IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of September 28, 2017

by Katie Ouilette

O.K., WALLS, you guessed! You guessed what I had been doing, when I challenged you. Yes, faithful readers, I truly appreciate your having said thanks, the last time I divulged that I had been going through some old memories. Well, I’ve done it again, but this time WALLS wanted me to make a favorite “Robert Redford Cake” for a family gathering. The recipe was sent to me a very long time ago by close Oak Ridge, Tennessee, friend and godmother of son Craig. Actually, Ed and Nina are Craig’s godparents. They are both gone ‘to a better place’, as we have all been promised, but that recipe lingers on in my scrapbook, as do wonderful and heartwarming memories.

Now, I simply must share some memories of Nina and Ed. Especially, with all the ‘brewing events’ that seems to have overtaken folks’ “way of life these days.” Now, I’ll go back to those Oak Ridge days, when all forms of alcoholic beverages were against the law to sell. Ed decided to make some beer in their basement…and he was definitely a wonderful brewer, when not working at Oak Ridge National Laboratories. The taste test passed and bottling was next on Ed’s agenda. All was wonderful, as long as summer’s heat hadn’t arrived, but it did! OK, so you faithful readers and WALLS guessed! The caps popped and even hit the cellar’s ceiling which made that familiar sound! What’s more, the odor soon filled the cellar and the house! Yes, that was the end of the beer production, at least until cool weather arrived!

Well, WALLS and faithful readers, I hope you are laughing, because, with all the news of the hurricanes that come to us from the Caribbean, and the earthquake, in Mexico, we all need something to laugh about. Actually, I made the cake for Last Rose of Summer Day, when we honored Senator Margaret Chase Smith, and David Richards evidently had a long time to enjoy it, since our audience for the day was miniscule!

Speaking of David, who is now the Margaret Chase Smith Library’s executive, he was on Now You Know for which Chris Perkins is the host and which was the first Now You Know of this 2017 fall season. David gave our audience such interesting information about the library. WALLS surely hope that you who do get Channel 11,
will enjoy!

I think, WALLS, that our word-count has about reached the limit for this week. Yes, I did mention Now You Know, but will take the liberty of telling our faithful readers and faithful viewers that we will soon have John Harlow with us to tape the program from its new downtown Skowhegan location for Maine’s Cornville Charter School.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of September 21, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Oh, WALLS, surely you have wondered right along with me about those folks who have chosen to be in Florida-territory or in the Houston, Texas, area in recent weeks. Maybe we Mainers don’t have anyone in the Houston vicinity, but Florida and the Islands in the Caribbean have caused many of our faithful readers to suffer anxiety.

Well, our next-door neighbor who went to Jacksonville to help his son, Andrew, wife Jamie, and new baby son Madis throughout the preparations for the coming storm, is home and all are safe. Drew did tell us that some trees were victims of the hurricane, but he said they were lucky. Now, we hear of more hurricanes, so we’ll keep praying for everyone who has become a victim and who may be destined to have more destruction. Yes, donations of much needed objects for living through such destruction that has created hard times for folks will be needed for years. Sad. Yes, truly sad. We will definitely be asked to share as time goes by, for sure.

Speaking of sharing. Yes, even here in Maine we have opportunities to help. In fact, WALLS, you know of the thrift shops that have become part of our landscape in recent years. I am reminded of my young years and my parents who brought me up to ‘pay for whatever I would buy, and we should buy only what we need and not what we want.

Actually, WALLS and faithful readers, we should all live by those words. We read of every-one’s raising dollars to help folks in need of things, and health and our public places. Our thanks for folks and their caring is much deserved.

While you are about it, WALLS, we have to thanks folks who, throughout the last weeks have taken animals to their homes. Kindness seems to have been awakened by so many and for so many reasons and we have been so fortunate to hear about it. Y’know, WALLS, last week you reminded folks to say ‘thank you’…so now it is you saying ‘thanks’ to our faithful readers who have been willing to share so much with so

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of September 14, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Y’know, WALLS, about all you should say to those who are giving so much of themselves this week is a great big thank you. Why? Well, faithful readers, so many are giving so much today. Question is, who comes first?

We might as well begin at the beginning. Ayeh, Harvey comes first, if you say so. Oh, such devastation those poor people in Texas have to deal with in their futures, but so many people from the East have gone to assist and those who couldn’t make the trip have sent clothes and food to help folks who have lost everything. WALLS, can you imagine having to live in a shelter that has been outfitted with cots, donated blankets, and children ‘wondering’ about their pets and toys.

Now, we have Irma’s going on in the Virgin Islands and heading for our U.S.A. Unfortunately, folks on TV are telling us in “this safe State of Maine” that all those who live in the Virgin Islands that there is little gasoline for cars, water or food for people’s health. And, again, there are folks who feel that their volunteering…from nurses and doctors to anyone who can clean-up and hopefully make people’s houses somewhat livable.

Yes, WALLS and faithful readers, a very hearty thanks! is due……but there is more. Our young people started school this past week, so our teachers and helpers and food service cooks and our faithful bus drivers need our deepest appreciation for taking good care of those we love. Yes, and the principals are there…to guarantee all that a school should be for building memories.

Memories? Well, WALLS, at my age of 87-years-young, I still value my principals, teachers and classmates and we of the class of ’48 still meet each other once a month.

Worry? Well, we have a few of those looming. Our Dean and Donna Ouilette are supposed to go to Haiti for their Church in Bellingham, Washington, and we hope that their plans are not disrupted by Hurricane Irma. They are truly loyal to their church and its efforts in Haiti. Frankly, with so much said about our immigrant-folks and whether they should be allowed to stay in our U.S.A., for whatever you have contributed to our country, thank you!

Y’know, faithful readers, when William Philbrick owned a log drive company, our tourist friends loved seeing the logs floating down the Kennebec and Mr. Philbrick used to “bond” those Canadians who came from Canada for the ‘log drive’. When the job was done, they went back to their families. Well, the immigrants to our U.S.A. came as children with their parents and they dream of their futures, just as we did.

Well, WALLS and faithful readers, column space doesn’t allow more words right now, but, surely, you know others that should have a big thanks……so don’t hesitate to say it when you feel it!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of September 7, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, do you remember telling our faithful readers about our welcoming tourists to our Central Maine? Well, do it again, WALLS.

Yes, Alton Whittemore raised money to build what was known as the Skowhegan Information Center but is now the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce Office. I am very proud that my granddaughter, Danielle Denis Dubois is now president of the Skowhegan Area Chamber and she and husband Kevin have their home in Canaan, whichi s truly Skowhegan area. Our great-granddaughter has begun Middle School, in Skowhegan. Yes, WALLS, I am truly proud that Danielle, as she is walking in nana’s footsteps.

Now, what about tourism in Skowhegan? Skowhegan used to be a tourist-mecca, but, borrowing a thought from writer, George Smith, Maine is the same, but different. WALLS, remember when there was a sign at the beginning of our turnpike that wanted tourists to stay away? Well, the traffic from downtown Skowhegan and up the entire Madison Avenue prove that tourists not only like to come to Skowhegan, but even on their way up Route 201, folks like the scenery that changes every year, it seems.

Oh, yes, WALLS, one thing that Skowhegan used to have was The Guest of the Week, for which the Skowhegan Tourist Hospitality Association and members of the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce were responsible. WALLS, you didn’t even exist then, but many folks who had downtown businesses and restaurants remember. In the days of the Denis ownership of Lakewood, there were always free tickets to the Lakewood Theatre. Yes, WALLS, there were many things that folks who came to Maine loved, but Skowhegan was famous by way of the daily newspapers of our guests from other states and the wonderful greeting that awaited folks in Maine. Yes, memories came alive about the Skowhegan Tourist Hospitality Association when you opened the Skowhegan Hospitality Association’s Scrapbook which Vi Kyes gave to us to “guard with our lives.” We can be proud of the people who made those visits memorable.

So, faithful readers, you’ve read of the past and present and, hopefully, some of these good things will again brighten the
tourism aspect which was so well known in our area. We have wonderful historic places along the Kennebec River that is waiting for folks-from-away to discover.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of August 31, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, have you had a ‘Ma’ in your life? No, I’m not talking about your mother, I’m wondering if you have had a ‘Ma’ sometime during your life. Yes, WALLS, we’ve had a ‘Ma’ in our family and when I sat and talked with Elaine Cannell, while we were waiting for her other guests to arrive, I learned that Ma had been at her house, but not for as long as we had her in our family.

Now, WALLS, I’m not going to write her real name, because she was always ‘Ma’ to me. It all started when housework became too much for my mémère, so my mom got us ‘Ma’.

Yes, Ma even got some things done as I was preparing for Colby Junior College, in New London, New Hampshire. (Yes, it is Colby-Sawyer College now, and I’ll write about ‘why’ in another issue.) Back to ‘Ma’ and, yes, she was proud of her own family. Her husband, Carrol, worked faithfully for the Skowhegan Road Department.

Oh, you have asked why she was ‘Ma’ to all our family. Well, she not only cleaned our house at 29 Chestnut Street once a week, but she was definitely one of our family. In fact, after college, I married and she was ‘Ma’ when my husband and I moved back to Maine with the business which we had started in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, so she cleaned our house in East Madison, as I worked at Z.D.Wire.

Then, when my marriage to Joe Denis became history and I later married Lew, ‘Ma’ came to our rescue when she agreed to care for my grandson who was born in Alaska and his mother said she wanted him to grow up in Maine. Oh, she was a truly wonderful mother but followed the wishes of her mother and father who called every day to remind her of her obligation. (Yes, Eskimo custom was that the youngest would care for the elder parents.) So our grandson was cared for by ‘Ma’ while Nana went to work every day. Yes, she was always ‘Ma’ to Danny, too.

‘Ma’s life has passed, but she is still ‘Ma’ to all of us. Yes, WALLS, ‘Ma’ will forever be a part of the Valliere, Denis, Ouilette memories.

Oh, WALLS, there are so many reasons for memories having popped up in our minds. We had a gathering of friends and, yes, schoolmates at Elaine’s house, Evalyn Bowman brought her two classmates from Vermont who were visiting her. Betsy Hall and I had been in the same class at Lincoln School on Leavitt Street and Elizabeth (was Rodden) lives in East Madison. And, know what, WALLS? Surely our faithful readers who attended school with Betsy and Elizabeth will say: “I remember them!” Yes, faithful readers, there is so much in our ‘memories’ of our younger years. Enjoy! That is what age is for!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of August 24, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, WALLS, WALLS! You have said with almost every issue of The Town Line that Maine is the very best to live in, but surely our faithful readers are agreeing with you BIG TIME now! True, we live in an ugly world, but surely our little corner called Maine is truly a wonderful place to call home in August 2017!

Surely we all have our ideas of ‘why,’ but, frankly, after living in places that are having so many problems, I am happy that my family has come back to Maine twice. Oh, surely East Madison has lost much. This very small community used to have seven industries from Cumming’s Woolen Mill to skate making and lots of employment opportunities in between. Yes, we had Perkins’ Store, too, plus boat rentals and swimming beaches. Yes, before the days of Madison’s, now gone, paper mill, East Madison had it all, including writer Florence Burrill Jacobs.

Now, the wonderful thing about East Madison is that folks here have kept hope alive with smiles and busy thoughts of making East Madison and Lake Wesserunsett the best it can be. We all are proud that young folks who went to Madison schools and graduated from Madison High School, have
returned to East Madison and ‘home.’

Today, TV has been the swamp that we were promised would be cleaned-up, but, instead, our world has shown how truly ugly people who live in some parts of our U.S.A. have grown to be full of hate, instead to being grateful for our land of the free.

Well, one thing I am sure of. You won’t find ugliness in The Town Line. Maybe our TV and news and programs and movies and, yes, even advertising has too much ugliness any more! We, who live in Maine, are truly fortunate and we have our parents or our employers to thank for our environment. True, we may not have everything that we want, but we have the love of people. People that we meet, on the whole, have ‘happiness’ in their walk or smiles on their faces. We are truly fortunate, faithful readers. Surely you agree.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of August 17, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Faithful readers, WALLS just looked down at the footstool in front of the chair that is placed at the window from which we can watch the birds at the bird feeder or from which we got a surprise the other day when a young deer appeared. Yes, the birdfeeder had a visitor. Then, another surprise came our way a few days later. We had a new visitor by way of a woodchuck! It was more interested in sleeping on a big rock that trims our backyard. Unfortunately, we have seen neither one since.

Well, WALLS, it is time to get back to the footstool. There was a headline about ‘How we see the poor’ and you read it, but I’m about to step into this discussion. You faithful readers know that I am now 87 years young, but, admittedly, I was a Depression baby, born in 1930. I guess people had already jumped out of their office windows in New York City when my birthdate came along, but, WALLS, I know what it was to live during those hard times, even as a growing baby. Now, we all read today about people in Maine getting older, but I’m now going to take you, faithful readers, back to the days of poor folks. Granted, some people are truly poor-in-spirit (even the rich folks, so to speak), but WALLS, tell folks about what poor meant during that era of Depression in the USA.

You’ve told faithful readers about living in a three-family house (grandparents, my mom and dad and me). And you’ve told about my mom’s working in the, then, selectmen’s office, in Skowhegan, and giving food orders to folks and their pay-back ten-cents at a time and grocers carrying ‘folks names on a tab,’ also waiting for payback.

But, WALLS, it is time to tell what you learned about poverty. Yes, you’ve already spoken about lots of money sometimes leading to depression, but in those days of The Depression, there was a town nurse. The schools had a doctor and health examination days. Insurance? Well, folks had life insurance and some of you faithful readers may remember the insurance man collecting 50 cents at your house every week. Kids worehand-me-downs and only the older kids got ‘new clothes’. Lunch at chool? Well, if you were lucky enough to be poor! Otherwise, school lunch happened to be what was put in your lunch bucket! Credit cards? WALLS, our faithful readers must to told there was no such thing for shopping and every day the word was “saving.” We wereurged to save, save, save our pennies, which were, in our house, kept in a jar. Yes, some of us did get a reward for ‘whatever’ was important to parents. Y’know, WALLS, I was rewarded for eating everything on my plate…scraping the plate clean! I learned so well, I still scrape my plate!

Well, faithful readers, there probably will be more about growing up during the Depression, but if anyone considers the family poor, it would be wise to think about those days of the 1930s and live with leftovers and without credit cards.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of August 10, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, this just has to be ‘summer celebration time’ throughout Maine! Faithful readers, you surely have had a lot of reading to do with The Town Line and every newspaper telling about a celebration for something in towns throughout our grand state of Maine.

Yes, thanks, too, to our television stations telling us about each one at some time of the day. Certainly, we can begin with Portland and the Tall Sails Regatta. You know. WALLS, that it was also identified as a ‘learning experience. So Portland can be praised for teaching, as well.

Driving to Central Maine, one could also learn at Skowhegan’s Kneading Conference. That event surely has grown from its start at the parking lot of Federated Church on The Island. Now, the Kneading Conference has its new locale at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds. Yes, WALLS, the, now, Tewksbury Hall, behind the Federated Church, welcomed folks to the pancake breakfast, which was held at that hall on August 5. Now, WALLS, add to all that daytime and evening chicken events hosted by Skowhegan Lions, the widely anticipated lobster dinner by Skowhegan Rotarians, the bed races, animal zoo, bands playing, and Sally’s School of Dance performing, plus the long-awaited parade. Then there was a golf tournament at Lakewood Golf Course.

Oh, WALLS, surely there is much more activity for all ages on the River Fest program that everyone received by way of Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce.

But, maybe you who are on the road north, will soon find that Aroostook County is about to celebrate the Maine Potato Festival. Whatever your time or calendar allow, The Town Line says “ENJOY”!

Yes, WALLS, you are so right. Our summer seems to have been short, but certainly, not so short that planning has taken place since last year’s events. Do you faithful readers know how much planning goes into these events? You, WALLS, know very well how many of us have said that, as long as I am ‘fine’ from the shoulders up, I will be o.k., and I still say it. Oh, there’s no question that Lyme Disease has taken its toll, and certainly I’ve visited Skowhegan’s Redington-Fairview General Hospital a couple times, but I can still hear, think right, and talk! Oh, well, I may not play the game, but I can ride in the golf cart and see Lew’s golf ball……and he sure can hit it a long way!

Hmmm, not bad for two old duffers at 90 and 87 years young, respectively! Yup, Skowhegan State Fair will begin and we’ll see you there!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of August 3, 2017

Katie Ouilette Walls
by Katie Ouilette

WALLS, you have talked about our busy days, but Wow oh Wow, this last week has beat them all! Faithful readers, WALLS wonder what you think. We said ‘bye’ to grandkids and their wee ones…yes, in shifts, because son Dean and his wife Donna were here in East Madison or with Donna’s brother David Loubier and his wife, in Winslow. Oh, WALLS, before you forget, make sure to tell our faithful readers about the absolutely beautiful lined and fringed blanket with pictures of fish on it that David and his wife gave to Lew and I, as we had several birthday celebrations on our birthdays. Needless to say, our friends gathering at Lynn and Chuck’s had only great accolades of praise for that gathering.

Yes, it was tough to have our greats leave…some babies and some little ones. We hope the little ones always remember their visit with Nana and Apa (Gramdfather in Alaska) and the loooong plane rides to Maine and, again, back to Washington State.

Now, WALLS, you have another subject for our faithful readers. Yes, you did know that my dad, Henry Valliere, and cousins Willard and Francis Groteau, started the Lake Wesserusett Association many years ago. That was in the day when the Croteau family had bought the land on one side of the ‘inlet of the lake’ and Henry and Roxie had purchased ‘the old swimming hole’ property on “Mud Guzzle”, the Laney’s name for the Inlet. Yes, Gramp Laney and daughters had their cottage ‘just down the Guzzle’ from the old swimming hole and Mim and Ray Laney owned next door. Actually, because ‘the Laney family’ were the originals, dad Henry thought that Laney Road would be a more appropriate name than Fire Lane 2. Oh, we had such a great time, as Mim and Ray (Raymond’s Clothing Store, in Skowhegan) had a bean hole bean supper every Saturday night and George Cannell and ‘musicians’ played for dancing in Gramp Laney’s woodshed behind the Laney cottages. Now, the woodshed is gone, but Chris and Claire Perkins now own the Gramp Laney Cottage and have folks for bean-hole beans plus everybody’s favorite recipes ‘lakesiee’ in summer.

That leads you WALLS to your attending the long-time Lake Association meeting a couple weeks ago. Yes, the president is now Mark Doty (our Inlet neighbor) and, as we assembled for an early breakfast served by the East Madison Grange members, we were given The Lake Book, published for all folks in Maine about keeping our lakes in our great state of Maine in pure and pristine condition. It was reported that Lake Weserunsett still has that pristine condition. Many thanks to those who volunteer to do ‘the count’ every summer and to Sonja Clothier, our boat inspector.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of July 27, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, remember when you wrote and told our faithful readers about how our governor has hoped that products would be made in Maine and sold in other areas of our
United States and you talked about my step-sons selling yachts that are built in both Rockland and Raymond, to Washington State enthusiasts? Well, step-son Dean happened to have a Business Pulse magazine in his luggage when arriving for a visit a couple weeks ago and there was a photo of Dean on the cover! The caption says that No. 81on the top 100 list is Bellingham Yacht Sales.

Are dad Lew and step-mom Katie proud? Well, there is a photo of Nick and Dean standing in front of a Maine-made yacht and the two Ouilette brothers have been standing through the ‘thick and thin’ of a growing business for 33 years. What’s more, business has grown to their opening another office in Everett, Washington, (about an hour down the road from Bellingham).

Now, WALLS, you’ve made the announcement about Bellingham Yacht Sales and Service, but surely you have a lot to say about the family’s (yes, almost the whole family) visiting family members who have a cottage on Pattie Pond, in Winslow, and Lake Wesserunsett, in East Madison. Nick and Dean talked of memories of attending Madison schools and graduating from Madison High School, while Dean’s daughter, Michelle, and her brother, Matt, were also students in Madison as Bellingham Sales and Charters grew. Now, Matt is busy with yacht sales and service and his wife, Heather, is important to the hotel business in Bellingham and mother of Olive and Frances.

Michelle is married to Jason, teaches in Bellingham and is also a busy mom to Kinley and Caden. Oh, WALLS, did you mention that everyone has visited family in Winslow and East Madison and Brittany and her “Bella” are so happy that daddy Chad came along, too. (And a bit of an aside here. Brittany and Chad named their baby girl Arabella Joyce and we are so glad that the grandma who left us years ago, is still remembered.

Yes, we are thrilled that Michelle’s Jason and Brittany’s Chad are truly wonderful additions to the family and really great daddies to our families ‘wee ones’ and ‘little ones’.

Before placing the last “period” at the end, I must tell you about the gathering that daughter Lynn and Chuck hosted on July 22. About 60 wonderful friends gathered at Lynn’s new home in East Madison to celebrate Lew’s and my July birthdays and our 40 years of marriage. Yes, second marriages for each, but how fortunate we are that our kids thought we’d be perfect parents for each one. So now you all know the story of the wonderful family that we truly enjoy, whether in Maine or Washington State …and that is why Katie and Lew proudly point to the greats and grands on their refrigerator door.