CBS returns for ‘Under the Dome’ promo

BAD MEMORY CELLS — Bridgton Police Lt. Peter Madura shows a CBS film crew the two steel jail cells in the basement of the Oberg building at 48 Main Street, which once housed the Bridgton Police Department. CBS Entertainment spent all day Friday filming in downtown Bridgton to show its viewers the real-life locations that inspired Stephen King’s Under the Dome, which premieres as a TV series at 10 p.m. Monday, June 24 on CBS. (Geraghty Photo)

BAD MEMORY CELLS — Bridgton Police Lt. Peter Madura shows a CBS film crew the two steel jail cells in the basement of the Oberg building at 48 Main Street, which once housed the Bridgton Police Department. CBS Entertainment spent all day Friday filming in downtown Bridgton to show its viewers the real-life locations that inspired Stephen King’s Under the Dome, which premieres as a TV series at 10 p.m. Monday, June 24 on CBS. (Geraghty Photo)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

It’s like a relic left behind from the cellar of Stephen King’s mind.

The old Bridgton Police Station, in the basement of the Oberg building at 48 Main Street, still has its two jail cells. The heavy steel-barred doors still clang shut to the forbidding darkness within. The porcelain toilets that rowdy prisoners sometimes tried to bust apart are gone, but the hard cots are still there.

The chief’s office is still the same — the only space in the cellar that even tried to look respectable, with its fake wood paneling. So is the evidence room, the storage room and the bathrooms. The cement floor is the same, and so are the exposed wiring and the water and sewer pipes running near the ceiling.

“What you see is what you get,” said former Bridgton Police Officer and current Selectman Doug Taft, who revisited the former station last Thursday. “If you think we’re conservative now, you should have seen us then.”

The police station was located in the 1907 brick building from 1965 to 1987, when the town office was located on the first floor and the courthouse was on the second floor. The station was a must-see for a film crew from CBS Entertainment, who came to Bridgton Friday to do a “snapshot” of the real-life small town that served as King’s inspiration for the new 13-part TV adaption of his 2009 book, Under the Dome (The show premieres Monday, June 24, at 10 p.m. on CBS.)

CBS Entertainment Producer Robert Winsor spent most of the day in Bridgton, and not only at the police station. He also interviewed Mary Shorey, daughter of the Bridgton News’ late Eula Shorey, who King had in mind when he created Under the Dome’s Julia Shumway, the local newspaper editor and one of the major “good guy” characters. He talked with News Office Manager Elaine Rioux; visited some of the businesses King regularly stops by when he’s in town; and also spent time with outgoing Bridgton Selectman Woody Woodward. The finished piece will be distributed to all CBS affiliated stations nationwide for use after June 24, and will be accessible online at CBS.com, on its Under the Dome web page.

Old police station

The similarities are so close between King’s fictional Chester’s Mill police station and Bridgton’s old police station, CBS Entertainment Producer Robert Winsor might have thought he was on a ready-made stage set, when he filmed Bridgton Police Lt. Peter Madura giving a tour of the space.

Madura pointed to rows of overhanging pipes leading to what was then the office of Police Chief Bob Bell. They were lettered and painted orange. The first row said, “Duck!” and the row just beyond said, “Oops!”

“The chief would come in here in the morning with his coffee, thinking he was fine, and then, ‘Bam!’” Madura said with a chuckle, remembering. Taft, who began work at the station in 1977, said it didn’t matter how many times Bell banged his head; he was just too tall.

Both men said the cellar made for some pretty tight quarters, having to accommodate a booking area, secretary’s desk, and space for writing reports.

Madura warmed to his role as on-camera tour guide for the network. When Winsor asked him how he liked working in what was basically an unfinished cellar, he said, “I think it’s pretty much standard for police departments to be in basements. There’s no place else to go. Even now with our new police department, we’re still in the cellar. I guess people would just rather have us down in a hole somewhere, out of the public eye.”

Taft remembered sitting at times writing his police report, and suddenly spotting something moving fast toward him on the cement.

“Sometimes the water spiders used to come in off the (Stevens) Brook, and you’d see one of those creatures scooting across the floor. It was about this big around,” Taft said, making a fist.

Madura said he remembers times when there’d be a big dance in town and police had to arrest and detain eight or so drunk and rowdy revelers at a time. “We’d have to handcuff them to the pipes (overhead) so they couldn’t bust up the toilets and do damage to the cells.”

The cells were not, as a rule, used for overnight stays, but rather as holding cells prior to court appearances or transport to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

Standing in front of the jail cells, on camera, Madura said, “It’s not a real good place to be. There’s no lights in here. There’s very little heat. When you shut the door like this,” he said, slamming the steel door with a loud clang, “it could get pretty scary.”

“Yeah, it was pretty tight quarters,” Madura told the camera. “But I’ve got to tell you, as an old man once told me, ‘Peter, there’s no question about it; you are in the front row of the greatest show on Earth’.”

Inspired character

Eula’s daughter Mary Shorey told Winsor was “thrilled” and flattered when she heard King drew inspiration in creating Shumway from her life as longtime News editor from the 1950s to 1980s. When the book came out, Eula was in her 90s and her eyesight was failing, so she did not finish the book. But if she were still alive, her daughter said on camera, “she would be glued to the TV every week” watching the TV series.

Mary Shorey said her mother was acquainted with King and his wife, Tabitha, when they lived in Bridgton in the early 1970s. “They had a lot of nice conversations. (King) was interested in her work, and he saw how she stood up for what she believed in. She was a strong individual, she was very bright, and she was prolific — and I think he was impressed by her.”

Mary said that if her mother saw Rachelle Lefevre, the actress who portrays Shumway in the TV series, “she would chuckle, because the actress is quite beautiful. And, you know, my dad would like it too.”

 

Please follow and like us: