Maine job prospects bleak, but grads refuse to leave

“Today more than ever, a college graduate is having difficulty securing employment worthy of his title,” began a front-page story in the Feb. 7, 1978 issue of the Free Press. But the analysis that followed conceded that in Maine, this predicament was nothing new.

“Maine has never used large numbers of highly trained personnel,” said Richard Sherwood of the state’s Manpower Bureau.

A spokesman for the state Employment Commission agreed, saying, “Available work in Maine is primarily of a semi-skilled nature… work that does not require college training.”

Despite this dispiriting situation, a survey of recent (circa 1978) UMPG graduates found the great majority of them unwilling to leave the state to find better jobs. This too, the article reported, was a long-standing trend.

In years past, out-of-state companies had sent substantially more recruiters to the University. But they gradually scaled back their visits after failing to coax enough grads out of Maine to make their efforts worthwhile, according to the story.

Miss UMPG pageant drives humans “bonkers,” but bores bacteria

The Miss UMPG pageant in Russell Hall kept a capacity audience “in rapt attention” as the five contestants vied for favor. Free Press reporter Rodney Labbe enthusiastically relayed the events in detail, especially the swimsuit competition, which he contended was partially marred by the “dreaded cellulite.” (His reporting was later vigorously condemned as sexist in a letter to the editor.)

The contestants sung the theme from “Laverne and Shirley,” and Labbe duly reported that “one observer remarked that Miss Ferland’s dance was boring the bacteria off the walls.” But when Miss Kathy Foster won, “the place went bonkers!”

“Unabashed exhibitionist visits Upton-Hastings”

A male flasher casually roamed the halls of an all-female dormitory in Gorham one evening, strolling into women’s bathrooms and laundry rooms. Several female students reported him to University police, who later found a man matching their description in the Gorham campus bookstore.

However, when the police brought him to the dorm for identification, the women refused to say whether he was the man, so no charges were filed. “Sources” told the Free Press that it was definitely him.

Male students live large in mostly-female dorm

A short article reported on the favorable living arrangements granted to 24 men who lived in Robie-Andrews Hall surrounded by 170 women. “The Chosen Few,” as they called themselves, were “enjoying every minute of their stay” in the on-campus residence, where they were outnumbered seven to one.

According to the article, there was talk around campus of creating similar conditions in other dormitories. Asked about the state of affairs in Robie-Andrews, Residence Life Director Charles Lamb replied, “There have been no problems as of yet, and we don’t expect any.”

What happens to UMPG excrement: all the details

An article by Nancy Chaplin described in graphic detail what happened to “your fully digested cafeteria meals” after they reached the campus sewage treatment plant.

Plant workers could easily tell when a beer party had just occurred on campus, she reported. “When post-beer party sludge is agitated in the aeration basins, a healthy head of foam forms on the surface of the sludge… [because] waste products from kidneys after beer parties have a high biochemical oxygen demand,” the article explained.

Students cheat Ma Bell

Pay phone fraud was rampant at UMPG in 1978. Two schemes were particularly popular among student criminals.

One involved charging long distance calls to a third party. The strategy was to give the phone number of a business and place the call after business hours, so that the operator couldn’t check with the third party.

The second scheme was to place a collect call to another pay phone. The other party would stand ready to answer and accept the charges, which could never be collected — “unless you’re caught,” the Free Press warned.

Trained to teach? Try busing tables

An article examining the job economy found that nationally, only 35 percent of education majors could find jobs in their field because the market was saturated with teachers. “Many qualified would-be instructors have been forced to accept work as waitresses and busboys,” it reported.

Advertisers persuade with “sex and death”

Anti-advertising activist Jean Kilbourne visited the University to present a slide show of 160 ad photos. During her presentation, she denounced mainstream advertising as sexist, and contended that the goal of advertisers is to raise the anxiety level of viewers. Products are then offered as relief from the anxiety that the ad itself created, she said. “Sex and death are the primary motivators used to induce anxiety,” she added.

Brian O’Keefe can be contacted at [email protected]


  1. Ha! I got a big laugh out of this! I’m Rod Labbe and covered the “Miss UMPG” beauty contest, held at Russell Hall sometime in March of 1978. The memory of that horrible event has burned itself upon my brain pan. Yes, Miss Fernald’s routine did indeed bore the bacteria from the walls, and the hilarious “Laverne and Shirley” number had to be seen to be believed. All these young woman in ill-fitting bathing suits, their bodices looking like bags of potatoes, stomping around in white plastic clogs! The thundering noise of their uncoordinated feet drowned out the scratchy audio tape, while the audience stared in slack-jawed amazement.

    I will say this–my time as a Free Press reporter was an excellent training ground. It led to my becoming a freelance writer, and today, I write for many national and international magazines. I sharpened my talons on stuff like “Miss UMPG” and the “Robie-Andrews Ghost,” and it was all great fun!


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