Take It Easy: Portland, Maine in the 1970s (Paperback)
In the 1970s, Portland, Maine was a struggling seaside city on the cusp of change from a traditional working class gathering spot to a popular tourist destination. Take it Easy offers a remarkable series of long-forgotten black and white images captured by amateur photographer John Duncan that wonderfully capture the innocence, mood, and spirit of the both the city and the seventies before the malls emptied out the traditional retail districts and as urban renewal, high-priced hotels, fancy restaurants, and office buildings slowly began evolving to change the streetscapes and the skyline forever.
John Duncan started taking photos with his father's old camera that took 620 film and developed them during camera club at Falmouth Middle School. After graduating from Falmouth High School in 1969, he headed to Woodstock. When he entered the working world, Duncan became a roughneck on an oil rig in Wyoming, a deckhand at Casco Bay Lines, a worker at a truck stop, and eventually joined the Air Force. With a draft lottery number of 125, it was that or move to Canada. Upon his discharge in 1972, Duncan returned to Portland to work a series of odd jobs, like driving a taxi and selling cotton candy with the Ringling Circus. He picked up photography again, this time focusing on the complex characters he saw during his travels. In 1979 Duncan left the U.S. for London with just $200. Duncan spent years hitchhiking through Europe, including Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece, Istanbul, Italy, and finally Sweden where he spent eight years with his wife Susanne. They came back to Portland in 1987, and Duncan picked up work as a photocopy tech and later a truck driver. Now retired, Duncan has been looking back over his photography and reminiscing about his long, almost-unbelievable life.