The setting of Monica Wood’s memoir When We Were the Kennedys is Mexico, Maine in the 1960s. The town and its paper mill are significant characters in the story.
Discussion Question: The book primarily takes the perspective of the author as a 4th grader but was written many years after the decline of the industry in her hometown. How do you think the book would have been different if she’d written it much closer to the time of the events?
About Mexico, ME
Mexico was established in 1818 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The first paper mill in neighboring Rumford began operations in 1893.
[Mexico Corner ca. 1915 http://www.mainememory.net/artifact/79611 ]
While not the only industry in the area, paper mills formed the economic backbone of the region for decades. These undated penny post cards show images of the Oxford Paper Mill in Mexico-Rumford (all images from http://www.usgwarchives.net/me/oxford/postcards/ppcs-oxford.html)
The town of Rumford was incorporated in 1800.
[Downtown Rumford today from Bangor Daily News]
Today the NewPage paper mill in Rumford employs around 850 people and can produce 565,000 tons of paper in a year according to a NewPage Rumford fact sheet.
[NewPage Rumford paper mill from Bangor Daily News]