SIDELINED

By Kevin C. Mills

Maine Authors Publishing, 2010

317 pages, $21.95

ISBN 978-0-9827021-7-8

 

Chief Justice Earl Warren (1891-1974) once said: “I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.” Despite such august testimony, sports reporters never seem to get the respect they deserve. Until now.

SIDELINED is Maine sports reporter Kevin Mills’ funny and perceptive memoir of his more than 20 years experience on the sports beat, covering everything from football, basketball and hockey, to skiing, auto racing, soccer and sailing.

He has written about men’s and women’s sports at all levels — high school, college and professional –for papers like the Boston Globe and the Lewiston Sun Journal.

These 35 short chapters offer fascinating insight into the hectic life of a sports reporter; interviewing players and coaches, charting game action from start to finish, writing copy, submitting stories by deadline, and dealing with obnoxious parents and clueless editors.

You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy Mills’ explanations of how the print media really works, his descriptions of his methods of putting a story together, getting his facts and quotes straight and dealing with ever-changing technology.

Most of his anecdotes are followed by a reprint of the actual published story, providing an interesting glimpse both at what ran in the paper and what really happened. He tells of locker-room antics, sideline adventures, how story tips often come from unexpected sources, about the “Stop the presses!” once-in-a-lifetime moment that he missed, and why his piano lessons as a kid might actually have paid off.

Learn, too, how he got one of his best stories from a letter a mother didn’t write, why’s its always a bad idea to predict a winner before the final buzzer, and why it’s never good to be mistaken for a National Enquirer reporter.

FOR THE LOVE OF PEAKS:

ISLAND PORTRAITS & STORIES, A COLLECTION

By Fran Houston

Custom Museum Publishing, 2010

76 pages, $19.95

ISBN 978-0-615-35883-3

 

People who live on a Maine island have a different perspective on life from most mainlanders. Peaks Island resident David Sterling said it best while looking back across Casco Bay to Portland: “That’s where the world is. I’m in a great place on Peaks Island and I’m not in that world.” Author Fran Houston captures that island spirit well in her book, FOR THE LOVE OF PEAKS.

Houston is also a resident of Peaks Island. She was born and raised in New Jersey, but had the good sense to move to Maine in 1994, settling on Peaks in 2003. Once there, she discovered a wealth of island history from the island’s many long-time, year-round and summer residents, and she became enchanted with their warm stories of growing up, raising families and growing old in a Maine island community.

The result is this charming oral history collection of 33 islander profiles, men and women — mostly older folks — who remember well when Peaks was the “Coney Island of Maine,” with a casino, roller rink, shooting gallery, bowling alley, merry-go-round, bandstand and Saturday night dances with great bands like Ted Nichols and His Ten Pennies.

From the Peace Corps volunteer, music teacher and ferry captain, to the fireman and whirligig maker, these people reminisce about the innocence of childhood, their fun teenage years and the dark, exciting days of World War II. Tom Bohan tells how a sci-fi story by Ray Bradbury inspired him to come to Peaks Island, and Jerry Garner admits that six generations of his family have lived in the same house. Others describe the disastrous fire of 1957, teenage pranksand grocery shopping by ferry. Read about Old Blubberchops, the joy of eating bone soup and the grandmother who was a bootlegger.

— Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.


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