IF WALLS COULD TALK: The Invention of the Doughnut Hole

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WHOOPS, walls, I’m not sure if you can talk about this or not, since it is invisible, sort-of. Yes, I just had breakfast and I ate the hole of Mrs. Dunster’s doughnut!

This is for you, faithful readers and WALLS, because I found information about the doughnut hole in my files. Georg Smith wrote it long ago in his column and, just like you, WALLS and faithful readers, he and I have been enlightened. You see, the hole-in-the-doughnut was invented.

Yup, it was invented by a 16-year-old young man by the name of Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory. O.K., WALLS, I can hear you laughing now! Invented? Well, according to the article, that doughy fried doughnuts were so dense and filling that the folks at work were slowed. But that isn’t the end of the story, faithful readers. You see, six men who had the absolutely delicious morsels, fell overboard, and being lethargic, they sank and drowned. And here’s one for you who like “new names for old favorites,” the doughnuts were called “greasy sinkers.” That is when Gregory got the idea to cut out the center of his ‘sinkers’ to make them lighter. Now, the town of Rockport, Massachusetts, has honored Gregory with a plaque at the place of his birth.

Now, WALLS, since you are on the subject of frying, do you remember my telling faithful readers in The Town Line last week that Attorney Robert Washburn is chairman of Governor Abner Coburn Day on March 22, and that ALL are invited to celebrate Maine’s governor who gave so much to so many? Well, Washburn is a very famous name in Maine history. The Washburn brothers, of Maine history, grew up in poverty but attained remarkable achievements. WALLS will tell you more about them in another column, faithful readers, as another time, you will hear about the name Washburn, as the brothers were once the owners of what you women know well…General Mills!

So, faithful readers, WALLS can be seen on The Town Line’s website, townline.org. Oh, and another ‘find’ while searching. “Happiness is like Jam…You can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself!”

Honoring Abner Coburn in Skowhegan on March 22, 2018

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, faithful readers, we’re having a party and you and your friends are invited!

March 22 is the date. Why? Well, we of the Skowhegan Heritage Council and you will celebrate our Maine Governor Abner Coburn’s birthday! He was born on March 22, 1803, and the Skowhegan selectmen made this Declaration:

“In honor of all that Abner Coburn has done for the Town of Skowhegan and state of Maine and the exemplary life he lived, the Selectmen for the Town of Skowhegan have proclaimed have proclaimed March 22 forevermore to be Abner Coburn Day!”

There is a booklet about Abner Coburn, but WALLS, you surely don’t have to copy all of it. It does begin with his family history, but most important is the fact that his mother was Mary Weston and his father was a farmer and surveyor. You are right, WALLS. Abner grew up on the Back Road, received some education at the Pitt School ant then the family relocated to Bloomfield (the south side of the Kennebec River and Skowhegan’s name at one time). In Bloomfield, Abner attended Bloomfield Academy until he was 14 years of age and his father, Eleazer, felt that Abner and his brother, Philander, should leave their formal education and he would teach them surveying. Abner and Philander grew very wealthy and owned thousands of acres of land and tree growth and as a logger, Abner obviously valued education, as he gave so much to schools and colleges throughout the U.S.

Abner built the mansion on Main Street Hill in Skowhegan in 1848 and he and Philander lived there, Philander died in 1876 and Abner lived there all his life.

That brings us to the many positions of the man who became Maine’s governor. Actually, WALLS, because of space and word-count, I will leave much of this for our faithful readers to read at their libraries, but the fact that Governor Coburn stood beside Abraham Lincoln, as he took his oath of office when elected president, Wow! We surely had a famous governor.

Yes, all of us of the Skowhegan Heritage Council hope to see you at the Skowhegan Free Public Library and we will serve dessert. As a matter of fact, we will serve you cookies that Mary Marston, who lived in the Coburn mansion on Skowhegan’s Main Street Hill. The Marston family had four children who grew up there and, years ago, Lakewood stars visited the Marston’s often.

See you on March 22, as you will learn much of our Governor Coburn, as we celebrate him at 4 p.m.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of March 8, 2018

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS we sure did get a wonderful view as we approached Madison by way of the Madison Road last week, didn’t we? Yes, we had it all, past being the view and new being the field of blue solar panels near Madison Electric’s building. Then, WALLS, you reminded me of the birds that we passed on the road as they perched at the tip-top of the trees. Those birds sure do get the view without reading any ads about visiting our wonderful state of Maine, as they perch themselves on our tree tops.

Yes, WALLS, that is another way of appreciating our birds of a feather. Last week our faithful readers had a crow that talked to folks in Waterville and this week we
are talking about birds in our tree tops. Y’know, we’ll have our birds in all places soon. Actually, the birds (yes crows), squirrels (both grey and red) that have chosen the food in our birdfeeders have been joined by deer! Yes, there are two young deer that come to our bird feeders during the day lately. Yes, there are pictures of them, with their heads in the feeders to prove that their life is saved by the birds’ food. We are so proud of that.

Now, switching gears…I just have to tell you, faithful readers, about the center-piece on our kitchen table. Hanging on the wall is the photo that granddaughter Roxie Pine sent to us when she was in, yes, Antarctica! She was with a group of marathon folks and waving our American flag proudly. Actually, she expected to take her talents as a computer technician to California soon! Yes, Dad Ray Pine taught his daughter and son, Leigh, well about not being afraid to try everything, and they do. And mom, Lynn, was a do-it-herself person. Yes, I will never forget her saying ‘do it MEself.’

Well, WALLS, enough of my smart kids and, now, it is time to tell everyone that, by the time our faithful readers read this, our Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce F.A.B.

Fair will be wrapping up until next year. True, the event used to be called Getting to Know You Fair and, the late Herb Paradis was chairman of it.

My, that was a long time ago! WALLS do you remember when Henry’s Hardware was on Chestnut Street in our great town of Skowhegan? Yes, Henry had a drawing for a milk can that had been painted green. Paint that Henry’s sold. Actually, when the first event was held, there was a brutal snow storm, but people kept coming and coming. Probably, because, in those days, this was something to do on a stormy day! How times and activities have changed! Yes, it was at the Getting to Know You Fair that we saw TV for the first time, But the Rebekahs still hade fundge the old-fashioned way.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Though lost in construction, library still serves the people

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, here’s a good one for you! History? Well, I watched the crows flying in the trees and thought of the crow that used to perch on a street post in Waterville and, yes, literally would say, “hi” to folks passing by. I guess the policeman who found the bird that had been wounded taught it to say ‘“hi.” Well, that was a long time ago, but those who remember must have a smile at the thought.

Yes, that was a happening in Waterville about 70 years ago. Now, as Stephen Aucoin recently wrote to the editor of the Morning Sentinel, downtown Waterville is changed, but the Waterville Public Library, though lost in the high rising new buildings, still stands ready to serve the people and the award for community service given to it. Certainly, those who faithfully work there are proud to say “we did it.”

WALLS, do you remember my giving the book that I wrote…Two Birds in a Box,” to the librarian at the time? Mr. Dee, the dad of the Denis family, grew up in Waterville and was a graduate of Colby College. Now, Colby College is the library’s neighbor! Yes, faithful readers, times do change!

Y’know, WALLS, Maine has wonderful colleges and even those have grown in number. Many of my grandkids have attended University of Maine. Yes, when I think of Colby’s first having been on College Avenue in Waterville and then moving to Mayflower Hill and now expanding to downtown Waterville and Maine’s, once, Abner Colburn contributing to Maine education and his name having been placed on so many college buildings in this grand state of Maine, WALLS, you must be proud that this was a Skowhegan man who was educated at Bloomfield School (which was still a school until SAD #54 came into view). Yes, little wonder that Attorney Robert Washburn, a member of Skowhegan Heritage Council, proposed that the council have a Governor Abner Coburn Day on his March 22 birthday. Faithful readers, Abner Colburn was a famous man who had an education until he was 14 years of age, He lived in Bloomfield (South side of the Kennebec River in what is now Skowhegan). He did much for education worldwide and had a mountain near Jackman named for him.

Yup, and here we are, back with libraries again, faithful readers. Gov. Abner Coburn gave funding that made the Skowhegan Public Library possible. Proudly, the Skowhegan Heritage Council with Attorney Robert Washburn as chairman, will celebrate our famous governor’s birthday at the Skowhegan Public Library at 3 p.m., on Thursday, March 22, 2018.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: East Madison Historical Society on the move

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, did you realize that East Madison is on the move? I attended the East Madison Historical Society meeting yesterday and, WOW, I was surprised about what had happened while I was away.

The meeting had President Gary Malbon at the helm and also attending were Lena Arno (Treasurer) and Katherine Edgerly (Secretary). Other members present were Eric and Sue Lahti, Alfred Jackson, Patty Clement, our faithful plow-man for Laney Road Arthur Mcmannus and Laura, plus Lew and I.

Did you faithful readers know that we are just a few of East Madisonites who are proud of our little community. You do remember WALLS telling you that East Madison was the first Madison and it had seven manufacturers, prior to the paper mill’s having been located in what is now Madison. Yes, the Cummings Mill is still operating, but in Guilford. And speaking of the Cummings family, King was the one who started the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. The ‘late King’ is surely missed by all who have an interest in the arts, but his dream of the art school is still alive and well with students in summer.

O.K. faithful readers, WALLS will tell you about the East Madison Historical Society’s being on the move. You must came to see our Museum which is next to the East Madison Fire Hall and the new farm museum that is next to it. As a matter of fact, the East Madison Historical Society just received a Grant from Stephen and Tabatha King! Wow! The membership has also received 501(c) (3) status. And, we of this little community sponsor so many things throughout the year, making us money to do good deeds with.

True, we used to have a grocery store and the location has become a Memorial Park, but there is much history here! Yes, we hope tourists and all local folks will come to our wonderful town of East Madison. Yes, it will be a “learning experience.” Remember, faithful readers, that WALLS told you that history is not a science, but a story that happened.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Remembering step-grandmother as a caregiver

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, there is so much for you to tell our faithful readers today! Where do you want to start? O.K., we’ll start with what happened to me this noon. First, I’ll say that my step-grandmother, Lucetta Russell, who lived on a farm in Sidney, had lost her first husband in a farm accident and, to earn funds for raising her own family, she offered to take care of state children. She was a wonderful caregiver, teacher, and the Waterville hospitals soon sent the babies to her as they waited to be adopted. Yes, and she and my grandfather, Lewis Whittier Russell, met and married. Along came a little boy named Johnny, who became the newlyweds’ pride. Well, time went on and Johnny became old enough for a haircut. Afterward, he said he had a “new head.”

Now, 75 years later, I had a haircut at Designs this noon and told Angie who cut my hair the story of Johnny and, thanks to her, I had a “new head.” Yes, it had been a long time since my going to Designs, but thank goodness for Angie who knew exactly what to do. She hadn’t forgotten what I liked. Well, that brings me to saying how wonderful Designs has been to me through the years.

Yes, the years since Mary Ellen Carpenter started and named the place where Mr. Merriam had lived. Who was Mr. Merriam? Well, he and his daughter and her son, Robert Hooper, who was in my class in school, lived there, as his name was really Rev. Merriam and that house was the Bethany Baptist Church Parsonage. And there is more, WALLS. Yup, my mom and dad were married by Rev. Merriam in front of the fireplace, which is in the same room that I got my “new head” thanks to Angie. My aunt and uncle, Pat and Birdena Mullen, where also married there. So, faithful readers, that is your history lesson for the day. Thank the owner of Designs for making the house one of fond memories for many reasons.

Oh, and Valentine’s Day is past, but hope yours was a very happy one!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of February 8, 2018

by Katie Ouilette

Well, WALLS, you sure know when to do the right thing! Surely our faithful readers were happy to receive your message, after our ice storm. The yards of our faithful readers may be cluttered with branches and all that goes with them, as our yard is. Now, those branches and green-things which they held are waiting as we are for Spring clean-up to begin! Actually, this column is being written on Ground Hog Day, as we went to Augusta yesterday. Yup, TV had the folks from Pennsylvania in their dress-up outfits, including tall hats, this morning showing us the ground hog of the day.

And, faithful readers, do you remember WALLS telling you all about finding stuff in my stuff? Well, here is a saying that was saved a while ago. “History is not a science, but a story that happened as we call up the past.” Well, that started you thinking, for sure, WALLS. Did I say that we went to Augusta yesterday? Well, actually, Lew and I went to Togus so that his hearing aid could be adjusted. I sat in the truck, as usual, but thought about Togus and all that it has meant to so many since its inception during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

Imagine it, faithful readers. Imagine how many have been hospitalized since the Civil War and, as I sat in our Nissan pick-up truck, I saw veterans of all ages going to what is now the outpatient offices. Some had their drivers with them, because of their conditions. Yes, Togus was a very busy place with folks walking to their office-destinations and then some walking back to their automobiles with medications in white bags that had been given to them. Y’know, faithful readers, there is so much said about the care our veterans of all ages, male and female, are given in our U.S.A., but we in Maine can be very proud that our men and women, old and young, are well taken care of in Maine.

That brings another saying that you found when you helped me sort through my stuff, WALLS. Of course, we know it already, but the saying is, “there’s a genuineness about people in Maine that is hard to find in other places.” Well, blame can be attributed to George Smith, who tells us that we are so lucky to live in Maine, but WALLS, you and I, too, know that Maine is the best place to live and do business and be neighborly.

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Native Americans originally from Asia

Katie Ouilette WallsIF WALLS COULD TALK

by Katie Ouilette

Well, faithful readers, WALLS has definitely appreciated your concern about not having you to read in last issue of The Town Line. I think I typed and sent as always, but weather surely got in the way! Yes, we had ice, ice and more ice! Oh, well, it’s Maine and we recently read that Maine is a wonderful place to live, as it is too small to be a big town and too big to be a small town and everyone is a neighbor to each other. Nice and that is why I’m back to Maine twice!

Yes, I’ve also told you faithful readers that East Madison used to have seven industries and a boat that delivered mail to folks who lived on Lake Wesserunsett in summer and, yes, took folks to the trolley that was at Lakewood. Well, faithful readers, I sure did find a lot of history in my ‘stuff’ and will share it with you as time goes on.

What else did I find? Well, I found an incredible history of the first people to live in these borders when reading something that was printed on January 4, 2018.

WALLS, did you know that our Native Americans were originally from Asia? It seems there was, once, a Beringia. What’s a Beringia? Well, didn’t look the word up in the dictionary, because the article said it was, in its day, an earthen connector between Asia and North America. How did the discovery begin? Well, scientists found the body of a baby girl and her DNA told the scientists that they had made a great discovery! That Baringia enabled those who became the first Native Canadians and Americans a way to migrate south and east and ultimately set up their homes even in Africa (yes, if you studied history in school as I did, you know that our continents were connected at some place or at some time.)

Well, faithful readers, I think I’ve run out of space for this column, but never fear, there is a lot more information that will fascinate you. Yes, last week, I quoted a thought that our Senator Margaret Chase Smith had for us in Maine. Thanks for missing WALLS and the phone calls and maybe time will allow our senator’s thoughts to appear when WALLS TALK to you another time.

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

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

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

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

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

WALLS will be back next week, faithful readers!

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of January 11, 2018

by Katie Ouilette

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

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

pileated woodpeckers (wikimedia commons)

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

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