Worm diggers rake the mud at low tide at Cod Cove in Wiscasset in 1958. Harvesting bloodworms to sell for bait was and is a common practice to supplement a fisherman’s income. Bloodworms and their cousin, sandworms, are found in the silty clay or mud of Maine’s extensive mud flats. The worms are so named because their blood shows through their pale skin, giving them a faint-pink color.
Photo Credit : From the Kosti Ruohomaa Collection at Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, ME, courtesy of Black Star, White Plains, NY
Yankee editor Mel Allen recently paid a visit to the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine, to get a better look at its resurrection of the work of Maine photojournalist Kosti Ruohomaa. One of the top names at the famed Black Star photo agency in the ’40s and ’50s, Ruohomaa created images of rural New England and its people — mostly Mainers — that graced the pages of the nation’s most famous magazines. But after he died in 1961 at age 47, his fame faded and his photographs ended up boxed away in a New Jersey warehouse.
That changed in 2017, when the Penobscot Marine Museum brought Ruohomaa’s archives back to his home state. There may be as many as 50,000 images in the collection, all waiting to be catalogued, and eventually scanned and digitized, then placed on the museum’s website for the public’s viewing. There have already been two exhibits from what arrived in Maine from the warehouse. Photo archivist Kevin Johnson thinks they will need $350,000 and three more years to put them all online — and bring back Kosti Ruohomaa’s legacy.
The following are selected Kosti Ruohomaa images from the museum’s collection. You can see more in the photo essay “Bringing Kosti Home” in the March/April 2019 issueof Yankee.