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Not-so-good old days
For those in need of an antidote to the customary hopeful tales, the following represent reports from one issue of the Oxford Democrat, published 102 years ago. Children, alas, were not exempt from mishaps:
Christmas was marked by a tragedy in the home of Nicholas R. Goss, a Grand Trunk engineer of Portland, when his only son, Orville H., was fatally shot while playing with a 22 calibre rifle. The Goss boy was at the home of a neighbor by the name of Gulrickson, waiting to go to church with them. While Mrs. Gulrickson was up stairs and her 16-year-old son Joseph had left the room for a moment, the Goss boy in some way discharged the rifle with which he was playing, and the ball entered his left lung. He died in about ten minutes. There were two smaller children with him, but neither could give any explanation of how the accident happened.
Falling into a tub of boiling hot water which was being used while butchering a pig at Hollis Monday, Luammi, the four-year-old son of William Whitten, was submerged and so badly scalded that he died after terrible suffering. The little fellow was playing in the yard and while the attention of the workers was called elsewhere he backed against the tub and lost his balance.
Of course, children were not the only casualties:
Leonard Giles, an employee of the Maine Alpaca mill at Sanford, had his leg crushed Monday by an overturned pulley while he was working on a water wheel which was being installed, and died later at the hospital. He was 28 years old and unmarried.
Early morning milk man found the body of Charles A. Arnold lying at the foot of the stairs leading to his boarding place at Rockland Saturday. Arnold is supposed to have been killed by falling down the stairs. Alvin Arnold, a brother of the dead man, was found in a stupor in the room occupied by the brothers. An inquest has been ordered.
Neighbors, attracted by flames pouring out of the camp on Monroe's island of Alexander McGuinness, found his dead body lying near the stove with the face badly burned. It is thought that he attempted to light his fire with kerosene, and was killed by the explosion. McGuinness, who was 63 years old, formerly fished out of Gloucester.
And, depression aggravated perhaps by seasonal conditions was as real then, as now. It only lacked an official diagnostic term.
Oxford Democrat, December 27, 1910:
Charles H. Sturgis, of Milbridge, night station agent at Washington Junction, committed suicide in Ellsworth Monday afternoon by shooting. Mr. Sturgis had been employed at Washington Junction less than two months. He came from Norridgewock, where he had been station agent on the Somerset road five years. For a day or two before his death he had been acting strangely, and his mind was evidently unbalanced. His fellow employees at the station believe he was despondent over losing his position at Norridgewock. In one pocket of the dead man was found note addressed to his wife, which read: "I want no funeral service of any kind." Mr. Sturgis was 59 years of age and leaves a widow and two daughters, living at Milbridge.
If there's a lesson here, a common thread, it might be that at this time of year, it's a good idea to pay attention to what the kiddies are doing, pay attention to what you're doing and, it won't hurt to look out for your neighbor once in awhile, too.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today. Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.