Our reorder of eclipse glasses has not arrived from the vendor so we are out of the special glasses required for viewing the eclipse. Check out this blog post on safe alternative viewing ideas: solar eclipse

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The Little Water Girl : An Essay

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Exhibits & Displays | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture | Portland History

     
The Little Water Girl. Essay contributed by Portland author Cliff Gallant.

When the renovations to the Portland Public Library were newly completed, I noticed an elderly woman standing in the foyer quietly contemplating the Little Water Girl sculpture, and as I passed by the woman, I heard her whisper the word “precious” to herself.  I’m rather fond of the piece myself, so I glanced over caught the woman’s eye and gave her a little smile. She brightened up, took a step towards me, and began to say something, as if she had to tell someone what she was feeling, but instead she just laid her hand on my arm and sighed, as if whatever she said just wouldn’t be enough.

The piece depicts a young girl holding out a cup of cold water to passersby, with the overflowing water falling into a trough at her feet for horses to drink out of. Two wide steps are carved out of the left side of the granite base as an invitation to people to ascend and drink from the cup, and in the rear right corner of the base is a small basin carved out of the granite for birds and dogs to drink from. A most fitting memorial to the woman to whom the sculpture is dedicated, Mrs. M.N. Stevens, of Portland, who was known, as a young girl, and all through her life, for her great love and compassion for her fellow human beings and for all living things.

Lillian Stevens, who was born in 1844 in Dover-Foxcroft as Lillian Ames, was the third national president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, from 1898 to when she died, in 1914, and the Little Water Girl sculpture was given to the City of Portland by the national organization in her honor in 1917. The original sculpture, from which copies were made, was commissioned by the WCTU and created in 1893 by sculptor George E. Wade in his studio in London, England, for the Columbia Exhibition in Jackson Park, Chicago. At the time, the WCTU was involved in a program to place public drinking fountains in cities around the world for the purpose of providing people with “pure drinking water, as an alternative to liquor”, and Little Water Girl sculptures were placed in Chicago, Detroit, and London, England, as well as in Portland.

Although the inscription on the bronze plaque on the base of the Portland piece, which was designed by Portland Architect Frederick Thompson, refers only to her work with the WCTU, Lillian Stevens devoted herself to a wide variety of other humanitarian causes as well, particularly with regards to women’s rights and the welfare of children, and that work stands as her greatest legacy to future generations.

The first “safe house” in the country for abused women and children was founded in Portland, through the efforts of Lillian Stevens. The Temporary Home for Women and Children she founded here served as a model for such institutions nationally and around the world. The coming into being of such institutions was a sign of the new-found recognition that women and children have rights that protect them from abuse by violent husbands and fathers. Only when Lillian Stevens began to question long-standing convention and take appropriate action did desperately needed change begin to occur.

Prison reform, especially with regards to incarcerated women, was another of Lillian Stevens’ passions. In her time there weren’t separate prison for men and women and she saw the great danger to women inherent in that. In a most fitting tribute to the reforms she brought about, when the Maine State Reformatory for Women was established in Hallowell, the first building was named Stevens School in her honor, and is today the main building of Stevens Commons, a mixed-use community center.

Lillian Stevens’ compassion and reform efforts also extended to the welfare of animals. She was especially grieved by the cruel treatment that horses were subject to at a time when they were commonly regarded as beasts of burden unable to feel pain or discomfort. The prevalent belief was that horses, like all other animals, were insentient beings put on this earth to serve man, whether for work or pleasure. Just before Lillian Steven’s passing she was, most fittingly, presented with the highest lifetime achievement award accorded by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The Little Water Girl sat in Congress Square from 1917 to 1928, directly across High Street from where the Union Station clock sits today. The piece was well utilized there as a drinking fountain by passersby, as well as a watering trough for horses and a place where dogs and birds could also get a drink, but with the coming of the automobile and the faster pace of life it brought, The Little Water Girl was moved to Deering Oaks, where it sat until the 1940’s, when it was placed in storage after having been vandalized. Repaired and returned to Deering Oaks in 1961, where it remained until 1979, when it was moved to the courtyard of the Portland Public Library. With the renovation of the library in 2010, the piece was moved to its present location in the foyer, where it sits as the gem of the city’s public art collection.

Yes, the woman was right, “precious” it is.

For more about artworks on display at the Library: Art @ PPL


May the Fourth Staff Picks

posted: , by Sarah Skawinski
tags: Library Collections | Recommended Reads | Adults | Art & Culture

We hope you will enjoy these humorous book recommendations from some of our staff members who were hired a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…


Storm Trooper Pick
        

Our Storm Trooper Book Club is currently reading The Five Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence With Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins. This book promises to teach you how to overcome your fears and become your greatest self in the shortest amount of time possible.


Jabba the Hutt’s Pick
            

Fans of the grotesque will love Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. It’s gritty, erotic, twisted, and might scar you for life. Recommended for anyone who wants to see what is really wriggling at the end of their fork.


C-3PO’s Pick
       

Being fluent in over 6,000,000 forms of communication is something that everyone should strive to achieve, otherwise we’re doomed! Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher explores the relationship between language and culture. This is required reading for anyone who hopes to keep up when worlds collide.


R2-D2’s Pick
    

Artoo usually reads technical manuals, blueprints, and maps, but lately he can’t get enough of The Best Downloadable Star Wars 3D Printer Models & Files: The Ultimate Collection. This website has links to 3D printer models of the Millennium Falcon, BB-8, blasters, lightsabers, and more. Once you decide what to make, send your file to PPL’s 3D printer to get your job started. You can thank Artoo later for saving your life.


Han Solo’s Pick
           

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams might be the best book ever written. Who wouldn’t enjoy the story of a capable galactic traveler who meets unusual characters and encounters remarkable situations along the way? It’s a delightful, handsome, humorous romp through space.


Princess Leia’s Pick
           

At its heart, Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart is the story of a strong, determined young woman who must confront her past, discover the secrets of her family, and fight a gang of bullies to save what she loves most. Although the “girl” in this story has a rather ordinary hairstyle, she still manages to fight her way to the top. You can’t help but root for this girl and are left longing for future episodes, I mean books.


Darth Vader’s Pick
   

In Age of Anger: A History of the Present, Pankaj Mishra explores the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world. Even those of us who are not susceptible to anger should keep in touch with our dark side to remain well-rounded.


Yoda’s Pick
       

Live as well as we can, we must. Read Living the Good Long Life: A Practical Guide to Caring for Yourself and Others by Martha Stewart, you should. Calmness, organization, perfection, Martha Stewart is. Do, or do not. There is no try.


 


RIP Jonathan Demme

posted: , by Patti DeLois
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture

Jonathan Demme is probably best known as the Oscar-winning director of the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs, but he was also a writer, producer, and actor, and in addition to directing feature length films, he also directed documentaries (Cousin Bobby, The Agronomist) TV episodes (Columbo, Saturday Night Live, American Playhouse) and music videos (including “The Perfect Kiss,” by New Order, and “I Got You, Babe,” by The Pretenders.)

Demme passed away on April 26, 2017, at the age of 73. He will be missed.

 

For a list of some of the movies directed by Demme, click here.

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