Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Library series conclusion

Old Winslow Library

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro, Waterville, Winslow

There is no evidence that the Town of Vassalboro had a public library before 1909, when the ancestor of the present lively institution was founded.

The 1909 association’s bylaws give it two names, the Free Public Library Association of Vassalboro, d/b/a Vassalboro Library Association. The library has always been in East Vassalboro, and the bylaws say it must remain there.

According to an essay by Elizabeth “Betty” Taylor in Bernhardt and Schad’s Vassalboro anthology, Eloise A. Hafford organized Vassalboro’s Library Association, getting advice from the Maine State Library and providing the association’s constitution.

Then, Taylor wrote, “she disappeared from the records.” Her name was crossed off the list of members in 1910.

Intrigued, Taylor did research that identified Hafford, born Sept. 30, 1860, in Massachusetts, as an early pastor at the East Vassalboro Friends Church. She was a high-school and university teacher for many years, and by 1930 was in California doing public health work, at one time serving as executive secretary of the Southern California Society for Control of Syphilis. She died in 1938.

The first Vassalboro library building was a converted summer cottage on South Stanley Hill Road, on a small lot donated by George Cates, south of the Friends Meeting House. The cottage was a gift of the Kennebec Water District and in 1914 was hauled across China Lake “on skids by four teams of horses,” according to a Jan. 25, 1971, newspaper article at the Vassalboro Historical Society.

The single-story building was about 500 feet square, according to another source. Everett Coombs built bookshelves early in 1915. Madeline Cates was Vassalboro librarian from 1910 to 1948. When the Library Association was inactive during the Depression, she continued to open it one day a week without pay, and her husband Percy provided fuel without charge.

In the 1950s, Taylor and Mildred Harris took the lead in reviving the library.

The wooden building and the book collection burned in 1979. Taylor, who was librarian for more than three decades, was again a leader in obtaining replacement books after the fire.

Vassalboro Public Library (photo: vassalboro.net)

In 1980, the library reopened in its current home, a single-story brick building at 930 Bog Road, on the west side of the village. An addition in 2000 on the back (north side) doubled the size of the building.

The Vassalboro Library receives significant town funding every year, but donations are always welcome, and are tax-deductible.

Vassalboro has at least one of the libraries in boxes described in last week’s essay. It is on the south side of the Olde Mill complex in North Vassalboro, facing Oak Grove Road, identified by the word “BOOKS” across the top.

In Waterville, the first library was started before Waterville became a town, never mind a city, according to Estelle Foster Eaton’s chapter in Whittemore’s 1902 history.

Waterville was separated from Winslow on June 23, 1802. Eaton wrote that eight months earlier, Reuben Kidder (a member of the 1801 committee chosen to petition the legislature to make Waterville a separate town) had bought 117 books from Boston bookseller Caleb Bingham, for $162.65 (with a 10 percent discount).

Waterville Public Library

(Caleb Bingham [April 15, 1757-April 6, 1817] was an educator, textbook writer and publisher as well as a bookseller. An on-line article by Encyclopedia Britannica editors says he directed Boston’s public library for two years without pay; donated many books to the library in his home town of Salisbury; and helped other New England town libraries. His bookstore was a gathering place for Boston teachers and liberal Jeffersonian politicians and “a focal point of agitation for free public schools.”)

The books were mostly non-fiction, Eaton wrote. Exceptions she listed were The Beggar Girl and A Fool of Quality, each in three volumes. (Welsh novelist Anna or Agnes Maria Bennett’s The Beggar Girl and Her Benefactors was published in 1797; Irish writer Henry Brooke’s The Fool of Quality was published between 1765 and 1779, originally in five volumes.)

The books reached Waterville Nov. 18, 1801. Although Kidder had ordered them in the name of the “Winslow Library,” they were labeled as belonging to “The Waterville Social Library.”

Eaton could not determine how long the library lasted, but the books ended up with Abijah Smith, one of the people who signed a note to help Kidder pay for them. Smith let the Sons of Temperance use them when that organization started a short-lived library (Eaton gave no dates).

Kingsbury wrote in his 1892 Kennebec County history that the Waterville division of the Sons of Temperance was organized Nov. 27, 1845, reorganized in 1858 and still flourishing in 1892.

In 1902, Eaton wrote, a Smith descendant owned relevant documents and, apparently, books; she wrote that when the new public library building was completed, he wanted the remainder of the Waterville Social Library to “find [a] fitting home within its walls.”

The present library organization dates from 1896, the present building from 1902.

According to Eaton and Kingsbury, there were other predecessors besides the Waterville Social Library.

Eaton lists two bookstore-based “circulating libraries.” William Hastings, who was a printer and the publisher of the Waterville Intelligencer newspaper (see The Town Line, Nov. 26, 2020) as well as a bookseller, offered “well-selected books” from 1826 to 1828. Around 1840 Edward Mathews started lending books from his bookstore; he sold the library to Charles K. Mathews, who continued it until 1874.

The Waterville Woman’s Association, founded in 1887, by 1892 had a library of 400 volumes, Kingsbury wrote, “from which 100 books are taken weekly.” (The Woman’s Association was mentioned in the Nov. 11 The Town Line.)

Eaton made the Waterville Library Association, founded in March 1873, sound like the most important predecessor of the present library. She listed the founders by initials only, except for President Solyman Heath; apparently they were all men, although Kingsbury mentioned “the cooperation of a few spirited ladies.” Association membership was $3 a year; dues were used to buy books.

The directors of the Ticonic Bank gave the library space in the bank building for 26 years, and the library was nicknamed the Bank Library, according to Eaton. A. A. Plaisted (the Waterville history’s index lists many entries for A. A. Plaisted, Aaron Plaisted and Aaron Appleton Plaisted) was librarian, “assisted within the last few years by the Misses Helen and Emily Plaisted, Miss Helen Meader and Miss Elden, now Mrs. Mathews.”

In 1892, Kingsbury wrote, the library had 1,500 books and about 30 members.

Meanwhile, a movement for a free public library began. In 1883, Eaton wrote, former resident William H. Arnold willed to the town (Waterville did not become a city until January 23, 1888) $5,000 for a public library, conditional on the town matching the gift. The town did not, and Arnold’s heirs got the $5,000.

In 1896, Lillian Hallock Campbell spent early February visiting more than 50 women to ask them to help start a free public library. On Feb. 13, the Waterville Library Association organized, with an all-female list of officers, though some men were interested in Campbell’s project.

(The first president was Mrs. Willard B. Arnold, sister-in-law of the late William H. Arnold. Her husband, the first of five generations of Willard Bailey Arnolds, founded the W. B. Arnold Company, a Waterville hardware store that closed in the 1960s.)

“Public interest was aroused,” Eaton wrote, and business leaders, including W. B. Arnold, donated generously. On March 25, another meeting organized the Waterville Free Library Association, with Mayor Edmund F. Webb president, ex officio, and a mainly male group of officers and trustees (though Lillian Campbell, Mrs. Arnold and Annie Pepper were among the dozen trustees, as was Colby College professor and future president Arthur J. Roberts).

Library supporters began collecting books and money immediately; an April 7, 1896, public notice requested donations. Books were first circulated out of Harvey Doane Eaton’s law office (he was the husband of Estelle Foster Eaton who wrote the library chapter). A five-member book selection committee recommended initial purchases.

The library formally opened Aug. 22, 1896, in a room “in the Plaisted Block.” It moved to the Haines Building in 1898. Agnes M. Johnson was the first librarian.

Eaton wrote that by May 1902 the original 433 books had become 3,088. Circulation for the year ending May 16 was 20,692. Fiction circulation had declined, but “reference work in connection with the schools” was increasing.

Funds came from individual donations; from the City of Waterville, which increased its $500 a year to $1,000 in 1902; and from the State of Maine, whose annual $50 was “supposed to cover the running expenses; although as a matter of fact it has not,” Eaton said.

After the free library opened, interest in the membership-supported Waterville Library Association declined. Eaton wrote that its 1,500 books were donated to the Woman’s Association in 1900.

The earlier reference to a pending new building foreshadowed the 1902 construction of the main part of the present Elm Street building, with a $20,000 Carnegie Foundation grant. The library’s website describes the building’s architectural style as Richardson Romanesque, similar to other area libraries in Augusta, Clinton and Fairfield. The architect was William R. Miller of Lewiston, who also designed Fairfield’s Lawrence Library (see The Town Line, Nov. 11).

The building is of brick with granite trim. The original entrance on Elm Street is approached by wide granite steps leading to three arches, and the typical tower rises beside the entrance, with a tall triple window below nine small square windows.

The original building has been renovated and expanded several times. A banner on the side of the building proclaims Waterville Public Library a “2017 Winner National Medal for Museum and Library Service.”

New Winslow Library

This writer has failed to find a comprehensive history of Winslow’s public library, located since the late 1980s in a handsomely-converted former roller-skating rink at 136 Halifax Street. The town web page identifies the current library as a department of the town, with a board of trustees.

For at least part of the time between 1905 and 1927, the library was on the east side of Lithgow Street, in the north end of a single-story clapboard building it shared with the town office. Historian Jack Nivison wrote that the building was between the 1926 library and the Congregational Church, set farther back from the street than they are.

A photograph shows a single-story building with a peaked roof. Above what looks like a paneled front door is a three-section semi-circular window, and above it, under the peak of the roof, a second similar one. Windows on either side have decorative shutters and window boxes.

A side door has a small rectangular window beside it. This door and two larger windows on the south side are topped with arched semicircles of what looks like stained glass.

The first librarian, Jennie Howard, served from 1905 to 1933 and was paid $52 a year. Nivison wrote that Howard was also a teacher and superintendent of schools.

The second recorded Winslow library building was built in 1926-27 on an adjoining lot donated by George Bassett, at a cost of $30,000 (the on-line source that says $3,000 must have dropped a zero).

The 1926-27 library is a two-story, flat-roofed brick building. A semi-circular columned portico the height of the building shelters an arched, glass-paneled front door. Above the columns are the words “Winslow Public Library.”

Two tall windows on the front have decorative medallions above them; the window on the south side is topped by a smaller arched window. The library now houses the Taconnett Falls Genealogy Library; its sign says it is open from 1 to 4, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

After the 1987 Kennebec River flood, the library moved to its Halifax Street home.

Nivison adds a second Winslow library with a limited clientele. He wrote that “there was a Library in the Taconnet Clubhouse, built in 1901-02. This library was open to all families who worked at H & W.”

H & W was the Hollingsworth & Whitney Paper Company mill, which operated from 1892 until, after two changes of ownership, 1997. The H & W Clubhouse also offered its employees use of pool tables, a bowling alley and a swimming pool, according to Wikipedia.

Main sources

Bernhardt, Esther, and Vicki Schad, compilers/editors, Anthology of Vassalboro Tales (2017).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).

Personal conversations.
Websites, miscellaneous.

Kaitlin Dixon named to D&E President’s list

Kaitlin Dixon, of Solon, a student at Davis & Elkins College, in Elkins, West Virginia, has been named to the president’s list for the fall 2021 semester. The president’s list includes all full-time students with a 4.0 GPA for the semester.

Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, West Virginia, and offers 45 academic programs. For more information, visit the College website at www.dewv.edu.



Winslow resident earns award from WGU

Bethanie Farr, of Winslow, has earned an Award of Excellence at Western Governors University College of Health Professions, in Jersey City, New Jersey. The award is given to students who perform at a superior level in their course work.




Whitney makes dean’s list at Wentworth Institute of Technology

Emma Whitney, of Augusta, has made the dean’s list at Wentworth Institute of Technology, in Boston, Massachusetts, for the Spring 2021 semester.





SCORES & OUTDOORS: The challenges of getting a hippopotamus for Christmas

Lu, short for Lucifer, has grown so popular, he even has his own Facebook page where pictures like this are shared. (photo courtesy of Lu’s Facebook page.)

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Roland has taken an early vacation. This is reprinted from the December 24, 2015, issue.

When 10-year-old Gayla Peevey sang her 1953 Christmas song, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, did she really know what she was wishing for?

When the song was released nationally, it shot to the top of the charts and the Oklahoma City zoo acquired a baby hippo named Matilda. Legend has it the song was recorded as a fundraiser to bring the zoo a hippo. But, in a 2007 radio interview in Detroit, Peevey clarified that the song was not originally recorded as a fundraiser. Instead, a local promoter picked up on the popularity of the song and Peevey’s local roots, and launched a campaign to present her with an actual hippopotamus on Christmas.

The campaign succeeded, and she was presented with an actual hippopotamus, which she donated to the city zoo. It lived for nearly 50 years.

That brings us to the point. Had she decided to keep it, it wouldn’t have exactly been a house pet.

She would have had to put in a gigantic pool because the hippos spend most of their day wallowing in the water to keep their body temperature down and to keep their skin from drying out. With the exception of eating, most of hippopotamuses’ lives occur in the water.

Which brings us to another problem. Hippos leave the water at dusk and travel inland, sometimes up to five miles to graze on short grass, their main source of food. That probably wouldn’t have gone over too well with the neighbors and their lawns. Hippos can consume upwards of 150 pounds of grass each night.

The hippopotamus would probably have had problems living in an urban setting. They are among the largest living mammals, only elephants, rhinoceroses and some whales are heavier. They are also one of the most aggressive creatures in the world, and is often regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. So, you’d probably want to have it on a leash.

But, that probably wouldn’t do any good. An adult male can weigh between 3,300 and 4,000 pounds, with older males reaching 7,100 to 9,900 pounds, and would have no problems breaking a tether. Although a female hippo stops growing at around 25 years of age, the males appear to continue to grow throughout their lives.

And, if it got loose, don’t try to outrun it. Despite their bulk, hippopotamuses can run faster than a human on land. Estimates have put their running speed from 18 to 25 miles per hour. The upside? It can only maintain that speed for a few hundred yards. (Actually, that’s all it would need to run you down).

Peevey’s local public works department may have frowned on her having a hippo. Because of their size and their habit of taking the same paths to feed, hippos can have a significant impact on the land they walk across, both by keeping the land clear of vegetation and depressing the ground. But worse, over prolonged periods, hippos could divert the paths of streams and storm run off.

You’d also have to modify your will and make arrangements for its care. Their lifespan is typically 40 to 50 years, and could possibly outlive you. While some have been known to live longer. Bertie the Hippo, who resided at the Denver Zoo, was the oldest living hippo in captivity at age 58 years, but was euthanized in 2015 due to declining health and quality of life. Donna the Hippo, had been the oldest living hippo in captivity, but died on Aug. 3, 2012, at the Mesker Park Zoo, in Evansville, Indiana.

The oldest recorded lifespan was Tanga, who lived in Munich, Germany, and died in 1995 at the age of 61. But there are conflicting reports on Donna. Some say she was 61 years old, while others claim she was 62, which would have made her the longest living hippo in captivity in history. Until recently, Blackie, who resided at the Cleveland Zoo, was the longest living, at age 59, but died on January 13, 2014.

Now, visitors flock to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Florida, to see the oldest hippo in the Americas: Lu, which is short for Lucifer. The 60-year-old bull hippopotamus has lived at the park for almost his entire life.

Born in San Diego, California, in 1960, Lu was relocated to Homo­sassa Springs to join the Ivan Tors Animal Actors. After nearly two decades of starring in movies and television specials, Lu suddenly faced eviction from his beloved home.

So, if you really want a hippopotamus for Christ­mas, you’d better do your homework.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Who was the first boxer to defeat Muhammad Ali in a heavyweight championship fight?

Answer can be found here.

Roland’s Trivia Question for Thursday, December 23, 2021

Trivia QuestionsWho was the first boxer to defeat Muhammad Ali in a heavyweight championship fight?


Joe Frazier, at Madison Square Garden, New York, on March 8, 1971. Ali lost the epic 15-round battle in a unanimous decision on points.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Get The Facts About Fertility, Pregnancy, And COVID-19 Vaccines

by the We Can Do This COVID-19 Public Education Campaign

(NAPSI)—Questions and misinformation about the effect of COVID-19 vaccines on fertility and pregnancy have left some people uncertain about getting vaccinated if they are pregnant or hoping to get pregnant, but the facts should be reassuring.

“It’s understandable that parents and those who hope to become parents are cautious about COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr. Daniel Diekema, a hospital epidemiologist at the University of Iowa Healthcare. “However, it should be comforting to know that the vaccines are safe and effective during pregnancy. Growing data and science demonstrate that the benefits of getting vaccinated far outweigh any risks, and we have a long history with vaccines that makes it clear they do not affect future fertility.” Here are key facts about fertility, pregnancy, and the COVID vaccines:

Getting vaccinated protects you during and after pregnancy. COVID-19 can be especially dangerous for people who are pregnant or have recently been pregnant as cases during pregnancy are more likely to be severe. COVID is dangerous for the unborn child too. A recent study found COVID infections are associated with an increased risk of stillbirth. Safety monitoring systems and studies have shown that the COVID vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant, and vaccination reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Growing data continues to reinforce that the risks from getting COVID-19 at any stage of pregnancy are far worse than potential side effects from vaccines.

Getting vaccinated protects your unborn or nursing child. Data from safety monitoring systems continues to show vaccines are safe for pregnant people and their babies and getting vaccinated is much safer than contracting COVID. If you’re breastfeeding, getting vaccinated could even help protect your baby, as recent reports have shown that some breastfeeding parents have antibodies in their breast milk after they’ve been vaccinated.

COVID vaccines will not interfere with getting pregnant. No evidence exists of COVID vaccines causing problems with fertility. In a recent study, people who had gotten the COVID vaccine had the same pregnancy success rate as people who had not been vaccinated. Vaccines are carefully studied and monitored, and it is clear they are safe for people who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant. If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID vaccine. If you get pregnant after your first shot, you should get the second shot and a booster on schedule for the most protection possible.

Knowing the facts about COVID vaccines can provide confidence and comfort. Anyone with concerns should ask questions of a trusted health professional, such as a family physician, pharmacist, or nurse. The benefits of vaccination far outweigh potential risks. Vaccines are the best way of getting this pandemic under control.

For more information and to find a vaccine, visit www.vaccines.gov.

Shakespeare group prepares for tea, Macbeth

Recycled Shakespeare Company (RSC) is holding a fundraiser, A Literary Tea, on a Sunday , January 2, 2022, at 2 p.m. Enjoy hot tea and lovely desserts while listening to winter poetry, passages of prose and music performed by Recycled Shakespeare Company and Friends, in the warm and inviting hall of the historic South Parish Congregational Church, 9 Church Street, in Augusta, ME.

Tickets are $20 and make wonderful Christmas presents for a memorable day. Seating is limited, and must be reserved by December 24, so buy early. Please text or call Lyn at 207-314-4730 for tickets or send comments on the RSC Literary Tea Facebook event page. Your purchase supports free community Shakespeare theater.

If you purchase a ticket and would like to join our readers, please contact Lyn by December 19 with your selection – or we can choose for you. Pre-approved original poetry is welcome.

Meanwhile RSC is preparing to perform Macbeth, March 24 – 27, 2022, in Augusta, Dover-Foxcroft and Fairfield. All parts large and small, as well as assistants, are open for auditions; and in RSC tradition all who want a part get a part. Ages 12 to 112 are welcome to audition. Those interested in main parts may come prepared with a monologue if you choose, and group readings will also be requested. Auditions will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., on Tuesday, December 28, at the South Parish Congregational Church, 9 Church Street, Augusta, and on Wednesday, December 29, at Fairfield House of Pizza – home of Pizza and Play, 207 Main Street, in Fairfield. For more information please text or call Lyn Rowden at 207-314-4730.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Don’t avoid “taboo” topics with older parents

by Sasha Fitzpatrick

If your parents are getting close to retirement age, or are already retired, it may be time to talk with them about financial and aging issues, some of which may involve difficult conversations. For the sake of everyone in your family, don’t avoid these “taboo” topics.

You’ll need to be careful about approaching these subjects with your parents. Mention ahead of time that you’d like to talk to them about their future plans and reassure them that you want to understand their wishes, so their affairs will be taken care of as they would like.

If your parents are agreeable, choose a location comfortable for them and ask whom they might like to invite (or not invite). Then, think about how to open the conversation, preferably not with what they want to do with their money – this could be interpreted as your seeking information about your inheritance or being skeptical about their financial decisions. Instead, build a broad-based discussion about their vision for their aging years. A series of shorter conversations may allow you to cover topics more comfortably, one by one, rather than trying to solve everything at once.

Try to address these areas:

Health care – You’ll want to learn if your parents have established the appropriate health-related legal documents – a health care power of attorney, which gives someone the authority to make important decisions about their medical care if they become unable to do so themselves, and a living will, which spells out the extraordinary medical treatments they may or may not want.

Independence – As people age, they may begin to lose their independence. Have your parents considered any options for long-term care, such as a nursing home stay, or the services of a home health aide? And do they have plans in place? If they plan to receive support from family members, do their expectations match yours?

Financial goals – Focusing on the personal and financial aspects of the legacy your parents want to leave can be a valuable conversation. Have your parents updated their will or other arrangements, such as a living trust? Have they named a financial power of attorney to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated? Do they have the proper beneficiary designations on their insurance policies and retirement plan accounts? If you can position these issues as being more about your parents’ control over their financial destiny, rather than “who will get what,” you’ll more likely have a productive conversation.

Last wishes – You’ll want to find out if your parents have left instructions in their will about their funerals and last wishes. Express to them that you, or another close family member, should know who is responsible for making sure their wishes are met.

Money, independence and aging can be sensitive topics. Don’t think you have to go it alone – you can enlist help from another close family member. Or, if you know your parents are working with a trusted advisor, such as an attorney or financial professional, you could see if they’d be willing to have this person participate in your talks. You might even be able to introduce them to one of your advisors.

In any case, keep talking. These conversations can be challenging, but, if handled correctly, can be of great benefit to your parents and your entire family.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Edward Jones, Member SIPC.

Wal-mart and Wreaths Across America

photo: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

by Gary Kennedy

The history of Wal-Mart, which is now a super chain, began in 1950. Sam Walton purchased a small store from Luther E. Harrison, in Bentonville, Arkansas, calling it Walton’s (5&10) five and dime. Some of we oldtimers recall the term five and dime. Later in 1962, the Wal-Mart chain proper was formed. It started with only one store in Bentonville, Arkansas. It made its first store outside Arkansas in 1968. By 1980 they had stores in the entire southern USA. Ultimately, there were stores in every state of the USA plus its first store in Canada by 1995. The growth was fueled by mostly new store construction. Eventually, Mohr-value and Kuhn’s Big K were acquired increasing rapid growth.

Sam introduced Sam’s Club warehouse store in 1983 and its first super stores in 1988. As you can see the marketing was strategically planned almost flawlessly. By the second decade of the 21st century the chain had become a mega giant with over 11,000 stores in 27 different countries. Sam came from very poor/humble beginnings but was top notch in high school and was able to work his way through college, ROTC. Eventually, he achieved the rank of captain. The first true Wal-Mart was started in July 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. It was designed to sell only American products, as long as he could find American products being produced within a given area that could supply his entire chain, so as to beat down foreign competition.

In my opinion, Sam was a retail marketing genius. He inadvertently studied other retail chains and used the best of all in his growth plan, which obviously was a progressive one. He worked closely with a brother, James “Bud” Walton. Bud was a pilot during World War II thus both Bud and Sam took to the sky with Sam also acquiring a pilot’s license. A lot of their scouting was done aerially.

I have degrees in both retail management as well as marketing so I can see the very bountiful path Sam and Bud traveled. I wish I could have traveled it with them. Actually, there was a time that I had a very deep dislike for the Waltons because I was looking through the eyes of Zayre, Ames, Sears, K-Mart, as well. However, now that I have the mature version of this family and what they achieved and how they did it, I find it an awesome adventure in business. A man born in the boonies of Oklahoma in 1918, graduate of University of Missouri, founder of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, husband and father of four and much more. Sam started as a farmer, then Mortgage Acquisitions with (Met Life Ins). They drifted for many years. Sam became the youngest Eagle Scout in the state’s history. In adult life Sam became a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from Boy Scouts of America. He worked day and night to help his family. In David H. Hickman High School he was voted “Most Versatile Boy”. Later he attended University of Missouri as an ROTC cadet. Even then he worked odd jobs to help him and his family. Who could ask for a better son?

Sam also served as president of Burall Bible Class, a collection of religious young folks. He graduated from college in 1940 with a BS degree in Economics. He learned at an early age it was much more blessed to give than receive. Wonderful people like the Waltons should never be demeaned by arrogant politicians. We don’t judge a book by its cover. The content is where the value lies.

Sam joined the military, (Army) achieving the rank of captain in military intelligence. How could you not be proud and impressed with a young man such as this? Years ago there were many of us that disliked him because in becoming successful he all but eliminated the middle class of business. Small business would say, “How can you compete and stay in business with this caliber of adversity? Many small businesses fall by the way side as the dynamics of Sam’s approach. He bought and sold right. He negotiated a good purchase price and narrowed the margin when it came to resolve. Location was the key. Do business when, where with the correct mark-up for the products he purchased. He also kept his warehousing handy to the point of sale. His was a common sense strategy. His employees grew with him. Hard work and loyalty were rewarded with income and personal growth. So yes, I am one of them Wal-Mart shoppers and I guess we all know where that philosophy grew from. I am loyal to the entire concept and story.

The reason for this article hasn’t even been addressed yet. I am a 100 percent disabled American veteran and very proud, as Sam Walton was, to have served my country as Sam did. We both were Army. He served in intelligence and I in a medical specialty. Sam was a model person and soldier as well as a great example of a humanitarian. Through the years he and his family have supported our troops in one way or another.

This year I was honored to be part of Wreaths Across America. My wife Julie and I joined a convoy of giant Wal-Mart tractor trailers whose mission was to give and transport one million wreaths for the graves of one million of America’s finest examples of the love for this country. The convoy was to travel from here to Arlington Cemetery, in Washington, DC. The project, as I am told, is sponsored by the Worchester family. This has been going on since 1992. Morrill and Karen Worchester are a 501C-3 organization now. The wreaths are made in the Harringtom – Columbia Falls area and are the donations of individuals and organization across the country. There are 2.4 million wreaths given from Maine to Guam and every military grave in between. Harrington receives 250,000 wreaths. There is a percentage of value of the wreaths that goes to the charities of the volunteers. God Bless and be with you all through this very trying holiday. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.