Lucille Caouette turns 99

Lucille Caouette

Lucille Caouette’s birthday is usually celebrated each year with a large family gathering lasting the day with meals and social time.

It should be noted that her family consists of 10 children, 20 grandchildren and 47 great-grandchildren, and two great-great -grandchildren, and is still growing with two new babies expected soon.

This year, her 99th birthday, the festivities were canceled due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order. In place of the usual family party a (DRIVE BY) was planned, with family members only, but soon grew to decorating mémère’s porch with her favorite party theme, Flamingos.

These flamingo’s came to be as a way for her grandchildren to cheer mémère up during one of her hospital stays, and has since taken hold as a part of all the celebrations.

As the date of the drive-by approached, the number of participants grew from just family members to include friends and public service individuals. On Saturday, April 25, the drive-by was led by two Winslow Police cruisers, the Winslow Fire Departments ladder truck and rescue unit, and was bracketed by a fire truck from the China Village Fire Department. After the initial procession was completed, the individuals took the time to drive up to mémère’s porch and wish her a happy birthday.

Lucille enjoyed her lobster meal and gifts with no knowledge of what was about to happen. With sirens and lights the procession approached, mémère was overwhelmed shedding tears of joy and a big smile as they drove by.

Everyone is looking forward to next years 100th celebration with the hope that all can be close together again.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: If you want to change the world, make your bed

by Debbie Walker

My son-in-law comes up with some remarkably interesting topics on the internet and fortunately for me, he shares with me. Recently he was listening to a commencement address given by Admiral William McRaven to the 2014 University of Texas-Austin’s graduates. You can find this speech on YouTube on your computer. Look for “Make Your Bed.” It is worth your time to find and listen to it. He is an impressive speaker and has a real command over paraphrases to pass on his easy to understand instructions for a positive, promising future.

After 36 years as a Navy SEAL, he stresses he learned the following principles while in training for six months. He said it was “six months of torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in cold water, obstacle courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.” The trainers were seeking and eliminating the weak of mind and body from becoming a Navy SEAL.

Admiral McRaven started with his important points to use for the rest of their lives:

  1. If you want to change the world, start off each day by making your bed. It is a simple task, but important in your daily life to realize if you can’t do the little things right; you will never do the big things right.
  2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle. You cannot change the world alone; you will need some help. It is going to take friends, colleagues and the good will of strangers.
  3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart. SEAL training was a great equalizer. It is your will to survive, not your color, ethnic background, education or social status.
  4. If you want to change the world get over being a “sugar cookie” and keep moving forward. For failing the uniform inspection, students had to run fully clothed into the surf zone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of their body is covered with sand. Being “sugar cookied” would last the rest of day.
  5. If you want to change the world, do not be afraid of the circuses. If you failed any of the challenging physical training at the end of the day you were invited to a “circus.” It was two additional hours of calisthenics.
  6. If you want to change the world sometimes you must slide down the obstacle headfirst. In my words this would break down to succeed, sometimes you must change the way of doing something.
  7. If you want to change the world, do not back down from the sharks. The students are given instructions about their long swim in shark infested waters. The premise being to survive the swim you must not show fear of an approaching shark, meet it fearlessly and punch it in it’s snout.

There are three more points to be made but I am running out of space. Please know I cannot leave the same impression the Admiral makes with his speech. It is worth the ‘listen’ if you can.

I am just curious if I have sparked enough interest for you to look and listen. Contact me at And thank you Edgar for your assistance. Have a great week!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Edwin Arlington Robinson

E. A. Robinson

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Towards the end of Edwin Arlington Robinson’s two years at Harvard (ones during which he took several literature courses, enjoyed them thoroughly and was happy to get Bs with no ambition for higher grades at all), the poet wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek June 21, 1893, letter to his friend, Harry Smith : “I suppose this is the last letter I shall ever write you from Harvard. The thought seems a little queer but it cannot be otherwise. I try to imagine the state my mind would be in had I never come here but I cannot. I feel that I have got comparatively little from my two years but still more than I could get in Gardiner if I lived a century.”

Robinson regarded his childhood in Gardiner, Maine, as, at best, hellish boredom and emotional deprivation but, because, his father had died the previous year, he felt it was no longer feasible to attend Harvard and instead returned to the family homestead, trying unsuccessfully to be a farmer, and working on his writing.

However, in 1896, he moved to New York City, lived as a gentleman pauper, developed his creativity further while cultivating literary and artistic friendships, and paid for the publication of his first book, which sold very few copies. After a few more years of struggle, he completed a second volume which was better received by the public and read by President Theodore Roosevelt who liked it, and gave Robinson a position in the New York State Customs Office, with a salary of $2,000 a year and minimal responsibility so he could concentrate on his writing .

Robinson slowly but surely achieved fame, won three Pulitzer Prizes for literature and was the consummate gentleman to women, who fell in love with him but were warmly rebuffed for their efforts. He remained a confirmed bachelor until his death, at 65, from cancer in 1935.

A much read favorite poem of mine is Mr. Flood’s Party, a heart-rending depiction of loneliness during which an old man is getting drunk, possibly on New Year’s Eve, at his farm a few miles from the village where he has lived all his life; all those dear to him have died and the current crop of citizens do not acknowledge his existence.

He is partying with himself for company:

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night
Over the hill between the town below
And the forsaken upland hermitage
That held as much as he should ever know
On earth again of home, paused warily.
The road was his with not a native near;
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear:

‘Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon
Again, and we may not have many more;
The bird is on the wing, the poet says,
And you and I have said it here before.
Drink to the bird.’ He raised up to the light
The jug that he had gone so far to fill,
And answered huskily: ‘Well, Mr. Flood,
Since you propose it, I believe I will.’

Alone, as if enduring to the end
A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn,
He stood there in the middle of the road
Like Roland’s ghost winding a silent horn.
Below him, in the town among the trees,
Where friends of other days had honored him,
A phantom salutation of the dead
Rang thinly till old Eben’s eyes were dim.

The remaining four stanzas can be read here.

Another writer who lived in Gardiner, Laura E. Richards (1850-1943) was a very close friend of Robinson’s, as was the American artist, Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones (1885-1968), who may have been the poet’s closest woman friend during his last 15 years and did paintings commemorating his memory.

A Robinson quote: “Life is the game that must be played.”

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Shipping on the Kennebec River

Longboats were used between Augusta and Waterville until at least the 1830s.

by Mary Grow

The Kennebec River that has been an important feature of the towns and cities so far discussed in this series runs from Moosehead Lake to the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of about 170 miles. It served as the first route to the interior for Europeans, and as a known landmark in a largely unknown area.

The Kennebec Proprietors’ land extended 15 miles either side of the river, and their surveyors laid out lots from the river inland. Settlers bought and built on riverside lots before inland lots. Most travel was by water, especially if goods were to be carried.

Kingsbury’s History of Kennebec County says Captain James Howard and his sons Samuel and William were the first to use the river to export local products. (He does not specify the products; they undoubtedly included forest products; perhaps fish, since he writes later that by the 1790s the head of tide at Cushnoc falls or rapids was a source of fish for food and commerce; and perhaps crops as well.)

The older Howard had been Fort Western’s commander. After the 1763 Treaty of Paris eliminated the French from most of North America and permanently ended the need to defend the Kennebec, the fort was abandoned. Howard bought the fort and surrounding land, opened a store and built a mill, not on the main river but on a tributary about a mile north that was first named Howard’s Brook and by 1892 was Riggs’ Brook, the name it still bears.

Not all freight needed a boat. Kingsbury says when Fort Western was built in 1754, trees were cut in what is now Dresden, downriver from Augusta, shaped into building timbers, dumped into the river, hitched together and towed upstream to the building site.

The earliest story in this series explained that the area that is now Augusta started out as part of Hallowell; in February 1797 Augusta was separated and named Harrington and in June 1797 it was renamed Augusta (see The Town Line, March 26). Kingsbury says at the time of separation Harrington had 620 tons of shipping; he also lists human population, houses, cows and other statistics.

[See also: Benedict Arnold’s Québec Campaign came up the Kennebec River]

Large passenger and freight ships and boats came from Boston and elsewhere up the Kennebec as far as Augusta. Some could navigate Cushnoc rapids, and a lock for ships and for floating logs was included when the dam was built there in 1837.

The Taconic (Ticonic, Teconnet and numerous other spellings) falls or rapids just upstream from Waterville were the final limit for large boats. Upstream, and often downstream as well, settlers used a variety of wooden boats, usually flat-bottomed.

Kingsbury describes the longboat, no longer in use by 1892, as a principal carrier of heavy freight – sometimes more than 100 tons – and passengers for part of the 19th century. Longboats, he says, were from 60 to 95 feet long and 15 to 20 feet wide. They had two masts that could be lowered to go under bridges. Going downriver with the current was the easy part; to go upriver, they depended on a south wind.

Longboats were used between Augusta and Waterville until at least the 1830s. In the summer of 1832, the Ticonic was the first steamship to come upriver as far as Waterville. By 1848, Kingsbury says, there were five trips a day between Waterville and Augusta. Around that time, there was so much competition that a passenger ticket from Waterville to Boston cost only a dollar.

By 1840, after the Augusta dam eliminated the rapids as an obstacle, the Federal Writers Project Maine guide says schooners traveled weekly between Augusta and Waterville. Freight was transferred at Augusta from ocean-going ships to longboats; oxen hauled the longboats through Cushnoc rapids, walking in the river when there wasn’t room for a towpath on the shore.

Many of the ships were built locally. The Federal Writers Project guide says more than 500 ships were built in yards along the river from Augusta to Winslow in the 1800s. Merchants owned thousands of tons of shipping; it was not unusual to see 20 or so ships at Augusta wharves.

The Howard family started Augusta’s shipbuilding industry in the 1770s, according to local history, building ships that carried lumber to Boston. William Jones had a shipyard in the 1840s and 1850s; it might have been he who oversaw construction of the J. A. Thompson, built in 1849 to take easterners to the California gold rush.

The R. M. Mills, built in 1854, is described by a local source as an 800-tonner, the largest ship of the 37 ships built in Augusta between 1837 and 1856. In the dramatic account of her near-loss in the United States Register for 1860, she is listed at 673 tons.

The Mills was in the Bay of Biscay (between northern Spain and southwestern France) on her way from Ardrossan, in southwestern Scotland, to Genoa, Italy, when she started leaking. The crew of the schooner Stork saw her distress signal, and they and crew of “the Douro steamer” rescued everyone aboard, including ladies. The Stork’s passengers were taken to London, the rest to Lisbon.

The rescuers left the Mills apparently sinking on May 27. But the Register continues the story: on Tuesday, May 29, the ship Scotia from Baltimore found the Mills abandoned. The Scotia’s captain put his first mate and two crewmen on board and they brought her safely up the Thames to Victoria Dock, in London.

Vassalboro had shipyards as well. Robbins’ History of Vassalborough Maine 1771-1971 says “shipbuilding on the river” is one reason the southern part of town had enough residents by 1817 to deserve its own post office, in Benjamin Brown’s store near Seven Mile Stream. Robbins believes Vassalboro’s mail was delivered by boat on the river until 1820, when the road linking forts Western and Halifax was improved enough for stagecoaches.

Around 1850, Kingsbury describes Vassalboro entrepreneur Ira Sturgis expanding his wood-based empire that started with a sawmill and a box factory by adding a shipyard, which produced a bark, a brig and two schooners. The sawmill was on Seven Mile Stream and the shipyard nearby on the Kennebec.

In Sidney, the 1904 Belgrade and Sidney Register says there was only one shipyard (undated), at the mouth of Thayer Brook (now Goff Brook). It was owned by Willard Bailey and John Sawtelle, who also had a sawmill on the brook. The shipyard built schooners smaller than 100 tons.

In Waterville, shipbuilding started in 1794 and continued into the 1820s. In Kennebec Yesterdays, Ernest Marriner says the abundance of timber in the surrounding area helped the business flourish.

John Getchell had the first shipyard, from which the schooner Sally was launched in 1794. Marriner and Whittemore’s Centennial History of Waterville say 22 vessels came from Waterville before 1835, the largest the 290-ton Francis & Sarah, built by Robert Shaw and launched in 1814. The 178-ton brig Waterville was launched in 1825.

Shipyard owners included John Clark at the foot of Sherwin Street, next north Nathaniel Gilman, then Asa Redington and W. & D. Moor. Whittemore says the larger ships were launched during high water in spring or fall, floated down to Hallowell or Gardiner to be rigged and were never able to return to Waterville.

Kingsbury writes that Daniel Moor’s family came to Waterville in 1798. Three sons went into lumbering and boat-building; Kingsbury says they built numerous river steamers, including two they sold to Cornelius Vanderbilt.

In Winslow, Kingsbury mentions Nathaniel Dingley as a shipbuilder, as well as a lumberman and a farmer, but gives no other details.

From 1849 on, railroads along the Kennebec supplanted the waterway as a commercial route for both people and goods.

Main sources:

Federal Writers Project Maine: a Guide Down East (1937)
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892)
Marriner, Ernest Kennebec Yesterdays (1954)
Plocher, Stephen, Colby College Class of 2007 A Short History of Waterville, Maine Found on the web at
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902)

Web sites, miscellaneous.

Benedict Arnold’s Québec Campaign came up the Kennebec River

Replica of a bateaux that Benedict Arnold and his army took up the Kennebec River on their march to attack Québec City in 1775.

The Second Continental Congress authorized an invasion of Québec, in part on the urging of Arnold — but he was passed over for command of the expedition. He then went to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and suggested to George Washington a second expedition to attack Québec City via a wilderness route through Maine.

He received a colonel’s commission in the Continental Army for this expedition and left Cambridge in September 1775 with 1,100 men. Part of their journey came up the Kennebec River and passed through Augusta, Waterville and continued northward. That is why Rte. 201 is often referred to as the Arnold Trail. Artifacts from an encampment have been found on the river’s banks. He arrived before Québec City in November, after a difficult passage in which 300 men turned back and another 200 died en route.

He and his men were joined by Richard Montgomery’s small army and participated in the December 31 assault on Québec City in which Montgomery was killed and Arnold’s leg was shattered. His chaplain Rev. Samuel Spring carried him to the makeshift hospital at the Hôtel Dieu. Arnold was promoted to brigadier general for his role in reaching Québec, and he maintained an ineffectual siege of the city until he was replaced by Major General David Wooster in April 1776.

Expanded and renewed agricultural funding programs

photo by BASFPlantScience

On April 23, Congress passed a new $484 billion coronavirus package that positively impacts agricultural and forestry businesses. DACF strongly encourages Maine agricultural businesses to quickly apply for these programs.

The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) now applies to agricultural businesses. Specifically, agricultural enterprises as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)) with not more than 500 employees can now apply to receive EIDL grants and loans.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fund has been replenished by approximately $310 billion.

You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.

Understanding loan and grant options:

For assistance with your PPP application, contact your local bank or credit union representative.

For assistance with your EIDL application, contact SBA Maine:

Maine District Office

SCORE Maine is a resource partner of the SBA and provides business mentorship to small businesses

Find additional information on DACF’s COVID-19 website and by contacting Agricultural Resource Division staff at (207) 287-3491 for help getting pointed in the right direction.

Commemorating Shakespeare’s 456th birthday

Emily and Josh Fournier, of Recycled Shakespeare Company, stroll the Riverwalk, in Waterville, on William Shakespeare’s 456th birthday on April 23, 2020. (photo by Lyn Rowden)

Mid-Maine Chamber and area businesses donate books to Educare

Mid-Maine Chamber, SAPPI and Marden’s Discount Store donated nearly five hundred children’s books to Educare Central Maine to assist families in need of reading and educational materials during this time of isolation.

Last Friday, members of KV Connect picked up and delivered the books to Educare in response to their request for much-needed items for children. KV Connect is a networking group for young professionals in the Greater Waterville area seeking to positively impact the community through economic, social, political, and community service initiatives.

Mid-Maine Chamber would like to remind residents that Educare has indicated need for other items as well, including crayons, markers, construction paper, coloring paper, scissors, glue sticks. Household items are also on the list: laundry detergent, Waterville trash disposal bags, paper towels, toilet tissue, diapers and wipes.

If you would like to help, the above-mentioned items can be dropped off at Educare, located at 56 Drummond Ave., Waterville, on Tuesdays between 9-10 a.m. and Thursday between 1-2 p.m. You can also assist by making a monetary donation so that these items may be purchased and delivered to the families served. Please contact

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications being accepted

The U.S. Small Business Administration has resumed accepting applications, effective April 25, 2020.

If you have not yet applied for a PPP loan, please contact your lender right away to see how these loans can help and to start the application process. The future of Maine’s and the nation’s economies depend on employers accessing this aid.

The Paycheck Protection Program provides loan amounts up to 250 percent of an employer’s monthly payroll expenses. These loans are forgivable if at least 75 percent of the loan is spent on payroll. The intent is to help employers stay afloat and keep their employees paid and employed through this crisis.

Before the initial round of funding for the PP was exhausted, nearly 17,000 businesses across Maine were approved for more than $2.2 billion in loans. They literally are a lifeline for employers across Maine and the country.

PPP loans are considered on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is important to contact your lender right away. A list of approved Maine lenders can be found here.

SBA also will resume processing EIDL Loan and Advance applications that are already in the queue. Those will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as well.

To learn more about the relief options available for your business, click here.

Submitted by Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

Soucy honored for 75 years service

Raymond N. Soucy, a lifetime and dedicated member of the American Legion Tardiff-Belanger Post #39, in Madison, was presented with a certificate, on March 15, 2020, from National Headquarters for his 75 years of continuous membership. The certificate was presented by Past Commander H. Ralph Withee, of Post #39, Madison.

The post was first named after Emile Tardiff; a soldier from Madison who died in World War I. The name was changed to Tardiff-Belanger Post #39 after Maurice Belanger, the first Madison soldier to die in World War II.

Raymond is a charter member of the Tardiff-Belanger Post #39, Madison. He was commander of post #39 in 1951. In World War II , Soucy was an Army pilot of a B-24 Bomber. He had orders to go into combat, but the war ended before he had to go.

Soucy celebrated is 95th birthday on April 18, 2020, with his wife, Lauraine, at their residence in Madison.