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Memory talks preserve history of Cape Elizabeth

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Memory talks preserve history of Cape Elizabeth

CAPE ELIZABETH — Each Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., residents are invited to the Community Center to share their stories about people, places or events in Cape Elizabeth.

Jan Reale, a photographer and writer and member of the Historical Preservation Society, said the idea for the project called "I Remember Cape Elizabeth: Senior Stories, Extraordinary Memories," was sparked as she listened to stories from older residents in her neighborhood.

"As I listened to their personal experiences of places in Cape Elizabeth, I felt privileged," she said. "I wanted to share those stories with others."

So Reale applied for a grant from the Cape Elizabeth Arts Commission, and started writing her neighbors' stories and taking photographs of the places the seniors talked about. At the Tuesday morning sessions, Reale encourages participants to write their own memories on "memory cards" and she takes casual photos of the residents.

"The stories themselves are wonderful, but if there is a visual image, the connection becomes even stronger," she said. "The history in town is shrinking, and this is a way to preserve those memories."

People are invited to share their experiences or just listen to the speakers, she said. Participants often talk about historical events, Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth farming and fishing, or buildings and landmarks. 

Reale also said she would like to expand the program to include an educational component, connecting school students to the workshops.

The program is supported by the Maine Humanities Council and the Cape Elizabeth Historical Preservation Society.

The discussions take place Tuesdays through Oct. 6 in the Community Center from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and Tuesday, Oct. 13 at Village Crossings, 78 Scott Dyer Road, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Light refreshments are served and the program is free. To register, contact Cape Elizabeth Community Services at 799- 2868, or Reale at  799-2457.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

Sharing stories

Sharing stories
Photo: Janice Reale
Jane Downes, left, looks at photographs with Norman Jordan, Ellen Van Fleet, Maurice White and Sandy Schliesman during a recent meeting of "I Remember Cape Elizabeth: Senior Stories, Extraordinary Memories." The workshops take place Tuesdays through Oct. 13 at the Cape Elizabeth Community Center from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.