight children, one of which, William, was my ancestor.

      The first time I visited Lamoine Beach was late summer 2003. While there, something magical happened…something I never felt before hit me, if only for a few seconds.

Lamoine Beach, Maine

     I felt an undefineable sense of place. I was where I belonged, where I was connected. It was nothing less than a spiritual experience.

     It came and went so swiftly that, if it hadn’t been so strong, I would have questioned it, or missed it, or attributed it to some strange thing.

     Never again have I experienced this sense of place, although my feet have trod on many of the sites my ancestor’s feet trod.

Aerial view of Lamoine Beach

    What was—is—there about Lamoine Beach that that is the site where I experienced that sense of place Tim kept speaking about? Why there, but not at Wallis Sands Beach or Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, two ocean shore sites that have sentimental meaning to me, places where I spent my childhood summers?

Wallis Sands Beach in Rye, New Hampshire

Why not in Portsmouth, Rhode Island (now Middletown), where my ancestors, the Thomas and Rebecca Cornell family lived? Why not on the Westmoreland County Senior Home property, off Route 119, where my ancestor, Michael Rugh, had an original land grant in the 1770s? Or the Michael Rugh (grandson of the elder Michael Rugh) farm on Route 119 in Blacklick Township in Indiana County, Pennsylvania? Why Lamoine Beach?

Lamoine Beach

     It doesn’t make sense to me, but I am glad the experience happened. I now can relate to Tim’s concept of sense of place with a new perception.



My Childhood Home: 29 Spring St., Portsmouth, N. H.

Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania: Quaint

The Park Outside My Front Door


Grandparents, homemade cookies, & licking cream off milkcaps


RIGHTING A CIVIL WAR WRONG: A Gravestone for a Civil War Veteran



  1. I would love to have a sense of place–Could be a log cabin built in 1820 by my ancestors William and Mary Darling White. —-property includes graves of family?

    Comment by Joan — February 24, 2013 @ 9:20 am | Reply

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