IF WALLS COULD TALK: Skowhegan one of few remaining towns with Main Street designation

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Oh, WALLS and faithful readers, all of a sudden the Moose Lottery is on at Skowhegan’s Fairgrounds and the cars coming out of the historic Fairgrounds was amazing yesterday! Actually, the Moose Lottery didn’t start until June 8, so I don’t know why all the traffic was exiting at the back gate there, but I saw it when leaving Hannaford’s, so all I could think of was ‘run, little moose, run!’. Obviously Katrina has worked very hard at putting the weekend together!

Speaking of Katrina, who has headed up the Skowhegan Main Street organization. But, 2002-2004 were days of my learning and doing by attending all the training sessions in Augusta, plus taking Skowhegan Downtown Business Owners to the events. Yes, Main Street came to Skowhegan Downtown in 2002 and joined designated Main Streets in New Hampshire and throughout the project’s earliest days in Maine. By the way, faithful readers, do you know what the first designated Main Street in Maine was? Yup, it was Brunswick. Also, in speaking of New Hampshire, the National Main Street was Littleton, New Hampshire. Yes, if it wasn’t a good program, then Town Manager “Pat” Dickey would not have urged me to send a Skowhegan application. Yes, Skowhegan won, at the time, but Skowhegan’s Town Meeting had been changed and the people of Skowhegan hadn’t voted for it. So not only did a different community win, but because of the cost of the program, Littleton, NH, and all the town’s in Maine, except Skowhegan, have dropped the program because of cost and, yes, Watervile, because of the new building going on by Colby College. Katrina has done well in planning the Moose Lottery for three days in June 2018!

Speaking of Katrina, who has been on Ch.11’s Now You Know, she has chosen her office to be in the, once, Dr. Dumont’s home on Court Street.

Yes, I remember it well, as, because so many young people were employed in those days of my being 15 years old, my first job was there!

So, Katrina is following in my footsteps, for sure!

IF WALLS COULD TALK: “Hello!” but who said it, the parrot or Bertha?

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Well, faithful readers, WALLS and Katie have a memory to share. I saw a beautiful hen that had been purchased and shipped to California.

Oh, it was a beauty and was told about on TV a few night ago. That is when a memory came to mind. The parrot was in Bob Hall’s Barber Shop on Water Street, in Skowhegan, and it would say ‘hello’ to folks when they entered for a hair cut, or just when folks were going by. Yes, it was beautiful, too, with feathers in different colors, like the one shipped to California. In fact, when students from Skowhegan Junior High or High School would pass by, Bob’s parent would say ‘hello’ and we would reply. Actually, sometimes we would say “Hello, Bertha!” and it would really be Bertha’s saying ‘Hello” or sometimes it would be the parrot, as you may remember, faithful readers, that the parrot and Bertha did sound the same with their ‘hello’. Ah, yes, memories of yesteryear! Woops! I neglected to tell you that the hen reached California, but someone paid $500 for it but the hen was DOA..Dead on Arrival. A memory that whoever spent $500 for hen and shipping won’t forget!

Yes, too, Memorial Day is past and many of you faithful readers had happy and sad memories of relatives and friends, as time has taken them from us. I know….I know that placing flowers at the ‘resting place’ in our various cemeteries has shown love and respect, but this year, I have chosen to show respect for Sherwood Mullen’s late wife, Nancy, by not placing flowers on any of the families’ graves. Why? Well, Nancy and I used to go to all the cemeteries where we knew our forebears were buried. Yes, we discovered Michael and Anatoli Dumont’s graves at the Skowhegan Catholic Cemetery, as we knew that their farm was all of what is now East Maple Street, in Skowhegan. In fact, because Michael and Anatolie used to have a priest from Waterville come to their house to say Mass for ‘believers who migrated from Canada and, as a result, eventually the parishioners had enough money to purchase the, once, Methodist Church that stood on Water Street. Yes, Notre Dame d’Lourdes Church was founded by Michael and Anatalie Dumont. Nancy and I would also put flowers on our family members’ graves at Southside Cemetery and we discovered Grampa Olin Valliere’s grandfather’s grave, Joseph Frederic, in Starks.

Yes, faithful readers, we pray that all relatives are in God’s keeping.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Back to the days at Colby Junior College

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, so sorry our faithful readers missed us last week! Yes, my phone rang and rang again! However, I used more words on the column about Dr. H. Leslie Sawyer’s name now gracing the New London, New Hampshire, four-year college. Yes, I’m not only proud to have been a 1950 graduate of the, then, two-year Junior College, but truly proud to be living in the Maine town in which, when a child, Dr. Sawyer grew up.

Just last week, a student at Colby Sawyer was written about in another daily newspaper and now, WALLS, let’s tell folks why my best friends in Skowhegan High School chose to go to Colby Junior College (CJC) back in 1948. So many people in Skowhegan knew of the fine education one might receive at the New London, New Hampshire, college. In fact, we learned in my medical secretarial class that Skowhegan’s Dr. Young was once the doctor who read all CJC X-rays!

I mentioned my classmates from SHS who were graduates of CJC in 1950. Both have elected to go to a full-care living facility. Marilyn Cockburn Leggett is now in South Burlington, Vermont, and Jean Finley Doughty isat Pierce House, in Wilton. In fact, I’m about to write both of them and tell about Jeanette Poulin Dionne, Violet LeClair Ferland, Dick Getchell (president of our ’48 class), meeting here at my house in East Madison to plan our 70th SHS reunion! Wow, lots of happy memories in those 70 years…yes, prior to ’48. By the way, faithful readers, we have been discussing those of ’48 with our SHS ’48 LEVERS in hand, so for those of you who know new addresses or ‘whatever’ about our classmates, please contact Jeannette Poulin or Vi Ferland with info.

Y’know, WALLS, the four of us have shared so much of our lives with each other. Our meetings have been truly fun. Just imagine what it will be like when we all get together!

Y’all come….hear?

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Long ago, president of N.H. college was Madison native; school now bears his name

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, I know how much our faithful readers enjoy you, as, just last Wednesday morning, I had several women tell me how much they missed you when they didn’t have you to read for a couple weeks. Well, many thanks to The Town Line’s managing editor Roland Hallee for choosing your column to print for you faithful readers.

This week, we do have a surprise for folks, don’t we? Maybe our faithful readers have never known what the The Town Line has done so much for young folks and all the wonderful things they have done or are doing for their schools, their communities and themselves, but I guess that I am taking advantage of bragging rights.

Yes, yes, I’m about to talk about my ‘much younger’ years and the much, much younger years of a great man.

Walls, you know that I graduated from Colby Junior College, in New London, New Hampshire, but not even I knew that the man who ran from his home across from the college to welcome my folks and I, because, he said, he was so happy to see a Maine license plate! Well, in my high school mind, I thought that was strange. Oh, in conversation, I learned that we were talking with H. Leslie Sawyer, the man who, also in conversation, let us Maine folks know that, anyone who had the high marks and leadership qualities in high school would never be refused acceptance. Wow! Then, I found out that we were talking to the president of Colby Junior. Another WOW!

Well, WALLS, fast forward now, when I learned, when a student, that Dr. H. Leslie Sawyer was truly an incredible man who, after receiving his many degrees, began as a leader of a Woman’s Finishing School in that town. Then the girls ended up going to Colby Junior College, but Colby College, in Waterville, decided to sue the New London College, as Colby in Maine was not a Junior College. So the name was changed. Yes, a young man who lived in New London came
home from World War II and, unfortunately, needed home care, and that was the beginning of Colby Junior’s becoming a four-year college and, now co-educational, it is named Colby-Sawyer College.

Now, for your real news of the day by WALLS, faithful readers. Dr. H. Leslie Sawyer was born and grew up in Madison! His dad was a highly-respected physician and, surely, we of Madison, are very proud, as there are few small towns in Maine that can say that a college bares the name of a Madison “kid.”

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Remembering Lucetta Trafton Russell; who became my step-mother

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Well, faithful readers and WALLS, can you believe that Mother’s Day is about to be? Well, at least all the snow has disappeared, but we sure did have a wind storm so that trees have lost a lot of their branches, but the buds promise us the Spring that we all have been looking forward to. Oh, well, it is Maine and we should be happy with what we get, because weather in other parts of the U.S.A. has been pretty frightful! Yes, as I’ve said before, when I lived in Tennessee, we heard tornado warnings all the time, and a few years ago we found out that we had to come to East Madison to have one!

Well, enough of that, WALLS. Now, with Mothers Day on May 13, it is time for all moms to give thanks for children. Yes, we moms have been blessed with our own and, recently, there has been much on TV for want-to-be parents! Wonderful for you and the children who become part of your families! I know I wrote about Lucetta Trafton Russell who I remember so well, as she became my step-grandma. I remember so well the families that used to drive into Grandpa and Lou’s dooryard with ‘many thanks’ for the children that Lou had brought up until timefor adoption. Also, my daughter, Lynn Rooney, has adopted a ‘very special needs’ young man. The adoption took place a long time ago, but this man is now 30 years old and he is so lucky to have a mom who has taught him so much. Yes, Lynn is comptroller for Richard Carrier Trucking, but he has wonderful caregivers and, when I was at RFGH, D.J. and his caregiver, Larry, visited me. Yes, I am a proud mom and grandma and great-grandma and I think all of those grandkids and greats will celebrate at Lynn and Chuck’s house on May 12. WALLS, you also know that our great, Reese Paine, will tap in her recital at Skowhegan’s Opera
House that afternoon.

Celebrate, you bet I will and I hope you will, too, no matter what day is Mother’s Day for you faithful readers. Yes, yes, Dad’s Day will be here in June, but this is your day, too, dads. How wonderful and proud you must be!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of April 12, 2018

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Yes, faithful readers and all those that are eager for Spring, just remember that this is Maine and be especially happy that we all are in the state of our U.S.A. that is known for our being genuine. Yes, we are a genuine and caring population and there are writings by a variety of people that prove it!

You all know that I have two television programs by way of BeeLine TV-11, but somehow WALLS know that you who are faithful readers do not connect the dots.

The dots? Well, there are several schools in the Skowhegan Area that are not affiliated with SAD #54.

We have a charter school in downtown Skowhegan now, but have you thought about The Marti Stevens School has been across from the SAD #54 Superintendent’s Office for a long time. Actually, and it has nothing to do with the dots, but the superintendent’s office is located at what was the Horne Farm.

Yes, we all do get older and I have Horne’s Farm milk bottles on a shelf in our kitchen! Remember when milk used to be delivered at our doorsteps?

O.K., WALLS, we spent a minute reminiscing, but let’s tell everyone that Skowhegan Heritage Council has a new member. Yup, Barry Sites has joined us and, bet you guessed…he is a daily affiliate at The Marti Stevens School. So, the dots have been connected!

That reminds WALLS that so few younger folks are interested in history any more. Why? Yes, yes, we of yesteryear thought of our future and were set on preparing for it, but we also learned that our future was based on the information garnered throughout the past, for us to build on in the future. Students, this is for you…always remember that your present in your future exist because someone worked hard to make today happen and the future awaits for you. Take it from me, I haven’t forgotten Miss Thompson’s teaching me in the first grade at Lincoln School, on Leavitt Street, in Skowhegan….and I am now 87 years young.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Last week’s program was about Lyme disease

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, the program that we did last Tuesday, March 27, and that Laurie Denis suggested I talk with Jim Fortunato, of Redington-Fairview General Hospital, in Skowhegan, was absolutely fantastic. Host, Chris Perkins and I were happy with what Jim had done for you, for sure. Betsy Putnam, MT, RN, talked about Lyme Disease and, since I got that tick bite when living in Littleton, New Hampshire, 30 years ago, I was especially interested in all that has been done, since 30 years ago, no one knew about treating it. Yes, faithful readers, that is why it is named Lyme Disease, because it was discovered in Lyme, Connecticut! A while ago, when we had someone visit, I was asked why I had no cupboard door in our kitchen. Well, that little tick made me so weak that 30 years ago, it took two hands to lift my toothbrush and, just in case, I opted for no cupboard doors, as there was a day when I didn’t have strength to open cupboards, also.

Also, Jim asked Andrea Fortin to tell our TV audience to tell all that Redington-Fairview General Hospital is doing with folks who may have a danger of falling….no matter what a person’s ago.

The entire program was truly interesting. Now, lucky faithful readers, you may hear about Lyme Disease at Poulin-Turner Hall, 653 Waterville Road in Skowhegan on Saturday, April 7, from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Now, faithful readers, don’t say you’ve heard all that there is to know about Lyme! There are new discoveries all the time….and, take it from one who knows, those discoveries include everything from clothes to sprays. There was a day 30 years ago when local doctors didn’t know how to treat anyone (including me), but much has changed and constantly. Yes, I’ll see you on April 7!

When you read this, you will have had a very happy Easter, WALLS hope. So, if the weather isn’t exactly what we ordered, enjoy the weather that is waiting. Lew’s and my family reaches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so we will be in touch by phone with our Washington State family. Even my kiddos are scattered in Maine, but we are grateful that they have enjoyed, too. Aren’t we lucky to have grandchildren and great-grandkids to have had the Easter Bunny visit them. Yes, we all grow up and older, but we are sure lucky to have our Grands and great-grands that help us to believe.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: March 17 has more meaning to me than St. Patrick’s Day

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, you sure have been busy this week! Frankly, if I were you, I’d begin by wishing The Town Line congratulations for bringing the news to everyone, at least to everyone in these parts, for 30 years. We should also thank Gary and Trish Newcomb for their being the founders of The Town Line. Like all things, time does change us along life’s way, but everyone who knows The Town Line must be especially grateful to Roland Hallee, since, as managing editor, he has carried the good works of The Town Line for all faithful readers since 2005. Actually, I have to admit that I had been writing this column for another newspaper. When that newspaper became history, I received a call from Roland and here you and I are, WALLS.

Well, that paragraph was easy, but, yes, WALLS was very busy this week. It all began on St. Patrick’s Day, as that was daughter’s birthday and Chuck planned a wonderful party for her. Then, in my ‘stuff’ there was a write-up with the heading “Did You Know?” Yes, faithful readers, do you know that St. Patrick was born in 389 and died in 461? Wow! He was the son of a Romano-British official, Calparius. When St.Patrick was captured by raiders at age 16, he was carried and became a slave in pagan Ireland. Six years later, he escaped and returned to Britain when he was about 22 years old. He studied at the monastery of Lerins. He was ordained, sent to Ireland, founded the Church of Armagh, which is now known as St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral. Yes, there he converted the Irish.

Now, Lynn’s birthday was on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, and then Skowhegan celebrated Governor Abner Coburn Day, per declaration issued by the Skowhegan Selectmen.

However, Governor Coburn was a very generous man and the name Coburn has been mounted on buildings all across the country. He was generous in death, also, and left money to have the Skowhegan Free Public Library built.

Attorney “Rob” Washburn was the one who delivered the Coburn message on March 22, while Evalyn Bowman and Shirley Whittemore served refreshments to all who attended. Oh, lest I forget, John Harlow was videographer for the event, in case you get Ch. 11 on your TV.

Today, there were so many folks attending Maine Maple Saturday and Sunday, and Kristina, Director of Skowhegan Main Street, you surely did a wonderful bit of organizing for all of us to enjoy.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: The Invention of the Doughnut Hole

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WHOOPS, walls, I’m not sure if you can talk about this or not, since it is invisible, sort-of. Yes, I just had breakfast and I ate the hole of Mrs. Dunster’s doughnut!

This is for you, faithful readers and WALLS, because I found information about the doughnut hole in my files. Georg Smith wrote it long ago in his column and, just like you, WALLS and faithful readers, he and I have been enlightened. You see, the hole-in-the-doughnut was invented.

Yup, it was invented by a 16-year-old young man by the name of Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory. O.K., WALLS, I can hear you laughing now! Invented? Well, according to the article, that doughy fried doughnuts were so dense and filling that the folks at work were slowed. But that isn’t the end of the story, faithful readers. You see, six men who had the absolutely delicious morsels, fell overboard, and being lethargic, they sank and drowned. And here’s one for you who like “new names for old favorites,” the doughnuts were called “greasy sinkers.” That is when Gregory got the idea to cut out the center of his ‘sinkers’ to make them lighter. Now, the town of Rockport, Massachusetts, has honored Gregory with a plaque at the place of his birth.

Now, WALLS, since you are on the subject of frying, do you remember my telling faithful readers in The Town Line last week that Attorney Robert Washburn is chairman of Governor Abner Coburn Day on March 22, and that ALL are invited to celebrate Maine’s governor who gave so much to so many? Well, Washburn is a very famous name in Maine history. The Washburn brothers, of Maine history, grew up in poverty but attained remarkable achievements. WALLS will tell you more about them in another column, faithful readers, as another time, you will hear about the name Washburn, as the brothers were once the owners of what you women know well…General Mills!

So, faithful readers, WALLS can be seen on The Town Line’s website, townline.org. Oh, and another ‘find’ while searching. “Happiness is like Jam…You can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself!”

Honoring Abner Coburn in Skowhegan on March 22, 2018

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, faithful readers, we’re having a party and you and your friends are invited!

March 22 is the date. Why? Well, we of the Skowhegan Heritage Council and you will celebrate our Maine Governor Abner Coburn’s birthday! He was born on March 22, 1803, and the Skowhegan selectmen made this Declaration:

“In honor of all that Abner Coburn has done for the Town of Skowhegan and state of Maine and the exemplary life he lived, the Selectmen for the Town of Skowhegan have proclaimed have proclaimed March 22 forevermore to be Abner Coburn Day!”

There is a booklet about Abner Coburn, but WALLS, you surely don’t have to copy all of it. It does begin with his family history, but most important is the fact that his mother was Mary Weston and his father was a farmer and surveyor. You are right, WALLS. Abner grew up on the Back Road, received some education at the Pitt School ant then the family relocated to Bloomfield (the south side of the Kennebec River and Skowhegan’s name at one time). In Bloomfield, Abner attended Bloomfield Academy until he was 14 years of age and his father, Eleazer, felt that Abner and his brother, Philander, should leave their formal education and he would teach them surveying. Abner and Philander grew very wealthy and owned thousands of acres of land and tree growth and as a logger, Abner obviously valued education, as he gave so much to schools and colleges throughout the U.S.

Abner built the mansion on Main Street Hill in Skowhegan in 1848 and he and Philander lived there, Philander died in 1876 and Abner lived there all his life.

That brings us to the many positions of the man who became Maine’s governor. Actually, WALLS, because of space and word-count, I will leave much of this for our faithful readers to read at their libraries, but the fact that Governor Coburn stood beside Abraham Lincoln, as he took his oath of office when elected president, Wow! We surely had a famous governor.

Yes, all of us of the Skowhegan Heritage Council hope to see you at the Skowhegan Free Public Library and we will serve dessert. As a matter of fact, we will serve you cookies that Mary Marston, who lived in the Coburn mansion on Skowhegan’s Main Street Hill. The Marston family had four children who grew up there and, years ago, Lakewood stars visited the Marston’s often.

See you on March 22, as you will learn much of our Governor Coburn, as we celebrate him at 4 p.m.