Illustrated Bites of Island News

Jim Cerny, reporting and photography

Publick occurrences One-man crime wave Safety Building progress How hot was it? Piscataqua ship spotting Late summer flowers Annual auction Quick index to back issues

Publick occurrences

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One-man crime wave

Police Chief Jim Murphy recently attended a session along with many other regional law enforcement members, in which Everett Stickney described the 300 burglaries and arsons he committed in New Hampshire and Maine, as part of the plea bargain for a 20-year sentence. Stickney was working as a cook in the Wentworth Hotel and sometimes living in his car in one of the parking lots.

This cleared two otherwise mysterious crimes in New Castle, the two pipe bombs found at Fort Stark in March, 2008, and the break-in at the New Castle Historical Society Museum in April, 2008. Stickney's general method in home burglaries was to skip houses that were locked, a reminder to lock your house! For more details see this news account of his arrest.

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Safety Building progress

Work is underway on the new safety building. The old building was demolished, foundation work is done, and framing began the first week in August. Things are just about on schedule despite hitting unanticipated ledge in two places and despite some adverse weather. Dave McGuckin, who was on the original building committee named in September 2008, is acting as a liaison between the contractor and the town.

The building slab was poured in just one morning, with the pre-assembled walls largely erected by the end of that day! This shows the concrete being pumped into place.

A crew smoothing the freshly pumped concrete. The orange grid is the piping for the radiant floor heating.

A power trowel smoothing out the concrete surface, just hours after it was poured.

Pre-assembled walls put in place. The green exterior indicates use of the ZIP System that combines a panel with a water-resistive barrier, instead of the conventional panel with separate Tyvek or other wrap.

Roof sheathing in place and framing underway.

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How hot was it?

While this summer will be remembered as cool, we did have some 90-degree days, particularly during a long warm and humid spell in August. Using the data recorded at Morse Hall in Durham as our representative station, there were five such days: two in April; none in May, June, or July; and three in August the highest temperature for the season, believe it or not, was 92.6 on April 28!

News reports of the 100-degree weather in Texas, where Austin exceeded that mark over 65 times in the June-August period, prompted a look at our own records for exteme heat. Again using Durham as the station, where records go back to 1893, there have been only seventeen 100-degree days in 116 years! The last two occurrences were 100 on August 22, 2002 and 102 on August 2, 1975. That day in 1975 set records in many coastal locations as it occurred with strong northwest winds.

Kids licking blocks of ice during a heat wave in New York City, July 6, 1911. (George Grantham Bain photograph, from the Library of Congress)

July, 1911, was the scorcher of all heat waves for this area, with five of the seventeen 100-degree days in the 116-year record occurring in just a nine-day span! Think about that. The daily high temperatures in Durham for July 1-12, 1911, were as follows:
90, 94, 103, 103, 97, 102, 83, 84, 94, 101, 100, 98

The temperature of 103 is the all-time high.

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Piscataqua ship spotting

The most noticeable ship was one that may not have entered the harbor. The Gypsum Centennial was anchored off the harbor entrance for perhaps two weeks. There was some speculation that it had engine problems.

The bulk carrier Falcon Trader at the State pier, taking on scrap metal right after the tall ship Eagle was docked there.

The bulk carrier Falcon Trader (IMO 9047001) is flagged in Liberia, owned by World Reach Shipping of Liberia and managed by Bekkers of Rotterdam, Netherlands. It was built in 1993 at Hakodate Dock in Tokyo and can carry 46,683 DWT.

The "Thirteen" docked at the Wentworth Marina.

An interesting scale comparison, with some foreshortening effect, showing the "Lady Kath" and "Thirteen" in the foreground with kayakers passing by in the background.

Activity at the Wentworth Marina included two large power yachts at the transient dock, the 157-foot Thirteen and the 128-foot Lady Kath. The Thirteen was rated as the 97th longest American power yacht in 2007 by Power and Motor Yacht Magazine. At the other end of the Marina docks, the Dinghy Dock Cafe has been replaced by the Dinghy Dock II, which is an actual boat hull with two levels. This involved some negotiation with the adjacent home owner's association to agree upon noise control.

The new "Dinghy Dock II" cafe at the Wentworth Marina.

A Robinson Crusoe-like moment on the New Castle shore!
"It happen'd one Day about Noon, going towards my boat, I was exceedingly surpriz'd with the Print of a Man's naked Foot on the Shore, which was very plain to be seen in the Sand [...] for there was exactly the very Print of a Foot, Toes, Heel, and every Part of a Foot ... [Daniel Defoe, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 1719]

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Late summer flowers

An Athalie Dahlia at the Wentworth Hotel.

Honeybee working on a Coneflower at the Wentworth. After several years of not seeing a single honeybee, this year I've seen honeybees on every photo session with flowers.

Hydrangea at a picket fence on Walbach Street.

Yellow Lily on Steamboat Lane. See also with colors inverted for an unusual effect.

Turk's Cap Lily at the Wentworth Hotel.

White Cleome at Morgan's Way.

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Annual auction

Northeast Auctions held their annual Marine and China Trade auction over a two-day weekend in mid-August at the historic Treadwell House in Portsmouth. And as usual it was replete with items to desire, a sort of museum in motion, as we've reported in the past. The economy had an impact on bidding, with some higher-end items passed. The most expensive item sold was an 1852 oil painting (14x20 inches) of a western scene by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait that went for $381,000 (all prices quoted here include a 17% buyer's premium).

What follows are several items that caught my eye if I were bidding to fill my fantasy estate!

The head of a full-length, larger than life female figurehead, circa 1880, attributed to John Rogerson. It sold for $183,000.

An oil painting (11x14 inches) by Harrison Bird Brown of White Island Light that went for $12,870.

A primitive painting showing a submarine torpedoing a battleship that went for $702.

A Buddha-like stone head that went for $1,287.

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Quick index to back issues of Saltines

September, 2009