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

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

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

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

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

WALLS will be back next week, faithful readers!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of January 11, 2018

by Katie Ouilette

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

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

pileated woodpeckers (wikimedia commons)

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

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

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of December 21, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

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

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

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

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

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

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of December 14, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

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

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

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

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

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of December 7, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

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

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

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

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

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

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of November 9, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

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

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

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

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

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of October 26, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of October 21, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Oh, WALLS, there is so much to say today that you’ll certainly keep our faithful readers busy for a bit.

O.K., get right to it as, maybe, some folks don’t remember the history of The Town Line. Yes, WALLS, you have promised a bit of history, something new and in-between and today, you sure are keeping that promise. However, before you get started, please remind our proof-reader that a lot of spelling mistakes were made and your column is read over and over before it is sent to the editor.

Speaking of the editor, I found a history of The Town Line that was written by Lea Davis who was the editor of The Town Line newspaper that published a book entitled Community Cooks from 1997 to 1998 and the copy that I found is Volume 4! The next page, which was written in November 2003, thanked “all of the dedicated volunteers and staff members who participated in the preparation of this book. Special thanks to Roland Hallee for his artwork.” So, borrowing the title from our TV program that is featured on BeeLine Channel 11…Now You Know! Oh, how do you know all of this, WALLS? Well, there are photos and write-ups of the cooks and the recipe submitted by each follows at the bottom of the page. And, how did I find all of these goodies’ recipes? Well, I was looking at my many cookbooks and low and behold, guess who bought this one. You are so right, I did, a long time ago. There are probably nearly 80 wonderful cooks in the book, so word count doesn’t allow my naming everyone, but surely, those of you who contributed remember it well.

Now, hopefully time will allow WALLS to tell you what he did last evening. The Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce was invited to a wonderful evening at Sacket and Brake Survey Office for Business After Hours. Frankly, this was a very special evening as Jason Gayne, executive director, had invited several candidates for Maine government offices to speak to us who attended. What a wonderful event it was! Yes, I’m very proud to have seen the large gathering of folks who ‘wanted to know’, but WALLS, you know I was proud to see granddaughter Danielle, who is president of the Skowhegan Chamber, plus her husband, Kevin Dubois, and my great-granddaughter, Sydney, there. Wonderful! That they show their support for Chamber, too.

Oh, before you close, WALLS, make sure to tell about Chris Perkins’ calling from California. He and Clare are out of harm’s way with regard to fires, but he will soon return to the safety of Maine and is happy that he lives here. Chris, we’re glad you live here, too, and are the host of Keeping Pace on Bee-Line Channel 11!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of October 12, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Yes, the very first thing WALLS want to say is a message of thanks to the faithful readers of this column! Yes, a huge thanks to all of you who call me Walls, or who ask about having so much to say about so much every week. Well, surely you recognize me from the picture that appears at the top of this column. Yes, folks, when I visited the eye-doctor, I said I had to have a wild glasses frame so that people would recognize me. In fact, while I was waiting for the lenses, I never got a ‘hi’ or a wave, but I do again now! So WALLS say ‘thanks’ again!

Frankly, I used to work for Dr. Poulin, the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, in Waterville. Yup, his office was over LaVerdiere’s Drug. Why am I telling you this faithful readers? Well, surely, you who have frequented Waterville of late know that the city that was a shopper’s delight has changed BIG. Yup, Waterville downtown is now Colby College’s annex. Lordy, Lordy, how Watervile’s downtown is changing and almost by the minute. Yes, faithful readers, if you are old enough, you remember when Colby College’s Campus was on Waterville’s College Avenue. As a matter of fact, Joe Denis lived on Abbott Street and his class of ’52 was the first to graduate from the new campus called Mayflower Hill. Now Colby is back, in part, on Waterville’s Main Street.

Well, WALLS, you saw the photo of my trying on my wedding gown with the help of an employee at Alvina & Delia’s Dress Shop, on Waterville’s Main Street and you know that Alvina & Delia’s no longer exists, just as Dr. Poulin’s Office above LaVerdiere’s Drug. Ah, how times change our yesterday’s memories. Remember Levine’s Clothing Store for men? Yes, it has gone, too, and will soon be a boutique hotel!

Yes, WALLS, you have concentrated on Waterville, but city and town has changed or is changing, as we so well remember. Just for kicks, you have been writing about Skowhegan’s Water Street and the town that used to be a tourist’s mecca has changed much since the youth of many. We’ve lost Woolworth’s, Grant’s, McClellan’s, The Bonnet Shop, Cora Cayouette’s and Laney’s Men’s Store plus Rexall Drug, Haines’ Drug and LaVerdiere’s Drug (yes, Skowhegan, too) and even the liquor store is now in a grocery store!

Yes, times do change and young people will soon be part of the Skowhegan downtown scene, when the Charter School moves to what used to be Holland’s Variery.

We are told that folks in Maine are old, but youth has taken control of Central Maine, for sure.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of October 5, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, you have a lot to talk about today, for sure. Yes, you have the program that has been featured about the Vietnam War and we’ll soon have November 11 and all that must be told about it and those brave souls who have laid down their lives for our United States and all that our flag’s flying has stood for.

Y’know what? I’ve been reading Smithsonian magazine and, as with every issue, I learn what I’ve never learned in my school days. Well, maybe our faithful readers and you, WALLS, have learned such, but I do feel compelled, WALLS, to write about what I have learned. O.K., faithful readers, I’ll begin with Smithsonian magazine’s teaching of World War I. The magazine has an article entitled Save by the Bell. Yup, WALLS, you guessed it! The bell is our Liberty Bell.

It seems that in April 1917, our USA was in trouble. You are so right, faithful readers, the trouble was “no money.” Our country’s treasury department undertook raising $2 billion through the sale of War Bonds (that would be $4 billion today). You and I weren’t even born in 1917, but it was decided that important people would gather around our cracked Liberty Bell, ring it and all people, upon hearing a bell ring in their community, would flock to a bank to buy a bond! Oh, do you know what the final day of the champagne was? You guessed! Yes, it was June 14, 1917! Flag Day! There’s more for you faithful readers to know, aka what a newspaper editor did to save our bell, but word count doesn’t permit such at the moment.

Yes, I want to tell about our being involved in the Vietnam War. Frankly, many, many people of our Armed Forces died, as Ken Burns, a great story teller, depicted throughout the weeks of programming that he produced for TV. Yes, with all the wars that our United States has been involved in, we have lost our true Americans who were willing to fight for our freedom….and we must be thankful for those in our military who have given their way of life, whether during war-times or times of peace.

Tomorrow, we Ouilettes will have Lew’s family here. Yes, there are heroes who have gone to a better place, but from World War II to those who have graduated from Maine Maritime Academy, we offer our thanks. And over dessert on a Sunday afternoon, surely we will all remember days gone by.