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.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of June 29, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Y’know WALLS, I received this bit of humor and history from my cousin Ray’s wife, Ann, in Maryland and I’m sending some of it along to give a laugh to our friendly readers for the July 4 holiday, if, of course, the editor has room for a very short column somewhere in The Town Line. You know, I’ll have much more to include after July 4 vacation has become history, too.

“Someone asked the other day, ‘What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?'”

Reply: “We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up. Actually, all the food was slow” (Yes, I’m about to be 87 on July 8!)

‘C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?’

“It was a place called ‘at home,'” I explained. “Mom cooked every day and when dad got home from work, we sat down at the table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.’ By this time, the kid was laughing so hard, I was afraid he was going to suffer serious damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how we had to have permission to leave the table.”

Well, WALLS, there are more pages of funnies, from Ann, but will share them later. Yes, the funniest part has to do with ‘fast food’ and since there are so many hot dog parties going around this week, I’ll send more funnies later. Yes, WALLS, make sure you wish every faithful reader a ‘happy,’ but let’s hope our faithful readers don’t forget what July 4 is all about. Yes, food and history.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of June 22, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, you know very well that I used to own Lakewood-On-Lake Wesserunsett and because you know me well, you realize that I will tell you more about Lakewood’s history, but, right now, I just want to tell you about attending a Spiritualist meeting with a resident of Maplecrest, in Madison.

Oh, she was thoroughly enjoying every minute of what was being said. Yes, you are right that Spiritualists met in Lakewood’s Shanty when the Denis family were owners, but the new owners thought it best to give the Spiritualists one of the Lakewood cottages. So, you know why my Maplecrest resident wanted to “go home,” just as the speaker said that she had a message for me “from the unknown.” I was eager to hear who had a message for me, but Maplecrest’s rules dictated that, unless visiting the doctor, we accommodated the resident. Oh, well, so be it, but I shall always wonder who was sending me a message.

Y’know, WALLS, my grandfather Russell never missed a Spiritualist’s meeting and, though I have never been a believer, I thought about the messages that are referred to those attending the Spiritualists’ meeting, but, today, I was preparing all of your columns, WALLS, for the History House, in Skowhegan, and lo-and-behold, I had an October 2015 issue of The Town Line and the headline read, “Locals deal with paranormal activity.” Now, WALLS, you know I had read this, at the time, but my memory went to the Spiritualist meeting. There were people who had had “ghosts” appearing in their homes. What’s more, when I read, again, of the ‘piano playing’ and the house’s owner seeing a girl playing, I thought of my friend in New Jersey hearing someone playing the piano and singing in a second-story room of an antique home her family had purchased.

Then, memory broke my spell, WALLS. Do you remember when I was cooking and a coffee mug fell off the hook and landed straight up without breaking? Now, that mug remains where it landed and, for sure, that cup didn’t remove the hook that was keeping it in place, until plop!

Am I now a believer? No, but I’m sure curious about these strange things that happen to many of us, without warning and, for sure, without
reason.

Well, Walls, we sure have a long time to wait for The Town Line’s October issue, but, just in case our faithful readers have more paranormal experiences, remember that you read a bit about their existence. After all, do WALLS really talk?

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of June 15, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, how wonderful it was to receive Ggaduation photos from our Bellingham, Washington, family as they attended great-grandson Landon’s graduation from Bellingham High School. There was Landon, dressed in his blue cap and gown, with his Aunt Donna, cousin Michelle and her children Kinley and Caden Wilhelm (I imagine Uncle Dean Ouilette or husband Jason Wilhelm were busy with their cameras). Oh, how proud we are of all. True, grandad Nick was in Maine and readying to return to Bellingham Yacht Sales and dad Danny was busy chauffeuring folks to Seattle airport, as his business had to come first.

Yes, WALLS and faithful readers, a column about ‘Mother knows best’ was written for this issue, but let’s make this a happy story. True, Landon’s mom did take him to the doctor he had, saying that she felt that the flu medication prescribed for him by the new doctor was not the cure. She was right! Yes, the former doctor wanted five-year old Landon at Seattle Children’s Hospital immediately. Off they went and Seattle Children’s was waiting for their arrival. Fortunately, at the hospital, a stem cell was taken and frozen before Landon was sent to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tennessee, where it was determined that Landon had unusual Wilm’s Cancer. Yes, and the Wilm’s specialist doctor was at St. Jude’s. So became the long cure. In fact, Landon was not only treated for Wilm’s Cancer, but he was treated to school days when he was of school age, so he missed little of his schooling … but for 12 years!

When, Landon was ‘free of Wilm’s Cancer’ he was sent back to Seattle Children’s for a stem-cell implant! It was then that dad Danny and Landon lived together in insolation for three months at Seattle Children’s Hospital!

Well, now you know ‘who’ that young man to whom my book, Two Birds in a Box, is dedicated and ‘why’ the dedication reads “To my great-grandson, Landon, and all children who are recuperating at children’s hospitals, waiting for their day to fly.” Well, Landon had his 19th birthday in January and on June 10 got his diploma. He has had a trip to wellness that few his age have experienced, but all who have had their graduations have been preparing for these years to fly. Yes, just as Momma Birds taught her babies to fly into their futures, may Landon’s experiences be an inspiration to you and remember that Mama knows best. Graduation is your beginning. Be happy and an inspiration as you begin the beginning of your life and the future.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of May 4, 2017

by Katie Ouilette

WALLS, surely we must feel honored. I found a business card, which I probably received at a Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce FAB Fair years ago and it read that The Town Line is the oldest [existing] weekly newspaper in Central Maine. The date was 1989. Y’know, faithful readers, the Skowhegan Independent Reporter surely outdated The Town Line, as its history follows, but certainly, WALLS, it is a great honor to be presenting your thoughts in print each week.

Yes, you are well-aware that the pocket-park at the corner of Madison Avenue and, what was, Russell Street in Skowhegan was the site of a large building. Yes, it was empty and folks learned that it was beyond repair by an architect and several others who were well-acquainted with old buildings. In fact, the same was determined for the, one time, Reporter Office. O.K., WALLS, go for it as this is reminiscing time for our faithful readers.

WALLS, tell about that big old building first. Yes, faithful readers, the top floor was the location of the first photographic studio in Skowhegan. Surely, WALLS, there were a lot of stairs to climb, so parents who wanted their children’s photos or people who wanted photos of people who were incapacitated for any reason had to have the photographer carry his equipment to one’s home. Then, on the third floor was Lydia Deane’s ‘candy kitchen’ and anyone who remembers those divine candies know that she shipped Lydia Deane’s candies to our military during World War II, while we lucky folks at home could visit her store that was located over our Maine Liquor Store on Madison Avenue. Our once Maine Governor and now U.S.Senator Angus King ran a law office for the Kennebec Legal Association on the second level. The first level housed two small grocery stores, one owned by Howard Gray and one by Emil Stred. After Wallace’s TV and Radio Sales and Repair became the building’s owner, we are told by Donna Wallace Finley that her dad placed a loud-speaker on the building and hundreds of people gathered there to get news of the ending of World War II. Ah, what a wonderful world we all thought we lived in!

O.K., WALLS, you told us that Skowhegan’s Reporter Office Building was torn down to create the ‘park’ in our downtown, so tell us about what happened to those bricks. Yes, Katie’s car was to be filled with some of the bricks. Oh, in her back seat, of course. Some of the bricks were to be used as a memorial to Herb Paradis, who was a founder and the first host of our Channel 11’s Keeping Pace, but we must remember that Herb wrote a column entitled Keeping Pace for our Somerset Reporter. WALLS, make sure to tell our faithful readers that “Buster” Foster was editor of The Reporter, too.

Now, here comes a twist to this bit of history. In East Madison is what has always been known as the Whittier House. Yes, Emma and Ed Whittier lived there and, when they ceased their living, the house was sold. to Jackie Jacques and Dick Anzelc amd all their family was born there. Dick worked at Alfond’s Shoe Manufacturing until Alfond’s ceased to exist. Well, Walls, now Rick and his wife have purchased the house, which was abused to say the least, and now it is the Anzelc house again. In the process of refurbishing “the Whittier house,” Katie learned that the fantastic antique brick fireplace that has a washtub and ovens in the kitchen had some broken bricks and what better place for antique bricks than what is now ‘the Anzelc House.’

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of April 20, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, can you tell? I’m trying to type on a different computer! Ayeh, faithful readers, gotta go to the fix-it shop PDQ! As a result, WALLS will be very short this week!

WALLS, apologetically wants the young man who was bagging groceries at Hannaford and asked how our Maine weather had improved and suited us lately? Well, you know about the year that Maine had no summer and suggested he read this week’s column. After all, you and I know about the old saying, “everybody talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it”.

Yes, we are old and remember the saying, but I never knew why Maine folks talked about a Maine without a summer, until I found a 2016 Almanac that Bangor Savings Bank had distributed to folks. The very last page gave the reason why and when and where. Yes, WALLS has learned that 1816 and a volcanic eruption gets all the blame! No, the volcano didn’t erupt in these parts, but it happened to Mount Tambora, in Indonesia! Yes, faithful readers, that was the largest eruption in the last 1,800 years!

Yup…a big cloud for sure!

And, since Lew has guided me through using his laptop,WALLS will tell you more in Chapter 2.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of April 13, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, needless to say that The Town Line is impressive. There are so many new columns for our faithful readers’ information! Autism has been avoided by so many folks, but Winslow is among the many that is scheduling autism information during this April which is Autism Awareness Month. WALLS, this subject must be appreciated by those that recognize that something is wrong with their child, but they just don’t know what to do about it. Yes, there are those who are aware that there is a problem, but they also know that, while Autism is difficult to deal with, there are those who are afflicted, ask for understanding, and want to be included, just like others. Frankly. WALLS, there is much I wasn’t aware of until I learned of so many therapists that are available to help parents, teachers and, yes, those afflicted, because Autism must be ‘lived with’ throughout life. Certainly, all who are affected by Autism deserve our learning from such efforts as are bringing awareness to folks instead of just hoping it will ‘go away’.

As I turned to page 3, WALLS, I learned that China is hoping to have an animal and grain shop. Well, Skowhegan has recently welcomed The Maine Barkery shop in its downtown and, when TV Channel 11 has Now You Know and Keeping Pace scheduled, the owner of The Maine Barkery is to be a guest on one of the programs. Yes, it is important to keep our pets, whether in house or not, healthy and happy. Frankly, WALLS, I always have doggy bones here for our neighborhood ‘caller’ Ehler or our Grand-doggy, Daisy.

WALLS, I’m sure you already know that Eric has committed himself to Tech Talk and helping us all with computer problems that set us screaming ‘HELP.’ Wow, what a great help he has outlined for us. There are so many ‘helps’ in The Town Line. Debbie Walker told us about scams, Emily Cates tries to helps those of us who know nothing about gardening and the musician and performer in me, WALLS, loves the memories that Peter Cates revives. Yes, WALLS, I’ve been a columnist for The Town Line for a very long time, but there is always wonderful news, whether sports, local political doings or many thanks to Marilyn and Percy who let us know about Solon and Beyond, while Percy’s ‘words to live by’ make us feel good ‘all over’!

Yup, The Town Line may be a small newspaper, but it is very big with so many. Goodness, WALLS, so many of the places that have this newspaper left there out of the issue within a day or two!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of April 6, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, I looked out the lakeside window and saw the book he had written about Lakewood on the small table there. Then, I turned to the obituaries in the Morning Sentinel and, lo and behold, there was the photo and write-up of his life, which included his involvement with our own Maine Lakewood Theatre. Yes, it was one and the same John Oblak that had visited his family in Little Falls, New York. Wow! We really had walked in each-others moccasins, as Lew and I had just moved into our house in Little Falls. Needless to say, I called John’s family immediately, but he and his wife had just left after their visit.

Now, our faithful readers may want to ‘fast forward’ to today and learn that Lakewood was a mere drop in John Oblak’s theatrical life. Yes, he was technical director at Lakewood from 1965-1967, he pursued his theatrical education and, even in retirement, he continued to work with theatrical presentations as recently as 2016.

Yes, I have the book that he wrote entitled Bringing Broadway to Maine and the listings of presentations and performers bring wonderful memories every time I thumb through it. Oh, yes, I have a copy of the first play ever performed at Lakewood in 1901 entitled Private Secretary, thanks to an actor who told me he would find it so that we, who owned the theater would be able to produce it for the centennial year of 1975. Yes, and Grandma Zelia Valliere is listed among the performers as Celia Vallier. How many times she told me about her experience of acting at the Lakewood Theatre after getting excused from school and taking the trolley to Lakewood for rehearsals. Yes, she was a sailor-boy in the 1901 play, but grew up for another part in 1903. Oh, WALLS, the ‘we’ I spoke of was Joe Denis and I who owned all of Lakewood from ‘1971 through 1975’.

Yes, WALLS, those who have had Lakewood in their lives over the years will get surprised by the changes there, but a bit ago there was a notice that auditions are being planned for the 2017 season of the theater.

Well, WALLS, you’ve told folks a little bit about Lakewood on Lake Wesserunsett, but surely there will be more as summer gets in full bloom. You will surely tell more about Lakewood’s growth from an Abnaki Indian Reservation to what has become known as one of the oldest summer theaters in our USA. Surely, there are changes that, frankly, happened when Herbert Swett would visit his Bowdoin classmates in New York City and they would all sit at the Lakewood table at the hotel where they met and reminisced and, yes, planned for a dreamed-of theater season. With a trolley line that had just been introduced, of course, the theater would become an attraction for folks far and near.