I’ve been collecting Maine historical items for a long time. The treasure hunt for old documents, photos, newspapers, and books has become much easier since I moved back to Maine, and most days I manage to add a little something to my collection (or “the pile,” as my wife calls it.)

Not long ago I came across the fabulous wedding album of Peggy Coffin, daughter of Robert P. Tristram Coffin, the famous author and Pulitzer Prize winner.

She was married in the Pennellville historic district of Brunswick (see last week’s Coastal History column) in 1955, six months after her father passed away. The full-page B&W photos were taken by Stephen Merril, who was the official photographer of Bowdoin College.

Peggy’s father, Robert, was born on his family’s saltwater farm in Harpswell. He was a Rhodes Scholar who had a stellar college career at Bowdoin, Princeton, and Oxford. He was a professor at Wells College for 13 years, then taught at Bowdoin from 1934 to 1955.

During that time he was a prolific writer who illustrated many of his own books. Most of his writing centered around life in Maine. He wrote both novels and nonfiction, including “Lost Paradise: a Boyhood in Maine”; “Kennebec: Cradle of Americans”; “Christmas in Maine”; “Captain Abby and Captain John,” and many others.

Coffin was even better known for his poetry. His many volumes include “Poems for a Son with Wings”; “One Horse Farm”; “Yankee Coast”; and “Apples by Ocean.”

Most successful was “Strange Holiness,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1936.

Though Robert P.T. Coffin sadly died before his daughter’s wedding, the ceremony took place at his home in Pennellville, and you can see his portrait on the wall behind the couple as they say their vows. I’m sure he was there in spirit.

Peggy lived until 1973 and was a poet as well. She was buried near her father in Harpswell, and her unique gravestone features her poem “Coast Lullaby” as an epitaph.

While it’s hard for me to let go of history, I decided to return the wedding album to the Coffin family. I was approached by Pamalee Coffin Labbe, who retired in 2014 after a 40-year career in the Bowdoin chemistry department.

She met me at the Sea Dog in Topsham and gratefully took the album home with her. I’m glad it’s back with the Coffins where it belongs.

Source: www.britannica.com

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