Bangor’s Paul Bunyan, As You’ve Probably Never Seen Him Before
Growing up in Bangor, as many other people probably have, I've lost count of the number of times I've driven or walked past the Paul Bunyan statue that sits along Main Street.
It's been there as long as I've been alive and still looks pretty outstanding if you ask me. And I've kind of come to take for granted what an undertaking it must have been, back in the day, to put a statue of that size together.
Having spoken with the statue's designer, Normand Martin, myself when I was a young reporter at WABI TV 5, I remember him telling me he put all the effort into designing the now famous Bangor landmark and was paid under $200 for his work!
According to the website, Roadsideamerica.com, while Martin didn't make a ton of money on his design, some out-of-staters were paid a pretty penny to put the big man together unveiling their creation in February of 1959, on the 12th, to be exact. (That happens to be the birthdate on the big buys birth record--which hangs above the clerk's office in Bangor City Hall.)
"A local quasquicentennial committee raised approximately $20,000 to pay New York parade float fabricators Messmoor and Damon to build the statue. "
And if you're wondering what that might have looked like, wonder no more. There's actual photographic evidence of just how it all came to be.
Is that not such a strange sight? Paul Bunyan's torso in mid-air! Definitely not a way many around today have ever viewed him. And all that snow on the ground beneath the fabrication crew!
As I was polking around online, a bit more, I came across another pretty amazing photo from that same time period. It was again, an instance of seeing the Bangor icon in another light.
It was posted in the Facebook Group 'You Knew You Grew Up In Bangor, Maine When...'
Someone had found this incredible photo among some slides grandparents had put together many years back. It was taken shortly after they put old Paul together, with the simple title '1959 September-Paul Bunyan in Bangor ME' handwritten on the bottom of the slide.
As you can see, someone has fashioned an enormous Annah Shriners Fez and placed it on top of Paul's noggin.
I also learned, from the Roadside America site, the statue is pretty much weatherproof!
"The statue is 31 feet high and weighs 3,700 pounds, not including its double-sided ax and lumberjack's peavey. Paul Bunyan's fiberglass-over-metal frame is hurricane-proofed to withstand 110 mph winds."
Hurricane-proof Paul! (Let's hope we never have to put that to the test!)
Pretty cool to learn some new stuff about our old friend. And how fun to have a chance to see him in a way many of us never have.
So next time you pass by, take a good hard look and let it sink in just how much our gigantic guardian has seen and experienced in all those years standing along the way.