IF WALLS COULD TALK: Remembering step-grandmother as a caregiver

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, there is so much for you to tell our faithful readers today! Where do you want to start? O.K., we’ll start with what happened to me this noon. First, I’ll say that my step-grandmother, Lucetta Russell, who lived on a farm in Sidney, had lost her first husband in a farm accident and, to earn funds for raising her own family, she offered to take care of state children. She was a wonderful caregiver, teacher, and the Waterville hospitals soon sent the babies to her as they waited to be adopted. Yes, and she and my grandfather, Lewis Whittier Russell, met and married. Along came a little boy named Johnny, who became the newlyweds’ pride. Well, time went on and Johnny became old enough for a haircut. Afterward, he said he had a “new head.”

Now, 75 years later, I had a haircut at Designs this noon and told Angie who cut my hair the story of Johnny and, thanks to her, I had a “new head.” Yes, it had been a long time since my going to Designs, but thank goodness for Angie who knew exactly what to do. She hadn’t forgotten what I liked. Well, that brings me to saying how wonderful Designs has been to me through the years.

Yes, the years since Mary Ellen Carpenter started and named the place where Mr. Merriam had lived. Who was Mr. Merriam? Well, he and his daughter and her son, Robert Hooper, who was in my class in school, lived there, as his name was really Rev. Merriam and that house was the Bethany Baptist Church Parsonage. And there is more, WALLS. Yup, my mom and dad were married by Rev. Merriam in front of the fireplace, which is in the same room that I got my “new head” thanks to Angie. My aunt and uncle, Pat and Birdena Mullen, where also married there. So, faithful readers, that is your history lesson for the day. Thank the owner of Designs for making the house one of fond memories for many reasons.

Oh, and Valentine’s Day is past, but hope yours was a very happy one!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of February 8, 2018

by Katie Ouilette

Well, WALLS, you sure know when to do the right thing! Surely our faithful readers were happy to receive your message, after our ice storm. The yards of our faithful readers may be cluttered with branches and all that goes with them, as our yard is. Now, those branches and green-things which they held are waiting as we are for Spring clean-up to begin! Actually, this column is being written on Ground Hog Day, as we went to Augusta yesterday. Yup, TV had the folks from Pennsylvania in their dress-up outfits, including tall hats, this morning showing us the ground hog of the day.

And, faithful readers, do you remember WALLS telling you all about finding stuff in my stuff? Well, here is a saying that was saved a while ago. “History is not a science, but a story that happened as we call up the past.” Well, that started you thinking, for sure, WALLS. Did I say that we went to Augusta yesterday? Well, actually, Lew and I went to Togus so that his hearing aid could be adjusted. I sat in the truck, as usual, but thought about Togus and all that it has meant to so many since its inception during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

Imagine it, faithful readers. Imagine how many have been hospitalized since the Civil War and, as I sat in our Nissan pick-up truck, I saw veterans of all ages going to what is now the outpatient offices. Some had their drivers with them, because of their conditions. Yes, Togus was a very busy place with folks walking to their office-destinations and then some walking back to their automobiles with medications in white bags that had been given to them. Y’know, faithful readers, there is so much said about the care our veterans of all ages, male and female, are given in our U.S.A., but we in Maine can be very proud that our men and women, old and young, are well taken care of in Maine.

That brings another saying that you found when you helped me sort through my stuff, WALLS. Of course, we know it already, but the saying is, “there’s a genuineness about people in Maine that is hard to find in other places.” Well, blame can be attributed to George Smith, who tells us that we are so lucky to live in Maine, but WALLS, you and I, too, know that Maine is the best place to live and do business and be neighborly.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Native Americans originally from Asia

Katie Ouilette WallsIF WALLS COULD TALK

by Katie Ouilette

Well, faithful readers, WALLS has definitely appreciated your concern about not having you to read in last issue of The Town Line. I think I typed and sent as always, but weather surely got in the way! Yes, we had ice, ice and more ice! Oh, well, it’s Maine and we recently read that Maine is a wonderful place to live, as it is too small to be a big town and too big to be a small town and everyone is a neighbor to each other. Nice and that is why I’m back to Maine twice!

Yes, I’ve also told you faithful readers that East Madison used to have seven industries and a boat that delivered mail to folks who lived on Lake Wesserunsett in summer and, yes, took folks to the trolley that was at Lakewood. Well, faithful readers, I sure did find a lot of history in my ‘stuff’ and will share it with you as time goes on.

What else did I find? Well, I found an incredible history of the first people to live in these borders when reading something that was printed on January 4, 2018.

WALLS, did you know that our Native Americans were originally from Asia? It seems there was, once, a Beringia. What’s a Beringia? Well, didn’t look the word up in the dictionary, because the article said it was, in its day, an earthen connector between Asia and North America. How did the discovery begin? Well, scientists found the body of a baby girl and her DNA told the scientists that they had made a great discovery! That Baringia enabled those who became the first Native Canadians and Americans a way to migrate south and east and ultimately set up their homes even in Africa (yes, if you studied history in school as I did, you know that our continents were connected at some place or at some time.)

Well, faithful readers, I think I’ve run out of space for this column, but never fear, there is a lot more information that will fascinate you. Yes, last week, I quoted a thought that our Senator Margaret Chase Smith had for us in Maine. Thanks for missing WALLS and the phone calls and maybe time will allow our senator’s thoughts to appear when WALLS TALK to you another time.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Practice of bridal showers began in 1890s

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, y’know, I’m having a hard time believing that 2018 is our year already, but I have had a lot of reminiscing to do, as I’ve been cleaning out a lot of papers that I’ve been saving for ideas to write about for you.

I came across a write-up about shower parties. Yes, I’m sure there are marriages being planned and, frankly, so many young folks are having outdoor weddings these days. In fact, there is a ‘wedding spot’ created just up the road from our house here in East Madison. Well, I had saved a clipping-from-something about the origin of shower parties. Can you believe the author said that it all started in the 1890s. Read on for a shocker! It seems that a shower party was first planned by the bride, who filled an umbrella with wrapped gifts that she would need as she started her marriage. Now, the husband was to have a dowry, but time wore on and the custom became what it is today. Now, I am thinking of an advertisement that appears on our television these days. “Life doesn’t get better by chance. It gets better by change.” Well, weddings and shower parties sure have changed!

Y’know, WALLS, we’ve promised our faithful readers something old, something new and something different. Well, the only thing that is different here is a column that I wrote before The Town Line became a part of my life. The newspaper was called Hometown Newspaper, but you were talking even back then, WALLS! A snippet from that article may find you thinking back. Yes, it isn’t summer yet, but you do remember when the boat used to bring folks from their cottages to the Trolley at Lakewood. It seems that when Lloyd Bridges was at Lakewood Theatre, he became curious about the Margaret B. blown up as a July 4 celebration event. So, Lloyd decided to take a dive. No luck! Wrong place! What’s more, no one has ever found the boat, but it has made for good conversation!

WALLS will be back next week, faithful readers!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of January 11, 2018

by Katie Ouilette

WALLS, you and our faithful readers haven’t had me to read for awhile, so, first I must say Happy 2018 to all my friends at The Town Line and to the friends I haven’t met yet!

Frankly, WALLS, you know fell well that conversations and subjects can change and change they did when Lew came home with the mail and there was Dr. Victoria Stenmard pictured on the front page of Redington-Fairview General Hospital’s Newsletter. You know that I have much to be thankful for to Dr. Stennard, the RFGH staff and the ambulance staff that braved our driveway on Lake Wesserunsett, in East Madison, to get me to RFGH. About a month later, I was to praise Dr. Henry and her expertise as a surgeon. Maybe this is the time to thank RFGH President “Dick” Willette for his expertise in guaranteeing such great expertise as Dr.Stemmard and Dr. Henry even extend to their follow-up after the surgery.

pileated woodpeckers (wikimedia commons)

Hmm, must call attention to our monthly National Geographic magazine which arrived recently. On the cover was the feature inside entitled The Importance of Birds. That publication made me aware of birds that even come to our feeder all year long. Yes, we’ve had everything from pileated woodpeckers to, now, Snow Birds….and we surely have the snow for them now! Y’know, I wrote a book entitled Two Birds in a Box, which is a true-to-the-word story, but the publishers in New York City that I was encouraged to send it to wrote back that the book was too unbelievable to be true! Well, the folks who had Polar Bear Publishing in Solon, Maine, believed and not only is it dedicated to Landon, our great-grandson, but the dedication reads:

“To Landon and all the children in hospitals who are waiting for their time fly.” Landon is well, thanks to the people at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital who got rid of his Wilm’s Cancer in the seven years that he was at the hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He had his 20th birthday in December and is a student at Culinary Arts College, in Oregon. Yes, WALLS, we are happy, too.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of December 21, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years! WALLS, yes, it is the day all of us have been looking forward to, but let us hope that our faithful readers know that the promise of Christmas is really with us until next December 2018.

By the way, do you remember my Aunt Mary Foss? Yes, she lived to the ripe age of 107 and I learned so much about living through the years from her. When she married, she and Uncle Lee lived with her in-laws at the Foss Farm on the East Madison Road, Yes, before they bought their ‘little house’ on the Madison Road, in Madison. She worked at Cumming’s Mill in East Madison and walked to and from work every day of the week and, when back at the farm, she worked in the garden or in the barn.

Y’know, WALLS, when our parents have told us to work hard, Aunt Mary is proof of the reward.

WALLS, I just have to tell you about the Best Wishes calendar that Aunt Mary gave me many years ago and it has been on my kitchen window sill ever since. It is a ‘no year date’ calendar and I change the day every day. This is what I found as I changed the pages to when The Town Line will probably be ready for our faithful readers to pick up before Christmas. Entitled ‘The Gift’ on December 21 reads: “What can I give Him, Poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb. If I were a Wise Man I would do my part. Yet what can I give him? Give my heart.” Oh, faithful readers and WALLS, It is time to share with you the poem that is on a cup from which I often drink my coffee each morning. The cup is very old and was given to me when I became a Nana. The poem? “When days are long and mothers are riled, Nanas are God’s gift to a child.”

Well, WALLS, you know that I am a Nana, with grandkids and great-grands, so I have been blessed many times. So, Merry Christmas to all of you who someone calls ‘Nana’ and, yes. WALLS wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! (Woops, the phone just rang and Dean is in Maine…….and “freezing,” he says…different from Bellingham, Washington….but “welcome” to Maine!)

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of December 14, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, I am thrilled that you talked to our faithful readers for December 7. Our apologies must be extended to faithful readers who sought us for a couple weeks, because we lost our power. Frankly. we surely know what our neighboring states have gone through. True, we didn’t have a hurricane, as they did, but we sure had wind! Well, faithful readers, WALLS will now catch you up on news that hasn’t been written yet.

Son Dean and his wife Donna will arrive just on December 14 and will leave to enjoy Christmas with most of our family in Washington state. On December 6, Danny drove to get his son, Landon, who celebrates his 20th birthday this month. Yes, WALLS, he now attends Culinary Arts College, after the horrible battle with Wilm’s Cancer at St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. No question that St. Jude’s was the place for Landon to be, as he even had schooling there, so that he would not lose all those seven years in the hospital.

Oh, back to Dean and Donna. Dean’s birthday is December 19, and we hope to celebrate it with him before he has to leave on December 17. Actually, Dean and Donna have done so much for the folks that their Bellingham, Washington, church has adopted, and they go to Haiti about three times a year. We hope to have a bit of a gathering for Dean’s birthday with our Channel-ll TV Manager John Harlow and host Chris Perkins, so that folks will hear about their work there, though we are well-aware that you faithful readers may not receive that BeeLine Channel. However, we spent a wonderful time with residents of the Redington Home, in Skowhegan, on December 4, when Barbie Demo joined us for Christmas Carols. Just imagine it, she and three friends left for the Holy Land on December 5!

Oh, yes, like you, faithful readers, we will be celebrating Christmas with good friends, when Van, Jen, Chris and Clare, owners of Alton Whittemore Real Estate, entertain us at Whit’s End Restaurant. Yup, faithful readers, for sure Christmas looks like a merry one, already!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of December 7, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Well, faithful readers and WALLS, do you agree with me that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

Yup, everywhere we read! The advertising hardly leaves time for viewing and reading and Black Friday and ‘whatever Monday’ has happened already. Now, bring on the parades and Christmas tree lightings and, then, Santa, if he’s not appeared and listened to all good little boys and girls (and sure, moms and dads, grandmas and granddads, too). Santa will be riding in parades, folks. Yup, he’ll be waving from even a firetruck!

WALLS, you told about my having a Story Hour at the Sudbury, Massachusetts, library, several years ago, and son, Craig, surely set kids straight as we drove back to the neighborhood. Yes, WALLS, you know that all the kids were talking about Santa’s being real, when Craig joined into the conversation and said “you don’t believe your folks bought all that good stuff, do you?” Well, you know full well, WALLS, that the library hour kids all agreed that their mom and dad wouldn’t! Case closed! There is a real Santa, but surely he does have helpers. Yup, the Elves are surely very busy right now.

Now, back to son, Craig. He caught Santa as he was filling the stockings for him, brother Russell and sister Lynn and his mom and dad in Towanda. Oh, Santa is real for sure!

Many thanks to those who are working on organizing parades and planning events. Don’t miss it all folks. Christmas is the loveliest time of the year! In fact, I believe someone wrote a song about it’s “being the most wonderful time of the year…” and hopefully, everyone’s most wonderful time of the year.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of November 9, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, know what I received? Well, someone wrote a book and sent me the ad entitled A Living History of Western Maine! Really? Well, this is November and, yes, we probably are more interested in bean suppers.

Now, I just happened to have attended the East Madison Historical Society’s meeting and much was discussed about a bean supper on October 28 at the East Madison Grange Hall. So our fair and small town values its history, bean suppers and all.

Yes, faithful readers, you already know that East Madison was the first Madison, until the Madison Paper Industry settled along the Kennebec River. However, you didn’t know that we are very much Madison and the Madison Selectmen had their meeting at our fire hall on Monday, October 23. Yes, WALLS, we are very fortunate that our selectmen recognize us and our importance as citizens of Madison. In fact, WALLS, you have asked about the relationship of both sides of our Lake Wesserunsett. Well, the meeting was, as usual, informative and extremely interesting. The seating was full of East Madisonites, who spoke up and solved problems. Great meeting, faithful readers!

O.K., just as promised last week, sort of, faithful readers. Yes, you were promised laughter, because Halloween is a happy time, but, wouldn’t you know, National Geographic magazine has stolen the show! The cover of the November issue has The Search for Happiness wanting WALLS to tell you all about it. Actually, if you are familiar with the magazine, you know full well that there are pages and pages for the reader and this time, National Geographic has some of the towns in our world that are happy places. Now, faithful readers, don’t all rush to buy a plane ticket, but at least, if you come across the November issue, be happy!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of October 26, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Faithful readers and WALLS, I’m writing and listening and learning history and, yup, Channel 772 on Beeline Cable TV. Just imagine it, faithful readers, there never used to be television!

Actually, in my growing years, our radio was on most of the day for Mémère Zelia to hear about favorite recipes. Her sitting time was devoted to Ma Perkins, the soap opera of the day! My, how our lives have changed. We neighborhood kids played until lunch-time, then nap time, then we’d repeat the ritual: play time and supper-time and bedtime.The men-folk would either carry their lunch-pails to work or be home at noon. Ah, memories of yesteryear!

Last week, WALLS talked about Skowhegan and Waterville downtowns changing and more changes are on the way, faithful readers!

It seems like the old world and the new are, again, on a collision course. So, does history really repeat itself, as we learned over and over in our history classes?

Everyone who knows me are aware of my singing. I sang for concerts, for Rotary Club in Skowhegan, for different clubs and, at 11 years old, was the youngest person in the Federated Church’s Senior Choir. Radio? Yes, as I studied singing with Roger Nye, of Fairfield, and he had a regular weekly program on an Augusta station. Yes, I sang classical music and nobody does that any more except with Andrae Riew’s Orchestra or the Metropolitan Opera (Yes, I sang with an opera star in college and was invited to audition at the Metropolitan, but how was I to live in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and sing in New York City?)

O.K., I’ve wandered, but I did live in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Atomic City, as husband, Joe Denis, worked there after his graduation from Colby College. But, now we hear about another war…and an atomic one, at that. And all the while, Colby College’s campus is changing Waterville’s downtown. Hmmm, does history repeat itself, since Joe Denis’ class of ’52 was the first to graduate from the Mayflower Hill campus?

Well, faithful readers, it is time for you to think about all that WALLS has said today. Yes, next week, WALLS will make you laugh. WALLS, promises no more gloom, as Halloween is really a happy time!