Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 069


Louis Scolnik was born in Lewiston, Maine on February 14, 1923. His mother was Bessie Picker Scolnik, a housewife originally from Lithuania; his father was Julius Scolnik was originally from Kovna, and operated a retail clothing store on Lisbon St. He had two brothers, Morris and William H., and two sisters, Rose and Ida. He attended the Beth Jacobs Synagogue in Lewiston. He was influenced by the Boy Scouts growing up, and enjoyed studying the saxophone and clarinet

He attended the Dingley School, then a temporary school at the Lewiston Armory. Later, he went to Frye School (now closed), Jordan School, and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1941. During high school, he played tennis, basketball, and ran track. He attended Bates College for two years and then joined the Navy in Landing Craft Infantry (LCI). He traveled to Oregon to join the LCI (L) 776 (a ship), where he was stationed for the remainder of World War II, traveling to Hawaii, Guinea, the Philippines, Japan, China, and Taiwan.

Scolnik graduated from Bates after the War, having received credit during military service. He then worked for Container Corp. of America and later the Veterans Administration. He then decided to go to law school, attending Georgetown University. He joined the moot court team and took an internship in Maine under John Platz. He practiced law with Platz (1952-1957). He served on the board of NAACP and acted as their legal counsel in Maine. Eventually he got involved in mayoral politics and was elected city attorney. He became a judge in 1974.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: Lewiston during Scolnik’s childhood (approx. 1923-1940); Kashrút (Jewish dietary laws); approximately 150 Jewish families in Lewiston while Scolnik was growing up; French Catholic community in Lewiston; the Depression; his childhood friendship with Shep Lee; the Rural Resettlement Administration; Bates College; house parties at Bates College, Bowdoin College, University of Maine, and Colby College; a local band called Lloyd Rafnell; building destroyers at Bath Iron Works during WWII; V-12 program for WWII at Bates College; Bobby Kennedy at Bates College; Port Hueneme, California; Container Corporation of America; Georgetown Law School; American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); Lewiston Corporate Council; Mayoral politics in Lewiston; Frank Coffin’s support for Ed Muskie; perceptions of Ed Muskie; Frank Coffin; Kennedy’s Presidential election in 1960; Muskie running for Vice President in 1968; Muskie’s appointments to certain government positions; the Clean Air Act and Water Quality Act; Rule 22; an explanation of how judges are appointed; civil rights and civil liberties unions; and the case of Normand vs. Baxter Park Authority.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.