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.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of March 30, 2017


by Katie Ouilette

WALLS, o.k., no famous people today. You want to tell our faithful readers about animals. No, we won’t compete other columnists in this newspaper, because your trigger has been tripped about dogs, since our relative in Turner loaned us a best selling book entitled A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron. Yes, I know you’ve not read much of the book at this point, but you know about pets that have surprised folks when we lived in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

O.K., WALLS start with that one-room schoolhouse at the end of Dutton Road. It really did happen, that Mary had a little lamb that followed her there. In fact, the story of that lamb is that it went to school with Mary every day, The children loved it and the lamb loved the love. That was probably in the 1800s, surely not today!

Now, WALLS, tell our faithful readers about the Denis’ Brittany Spaniel, Jock. Oh, he was a wonderful pet and the Denis children could do almost anything with him, such as his wearing a football helmet and riding up the turnpike to Maine with his head sticking out of the car window! People in the cars which we passed surely laughed at the site and Jock was happy that his head was out the window. Oh, and speaking of Jock, I went into a store in Sudbury and, because Jock always jumped into the driver’s seat when we were stopped, a woman ran into the store and announced, “that dog is driving the car!” Well, you know better, faithful readers, but that was Jock’s moment, for sure!

Yes, I do have to refer to a recent article on skunks. That reminded you of the Denis next door neighbor’s experience with one. The neighbors had a garbage can next to the house and that garbage can had a cover on it, since it was a buried can (a lot of them in Massachusetts). Well, the ‘lady of the house’ was wearing a new suit, but also fixing dinner for her family. When she went outside and lifted that cover to deposit the potato peels….you, faithful readers, guessed. She was sprayed by the skunk! Of course, she screamed and I ran to help her. O.K., dinner was late there, our next-door neighbor had to throw away her new suit and she had a bath with tomato juice and water!

Well, WALLS, there is another purpose for dogs that is not laughable, but heartwarming. When the Denis family moved to New Jersey, we lived a short distance from Morristown, where the Seeing Eye Institute was located. You faithful readers surely know that WALLS is about to tell you of ‘seeing dogs’ being trained to accompany their owners throughout downtown. Yes, those dogs are truly faithful, whether the blind owner is crossing a street or shopping in a store. Thosedogs know their purpose. In closing, WALLS will tell you about Ted Glazier. Ted was blind since 10 years old and he attended the Seeing Eye Institute as a teacher of veterans and also was a student at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire. When Seeing Eye Institute was featured at Colby Sawyer College, in New London, New Hampshire, Ted attended and asked a question. Immediately, the blind speaker asked: “Is that you Ted Glazier?” Ted’s seeing eye dog was the first to respond and guided Ted to the stage and blind speaker. Quite a moment for sure!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of March 23, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Well, WALLS, as the old saying has taught us, “What a difference a day makes,” and so it is for our faithful readers today. Yes, you wrote and sent your message on March 17, but it didn’t arrive. Yes, I know that one of the subjects was Lew’s and my stopping at the Red Barn Restaurant when we were en route from going to Sabre Boat’s factory in Raymond. So, it is very appropriate that you repeat our experience at Red Barn Restaurant, as Lew, who is a veteran of a long time ago, still warranted his getting a discount, as he started to pay for our order.

He couldn’t believe that anyone cared about a person who served in World War II, but those folks at Red Barn surely did. Surely, you have read about the wonderful things the Red Barn’s owner, Laura, has done for folks, and now you, WALLS, are proof of her generosity and good deeds through the years. Oh, the reason we were at Sabre Boat was that we went there to approve a boat for shipping to Bellingham Yachts, which is owned by our sons Dean and Nick.

Now, for sure the days since last Friday have given you a new twist for your column, WALLS, but you can still tell our faithful readers about Governor Abner Coburn Day. Yes, The Town Line will not be available until after March 22, but at least our faithful readers will know that invitations were sent to all the historical societies in Somerset County and elsewhere, and the day, which was chaired by Rob Washburn, a member of the Skowhegan Heritage Society. His message dealt with the education of young folks, a subject that Abner Coburn held firmly to, since his formal education ended when he was 14 years of age, when his dad decided he should learn about Maine forests and surveying. Yes, when any of you faithful readers go to Jackman, you will see Coburn Mountain standing tall on the landscape.

Yes, Governor Abner Coburn’s caring about the people of Maine and our entire USA make him one to be held in highest esteem by students who have had the privilege to study at the colleges his many millions financed. He gave Skowhegan its Free Public Library, was responsible for the Maine Central Railroad and Skowhegan Savings Bank in his Skowhegan and was on many committees and boards that made our USA all that he envisioned it could be. He was our Civil War Governor and friend of Abraham Lincoln. In fact, antique photos show his sitting directly behind Lincoln, as our, then, president delivered his Gettysburg Address.

It is important to know that Chairman Washburn is available to schools throughout our Somerset County, so that our young people will know of a very important person in our Maine history. Probably one of the most important of Governor Coburn’s lasting virtues was his generosity. He readily gave his money to those who were in need. In the words found in an antique book about Abner Coburn by Charles Williams: “There are few in Maine, in fact anywhere in the Union, whose life offers a more worthy illustration of what a (person) is capable of achieving.”

Take time to say ‘thanks’ for Maine’s being the way life should be, faithful readers.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of March 16, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Y’know, WALLS, it’s for sure the season for many things. I did write about having Spring Fever a bit ago, and spring has so much for us to be thankful for. First of all, we got the news of a flock of robins flying over Skowhegan’s famous and ‘historic’ lumber business a few days ago. Then, there was a father-daughter dance held in one town and Big Brother-Big Sister celebrations held for many. You are so right, WALLS, the reason I didn’t know about it all is because I, Katie, have been a ‘one and only’ Kathleen Valliere. Thank goodness I had lots of great kids to play with in our Chestnut Street neighborhood and great friends throughout those ‘growing’ days. Yes, WALLS, the Skowhegan High School Class of ‘48 has decided to meet at the new KelMat Café on the first Monday of each month, so our friendship lingers on, as well as our memories.

Now, speaking of memories, WALLS, you must be ‘number three’ in thanking Milt Huntington for making our minds turn to yesterdays. WALLS say many thanks, Milt. Yes, your writing for PAGES IN TIME might have been ‘mushy,’ but every word brought back memories to those of us over 65 years of age but, frankly, PAGES IN TIME surely gave our youngsters a glimpse of what we used to do with our spare time. Yup, no computers and Facebook in our growing years.

Oh, my, WALLS, now antiquity has really come to your fore. Yes, you often have thought about the ancient buildings that have existed in other countries on our Earth. Milt awakened our thoughts about our own Augusta, our State Capitol City and what it used to be like. Yup, we Americans want everything new. In fact, we tear buildings down when they aren’t even ancient! Just this week, WALLS, you witnessed the ancient coliseum in Italy that, admittedly, has walls broken, but remains. You also saw archaeologists digging in foreign lands to find remnants of villages that existed or caves that led to some of the history that we never had to study, because, in yesteryear, none of us knew about them. This is where we must thank scientists for their curiosity and their search for knowledge for us.

WALLS, thank you so much for bringing our history alive through our newspapers, magazines and television. What’s more, even now, modern folks about whom we read or see, are bringing the past to us. Yes, our USA is changing, as we hear of the repairs and rebuilding that is needed for our infrastructure. Let us hope that those rebuilding jobs or repairs are made available to those who need employment and are not left to robots. Yes, even robots and air service are being done for people. What a world awaits our future! But, we know that Maine is as life should be…….even shoveling snow!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of March 9, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS will now let faithful readers know what had been told about Redington-Fairview General Hospital’s being all that people should be grateful for. So, now, faithful readers, WALLS has spoken, and thanks go again to CEO “Dick” Willett and all staff members and volunteers at RFGH for the caring they exhibit in everything they foresee and do.

O.K., let’s switch to education. Rather, WALLS is repeating what was written a bit ago, namely, ‘’What goes around comes around.” Well, WALLS isn’t sure this subject of ‘education and money’ will come around, but those who were in school in the ‘40s, as Katie was, feel that this solution may have merit. Those were our World War II years and all students in Garfield and Lincoln schools in Skowhegan were given small American flags to wave as soldiers marched passed them on Water Street. Yes, those uniformed soldiers had marched from the VFW Hall on Main Street and were headed for deployment to war and our, then, passenger train would be waiting for them at Skowhegan’s Train Depot on Court Street.

But, what about the budgets for the schools? Well, we of Skowhegan and Madison learned the art of being very frugal in those years. Jean Finley and her family had moved from Pittsfield to Skowhegan and the frugal school boards of Skowhegan and Madison had hired her dad to be superintendent of schools in both towns. Oh, that was just one of the differences that we lived with in the ‘40s. The frugal school boards also had the sharing extend to the sharing of school music teacher, yes, remember Mr. Baraket? The towns also shared our school nurse Mrs. Wise. Oh, and lest we forget that Miss White became Mrs., since female teachers were to be their “students’ mothers” prior to World War II! We also were placed in two-grade rooms. Eight of us in the fifth grade shared the room with Mrs. Lewis’ foruth graders and, likewise, the eight of us shared Miss Weston in her sixth grade and the other desks in Miss Weston’s room were occupied by fifth graders. Well, do you faithful readers think this was a good idea? Frankly, some of the students in a lower grade learned from listening.

By the way, we Skowhegan students were all eager to get to junior high school on the island in Skowhegan. Yes, that building, once, housed Skowhegan High School, but a new high school awaited, when we were ready for it……..yes, the first Skowhegan High School was on Willow Street.

What happened to them? Well, the Skowhegan Junior High on the island burned down and the villages have replaced old Skowhegan High, but the memories linger on.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of March 2, 2017

Katie Ouilette Walls
by Katie Ouilette

Y’know, WALLS, I must have a touch of Spring Fever, cause all of a sudden I’ve been thinking about the song: “People…People Who Need People are the Luckiest People in the World.” O.K., we’ll talk about people, as this just may be thank you week and our lucky people are those who gave much of their lives and talents to Skowhegan and vicinity.

First, with wars still raging in our Middle East and some of our military there and to those who fought in our wars and their relatives, we must say ‘thanks.” We will soon celebrate Abner Coburn Day and we all know that Abner Coburn was born in nearby

Canaan, but built the ‘decrepit’ mansion on our Skowhegan Main Street Hill. Yes, our Governor Coburn sat with our President Abraham Lincoln, as he delivered The Gettysburg Address, since we of Skowhegan and Maine had men fighting in our Civil War. Yes, People needed those soldiers.

What’s more, my thoughts have turned back to the days when Skowhegan’s Water Street and Madison Avenue had a great variety of stores where people who worked in our spinning and woolen mills could leave their work for lunch hour and, yes, walk down Water Street to window shop or stop in and buy whatever was needed at home. Yes, we had Stern’s and Crane’s department stores, or five-and-dimes McClellan’s, Grants, Woolworth’s or even Cora Cayouette’s Corsetry which was next to Skowhegan’s Famous Bonnet Shop. On Madison Avenue and Water Street there were grocery stores, meat and fish markets, furniture stores, gift shops, restaurants, soda fountains and, lest we forget, the Maine Liquor Store, drug stores and music stores. Don’t forget the many offices that were located on the second floors of our famous downtown buildings.

Here’s a bit of an aside from the Waterville Morning Sentinel’s Amy Calder, who wrote this week of the snowstorm of 1968-69 and who urged me to write of my experiences during that storm. Well, will suffice for now in saying that Skowhegan’s first radio station (WSKW) was located above the William Philbrick Office and that storm happened to be on the first day for my broadcast! Well, we all know that ‘the show must go on,” and I got there through the drifts!

At a Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours, at Russakoff Jewelers, a few weeks ago, WALLS promised to write a history of Skowhegan Downtown, but at another time. I will say that Skowhegan’s downtown had a lot of barber shops as the men didn’t have long hair and beard in those days!

While writing this, WALLS, you certainly will thank the Alfond Foundation and other local manufacturers for their workers having made the products that enabled giving our area young people assistance with college tuition, with the hope they will stay in this area and develop the foresight to develop products needed and become CEO’s for the manufacture of same. Yes, WALLS, you know full well that “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” and, WALLS, you also know that this is the best place to live, “Maine, the Way Life Should Be.”