July 29, 2012

Two Chairs…



“I see you’re into antiques,” my visitor said, glancing at two chairs prominently placed in the foyer of the parsonage where my husband Monte and I were living.

“Not really,” I told him. 

I am reminded of this conversation whenever I sit in one of these two chairs.


In the many places my husband Monte and I’ve lived the captain’s chair is usually in the living room. Although it sat in the foyer in the parsonage I mentioned, In our current home it sits at a desk in my living room.

It was a wedding gift from my grandfather, Albert C. A. Briskay (Borinsky). We visited him and his second wife, Blanche, while traveling to New England on our honeymoon. Before we left their Kittery, Maine, home he presented the chair to us.

“It was a wedding gift to your grandmother (May Isabelle Walker) and me,” he said. He’d been married in 1920. “It came from a professor who had used it at his home.”

At the time, my husband was a physics professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“I think it’s appropriate for the chair to go from one professor’s home to another professor’s home,” my grandfather said.

I didn’t think to ask who the professor was who gave the chair to my grandparents, but I believe I’ve narrowed it down. My great grandfather Allen Walker, had a summer house in East Lamoine, Maine, where his grandfather and great-grandfather lived. In that community are two possibilities: Rev. John Winterbotham or Professor Young. I haven’t finished researching the details yet.

Someday, this chair will pass on to our son, Nolan. In so doing, it will follow the tradition of being passed on from a professor’s home to a professor’s home to a (more…)

August 7, 2010

Googins Island, Maine: An Osprey Sanctuary





Sign on Googins Island, Maine

     The sign was on tiny Googins Island just fifty feet offshore in Wolfe Neck Park, Freeport, Maine. My husband Monte and I were there for two reasons. First, I was walking all the mainland beaches between Lamoine Beach, Maine and Wallis Sands Beach, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. And second, this island was named after the Googins family, one of my ancestral branches (see THE GOOGINS GENEALOGICAL LINE section at the end of this post).

I could walk on the sand, but not on Googins Island

     At low tide, the area separating Googins Island from the mainland was almost like quicksand. Perhaps we would sink if we stepped onto it, I thought, as I stepped gingerly on rocks, avoiding the wet sand.

     I was disappointed that we couldn’t walk around this tiny island. I also wondered: What is an osprey? Why does it need “sanctuary?”

     As usual, I surfed the Internet. I discovered that one of the biggest natural attractions at Wolf Neck State Park is the osprey nest on adjacent Googin’s Island, viewable from the mainland.** Not knowing what to look for, I didn’t spot the nest.

     The osprey became rare as nesting bird, especially in the northern and eastern parts of United States where unsuccessful reproduction believed result of chemical pollution of waters and fishes on which Osprey preys.*

     It is considered a raptor—a bird of prey—and is listed in the biological order Falconiformes. It hunts for its food with its extremely sharp claws, excellent eyes, and powerful wings.

     The osprey, almost eagle size, measures (more…)

March 25, 2010

Amish Grace, Thomas Cornell, & Intertwined Love: Risks of Writing Historical Fiction



The Risks of Writing Historical Fiction

     “…the most disturbing aspect of the upcoming television move “Amish Grace” is the fictional liberties it takes in depicting the aftermath of the 2006 killings of five Amish girls in a Nickel Mines schoolhouse,” according to Herman Bontrager, an Akron man who acted as a spokesman for the Nickel Mines Amish community after the shootings. “Amish tell the truth and are accustomed to telling the truth. When you take an account like this, and make it appear like it happened, and fictionalize it, that’s troubling.”*

     Authors of the book on which the movie is based, “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy,” agree on this point.**

     Fiction based on an actual historical framework is always up for criticism. It’s an issue I’ve been aware of since I began delving in writing my novel, “Intertwined Love.” The historical framework includes 1790s people, both the well known— Henry Knox, William Duer, William Bingham, Alexander Baring, Thomas Jefferson among them—and the less well known: Franco van Berckle, Madame Rosalie de Leval, Louis des Isles, Mary Googins, and Joseph Swett.

     I encountered the criticism issue in two situations. First, my in-depth research disproved some oral traditions about East Lamoine, Maine. I shared the documentation with a community native. The late Gladys Vigent (a Samuel Des Isles descendent) was (to continue reading this post click on: )


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Two Photographers Named Cornell




November 16, 2009

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



A Gravestone for a Civil War Veteran

      I want to make the national news headlines.

At risk of plagiarism, the headline could read: Civil War soldier gets grave marker. Union captain’s burial site went unmarked for more than 140 years.*

Let me elaborate.

My great-great grandfather, Charles F. Walker, served in Company A, 8th Regiment of Kansas Infantry, Leavenworth, Kansas. He enlisted August 28, 1861. He was discharged on July 11, 1864, at Ft. Leavenworth by reason of Surgeons Certificate of Disability.

Said Charles F. Walker was born in Penobscot in the State of Maine, is 25 years of age…by occupation when enrolled, a Umbrella Maker. On a surviving soldiers list it is noted that he was from Lamoine Beach, a Private with (more…)

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