Freak Week Vacation Album July 1926

These photos were all taken during the third and fourth week in July 1926. They were pasted into a little vacation album that was found years ago in a Florida attic. The dates caught my eye.

Something was amiss with the cosmos during the third week of July 1926. The temperature hovered near 100 degrees all up and down the eastern seaboard. The heat wave was punctuated in New England by one exploding meteor over the crook in the Androscoggin River on July 18th and two unusual storms: one later on July 18th and the other on the 22nd. None of the extensive damage that occurred during the storms appears in these photos, but they add visual context to the time frame.

Both storms were short and intense with vivid lightning, torrential rain, and golf ball sized, pebble-filled hail, swirling through southern Maine, breaking hundreds of windows. The July 22nd storm lasted only 10 minutes, but it affected a larger area. Wind swept through York Beach blowing several cottages from their foundations. The bell tower at The Nubble was blown off its base and moved 4 feet to the edge of a deep cliff.

In Kennebunkport on the 22nd, author Booth Tarkington was drifting 6 miles offshore in his disabled motorboat when the storm hit. He prayed for help to arrive before the swirling wind could whisk him out to sea. Captain John Peabody finally spotted him and towed him back to shore through convulsing waves. Temperatures in southern Maine dropped from 104 degrees before the storm to 72 degrees immediately after.

I went through the 1926 summer issues of Turn ‘o the Tide to and clipped some articles to clarify some of the photographs from the album. Look for them in the comments.

I always learn something new from old photographs. For one thing, I never knew that color-coded buses ran from Dock Square in 1926. I had also never seen a picture of the owner of Bass Rocks Hotel, Henry Walsh or of The Grove Station during its last season, or of the Collegians at Parson’s Field on School Street during a Baseball Game coached by Jack Coombs.

Green Bus for the beach, yellow bus for Cape Porpoise. Notice the photo of Atlantic Hall. It took 6 years to build and was finally finished in 1920. Six years later in 1926 after this picture was taken, Atlantic Hall was moved over and back to make room for the new sidewalk.
Joseph Wells had the original Bass Rocks Hotel built in 1884 at Beach Ave and Boothby Rd. It burned to the ground in 1906 but Wells rebuilt it immediately. His son Roy sold it to Henry H. Walsh who passed it to his son John Walsh. The New Bass Rock Hotel was demolished in 1962. The first photo shows Henry Walsh standing by the New Bass Rock Hotel summer of 1926.

Notice the Narragansett Hotel before it was enlarged in the background in the last photo. It was built in 1904 for John Curtis. He sold it to George Wentworth in 1921. It was converted to condos in the 1980s.
Kennebunkport won 13 to 4 in the 8th.
The Kennebunkport Branch of the B&M Railroad that ran to Kennebunk Beach closed for good 1 1/2 months after this picture was taken. The Grove Station was on Boothby Road.

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