Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bangor’s Bunyan & Brady

What’s 31 feet tall, weighs 3,700 pounds, came to life in film and can be seen in Bangor, Maine?


paul bunyon (2) Trivia about tall Paul . . .

It is reputed to be the largest Bunyan statue in the world. Its steel and fiberglass frame is hurricane-proofed to withstand 110 mph winds.

Legend has it that Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe, traveled throughout the U.S. creating the Grand Canyon, Puget Sound and the Black Hills.

The Chamber of Commerce sells cassettes of the official Bunyan song, “The Ballad of Paul Bunyan,” by Joe Pickering. It won the Country Music Association's Comedy Song of the Year award in 1997.

Over the years, Paul has been outfitted with a giant fez (Shriners convention) and a huge bandana (Willie Nelson concert).

The statue was a gift to Bangor in 1959 on its 125th anniversary and cost $20,000 raised by donations. It was built by the Messmore and Damon firm of New York. Local artist J. Norman Martin was reportedly paid $137 to design the statue.

W.B. Laughead, an advertising copywriter, introduced the giant to the public. Laughead used Bunyan in pamphlets from 1914 to 1944 to promote Red River Lumber Co. (Minnesota) products.

Maine native and author Stephen King gave the statue life in his 1986 novel, “IT.”

A time capsule entombed in the pedestal is slated to be opened  on February 12, 2084, the city’s 250th anniversary.

But Where’s Babe? Legend has it that Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe, traveled throughout the U.S. creating the Grand Canyon, Puget Sound and the Black Hills. Babe is not with Paul in Bangor.

OK, so you’ve heard of Paul Bunyan, but WHO’s Al Brady?

Exactly what we wondered when we saw this marker while walking in downtown Bangor on Central St .

Brady markerUnlike the fictional Bunyon, Al Brady brought fame of a different type to Bangor. In the fall of 1937, Brady and another man were killed on Central St. in the bloodiest shootout in Maine's history.

brady_fbi_photoBrady became the FBI's most wanted man, after federal agents killed the previous PE #1, John Dillinger, in Chicago in 1934.  Indiana-born Brady and his accomplices, the Brady Gang (not the Brady Bunch) were wanted for over 200 robberies, assaults, and murder, including a police officer and state trooper.

The term Public enemy was used in the 1930s to describe those whose activities were seen as criminal and damaging to society. FBI head, J. Edgar Hoover used it to describe fugitives  including Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde, Ma Barker, and Brady.

In late Sept 1937, two of Brady's gang went to Dakin's Sporting Goods, bought several automatic weapons and a rifle and ordered a third gun. They claimed to be hunters, but  the owner suspicious since hunters don't use pistols (especially semi-automatic ones) contacted police after taking their order and telling them to return in a few weeks. When they returned, FBI agents were waiting. Brady and another man drew their weapons and were shot down in a furious exchange. Photographs of their bodies lying dead in the middle of Central St. and hung in Dakin's store for years afterwards.

brady dead2Brady's body went unclaimed and he was buried in the public section of Bangor’s Mount Hope Cemetery. He was 26 years old.

central st Here’s a current view of downtown Central Street in Bangor.


Lois Evensen said...

Great history and images. Just love it.

Anvilcloud said...

Brady is one gangster that I hadn't heard of. I have heard of Appalling Bunions although I don't have any. :)

Montanagirl said...

Very interesting and historical! Nice photos too. Thanks for sharing. Never too old to learn something new.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks Lois and Mona when we saw the marker it made us curious and now we know more about Al Brady than we even needed to know...and so we figured we would share.

AC, aside from the more well publicized names like Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Capone...Brady was "news" to us too. He managed to cram a lot of mayhem in his short 26 years. That pun was a good one - drat why didn't we think of that first!

Elaine said...

I like the Paul Bunyan statute. When I was a teenager we lived in Eureka, California, and just north of there is the Trees of Mystery. They have a big Paul Bunyan statute, but also a big Blue Babe. It's interesting to see the different depictions of Paul.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

It seems that Paul B did get around cause lots of places have statues of him. This one was very impressive and colorful too. But we did wonder what ever happened to Babe?

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