Wed, 02 Mar 2011 14:31:28 ESTGrowing up in Aroostook County, Maine, we knew a lot about potatoes, not because we were particularly interested in them but because they were always all around us and Dad worked with that specie all of his natural life. In nineteen fifty-nine, I had just turned fifteen and Mother had finally agreed that I could wear a light colored lipstick but no other makeup. I still wasn't allowed to go to high school dances unless my older brothers, Walt or Jake would be there too. Walt, a senior, had discovered the fairer sex eons ago but Jake was a slow-learner when it came to girls. As far as he was concerned, they were last on his list of priorities. Jake, still only seventeen, was running all over to heck and gone trying to trap any and all animals so that he could practice the art of taxidermy. Now, if there had been a female in the county who had fur down to her ankles or could climb trees like a porcupine, he'd have been mightily interested but at that point, he still hadn't found a girl who looked like that.So, in the summer of fifty-nine, I'd taken a babysitting job for a French-speaking family in Ashland and their home was about five miles from our house on the Goding Road. I'd stay with the Morins all week and only return home on Sunday for a few hours visit and then go back to stay the rest of the week in town. I soon discovered that it was pretty difficult for Mother to hear what I was doing that summer in regards to makeup or boys because she only came to town on Saturday night to do her shopping and we still didn't have a telephone at home.That summer, I learned how to lighten my hair with house-hold bleach, tweeze my eyebrows to a fine line and apply blush and mascara. I'd put all this stuff on my face very early in the morning and only wash it off before I went to bed at night. I used to take the two small children I was babysitting for a walk around town everyday but I never really got to meet very many boys because most of them had summer jobs too. But when I went home for a short visit on Sundays, I always had to remember to wash everything off so that Mother wouldn't have a conniption fit when she saw my pale face slathered with makeup.Dad, after fathering five daughters, was pretty much unfazed by all us girls and left us for Mother to manage. I guess he figured that we were Mother's domain and she could run her mouth very well when she wanted to. The only thing I remember Dad saying, after one of his daughters had snuck his razor to shave our legs with, was, "Looks like these blades don't stay as sharp as they used to." And he'd look all around the kitchen at his guilty harem with a little smile on his face. And Grandfather Colbath used to put in his two cents worth too, upon seeing one of us with a lot of extra makeup on our faces, "Power and paint, sure makes a woman what she ain't."The summer of fifty-nine was a turning point for me. It had been a warm summer for the county and the State of Maine as well. Dad, ever the potato babysitter, came home day after day, red-faced and sun burned to a crisp, swearing that if the crop didn't git some water pretty soon, the whole damn county was going to dry up and blow away into Canada! Because he always slapped a hat on his old bald head just as soon as his feet hit the floor in the morning, it was always surprising to see just how white his scalp was and how the skin on his head glowed when he removed his sweat-stained hat at night. His poor ears would be peeling and sore but there was always a light in his bright-blue eyes and a grin on his face when he came through the door each night.Finally, the heavens answered all the farmer's prayers and rain descended upon us and it was as though Mother Nature couldn't send enough 'wet stuff' our way. The poor, dried-out soil sucked up the first downpours but after a couple of days of incessant rain, the ground was totally saturated and water began running in torrents down the potato rows, washing out the half-grown plants and the small, pale, sickly lookin' spuds lay rotting in the fields. Now, Dad came home e[...]
Wed, 02 Mar 2011 13:53:44 ESTThe Little Tree didn't really know how he had come to be, he just was. He looked all around him and all he could see was tall, green grass for miles and miles. He really wasn't as tall as the wild grass and he only had three small branches growing on his trunk. He stretched out his branches so that his green needles might catch the last of the summer's sunshine and he knew deep down inside that summer was coming to an end. Soon fall would come and with that, winter wouldn't be too far behind. Just the thought of another, cold Maine winter made the Little Tree shiver and he gathered his branches more closely around him. He pulled himself up as high as he could until he could see over the top of the grass and carefully looked around him. Off in the distance to the south, he could see a faint blue of the Streaked Mountain range and then he turned to look in front of him and he could easily see the well-worn wagon path that the early pioneers had used as they made their way north from the small settlements that were located all along the Androscoggin River valley. As the seasons changed, the Little Tree took root and began to grow. Each time it rained, he could feel the water run down his branches to form a puddle on the dry ground beneath him and as the water soaked into the soil, his thirsty roots drank it up as fast as they could because he needed water to grow. The old farmer often came to tend his cattle and the fields and he was surprised to see the Little Tree growing there all alone by the wagon path. He had plowed the whole field the year before and he thought that he had plowed it under but there it was, bigger than before. The farmer slid off his horse and walked over to where the Little Tree was growing and he reached down and gave it a sharp tug but the Little Tree didn't budge. The farmer gave the Little Tree a stronger tug but again the Little Tree stood firm. "Oh well," thought the farmer, "It's near the road and it really isn't in my way. I guess I'll just leave it here. After all, what harm can it do?" As the years came and one slid into another, the Little Tree felt the coolness of the rain on a hot summer's day. He felt the freshness of the wind on a breezy spring morning. When the weather turned hot and dry, the Little Tree would stand up tall and shake his branches to loosen the dust from his shiny green needles. And as the years passed, the Little Tree grew and grew. Now, the farmer too was growing old and when he came to tend his fields, he would often stop at the tree and look up at him. Many times over the years, the farmer would tie his horses to the Little Tree's branches while he sat in its shade to eat his lunch. Sometimes the Little Tree would shake with laughter when he heard the loud snores the farmer made when he'd fallen asleep during his afternoon nap. The Little Tree was no longer little, why he was taller than everything else. Now he could see all around him for miles and miles in every direction. He could see the farmer's house off in the distance and he could see all the hotels along Hotel Road too. He saw tractors and workers in the neighboring fields and he could see the huge smoke stacks of the many shoe factories across the Androscoggin River in Lewiston. The Little Tree was never lonely standing there in the field all alone because now he had so many friends. Mrs. Robin used his branches to build her nest in year after year and Mr. Raccoon often climbed up into his lower branches to spend the night. Mr. Wind often visited and would blow thru his heavy, green needles to keep him cool. Mr. Moon would shine down on him all through the night and his friend, Mr. Rain, brought him a nice, cool shower every now and then. Mr. Moose, Mrs. Deer and Mr. Bear visited him from time to time too and he considered them all to be his friends. The Little Tree saw so many changes take place over the years. When he was very tiny, he heard of the terrible war going on in the south that was threate[...]
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 14:59:37 ESTThere are so many stories that warm my heart when I think of growing up here in Maine. I grew up off Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth. Summers were playing baseball with all the kids in the neighborhood. The numbers varied from 5 to 25. It didn't matter. It all worked out. We played in our yard which made me feel like a big shot. Our house lot was a "double lot" with a side yard just the right size for a baseball field. For all those years our lawn was all worn down. Years later, when all the kids were gone, Dad hired someone to make the whole lawn pristine. It made me think back and appreciate that our parents sacrificed having a nice lawn to let the neighborhood kids play baseball every day. Summer days would start right after you made your bed, got dressed and brushed your teeth. The rules were few. Be home at 11:30 for lunch and 5:30 for dinner. No one had a watch, so all the Mom's had "dinner bells", which called each child home when they were needed or wanted. Somehow we all knew the sound of our Mom's bell. Sometimes an argument would break out. "That was your bell! NO! that was definitely YOUR bell!" Evenings, once again, we would gather on our front lawn and play "Red Rover, Red Rover" or "Simon Says". There was usually a big crowd for that. Often some of the parents would pull up lawn chairs and chat and watch us play. I felt like a million dollars when we would be allowed to stay up after dark playing. It seemed these days would never end. I don't remember the last time we played.
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 15:03:09 ESTSo far i have been to Maine three times. I'm very happy to know my favorite place to go is Portland, Maine. I'm from New York City and I'm not older than 13 but not younger than 10. Now it's November 9, 2009 and I'm very exited to go again.
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 15:09:47 ESTI spent many of my days in the good lords country. Heck it's where I was born and raised! Well, we'd go everywhere together, well me and my brothers Boomer and Billy. We go out to the farm do our daily duties or if we were lucky go down into town and get us some fix'ins. Ma' would stay home with Mary Beth and cook us up a fine meal for the days work we done. But one summer in particular was so unforgettable! When I first saw the love of my life Roxi. She had brains, beauty and a body! Some would say the total package, a good god loving women with legs as far as the eyes could see. The only problem was that her grandfather was the sheriff of all of Piscataquis County! And her father was no rabbit of Easter Sunday either! But I knew she was gonna be my wife. That whole summer was dedicated to her. Going to the swimming hole or to the local hotspots, even a hoedown or two. I was in love and I was only 17 years of age. But once word got out around town that i was seeing her, the her brothers were clean on my trail! And that is no picnic I wanted to be invited to. So i left town didn't say a word to her, just picked my things up and left. Not even knowing if i was coming back or not. But then about a few years after I looked up miss Roxi to see if that spark was still there. I soon found out she is now happily married to my good friend Hank and they have a baby boy and one on the way. To be honest I'm happy for them. And I wouldn't change that summer for the world!
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 15:14:36 ESTFrom the time I was a baby we visited my father Myron's grandmother Campbell in Fayette, Maine. She lived across the street from a one room school house. Sometimes we went to visit her with just mother, father and us kids other times it would be a caravan of cars. Grammy cried when we got there and cried when we left. When I was young I didn't see the significance of it. Now I'm older I do. She had a nice house, and old timey things abounded, mustache cups on a shelf, wood stove, and a hand pump next to the sink. Her table was always set and covered with a white table cloth. Her phone was the oldest this city kid had ever seen. Her refrigerator however was large and quite modern. Under the closed in porch on the back of the house was a root cellar, and I can still remember the smells when it was opened up, especially the apples. Her sugar cookies were large and delicious, she kept them in lard buckets. We would walk her land and then go to the Mills cemetery where many of her loved ones were buried. Her name was on the family stone, birth date and of course no death date, I thought this so odd when young. Josie wasn't able to walk well and she used an office type chair on casters to get around, and boy did she get around. I'm glad I had those visits to remember, sometimes I wish I could go back just for one minute...
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 15:17:49 ESTWhen I finally turned 12, I was old enough to join the Boy Scouts and the highlights of the year were my summers at Camp Hinds on Panther Pond in Raymond.
Fri, 27 Mar 2009 10:38:23 EDTEvery so often, Mother would announce, "Get ready, we're going to Grammy's house." Upon hearing this, our hearts would race and we'd run around the house in a state of excitement and then we'd remember that we didn't especially like to go to one Grammy's house. We stop running around and ask Mother which Grammy's house we were going to visit. Mother's dark eyes would flash and she'd be insulted that we didn't like going to visit her parents because our Grandfather Colbath, her father, wasn't good to us and was never happy to see us. If she said she needed to go across the swamp to her family home, if we were old enough to stay by ourselves, we'd happily stay home. But going to visit our paternal Grandmother was a real treat. Her tiny, four room cottage was located on the Garfield Road in Garfield Plantation of Aroostook County and it had been built by her first husband, James Stevens. It was neatly sided with white painted shingles and black shutters and there was a low enclosed porch that ran across the front of the house. The porch contained the normal porch furniture and an old daybed which was covered with lots of pillows and Grammy's handmade patchwork quilts. We used to lie on this comfortable, old bed for hours and listen to the drone of honey bees as they flew around the profusion of flowers and shrubs and the warm sunshine would lull us off to sleep. Many happy hours were spent on that wonderful porch coloring and helping Grammy Stevens put puzzles together. Grammy only stood about five feet tall and she had long, naturally blond hair which she kept pinned in small curls to the top of her head. She had a regal bearing and what the English called a "peaches and cream" complexion." Put this together with her clear blue eyes and she was lovely to say the least. Not only was she lovely but she was a "lady" through and through. Grammy was well-known for her neatness and her modest house attested to the loving care she gave it. It was often said by all who visited her that "You could eat off her floors," and you really could. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. When Grammy did her laundry, which was often, she didn't just hang out her wash either, she hung out in an exact order. She'd start with the largest white articles and then go down to the smallest. Then, she'd move on to the linens and then the dark clothes. If we asked her why she hung them out like that, she'd smile and tell us that that was "just the way it should be done" and besides, the wash looked better that way. There really wasn't anything that Grammy couldn't do and she dearly loved to sew. If it involved sewing of any kind, she could do it. She could be found most any time at her old treadle, Singer sewing machine, sewing away the morning. She never threw anything out. She kept all the old clothing, cut them up and made quilts out of the material. We never could understand an old saying that she often said to us, "Everything old is new again." But Grammy knew how to accomplish that feat. Even old, holey socks took on a new life when she made dolls out of them for us or she would cut off the worn out feet and knit new feet onto the tops. Grammy was also an excellent cook like our mother was and she could make anything taste good. She was famous for her cakes, pies and cookies, not to mention her fried doughnuts. She'd cut out the center dough from the doughnuts and drop the dough into a pot of boiling oil. When they floated to the top, she'd scoop them out, roll them in granulated brown sugar and give them to us to eat with a glass of cold milk. Grammy was busy all the time with one task or another. She had two gardens which were located around the back of her house and she could grow anything but she was especially well-known for her flower garden. She had flowers everywhere. Somehow, her grass was always greener an[...]
Wed, 24 Dec 2008 09:37:08 ESTAfter Grandfather Stevens' death around nineteen thirty, Grandmother remained single for a number of years and when she finally did consent to remarry, she married a man named Warren Peterson, who was twenty years her junior. This age mismatched marriage was cause for much gossip in and around the small settlement of Garfield where she'd lived for years. However, she and her new husband seemed very compatible together and it was obvious that "Uncle Pete" as we called him seemed to adore her and the ground she walked on. Dad, however, must have found it a bit disconcerting to have a step-father who was about the same age as he was. Christmas just wasn't Christmas without Grammy Stevens either. Mother had a rule where Grandmother was concerned that we were never allowed to break. Christmas couldn't begin at our house unless Grammy and Uncle Pete had arrived and we had to wait until Christmas dinner was over before we could open our gifts too. No matter how much we whined about other kids getting to open their presents on Christmas eve, this didn't cut any ice with Mother. Mother used to put the Christmas tree up about a week before Christmas and it was always in the same place on an old bureau at the foot of the stairs in the living room. She'd wrap the few presents that she'd been able to buy or make for us eight kids and put them under the little tree ever watchful that we left everything alone until Christmas day arrived. Over the years, my two older brothers Walt and Jake, had perfected the art of slipping one of their gifts under their pajama tops and they'd sneak it upstairs on their way to bed at night. They'd ever so carefully unwrap it and play with it or examine it for a little while then, they'd rewrap it and take it back downstairs and put it back under the tree. So, come Christmas day, the boys knew exactly what every present was and they'd be the last two to come down the stairs on Christmas morning. Every Christmas, Mother used to wonder why the boys weren't up and all excited to see what they'd gotten and when they finally did amble down the stairs to the living room, why they weren't more enthusiastic about Christmas and their presents. On Christmas morning, after we'd eaten our fill of mother's golden pancakes or French toast or luscious homemade doughnuts, Mother would shoo us out of her very busy food-filled kitchen and we'd rush up the stairs to the attic where we'd all try to be the first one to get to the window. We'd push and shove, trying to scratch a hole in the frosted up window pane that looked out over our shed roof to the road and the Eastern horizon and we'd keep a vigil there until we saw Grammy's car coming slowly down the road towards our house. Some years we'd have record snowstorms and the snow banks would be plowed so high that they nearly touched the sagging electric wires on the telephone poles and we'd never see them coming until they'd pulled up in our driveway. Upon hearing our dog Tippi's bark at the car pulling into our driveway, we'd all rush down the stairs to greet Grammy and Uncle Pete, knowing that she too, would be bringing presents, candy and good food for our Christmas dinner. We'd push the kitchen door aside and rush out onto the snow-covered porch to stand in the frigid air to greet them. Mother, seeing us waiting with anxious breath, would smile to herself, knowing that even if she insisted that we come inside where it was warm, we'd stay out on that frigid porch and freeze to death if we had to. Grammy and Uncle Pete, after having been down this road numerous times before had the stalling and guessing games down to a science. They'd sit in the still running car for several minutes pretending that they were discussing matters of great importance and every so often, they'd sneak glances at us dancing anxiously on the snow-covered porch. F[...]
Wed, 24 Dec 2008 09:10:44 ESTAs you all know I'm a local. A true Mainer through and through. So one day me and Pa were walking on down the road when we spotted a moose! As we approached this beast we were still and silent. We did not want to startle the wild animal in fear of what it would do. So we called the local deputy T. Johnson (for the record - total mud pie). So he comes up with the idea to chase it with his cop car. Turns out to be the worst idea to-date. As we charged towards it, it began to get lit'l mad. So it came after us. At this time the town folk started helping us by throwing bananas at the beast. Lit'l did we know that this wasn't no moose, it was a flea eaten yetty! So everyone left the town and now its run by rabid coon cats!
Wed, 24 Dec 2008 09:14:13 EST
It was 1979 in the Coastal Town of Biddeford Maine. Most in our neighborhood belonged to St. Andre's Parish, which included a Sunday appearance at church. Following the sermon, we would congregate downstairs and have coffee and donuts. Later in the afternoon there was always a dinner prepared by our mothers. Back then all neighbors were familiar with others. This pretty much ensured, that for the most part, you behaved while playing with friends in the neighborhood.
There were no worries amongst us kids while running through yards after supper. Crime to us did not exist. Our only worries were that of bigfoot and the cops, in which there was a definite respect.
We often played tin can alley. The game was passed on from other generations. A tin can was set up in the middle of the street where traffic was at a minimum. One child was selected to hunt for the others, while the goal of the game was to free those caught by kicking the tin can.
The summer nights always seemed warm while peepers could be heard in concert in the nearby woods. Bug zappers would awe us at they would glow a magical purple, while sparking off a never-ending series of white flashes from the bugs being zapped.
The price of candy at the local store was inexpensive, some items of treasure included the thick glass bottles of Pepsi, RCA and Coke, slush puppies and fun dip. Bottle collecting was a routine hobby that would allow us the little bit of pocket money that we had.
Our age of innocence was larger than life. Today the neighborhood has changed. Generations have passed and new ones have flourished. The land and buildings seemed to have outgrow the very grounds we dreamed and played on.
Wed, 24 Dec 2008 09:17:03 EST
There's this wonderful place in Maine with a bridge that connects two towns. Under this bridge runs tidal waters deep enough to allow fairly good sized sailing vessels pass through when the bridge is spun open. This is only accomplished by the boater signaling to the bridge tender that he would like to pass through, whether it be by radio, hand signals, or just plain hollering to each other.
I was on my way back to Portland from a job one day in this town when, as I crossed the bridge, decided to stop on the other side and check out the spot on the bridge where my grandfather took me to catch mackerel. Looking into the water below I wondered if anyone has caught any fish here recently. For it was near thirty five years ago that I remembered the mackerel being so plentiful that everyone on the bridge was catching their fair share of the fish. At that moment the bridge tender came out of his watch shack to get a bit of fresh air. So I asked him if he has caught any fish lately. He said no, there haven't been many fish here lately. He asked me if I was from out of state. I said no, in fact I was born here in this town in the hospital just a few hundred yards down the road. Well one question led to another and it turns out that he knew my grand parents and had a few stories to tell. I would like to thank the bridge tender for his friendly personality and his memories. And thanks to the Eastern Stars!
Thu, 14 Jan 2010 08:42:03 ESTLincoln was the town that my sisters and I grew up in. I remember the best summer I ever had being in 1977. There was so much to do in our small community and neighborhood; I don't know how we found the time to do it all. We rode ponies with our friends, rode ten speed bicycles, went to the two bowling alleys to play pool and hang out, we swam at the beaches around Lincoln and Lee with our families, we saw our extended family more often, had no cable nor home PC but we had loads of fun. We looked forward to each day rain or shine. Even inside the house on rainy days, we kept busy doing chores, playing ball, playing great old fashioned board games such as Monopoly, Sorry, Checkers, etc... Nobody in my group of friends ever exclaimed the words: "I'm bored!" as often as you may hear today from our children. Sure, we watched some television with our parents and after school when fall arrived and we all returned to school. Most of us were happy to be back in the swing of things with even more school related activities, events, and even homework was enjoyable. We went to the movies and enjoyed pizza twice a month or more for $5.00 each. I wish our town had more recreation to offer our kids now. We have quite a few offered in sports but we don't even have an arcade any longer. Lincoln has changed and I miss the old Lincoln at times. My kids find it hard to believe we weren't bored without cable TV and the Internet. Summer was definitely fun growing up in Maine. I liked all of the seasons, especially summer then. PS We even had CANDY LAND on Main Street and who could forget ice cream on hot days?
Thu, 14 Jan 2010 08:44:44 ESTI remember to to school every day, having to cross the bridge t go to Cony. Sometimes some of the boards on the bridge were broken and you could see the river underneath and I was so scared to go across.I remember being in the school library with a friend and laughing our heads off. I remember the "Chizzle Wizzle" I had the best friends ever then in Augusta and Hallowell. It was the best time in my life. I also remember the Marathon Carnival with boat races and sidewalk sales and street dances. Augusta has always been in my heart and always will be even though I now live in Connecticut.
Thu, 14 Jan 2010 09:14:53 ESTMy paternal Grandmother, Eunice Robinson Stevens was a woman of unimpeachable character and she had an inner strength and an outer beauty that didn't come from a cosmetic bottle. Her smooth, white skin glowed with a pink undertone and when she fastened her deep, blue eyes on you, you knew that you were looking at someone "special." Grammy, due to her Swedish heritage, had long, blond hair that she kept pinned up in big rolls on the top of her head. She stood just over five feet tall and she walked with a regal-ness that most people, even those of royal birth, didn't have. She was a "lady" in the truest sense of the word.Since I had the good fortune of having been named after Grandmother, I often got to go stay with her at her house which was located on the Garfield Road in Garfield Plantation. Grammy had many virtues and one of those was that she was the cleanest housekeeper ever. It was often said by all those who knew her that "you could eat off her floors!" And you really could! Her tiny, white painted cottage consisted of two rooms downstairs, which were a kitchen and an adjoining living room and two rooms up which were her bedroom and an attic over the kitchen. There was a narrow porch that ran across the entire front of the house that she used for extra sleeping space for visitors in the short, summer months in Aroostook County, Maine.Her modest house contained all kinds of treasures to us kids and when ever I would get invited to spend some time with her, she'd sort through her "junk" box and always find some kind of "treasure" for me to take home.Grammy loved plants and she had the most beautiful peonies, Oriental poppies and roses planted all around her house. Her flowers always seemed to be bigger and sweeter than all of her neighbors and she was constantly being asked what she did to make them grow so well. She'd just shake her lovely, blond head and with a twinkle in her lovely eyes, she'd disavow any knowledge of doing anything "special" to her plants. But, she did have a little secret that she didn't share with anyone. After washing her dishes or her laundry, she'd always take her dish water or her wash water out and dump it on her flowers and that was the secret. The dirty wash water was full of phosphorous, which at that time in the early fifty's, was an ingredient found in most of the soap products and all her plants just thrived on this chemical.Everything in Grammy's modest home had a place and everything was in its place too. Grammy was neat and clean about everything she did and most especially about her laundry. I'll never forget the time she taught me about the importance of hanging out the wash. Most people never gave it a second thought I suppose. They'd wash their clothes and hang them out and when they'd dried, take them in and that was it. Not Grammy Stevens.In nineteen fifty-three I was nearly nine and Grammy at that time didn't have what we now call a modern washing machine. She still boiled her white clothes in a large kettle on a wood stove and scrubbed everything else on a scrub board. She didn't wait till a lot of dirty clothes piled up before doing the laundry either. If the day was nice and she had clothes to wash, she did her laundry. There was always something clean flapping on her clothesline in the clean, strong winds of Aroostook County. My "laundry" lesson came one day when I was visiting Grammy. She had come down with a cold and I volunteered to hang out her laundry. I was so proud when she looked at me and with a slight smile on her lips, she told me to go ahead. I carried the basket out to her back porch, reeled in the clothes already dried and proceeded to hang out t[...]