A few years ago, we moved back to a little town in southern Maine, not too far from the old mill towns of Lewiston and Auburn.  I have visited the area often and am fascinated by the old mill buildings that still stand, mostly abandoned or converted to other uses.  Even in various stages of decay, they still speak to me of a time when they were the heart of a small town.  That is why I wrote Requiem,

They stand alone in stark contrast to their surroundings.  Derelict, they speak of a time past, when they played a role in, no, were the heart of the community.  Gone is the smoke filled air, billowing from the monolithic chimneys, spewing the acrid smell of wood and coal fired burners.  Gone is the cacophonous sound of the belt driven machines, never pausing, providing the textiles, the shoes, and the lumber for a growing nation.  The mill was the town.  The town was the mill.  Men, women, entire families, streamed in from Canada, Asia, and Europe, all in hopes of finding work in the mills.  Rural New England families sent their daughters to fulfill needs, wishes, and dreams, looking to find something better then the poverty and pain they left behind

Cultures clashed and families melded.  Ethnicity’s struggled to survive, while slowly being pulled apart.  Towns grew to cities.  Roots were set.  Standards established.  Normality changed virtually overnight.  It was a hard life, but one lived with pride.  Workers labored through twelve and fourteen hour days, six days a week, reserving only Sunday to reflect on how lucky they were.

Through a war that consumed a generation, they toiled.  Those that could fight, did.  Those left behind molded the fabric, leather, and iron that became the clothes and shoes and weapons that supported their efforts.  Disease and infirmities squeezed the life from their bodies.  The ravages of the mills took their toll.   Many gave their lives to the mills.  Many others took their place.

From this a nation grew and prospered on the backs of those that had a dream and chased it, and in the hearts of those that believed that there would be a better tomorrow if only they could get through today.  It became their country and they strove to defend it and nurture it, cost be damned.

I gaze now upon the mills.  Silent, they stand watch over today, remembering yesterday.  A piece of history, now ignored.  I do not see the weathered stone and hollow windows.  I see instead a monument.  It says to me “I am that from which this city was born.  I did not abandon you as you did me.  Inside, my heart still beats.  I am the spark that ignited freedoms flame.  I provided the mothers milk of opportunity.  I am your foundation.  In my halls a country was built.  My empty floors now store the memories of a nation”.

They stand alone in stark contrast to their surroundings.  Derelict, they speak of a time past.

From the archives Sept 2012

About oldmainer

I am a retired manager living in Southern Maine and a would be writer of poetry, narratives, short stories, and random opinions, and that's how Oldmainer was born. Recently, I decided to try an experiment. I added photography to the mix, using only a cheap cell phone with a limited camera and the editing software that came with it, and added the blog site Inklings at to showcase the results. So, feel free to use whatever you find interesting or worthy, but please honor the terms of my copyright when and if you do. They may not be much, but they are still a piece of me. I appreciate your checking me out and hope that you find something that will encourage a return visit. Thanks for stopping by.
This entry was posted in Aging, Commentary, Country, Generations, History, Insight, Life, Memories, Mills, Perspective, Reflection, Tribute and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Requiem

  1. quiall says:

    Their history is the history of our world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written and horrifically sad that we kill people, as we are today, to move forward. That we can never come up with a better way to do things that won’t destroy a generation of people who are not wealthy, just to keep things going. It never stops. It’s not a good thing. It’s a nightmare for those eaten up while others grow rich over their dead bodies. I wish I could see it a different way but that’s what those monuments mean to me. Child labor, exhausted people, their lives sucked out of them, for what? For who? Why? Didn’t they deserve to live? To enjoy life, except on Sunday, when they had a chance to sit down for five minutes? I never get that. Never. Those buildings housed desperate people, who were willing to die, so that they could live for a little while in an unfair system that doesn’t care.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Osyth says:

    It’s those that toil that build a world. It is tragic that we forget. In history is our very beating heart. In history is the spirit that marks us out. If we bother to look back and face it. I am very new to New England. I have been here only a very few years. Learning about what shaped the world I see around me now is perhaps the most important step I can take to understanding this place. And for me, to understand the place I live in is extremely important.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. scifihammy says:

    There’s something forlorn about an old derelict building. Your thoughtful post reminded me of the old abandoned mine I used to walk past as a kid in the north of England. So many jobs lost – you could almost here the men’s voices.


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