On Saturday night, Feb. 3, some 70 Alna residents gathered for Movie Night at the Alna Volunteer Fire Department. Attendees enjoyed an encore showing of Doreen Conboy’s 2014 film, “Currents, Courses & Streams, Alna, Maine: Histories of a Backwater Town.”
The film portrays Alna and its residents through stories of Head Tide, Sheepscot, Puddle Dock, West Alna and Alna Center told by people who grew up there. Conboy combined residents’ poignant and humorous recollections with archival photos and contemporary footage to bring to life the characters, places and events that shaped Alna from the late 19th century to 2013.
Attendees enjoyed popcorn and cider along with colorful stories and images from the past. In the film, residents recalled what it was like to attend Alna’s one-room schoolhouses, dances and musical events held at Erskine Hall, and described how the community weathered the Great Depression and World War II. Farmers, shopkeepers, railroad workers, postmasters, artists, and sawmill operators were remembered through anecdotes told by those who knew them.
Before the film, Conboy spoke about her passion for Alna history, and how she sought to capture it on film. “I interviewed about 30 people, and sadly, many have now passed. Hearing their voices is what still gets to me, as they so graciously let a complete stranger into their lives to share their stories.”
Since the 1970s, Conboy has been instrumental in bringing together people and resources to preserve the 1789 Meeting House and the Puddledock and Alna Center schools. She also organized the town’s archives, where historic photos and documents are kept. “No one has done more to preserve and promote Alna’s history than Doreen has,” said First Selectman Ed Pentaleri. Selectmen recently nominated Conboy for the next “Spirit of America Award” for Alna.
Alna Movie Night was sponsored by the Committee for Alna History and two non-profit organizations: The Fund to Support Historic Alna and Friends of Head Tide Church, who work to preserve the town’s historic buildings. In April, the nonprofits will sponsor a lecture by Maine State Historian Earl Shettleworth Jr. on Maine’s iconic meeting houses, including Alna’s.
The Fund to Support Historic Alna welcomes volunteers to help monitor, maintain and prepare the buildings for public events. To learn how you can donate or help out, please contact email@example.com or visit: www.historicalna.org