Trenton Clark has hiked all 14 of Maine’s 4,000-plus foot peaks

Trenton Clark with his mother, Leanne, atop the 5,267-foot Mt. Katahdin.

Nine-year-old Oakland youth accomplishes feat with mom

Trent Clark on Saddleback Mountain

by Mark Huard

Trenton Clark, 9 years old, of Oakland, has successfully hiked all of Maine’s 4,000-plus foot peaks. Trenton and his mom Leanne, started hiking as a way to get out into nature more when the pandemic started last year and quickly fell in love with the rush of climbing big mountains. Trenton says, “it wasn’t always easy but it was always worth it.” Maine has fourteen 4,000-foot peaks, the tallest two being on Mt. Katahdin—Trenton hiked Baxter Peak (5,267 feet) at Katahdin last August and then Hamlin Peak (4,756 feet) this month. His favorite mountain hike was up Abol Trail, on Katahdin, and states, “rock climbing is my favorite part of hiking.” Trenton is looking forward to hiking more mountains and trails in Maine this summer and fall.

Mountains he has climbed to date! Katahdin: Baxter Peak, Katahdin: Hamlin Peak, Sugarloaf, South Crocker Mountain, Old Speck, North Brother, Bigelow: West Peak, Saddleback Mountain, Bigelow: Avery Peak, Mt. Abraham, South Crocker Mountain, Saddleback Horn, Mt. Redington, and Spaulding Mountain.

Trenton Clark on the peak of the 4,151-foot North Brother Mountain.

FOR YOUR HEALTH – NervGen Pharma: A“Blockbuster Drug” in the Making?

(NAPSI)—More than 6 million people in the U.S. live with Alzheimer’s, and that number continues to increase each year. In 2021, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $355 billion. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts those costs will rise to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

A Canadian-headquartered biotech startup, NervGen Pharma Corp. (TSX.V: NGEN) (OTCQX: NGENF) has just entered into a research agreement to study its NVG-291 drug in Alzheimer’s disease models in animals as it prepares for its Phase 1b clinical trial in Alzheimer’s patients slated to start in 2022.

This development comes on the heels of pharmaceutical heavyweight Biogen being granted FDA approval to commercialize aducanumab – a drug that removes amyloid-beta plaques from the brain as a means of slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in patients. This approval is in spite of the fact that aducanumab’s effectiveness has been questioned by many Alzheimer’s experts.

The sceptics include Dr. George Perry, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the University Chair in Neurobiology at the University of Texas, San Antonio and one of the most published and cited researchers in the Alzheimer’s field.

He believes that NervGen’s potential for NVG-291 is a far more “exciting” and potentially effective treatment for Alzheimer’s than Biogen’s controversial new drug. “NervGen’s drug candidate leverages a unique and powerful multimodal mechanism of action that has been shown in preclinical studies to increase both autophagy and plasticity while also reducing microglia inflammatory expression, representing an exciting new approach to treating Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Perry.

It has the potential to be one of the most disruptive pharmaceutical drug therapies of the modern era, especially for treating Alzheimer’s disease. And that gives it considerable “blockbuster drug” potential – a tantalizing opportunity that is only now just becoming apparent.

This is due to the fact that NVG- 291 is designed to heal nerve damage by unleashing the body’s natural ability to repair itself. Besides treating Alzheimer’s disease, this new therapy has also shown considerable promise in preclinical studies in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

According to Paul Brennan, NervGen’s President & CEO, “NVG-291 has the potential to redefine how nervous system damage is treated across multiple indications, whether caused by trauma or chronic disease. This is an important first step to bringing this therapy to patients, and we look forward to completing our ongoing Phase 1 study and moving quickly to treating Alzheimer’s patients.”

A Breakthrough Therapy: How NVG-291 Works

Any time there is damage to the nervous system – whether via trauma such as spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, or a neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s, MS or ALS – scar tissue is formed. The body releases chemicals called CSPGs (chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans) within the scar in order to reduce the damage.
They are initially helpful and play a protective role, but there is also a down- side to these CSPGs as over time they actually go from helping to obstructing the body’s ability to repair itself.

NervGen’s drug, NVG-291, releases this molecular inhibition, resulting in the initiation of multiple repair mechanisms including neuron regeneration, increased plasticity and “remyelination” – the process of replacing myelin, the tissue that often surrounds and protects neurons and which is often damaged as a result of diseases such as MS.
As a revolutionary treatment for Alzheimer’s disease alone, NVG-291, has the potential to make NervGen a future star of the biotech sector. For instance, consider that Wall Street analysts are now estimating peak annual sales for Biogen’s new drug will range from $10 billion to $50 billion.

It is well worth reiterating that no drugs have been approved anywhere in the world for nerve regeneration and remyelination, as well as improved plasticity in damaged nerves. Existing treatments for these diseases are often targeting the symptoms, not the underlying disease progression itself. NervGen is addressing a significant unmet medical need for the treatment of nervous system damage due to trauma and diseases.

China Community Food Pantry: Nonprofit Spotlight

The China Food Pantry at 1320 Lakeview Drive in China. (photo by Eric Austin)

Central Maine non-profit organizations: Their Mission, Their Goals

by Eric W. Austin

Nearly 30 years ago, Lee and Ann Austin founded the China Community Food Pantry with one goal in mind: to help reduce food insecurity in central Maine. The couple had owned and operated the Willow Beach Camps Resort on China Lake for more than a decade, and after closing the establishment, they were looking for a way to give back to a community that had been so supportive of them over the years. Lee Austin was a China native, growing up in South China and attending Erskine Academy, while Ann had grown up in Whittier, California, and was teaching kindergarten at China Elementary School.

Volunteer Dale Peabody sets up food boxes on the front porch of China Community Food Pantry. (photo by Ann Austin)

Although Lee passed away in 2016 after a heroic battle with pancreatic cancer, his wife, Ann, continues to pursue their vision to reduce food insecurity in Maine, hosting the food pantry in what was once the dining room and kitchen for Willow Beach Camps Resort, and is now the upstairs floor of her home in China.

Over the years, many dozens of local people have donated their time and financial support to make the food pantry successful. “We would be nothing without our volunteers,” Ann says. “They are the heart and soul of the food pantry and I couldn’t do this without their help.”

Volunteers work on Fridays and Saturdays when the food pantry is open from 12 to 1 p.m., but many volunteers arrive as early as eight o’clock to start getting ready. Food needs to be sorted and marked. Floors must be swept and counters cleaned. Boxes must be broken down and taken to the transfer station for recycling. Since the start of the pandemic, bundles of food are made up ahead of time for differently-sized households because patrons can no longer browse through the pantry in person.

But that’s not all. Food deliveries need to be made too. Last year, the food pantry was able to purchase a used cargo van, funded entirely through donations. This vehicle is driven by volunteers to local grocery stores, and then back to the China Food Pantry multiple times each week. Food deliveries happen on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Many local farms also donate surplus food to the effort.

Volunteers Lucas Gombojav, left, and Donna Loveland, right, demonstrate how food boxes are delivered to clients while maintaining social distancing at China Food Pantry. (photo by Ann Austin)

On an average week, the food pantry serves 40-50 families. Although some food provided through federal programs can only be given to China residents, much of the rest is available to patrons coming from other towns in central Maine and no one is ever turned away.

The work is never-ending. Volunteers show up every week, week after week. Their rewards are the words of thanks they receive from patrons. Many of those patrons later become volunteers as a way to repay the kindness they once received. “Pay it forward” is a good phrase to describe the China Food Pantry. It’s a continuous cycle of giving that has worked for almost three decades.

Ann Austin is now in her 70s, with nine grandchildren, and retired from teaching, but she continues to manage the food pantry. She leads a group of determined volunteers that share her giving spirit. Together they are working to make the world a little bit better, one community at a time.

If anyone is interested in joining the effort to reduce food insecurity in central Maine, Ann can be reached at 968-2421 or by mail at PO Box 6012, China Village, 04926.

The food pantry is located at 1320 Lakeview Drive in China just south of the Lakeview Lumber hardware store. The pantry’s hours of operation are Friday and Saturday from 12 – 1 p.m.

The Town Line will continue with a series on local nonprofit groups and their work in their respective communities. To include your group, contact The Town Line at

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Thoughts and ideas

by Debbie Walker

Every year I try to think of a unique Christmas gift for my grandchildren who are both now adults with their own families. However, I am still Nana Daffy (they named me that when Blake was learning to talk) just as when they were children. I see no reason to change either the name nor this tradition.

When the kids got old enough to have a preference in clothes, music, games, etc., I didn’t want to try to please them. It was easier to dream up something different or unique.

I started out first sending them on day trips to places like Museum of Science, in Tampa, (MOSI), Weeky Wache, in Spring Hill, or Silver Springs Attraction, in Ocala, all in Florida. Then things got too expensive, so, again, I switched.

Next, I bought them things they were going to need for their dorm or their future homes. I started with the small things I find handy in my kitchen, like my favorite spatula or my little knife. From there it went to the bigger stuff like a toaster. Oh yeah, and kitchen gifts from me were always wrapped with aluminum foil. There really was a reason for it the first year but don’t have a clue why I did it. The aluminum foil was gathered and rolled into a ball that would last them all year until the next Christmas.

Blake went off to college and his first apartment and pleased his roommates with a good amount of their kitchen needs being supplied by him. Tristin, my granddaughter, started out in her first home with a partially established kitchen, also.

There has now come a time when they really don’t need anything I can afford, so now I am working on weird stuff. This year will be my best so far, I hope. Previously, I have found things that aren’t really common, so we have a guessing game. Whoever guesses the use gets to keep it. So far this year I haven’t found anything.

Do you know what a loofah is? I knew it was a sponge, but I thought they were like the ones they dive for in Tarpon Springs

Did you know that a loofah sponge starts out as a vegetable/gourd? I wrote vegetable because you can eat the young plant but allowed to grow it is a gourd. (Did you know that even a watermelon is from a gourd family?)

I explained to my neighbor, Glen, what I would like to do. I wanted to plant the seeds and document the process traveled. I looked for seeds and couldn’t find them locally. Glen got on the computer, and found and ordered the seeds. When received he proceeded to plant and care for my (?) plant. The vines have grown so they are a lot taller than me.

So now I have to continue to take pictures and the information about the process, all into a little booklet to go with each sponge on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to tell them the whole story! I will let you know how I make out with peeling off the outside of the plant to find the fibrous and seeded center. The seeds must come out. From what I have read there are a lot of seeds. We will have to get them all out and hang on an outside line in the sun to dry and for the sun to bleach the sponge.

The kids will get a laugh about the gift. I will let you know as the process continues.

I am curious how many of you knew it started out as a veggie. Questions or comments contact me at Thanks again for reading and have a great week.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Singer: Petula Clark; the Cates Country Store

Petula Clark

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Petula Clark

I Know a Place
Jack and John. Warner Brothers 5612, seven inch 45 vinyl disc, recorded 1965.

Now 88, singer Petula Clark achieved fame in England and Europe before hitting paydirt over here. Downtown, This Is My Song, and Don’t Sleep in the Subway are megahits for the best reasons-they are beautiful songs beautifully sung. She had producer Tony Hatch working the arrangements enhancing her singing numerous times. In fact, if she ever made a bad record, I don’t know of it.

I Know a Place may be my favorite of the group with its spirited rhythms and upbeat musicality. It took a few hearings to like the B side, Jack and John, but it too exudes charm.

In 1968, she hosted a tv special and sang a duet with Harry Belafonte during which she locked arms with him. A representative of the sponsor Chrysler wanted another take used in which Clark stood at a distance from Belafonte because he feared a backlash in the Deep South. Clark refused, she destroyed all other takes of the duet, and the special made television history , receiving an Emmy nomination.

Continuing with Coffin’s Kennebec Crystals:

“In the clear dawn next day, along a hundred roads that led down to the Kennebec, farmers were trudging, mustaches hanging down to the woolen mufflers like the tusks on the walrus. Brown mustaches, golden ones, black ones, gray ones and white. But every one in front of a man. And behind them steamed their wealth, on its own feet. Tall, sinewy sons, out of school for good and on the doorstep of manhood and marriage, horses with hides like scrubbed horse chestnuts, big of hoof and billowy of muscle, fattened on corn, sharp shod, with long calks of steel that bit into the frozen ground. Here you could reckon up a man’s prosperity in solid tangible things, as in the days of Jacob and Laban. Goods with the breath of life in them. Like Job’s. The richest man was one who had nine or ten strong men to follow the swing of his creasing trousers in ringing ironed shoes. Or three or four spans of horses with the morning star in their forehead and the music of steel under their feet. So the wealth of the Kennebec came down to the harvest of Maine’s best winter crop in the eighties.”

More next week.

* * * * * * *

A note on Vassalboro, Maine, history, the Cates Country Store (which was in family hands from when it was built in 1824 to when it was sold in 1971 to new owners) had ice deliveries from a horse drawn wagon well into the 1920’s. A gentleman, who drove such a wagon and knew my grandfather, Harold Cates (1881-1953), his father George Henry Cates (1852-1938) who ran the store for 65 years from 1873 until he died and other relatives employed in the store, used to park his car down by the Civil War monument during the early 1960’s to read his newspaper and I made his acquaintance. His name was Oscar Tubbs, he lived on the Cushman Road in Winslow in an old house with a long driveway and he told some fascinating stories about those years.

LEGAL NOTICES for Thursday, July 22, 2021



Nomination papers will be available at the Fairfield Town Office, 19 Lawrence Avenue, beginning on Monday July 26, 2021. The Town of Fairfield has the following seats available for the November 2, 2021, Election:

Town Council – 2 Seats for a 3-Year Term each.

Signed: Christine Keller, Town Clerk

18-A MRSA sec. 3-801

The following Personal Representatives have been appointed in the estates noted. The first publication date of this notice July 22, 2021. If you are a creditor of an estate listed below, you must present your claim within four months of the first publication date of this Notice to Creditors by filing a written statement of your claim on a proper form with the Register of Probate of this Court or by delivering or mailing to the Personal Representative listed below at the address published by his name, a written statement of the claim indicating the basis therefore, the name and address of the claimant and the amount claimed or in such other manner as the law may provide. See 18-C M.R.S.A. §3-80.

2021-150 – Estate of ERIK A WALTER, late of Madison, Me deceased. Paula Hughes, PO Box 223, Belgrade, Me 04917 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-154 – Estate of HAROLD VERHEY, JR., late of Hartland, Me deceased. Joan Heartquist, 190 Bagley Hill Road, Troy, Me 04987 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-155 – Estate of WILLIAM G. ANTHONY, late of Madison, Me deceased. Andrew W. Anthony, 722 Pendexter Road, Parsonfield, Me 04047 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-157 – Estate of CARL H. PERKINS, JR., late of Moscow, Me deceased. Carl H. Perkins, III, PO Box 262, Rockport, Me 04856 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-160 – Estate of PAULINE AYERS, late of Fairfield, Me deceased. Brett Ayers, 5983 SE Nelson Road, Olalla, WA 98359 appointed Personal Represenative.

2021-163 – Estate of WILFRED B. HINES, JR., late of Moscow, Me deceased. Carol A. Hines, 10 Bemis Street, Moscow, Me 04920 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-164 – Estate of JOYCE O. TRACY, late of Norridgewock, Me deceased. Patricia R. Lambert, PO Box 237, Norridgewock, Me 04957 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-165 – Estate of EARL D. WITTEN, SR., late of Skowhegan, Me deceased. Paul D. Witten, 103 Harvard Street, Auburn, ME 04210 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-172 – Estate of ARNITA M. JEWELL, late of Canaan, Me deceased. Lawrence Rugan, 27 Hummingbird Lane, Durham, Me 04222 and Angel Pesenson, 11313 Bastagne Loop, Austin, TX 78739 appointed Co-Personal Representatives.

2021-173 – Estate of ARLENE. NADEAU, late of Fairfield, Me deceased. Michael A. Nadeau, 274 Covell Road, Fairfield, Me 04937 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-175 – Estate of JAMES C. BELFLOWER, late of Bingham, Me deceased. Jamie Lynn Belflower, PO Box355, Bingham, Me 04920 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-176 – Estate of MARGUERITE R. GRANT, late of Skowhegan, Me deceased. David A. Grant, 19 Flagg Road, New Sharon, Me 04955 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-177 – Estate of LINDA S. BURTON, late of Ripley, Me deceased. Douglas A. Thomas, 306 Stream Road, Ripley, Me 04930 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-178 – Estate of BETTY ANN WYMAN, late of Moscow, Me deceased. Beverly Rand, 14 Ellis Lane, Moscow, Me 04920 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-179 – Estate of ROBERTA ANN BROOKS, late of Madison, Me deceased. Constance M. Sorg, 69 North Maysville Road, Greenville, PA 16125 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-183 – Estate of ROBERT V. ASHE, late of Skowhegan, Me deceased. Mark L. Fortier, Esq., 42 East Leavitt Street, Skowhegan, Me 04976 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-186 – Estate of WAYNE JOSEPH LIZOTTE, late of Hartland Me deceased. Nicole Lee Miley, 45 Higgins Crowell Road, West Yarmuth, MA 02673 appointed Personal Representative.

2021-187 – Estate of EDITH L. KNAPP, late of Palmyra, Me deceased. Winonah G. Sacks, 48 Spaulding Road, Palmyra, Me 04965 appointed Personal Representative.

To be published on July 22, 2021 & July 29, 2021.

Dated: July 19, 2021
/s/ Victoria M. Hatch,
Register of Probate

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Oak Grove School

The Oak Grove-Coburn school today, serving as the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

by Mary Grow

We now digress – for a change – from descriptions of churches on the National Register of Historic Places to the Oak Grove School, because of its association with the Sophia D. Bailey Chapel discussed last week (and also known as the Oak Grove Chapel).

According to Raymond Manson and Elsia Holway Burleigh, whose history of the school was often cited last week, the Vassalboro and Fairfield Friends started Oak Grove School in February 1848. The authors provided a detailed description, with dialogue, of the crucial meeting.

They said wealthy mill-owner John D. Lang (1799-1879), of Vassalboro, hosted fellow residents Ebenezer Frye and Alton Page, Samuel Taylor, from North Fairfield, and Alden Sampson, from what is now Manchester. The men agreed to pay Lang’s son-in-law, Charles Osborne, $50 for about an acre of land.

Alma Pierce Robbins, in her Vassalboro history, said the year was 1840 and listed the men who bought land from Charles Osborn (without a final e) as Frye, Lang, Pope and Elder Sampson, all from Vassalboro, plus Taylor, from Fairfield.

Rufus Jones’ chapter on the Society of Friends in Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history listed the founders as Frye and Lang, from Vassalboro, Taylor, from Fairfield, and from Manchester Alden Sampson and Alton Pope; Jones dated their effort from “about 1850.”

The original school at left, and a three-story student boarding house.

The site of the school, as Jones described it, included a grove of oak trees on top of a hill – hence the name. From the hilltop, one could see down the Kennebec River to Augusta and beyond. Across the river, Mt. Adams and Mt. Washington rose above the lesser mountains of western Maine.

In addition to the view being a “constantly inspiring influence,” Jones wrote, the new school would be adjacent to the Friends Meeting House, and close to the wealthy men who each pledged $1,000 to start it.

Manson and Burleigh wrote that Frye was in charge of construction. He oversaw spending $2,500 for a 40-by-60-foot three-story wooden building on the hilltop above the Friends burying ground. The school’s first 16-week term began in December 1850, with William H. Hobby as the first principal.

The Manson and Burleigh history has a sketch of the building, surrounded by trees, with a steep roof topped by what looks like an eight-sided windowed cupola. A flight of at least a dozen steps runs all the way across the 40-foot end, leading to the front wall with a door at either end and a window between (the same pattern as China’s Pond Meeting House; see the photo in the July 8 issue of The Town Line).

Originally meant only for the children of Quaker families, Oak Grove School quickly allowed all students to attend. Nonetheless, it did not attract enough to cover costs – because there were too few nearby homes where students could board, Manson and Burleigh said – and Oak Grove School closed in 1856.

Immediately, another group of Friends led by Eli Jones, from China, began working to re-open the school. They raised $15,000 from Friends all over Maine, got a new legislative charter in April 1857 for Oak Grove Seminary, bought another acre of land on the south side of the road and built a three-story student boarding house and opened the new school in December 1857, with Eli Jones serving as principal for the first year because the oversight committee could not agree on anyone else.

From 1873, the year the Maine legislature required towns to provide high schools, until July 31, 1918, Oak Grove officials usually contracted with the town to be its high school. In 1873, Kingsbury wrote, Vassalboro appropriated $500 for a high school at East Vassalboro, but because of Oak Grove Seminary did not need to spend it.

In the fall of 1862 a gymnasium was added near the boarding house. The school building burned down in 1880; classes were moved to the boarding house until a new school was built beside it, across Oak Grove Road from the original, and dedicated Nov. 24, 1885.

An arsonist burned down the school building and the boarding house on Aug. 31, 1887. The 14-year-old nephew of Principal Charles H. Jones died when he went back to retrieve a watch his father had just given him.

Principal Jones promptly oversaw conversion of the gymnasium into makeshift classrooms. On Sept. 18, 1887, that building was also torched.

Manson and Burleigh described how the arsonist, a 15-year-old boarding student, was traced, arrested, tried and convicted. His motives: he was not allowed to take the courses he wanted and he didn’t like the Oak Grove food or the Town of Vassalboro.

A new and larger school building was dedicated Sept. 5, 1888, including classrooms and laboratories, offices, a library, a kitchen and dining room and housing for students and for the principal. Manson and Burleigh specifically mention the central heating and the “bathrooms with hot and cold running water.”

Photos show an enormous wooden building in several interlocking sections. Much of it was three stories high on top of a full basement with large windows (one photo shows three stories throughout, another looks as though one section had two full stories plus a windowed attic above the basement rooms). A new gymnasium was built nearby.

Charles M. Bailey, of Win­throp, paid for the construction; money raised by Quakers throughout Maine became an endowment fund. The building was named Bailey Hall, and in 1888 the school became Oak Grove Seminary and Bailey Institute.

Oak Grove Seminary seems to have prospered until World War I, under the ownership of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. It ac­quired additional land and more buildings – a power plant in 1906, a new gymnasium in 1908 after the one built in 1888 collapsed under its snow-weighted roof on March 17, 1907.

Enrollment declined beginning in 1914. Manson and Burleigh blamed the war, and also quoted from a 1915 report by the State of Maine Supe­rintendent of Schools saying more students were opting for public high schools.

In the winter of 1917 the school’s “board of managers” (Manson and Burleigh’s undefined terminology) voted to “lay down” (close) the school, apparently without consulting staff. Staff persuaded them to reconsider until they explored options.

Top, Robert Everett Owen and Eva Pratt Owen when they took over the school while in their 20s, and, above, in later years.

One option was new management. In 1918, Manson and Burleigh wrote, the Board of Trustees hired Robert Everett Owen and Eva (Pratt) Owen, who became joint principals and served until 1968.

Aware of the school’s history, one of the Owens’ many achievements was building the fire-proof brick buildings that form what is now often called “the castle.” When the central building was finished in 1941, the school’s trustees voted to recognize their long-time principals by naming it Owen Hall. The Owens were pleased, but asked the trustees not to publicize the decision, and the new building was called the Administration Building.

On June 7, 1975, after both Owens had died, the trustees of what was by then Oak Grove-Coburn School held a ceremony in Bailey Chapel to publicly rename the building Owen Hall. As part of the observance, Betsy Palmer Eldridge, O.G. ’55, wrote a summary of the Owens’ lives and service.

The Owens were in their twenties when they took over management of the declining school. They had both graduated from Oak Grove, where they met, in 1910 and gone to Colby College, in Waterville. Robert graduated from Colby in 1914 and later got a master’s degree in education from Harvard.

Eva had to leave college to save her failing eyesight. She held brief principals’ jobs at South Thomaston High School and at Erskine Academy, in South China, before she and Robert were married in the summer of 1914.

Eldridge wrote that they spent the next four years at Erskine, Robert as the principal and Eva as the girls’ dean, before they came to Oak Grove in 1918. They promptly began sprucing up Bailey Hall and soliciting students.

In 1925, the Board of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends accepted an education committee’s recommendation that Oak Grove become a girls’ school (and Moses Brown School in Rhode Island become a boys’ school). The goal was to make them specialized schools, distinguished from the co-ed public high schools that were increasingly numerous.

The Owens supported the change, Eldridge wrote. They reported at the end of the first year that enrollment was larger than expected, and “the girls are high-minded and wholesome, and it has been a joy to work with them. They are more contented and doing finer school work than the girls did during the seven years of co-education.”

The Owens’ building project began in 1928 with the dormitory named Briggs Hall (Eldridge gave no explanation for the name). It was followed by the 1938-39 Recitation Building, connected to the east end of the dormitory by a small arcade.

The Administration Building and a second dormitory, later called Senior House, were added in 1940-41, connected by a second, longer arcade students called “the tunnel.” These new buildings provided enough space so that the 1888 Bailey Hall could be demolished in 1942.

Smaller additions were made on the grounds in the 1950s. One was a new cinder-block barn; Eva Owen had always supported the Oak Grove riding program, which she herself taught for some years.

In 1962, Eldridge wrote, the Science Building “completed the Quadrangle by filling in the gap between the Administration Building and Senior House.”

A gymnasium and auditorium were also added in 1962. Eldridge summarized that over 50 years, the Owens had developed Oak Grove from “three buildings on twenty-eight acres to eleven buildings on more than five hundred acres of woods, ponds, lawns and gardens.”

Eldridge called the financing of so many buildings “a mystery” and attributed it primarily to Eva Owens’ enthusiastic sharing of school life with parents, alumnae and others interested. She was famous for writing long friendly letters that did not ask for money, but motivated people to donate anyway.

After their retirement, the Owens continued to live in their apartment in the Administration Building, Eldridge wrote. Robert Owen died July 11, 1973; his wife died Sept. 20, 1974. Both are buried in Green Lawn Rest Cemetery, in Clinton, her home town.

The last sentence of Manson and Briggs’ 1965 history reads, “There will never again be a question of the ‘laying down’ of the [Oak Grove] school.”

However, as mentioned last week, the Owens lived to see the 1970 merger of Oak Grove School with Coburn Classical Institute, a co-ed high school in Waterville, with a history going back to the 1820s. Oak Grove-Coburn School in turn closed in 1989, and the state bought the Owens’ buildings and now uses them as the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

Main sources

Eldridge, Betsy Palmer Owen Hall Pamphlet June 1975.
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Manson, Raymond R., and Elsia Holway Burleigh, First Seventy Years of Oak Grove Seminary ((1965).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).

Websites, miscellaneous.

ROTARY CLUB NEWS: Humanitarian seeks books and Bibles

by Gary Kennedy

As some of you are aware from reading my articles through the past quarter century, I have served throughout the world as a humanitarian both with Rotary International and with the Knights of Rizal. There have been good times and there have been those not so good. In any case great things have been accomplished. We have built and supported schools, libraries as well as medical clinics.

In the beginning of my travel it all seemed impossible but as you begin and eventually finish a project you begin to realize it isn’t as difficult as you told yourself it was. One thing leads to another and then project #2 is completed and so many people of need are happy.

In 1999 I joined the Lewiston/Auburn Rotary Club and almost immediately I was on a committee. Before I knew it I was recommending project and getting involved. I believe that changed my life. We embarked on our 1st international projects and that was the building of a library for the poor in the Philippines. I began raising books and storing them at the college in Auburn.

It took a year to raise 40,000 volumes and lots of money for shipping. During this time our own Jan Goddard, of the China area, was the District Governor for Rotary’s District #7790. Long story short, Jan financed, for the most part of our library project, resulting in a three-story building which eventually employed 22 people and librarians, housed all the books plus a computer room of 80 computers. It is now considered the largest true public library in the Philippines. It services the poor and all are allowed to use the facility. I, with my brother Knights in Silang Cavite, have been tending to the libraries ongoing needs. Dasmariñas Cavite Congressman Pidi Barzaga was also a major contributor to the library project. He is a very progressive leader of this community and supports all its needs. Without him there would be no library, such as the one built.

I wanted to mention here “Alliance for Smiles” and my love for this great organization. A few years ago I actually joined the Alliance for Smiles group in the beautiful hamlet of Santiago in the province of Isabela, Philippines. The group was there for several days and performed 127 cleft lip operations. For the parents of these children this was a blessing, saving their children from a life time of misery. I was very proud to be there with so many loving, caring humanitarians. The transformation is truly a wonderful thing. When you see something in your mailbox with the label, Alliance for Smiles, please read it and if you have a few dollars donate to this cause. It’s a wonderful charity which I know to be true.

Soon I will be returning to Asia to service some of my past projects and perhaps get involved in a few new ones. I will be looking for “School” and “Library” books. Library books for all ages and school books 1-12 grades. English, math, sciences, world history, etc. Also, I discovered a beautiful little church sitting high up in the mountains of Cagayan Province which was built by Korean Humanitarians. My wife and I attended a service one Sunday and discovered they had no Bibles. So, I decided to reach out to you to raise 50 Bibles. This would be a wonderful project for church and young people. Please make this happen for a part of the world which searches for God. I now have a truck so I can pick up things. I am considering clothing this time as some of these people have next to none, especially for the children.

The Silang Knights of Rizal and I have also undertaken the assistance of an orphanage built by a protestant pastor after the death of her husband who was also a pastor. The couple is from Pennsylvania, and on a missionary mission in the Philippines. When he passed away, pastor Ada Jensen decided to remain and started the “Mango House Orphanage”. My family and I along with the Knights of Rizal, which I joined in 2003.

So I guess I have been a part of my community there for 18 years now. We have accomplished much through the years and I hope others will carry the torch until this world becomes a better place for all. Time is growing short, for me being a 100 percent disabled veteran. With the help of my brothers, the Knights of Rizal of Silang, Cavite as well as Rotary, I am still getting the job done. I know others will come along and carry the torch to help all those who need the arm of others. This is how we find change and peace and how we find each other.

God be with you and please lend a hand if you can. Have a safe summer.

Gary Kennedy can be reached at (207) 458-2832.

SOLON & BEYOND: Zander’s story

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

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

Percy started out as a stray kitten and was rescued by a family on Route 43. They called and told me about this sweet little female kitten that needed a home and it was love at first sight. I named her Faith, but as luck would have it, on the first trip to the vet, I found out that a boys name was needed instead. After a short time this little kitten started his true personality and hence Perseverance, or Percy for short. Percy has many talents besides being a good cuddler, he is always at the door to welcome me home loves to sing, (Amazing Grace) is his favorite song). He has become famous and much loved for his good advice in the columns I have written. As you can see from his picture, he is very intelligent and he’s promoting this book of meditation-for-cat lovers.

Don’t know how many of you may have seen my grandson, Zander Walz in the commercial on TV promoting education and its importance, and I admit I’m really proud of him and perhaps a trifle biased. Anyway, he showed me this true story he wrote, and I thought it was so good that it should be shared.

Zander’s story:

Many moons ago in a time far away, I was studying in the library minding my own business when I saw it. It descended from the sky, a spider hanging from the sky, a spider hanging from its web so massive, so enormous, that it would put fear in the lives of most mortal men. But I am no ordinary mortal man. As I looked at the creature, and it looked into my eyes, it saw for the first time what fear was! In the battle that would take place, it was truly a battle of the titans. As I swiftly made my move, I came onto the spider delivering the first blow with a rolled up piece of paper that sent this foul creature flying in the other direction. As the spider went hurling through the air, it was strong enough to hold on to its web, and like an arrow launched from a bow, it came back at me at full speed with a vengeance. If it wasn’t for my cat-like reflexes and my ability to move like the wind it surely would’ve been a deathblow toward me. As I parried and deflected, I gave the spider a second blow. At this time it hurled the spider towards the floor, and to its favor, it was suddenly camouflaged in the carpet. I was now fighting an unseen foe. All too soon, it became apparent to both of us that the battle had become a game of wits. As I searched for the beast it was unknown to me that it stealthily was creeping on towards me with venomous intent.

Thanks to a witness who was observing the battle at a safe distance, she pointed out to me where the spider was. As I looked at the spider, it knew that the end of its life had come. But that did not stop it from trying to take me with him. I placed the paper over his body and delivered a decisive blow which would have killed any ordinary spider…… but as you can tell by now, this was no ordinary spider. The infuriated spider struggled and fought and, my friend, I must say it wasn’t until the third blow that the spider was finally done in.

The spider’s body broken and the legs still quivering it knew the end was coming. Looking at me I heard the last words coming from his last breath. “I will shrink in size so no one will know how massive I really was and no one will believe the battle that took place here in the library. And with that, the brave spider died. Honoring my opponent, I took his lifeless body and placed it in a garbage can right next to some very stale French fries. I can only imagine it is there to this very day.

(I really think that when I finally retire from writing, Zander would be a good one to take my place!)

There is an invitation to a very special event in our area. The bridge between Solon and Embden on Route 201-A will be renamed the Jotham and Emma Stevens Bridge, commemorating the service of Mr. and Mrs. Stevens in operating the last ferry service between the two towns. Please join us for this special event honoring the Stevens family. Please share with others who would like to attend. The date is July 23, at 2 p.m.

China to hold WindowDressers workshop this fall

Volunteers prepare window inserts at the 2019 WindowDressers workshop, two years ago, in Vassalboro. (photo courtesy of Vassalboro Historical Society)

by Eric W. Austin

The China for a Lifetime Committee is busy planning for a WindowDressers workshop that will take place this November 3 – 7. The initiative is a volunteer-led, “barn-raising” effort to construct low-cost “window inserts” to reduce residential energy bills.

The window inserts are constructed of pine wood frames, covered in thin plastic film and can usually be ordered in natural wood or painted white, however, because of pandemic-related difficulties in the lumber industry, they may not be available in white this year. (Please inquire at the time you place your order.) There is a maximum order limit of 10 frames, and no minimum. Orders are open to residents in China, Vassalboro, Palermo, Albion and Windsor.

The price of the window inserts will vary depending on the size of the frame requested, but generally range from $30-$70 per frame for natural pine, with an additional $5-$10 if painted white. There is financial help available for those who qualify.

The committee is working with the statewide WindowDressers organization, described on their website as a “volunteer-driven non-profit organization dedicated to helping Maine residents reduce heating costs, fossil fuel consumption, and CO-2 emissions by lowering the amount of heat loss through windows.” WindowDressers is based out of Rockland.

The China for a Lifetime Committee, a local group which supports community initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life for residents, has been meeting for several months to discuss having a WindowDressers workshop in China this fall. Vassalboro hosted a workshop two years ago, and the China for a Lifetime Committee had discussed organizing a workshop in China last year before plans were scrapped because of the pandemic.

As the workshop will take place during the first week of November, orders should be placed no later than October 1. Committee volunteers will need to visit your home to take window measurements which will then be sent to the WindowDressers organization, who will cut the wood for the frames. All volunteers doing the measuring will be vaccinated for COVID-19, and can also wear a mask if the homeowner requests. Measurers need to complete their task and submit data to WindowDressers by mid-October, so to avoid “crunch time”, please make sure to get your order in and set up a measuring appointment as soon as possible.

There is a great need for local community volunteers in order to make this a successful WindowDressers workshop. It is requested that anyone ordering frames also sign up for a four-hour shift on one of the workshop days. The committee is also looking for anyone willing to supply food to the teams working during the workshop.

To submit an order for window inserts, or to volunteer, please call the China town office at 445-2014, send an email to the China for a Lifetime Committee at, or visit the WindowDressers website and fill out the form located at

For more information about the China for a Lifetime Committee, please visit their website at