The Fields of New Sweden

2013 New England, Maine, Road Trip, States

Our hostess Karen grew up here. She and her husband John were married in St Petersburg where they were business owners, raised their three boys, and were important members of the community. But Karen’s heart is here in New Sweden. She is part of the community of Swedes who chose to settle in the wilds of northern Maine in 1870 and built a vibrant community here. Her father was a potato shipper and her mother a school teacher. She herself picked potatoes in the fields of New Sweden before going off to college to become a school teacher. Today we visited the places where she grew up. Things change and many of the fields of New Sweden are now woods. Potato farming has changed in many ways over the last few decades. But the memories are powerful. Tales of skiing for miles after school on a winter’s afternoon or taking the train to visit a friend in a neighboring community. What friend lived where and which teacher lived in a house without plumbing and rode the school bus to school with her students. The house Karen grew up in. The foundation of the school where she studied. The newly restored bandshell that dates to the thirties and has amazing acoustics. The community memory is strong and proud. They have a historical museum and a monument to the original settlers near the cemetery where all of Karen’s ancestors are buried. Stories. Wonderful stories of people no longer living but who are vibrantly alive in the memory of the people left behind. The fields of New Sweden live on. Thank you, Karen and John, for including us in the history of New Sweden. And for introducing us to Anderson’s store, homemade whoopie pies, and Swedish flatbread. You enrich our lives.

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