Friday 1 November was always going to be one of the highlights of our trip. For today was the day we did our Stephen King tour in Bangor, Maine. I apologise to all readers who are not King fans but my Mum and I are serious fans and we were bubbling with excitement as the weather cleared and we waited to be picked up. Our group ended up being 11 plus our driver/MC Jamie – an over-the-top extrovert – a Bangor born and breed local – the son of the owner of SK Tours – the only Stephen King approved tour in Bangor. Our three and a half hour tour took us around the town highlighting places and things mentioned in King’s books and featured in the movie adaptions. Of course the highlight were the stories Jamie told of Stephen and his wife Tabitha and how they rose from being a poor starving struggling family with two infant kids, with Stephen writing in spare hours from being a lowly paid English teacher. His first book, Carrie was the break-through and the rest is history. At the end of the tour we were shown his house -and next door – the guest house purchased. One of his guests was JK Rowling – author of the Harry Potter books – and Jamie reminded us that the two of them – Stephen King and JK Rowling are the most popular living writers on the planet today – Rowling worth over a billion and the King’s half a billion. One of the things pointed out is that the King foundation has sponsored and given a lot to the town of Bangor over nearly forty years. Stephen has a great love of Rock and Roll and has purchased a radio station in Bangor – which is completely DJ run and organised.
We spent time in the 400 acre Bangor cemetery – the place where Stephen King often walked and thought about his stories and where, as we were shown, he often got his character names – including both that of ‘Georgie’ and ‘Carrie’ – familiar to fans of his King’s work.
A lot of the spots shown were in relation to the book and movie ‘It’ – a story about an evil creature living in the sewers of Derry (King’s fictional town based on Bangor) which came out to feed on children every 27 years. The creature takes the form of a clown named Pennywise and we were taken to the street corner where the child Georgie was lured to his death down a storm drain. A photo opportunity was inevitable.
So many stories told by Jamie and even if only half are true they painted a picture of a great American author and his family, who although not perfect, were generous to the town which provided so much of the background to the stories which have entertained so many around the world including my Mum and me.