In the first hours following Tuesday’s tragedy, most people remained in their homes and offices, transfixed by televisions and radios. When the initial shock wore off, many migrated to entertainment centers such as restaurants and bars to find comfort in a crowd.
Bleachers, a sports bar and restaurant adjacent to USM’s Portland campus, became a gathering place for many people in the neighborhood, including students. Gladys Trainor, one of the owners, was working Tuesday morning.
“We were busy, busy that day,” she said. “There was a very, very somber mood. A lot of serious people.”
By evening, bars around Portland had become community centers for a public that didn’t want to be alone in light of the day’s events. Although most concerts and events were canceled out of respect, some club owners opened their doors and turned on the news.
But there were those who sought the company of others in order to take a break from current events.
Manhattan resident Andrew Allen arrived in Portland on Wednesday night. Eating lunch at Portland’s Free Street Taverna the next day, he was distraught by the constant reminders of what had happened in his city. The television was on, but the sound was not.
“I’m just trying to get away from it, but I can’t. It’s everywhere,” he said, gesturing to the television. “It’s horrible. We woke up yesterday with awful smoke in our apartment, and we’ll have to go back to that.”
As time passed, even Mainers felt overwhelmed by the volume of news.
Trainor said that people continued to congregate at Bleachers, which has several televisions, in the days following the attack even though most channels were only repeating earlier news items.
“It got so I didn’t even want to turn the volume up because it was just two days of constant reports. But people want to see it. They want to know,” she said.
Arts & Entertaiment Editor Meghan Conley can be contacted at [email protected]