ICE OUT on China Lake 2019


Write down your best guess (one per person) and send it to The Town Line, PO Box 89, South China, ME 04358. If more than one person guesses the correct date, a drawing will be held to determine the winner. Get your guess to The Town Line office by noon, Friday, April 5, 2019.

Email: Or use our Contact Us page!

PRIZE: To be determined

The records below, of ice out dates on China Lake, were provided by China residents Bill Foster, Captain James Allen and Theresa Plaisted.

Bill Foster brought in the ice out dates from 1874 to 1883. They came from a 215-page log/diary. In the log/diary are recorded the comings and goings from 1870 to 1883 of the F. O. Brainard Store, as well as personal notations of special and everyday events.

Captain James Allen brought in the ice out dates from 1901 to 1948. They had been recorded on the outhouse wall of the old Farnsworth house, also located in China Village.

Theresa Plaisted brought in the ice out dates from 1949 to 1991. She explained to us that a friend and neighbor, Ben Dillenbeck, had kept the record on his cellarway wall until his death on December 12, 1987.

Theresa transcribed Mr. Dillenbeck’s record and has kept the record up to date ever since.

This year, we will be checking China Lake to determine the official date for “Ice Out” in 2019. We will not be looking in hard-to-access areas for that very last crystal to melt, so the definition of “Ice Out,” for the purpose of this contest, is: “When, to the best judgment of the assigned viewer, the surface of the lake appears to be free of ice.” The judge’s decision is final.

Can you guess the day The Town Line declares China Lake free of ice?

Ice Out dates for the last 145 years!

1874 – April 22
1875 – May 6
1876 – April 30
1877 – April 16
1878 – April 12
1879 – May 3
1880 – April 21
1881 – April 19
1883 – April 29
1901 – March 27
1921 – March 28
1932 – April 27
1933 – April 20
1934 – April 19
1935 – April 25
1936 – April 4
1937 – April 20
1938 – April 20
1939 – May 4
1941 – April 16
1945 – April 2
1947 – April 12
1948 – April 8
1949 – April 6
1950 – April 14
1951 – April 9
1952 – April 19
1953 – March 19
1954 – April 19
1955 – April 13
1956 – April 27
1957 – April 10
1958 – April 16
1959 – April 22
1960 – April 21
1961 – April 30
1962 – April 20
1963 – April 22
1964 – April 21
1965 – April 18
1966 – April 18
1967 – April 29
1968 – April 13
1969 – April 23
1970 – April 23
1971 – April 30
1972 – May 1
1973 – April 8
1974 – April 2
1975 – April 23
1976 – April 11
1977 – April 18
1978 – April 21
1979 – April 12
1980 – April 10
1981 – March 18
1982 – April 22
1983 – April 1
1984 – April 17
1985 – April 6
1986 – April 8
1987 – April 6
1988 – April 6
1989 – April 22
1990 – April 11
1991 – April 8
1992 – April 15
1993 – April 21
1994 – April 20
1995 – April 9
1996 – April 5
1997 – April 23
1998 – April 9
1999 – April 2
2000 – April 4
2001 – April 27
2002 – April 6
2003 – April 21
2004 – April 14
2005 – April 16
2006 – March 26
2007 – April 23
2008 – April 17
2009 – April 11
2010 – March 19
2011 – April 17
2012 – March 21
2013 – April 6
2014 – April 19
2015 – April 22
2016 – March 15
2017 – April 17
2018 –
2019 –

SOLON & BEYOND: First-ever ambulance ride; town meeting highlights

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning, my friends. Don’t worry, be happy!

Had a problem with my computer this morning, and I had to call Peter for help in fixing it. My many thanks for his help, don’t know what I would do without him.

Ever since this new year started, we have been having problems of one kind or another. All the snow has been a big problem. I’m sure many of you have had a hard time with that issue as well, and my sympathy goes out to you.

In January, I took my first ride in an ambulance, in all my many years (I don’t tell how many that is!). On February 20 Lief had to have a pace-maker and that was quite upsetting for awhile. They didn’t get one of the parts connected the first time, and he had to have it done twice. Then it was hard to keep him from doing things that he shouldn’t be doing! (He claims he has two pace-makers, and he points to his chest and then at me!)

Sorry to be negative, but it has been a bit hectic with all the appointments and all, but Lief is doing fine now and says he feels so much better, which is good.

My apologies for taking so long to report on the annual Solon town meeting. There were only 37 people who attended the meeting led by Moderator Peter Mills. There was a municipal resolution: The 2019 Solon, Maine, Maine Spirit of America Foundation Tribute honors Linda French for commendable community service.

A Resolution: Providing for: Recognition of Linda French. Be It Resolved by the Selectmen of the Town of Solon as follows : Whereas, Linda French has served as a Ballot Clerk for many, many years; and Linda served as a Library Trustee from 1991 through 1996; and Linda served on the Bicentennial Committee from 2006 through 2009; Linda has opened her home and her heart to numerous children in Solon and the surrounding towns and provided them with love, encouragement, and guidance, and sometimes a safe place to stay; Linda has supported families in our town by volunteering at and then managing the Solon Food Cupboard and Thrift Store for many years; now Be It Resolved by the Selectmen of the Town of Solon that Linda French is hereby recognized for her great achievements and honors that she has brought upon this community with the 2019 Solon Spirit of America Foundation Tribute; and Be It Further Resolved that a copy of this resolution be appropriately framed and presented to Linda French for appropriate display. Congratulations, Linda, I am very proud of you.

Many of the first 29 articles passed with very little if any questions or discussion. Articles 30, 31 and 32, that have to do with the problem about the dispute with James Farley about land on the McQuilken Road, has yet to be settled. I will let you know when I hear from the selectmen. The meeting started at 1:30 p.m. and was over by 3:30 p.m., on March 2.

And now for Percy’s memoir: I’m walking down the road of life, My dreams within a sack, And though I always look ahead, There’s a joy in looking back. Things always seem much clearer, When there’s distance in between, And we get the right perspective, For at last we’ve really seen. For we fashion our tomorrows, From mistakes of yesterday, And we profit from the piper’s song, For which we had to pay. We are better for the lessons, That life teaches us so well; There would be no rising upward, If our feet had never fell. It is good to be a doer, But a dreamer has his place; It is helpful to remember, That the turtle won the race. I have found the highway straighter, But I love the beaten track… The view ahead is lovely, But I’m always looking back. (words by Grace E. Easley.)

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Crazy April holidays

by Debbie Walker

Another new month coming up. It does traditionally have some stressful holidays but this year you will know there are other days you can choose to give your attention to. It is nice to have a choice and maybe you will find a new favorite.

We will start with probably my least favorite day of the year:

April 1 – April Fools Day. Just remember, no matter how much you enjoy this day, there are some who do not.

April 1 – International Tatting Day. No, this is not celebrating the tattoo artist day. It a day for folks to honor those who are carrying on the skill of tatting beautiful, delicate lace.

April 2 – National Peanut and Jelly Day. No explanation necessary.

April 2 – International Children’s Book Day. Let’s all promote this day by encouraging our young readers by the gift of a book or by reading to a child (Thank you).

April 4 – Tell a Lie Day. It is thought this day was created for politicians, but I am not sure they need their own holiday. Be wary of this holiday.

April 5 – Go for Broke Day. If you can muster up the courage to take a big risk today is your day. You decide if the risk is worth it.

April 6 – New Beer’s Eve Day. Please enjoy responsibly.

April 7 – No Housework Day. Kick back and enjoy! (my favorite!)

April 9 – Name Yourself Day. For the day, change your name to one YOU like, let all your friends know, it’s only one day!

April 11 – Eight Track Tape Day. If you are under 50 or 60 this holiday probably means little to you. To those who remember, enjoy your music or the memories of…

April 12 – Walk on the Wild Side Day. Use this day to do something out of the ordinary, unusual, or even extraordinary.

April 14 – Reach as High as You Can Day. Reach as high as you can to reach and attain, or even surpass, your goals and objectives!

April 15 – That Sucks Day. Celebrate if you must and then Get Over It!

April 17 – Blah, Blah, Blah Day. Do all the projects you have been nagged to do. The Honey-Do List is a good place to start.

April 20 – Look Alike Day. Find someone you really look up to and try to look like them.

April 21 – Happy Birthday day to some folks! I made this one up!

April 23 – Take a Chance Day. Explains itself!

Okay, this became a short month in this column because I need to include the answers to last weeks Word Puzzles. Answers follow:

#1 an almanac; #2 the letter “r”; #3 Farm; #4 the car is 18 months old; the tires are a year older; #5 Leaves; #6 a donkey; #7 Smiles, because there is a mile between the first and last letters; #8 3 inches; #9 Meadowlark; #10 Herein (I, he, in, her, ere, here, rein); #11 Sweet Pea; #12 Sweet Pea.

If you missed the little game, I am sure you can find it in my column on our website.

If you are curious, check it out. And contact me at I’ll be waiting!!! Thanks for reading!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: The Native Poets of Maine

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

The Native Poets of Maine

S. Herbert Lancey, editor.
Published in Bangor, Maine, by David Bugbee and Company in 1854. 324 pages.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The above anthology from so long ago is a sizable representation of poets born in our Pine Tree State and some of their works; the most well-known is Portland’s Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), but Albion’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy (1802-1837), even though not that famous as a poet, did the ultimate sacrifice in Alton, Illinois, at the hands of an angry mob because of his fearless stand against slavery.

Seba Smith

The other names, now mere footnotes in history, include Biddeford’s Grenville Mellen, North Yarmouth’s William Cutler, Exeter’s David Barker, Strong’s Florence Percy, Belfast’s William G. Crosby and Sidney’s Harriet Atwell and so forth and their poems do evoke something of Maine, even if just a couple of lines — the four seasons, joys, sorrows, daily routines.

Most of them in quality are between commonplace and slightly higher. Despite these lackings , this book is fascinating historical documentation of what some people in my native state were thinking and feeling 170 years ago.

I offer one exceptionally vivid poem from Buckfield’s Seba Smith:

The Snow Storm

The cold winds swept the mountain’s height,
And pathless was the dreary wild,
And mid the cheerless hours of night
A mother wandered with her child :
As through the drifting snow she press’d,
The babe was sleeping on her breast.

And colder still the winds did blow,
And darker hours of night came on,
And deeper grew the drifting snow :
Her limbs were chill’d, her strength was gone;
‘O God!’ she cried, in accents wild,
‘If I must perish, save my child !’

She stripp’d her mantle from her breast,
And bared her bosom to the storm,
And round the child she wrapp’d the vest
And smil’d to think her babe was warm.
With one cold kiss, one tear she shed,
And sunk upon her snowy bed.

At dawn a traveller pass’d by,
And saw her ‘neath a snowy veil;
The frost of death was in her eye,
Her cheek was cold, and hard, and pale;
He moved the robe from off the child,
The babe look’d up and sweetly smiled.

There are 13 copies of this book on Book Finder, priced from $26.74 to $116.52.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: What You Need To Know About Heart Valve Disease

(NAPSI)—More than 8 million American adults have a condition known as heart valve disease (HVD). While it can be managed, too many people who have HVD don’t know it.

To help that situation, the American Heart Association, with support from Edwards Lifesciences Foundation, answers seven frequently asked questions.

1. What is HVD? In HVD, heart valves don’t work as they should. A heart valve should open one way and seal tight when closed. Sometimes, either due to congenital heart defects, side effects of cancer treatment, or secondary heart disease, the valve allows leaks, putting a strain on the heart and prohibiting proper circulation of blood.

2. Who’s at risk? HVD can happen to anyone at any age, but the risk increases with age and in those with congenital heart valve defects or who have had a heart attack, rheumatic fever, hypercholesterolemia, or an infection in the lining of the heart walls or valves. These individuals should speak frequently with their health care providers about HVD.

Currently, HVD prevalence is greater in older Caucasians, though African Americans and Hispanics tend to have lower ideal heart health levels, which can lead to HVD.

3. Is HVD preventable? No, but it can be managed through a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition, exercise, not smoking, weight management and medication. Most people who get treatment experience improved symptoms and can continue to live longer, healthy lives.

4. What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling easily fatigued
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Heart palpitations (rapid rhythms or skips)
  • Chest tightness or pressure.

Symptoms can be subtle and are often attributed to aging or other diseases. If you experience any of these, see your doctor.

5. What treatments are available? The heart valve can be repaired, or replaced with an artificial one.

6. Who can help? There’s a group of volunteer ambassadors comprised of heart valve disease survivors and caregivers who represent the face of heart valve disease in America. They work to raise awareness about heart valve disease and share available resources for patients and families. You can connect with them at

7. Where can one learn more? You can get further information from the American Heart Association at

Wiand to receive official send off on campaign tour

Fred Wiand, Democratic presidential candidate.

Fred Wiand announces his campaign tour send off, Saturday, April 6, 1 p.m., at the China Lake boat landing at the north end of China lake. Fred is a Democratic candidate for president in 2020.

In addition to numerous issues that need solutions by either revamping or initial action, one focus will be solving global warming/climate change and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement on Inauguration Day. Subsequently, he will have a panel of experts meet and forward a framework of action within the first 60 days in office. First steps will then start within 30 days after. This will be part of short term actions that will lead to long term solutions to global warming/climate change.

“We must not allow the threshold of global temperature rise to be exceeded,” Wiand stated. “If we exceed the threshold we will not be able to stop and then reverse the runaway temperatures that a vast majority of scientists believe will end life on our Earth as we know it.”

That doesn’t mean that other current and new issues will be overlooked, he stressed. For instance, universal healthcare, tax reform, infrastructure, campaign finance (He will not accept PAC money.) immigration, DACA, gun safety, #Me-Too and LGBTQ will be addressed. “Government shutdowns will not happen,” he emphasized. According to Wiand, his administration will be to serve the people, all the people, all the time. His administration will be transparent, honorable and press friendly. He will have press conferences and the press will be treated civilly.

“Truthful information will be made available for the public during dignified meetings,” he concluded.

Wiand invites supporters to attend the send off as he starts his extensive campaign tour down the east coast, then heads west.

China School’s Forest to offer fun, outdoor activities for youth

The China School’s Forest will be holding a fun, interactive Project Learning Tree workshop on Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the China School’s Forest, 763 Lakeview Drive, China. All participants will receive the Pre K-8 Activity Guide with over 96 ready-to-use lessons to bring outdoor education to children. Receive information about supporting resources (including people) and outdoor classroom ideas.

  • Experience some hands-on activities you can use right away.
  • Learn tips and tricks to organizing your own Forest Field Day.
  • Explore the trails and outdoor classrooms and be inspired!
  • Make connections to Girl Scout badge topics, Next Generation Science Standards, ELA and math standards using outdoor education activities that support impactful learning opportunities. See for more details.

The cost is $50, with several partial scholarships available for those willing to volunteer programming at the China School’s Forest. Fee includes the activity guide, resources, lunch and drink. Come dressed to be outside for most/all day.

To register, no later than April 19, 2019, please contact CJ at 621-9872 or

  • After this workshop, put your new skills to use by volunteering your time at our May 18 Girl Scout “Becoming a Naturalist” Day (not required as part of this workshop, but all are welcome to help for part or all day).

Check out to get a sneak peek at their incredible trails and outdoor classrooms!

SCORES & OUTDOORS: Gronk, and the evolution of the tight end position in the NFL

Rob Gronkowski (left), Russ Francis (center), Mike Ditka (right).

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

An era has ended in New England. Heck, it has ended throughout the United States. Rob Gronkowski, the happy-go-lucky, larger-than-life, bruising tight end for the New England Patriots has announced his retirement following nine seasons in the National Football League. Patriots fans lament his decision, while the rest of the league breathes a collective sigh of relief now that they don’t have to deal with the constant downfield threat.

I met Gronk once, right after his rookie season. A massive human being with a jovial personality, his hand enveloped mine and almost crushed every bone during a vigorous and aggressive handshake. I lost that one. I have met many professional sports athletes, but the encounter with Gronk is one that comes to the forefront of memories.

Chosen in the second round of the 2010 draft, the 42nd player picked overall, Gronk went on to a stellar career. The 6-foot 6-inch, 268-pound tight end amassed 521 career receptions, 7,861 receiving yards and 79 receiving touchdowns as a player. Along with that, he played on three Super Bowl-winning Patriots teams, was chosen to five Pro Bowls, four-time All Pro, and NFL comeback player of the year in 2014. He is a shoe-in for the NFL Hall of Fame.

With the many accomplishments and accolades, Gronkowski is regarded by many sports analysts, writers and peers as not only one of the the finest players in the league, but the greatest tight end to ever play the game.

But, the position of tight end was revolutionized a long time ago by another Patriots player.

Russ Francis, a 6-foot, 6-inch, 242-pound tight end with the Patriots, changed the position’s importance back in the 1970s.

Drafted out of the University of Oregon in 1975, in the first round, the 16th overall pick, he went on to become the premiere tight end of his era. He played seven seasons with the Patriots and six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, where he was a member of the Super Bowl XIX champions in 1984.

During the 1976 season, in the Patriots 30-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the defending Super Bowl champions, Francis caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Steve Grogan on a fourth and one. In that game, Francis had a career-best 139 receiving yards, prompting sportscaster Howard Cosell to proclaim him as the “All-World Tight End.”

Francis was a Pro Bowl selection for three consecutive seasons from 1977-79.

However, many years prior to Russ Francis coming onto the scene, there was another man who made a mark as a tight end in the NFL.

Mike Ditka arrived in the National Football League in 1961 out of the University of Pittsburgh. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 228-pound Ditka was nicknamed “Iron Mike,” perhaps because he was born and raised in a steel town in Pennsylvania. But Ditka had a nasty side to him that shook the league. He was the fifth pick overall in the 1961 college draft, by the Chicago Bears. He had the distinction of having been picked in the first round of both the NFL, and the American Football League, rival leagues at the time.

In his inaugural season in the NFL, he had 58 receptions, introducing a new dimension to a tight end position which had previously been dedicated to blocking. He was selected rookie of the year. He went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988, becoming the first tight end to do so. Ditka totaled 4,503 yards (ranking him first in Bears history), 316 receptions and 34 touchdowns.

When his playing days were over, he became an assistant coach with the Cowboys in 1972, where he was a member of the Super Bowl winning team, in 1977. From there he went on to coach the Chicago Bears, where he won a Super Bowl in 1986, becoming one of only two men to win a Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach and head coach. Mike Flores is the other. Ditka, Flores, Gary Kubiak and Doug Pederson are also the only people in modern NFL history to win a championship as head coach of a team for which he once played.

There are other tight ends around the NFL that are mentioned when discussions arise about the tight end position. But, in my opinion, these are the three that stand out as having the largest impact on the position from how it was once utilized, to the importance it now represents in the modern offensive schemes in the league. Gronk is, without a doubt, a member of an elite trio responsible for that.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Where did Rob Gronkowski play his college football?

Answer can be found here.

Maine Maple Sunday at Raider Sugarhouse

Raiders Sugarhouse in China, Maine.

by Roland D. Hallee

The evaporator is hard at work.

It was a busy day at Raider’s Sugarhouse, on the Bog Brook Road, in China. That was because March 24 was Maine Maple Sunday across the state.

Gail and Doug Tibbetts own and operate the seasonal enterprise which began about 15 years ago as a family project. About six years ago, they decided to go commercial with their maple products.

“We’re one of only a few sugar houses that still bottle maple syrup in glass,” Gail emphasized during her presentation.

Doug keeps the fire going.

Doug explained the maple sap comes into the sugarhouse via tubing throughout the forest behind the operation, but also saying some of the sap has to be brought to the facility by mounting a barrel on the back of a snowmobile to access the maple sap that is located on a hill that is difficult to get to any other way. “By far, sugar maple trees are the best to tap,” he explained, saying they generally contained the highest amounts of sugar.

Once the season is past, they pack up the equipment, close down the shed, and wait for the sap run next year.

Locally, their products are available year-round at their 148 Bog Brook Rd., location (call ahead 968-2005), or at Tobey’s Grocery, Fieldstone Quikstop and LaVerdiere’s Market, at the head of the lake.

Gail Tibbetts, left, who, along with husband Doug, owns Raider Sugarhouse, in China, explains her wares to some customers during Maine Maple Sunday, on March 24. (Photos by Roland D. Hallee)