SOLON & BEYOND: The Burial of Flagstaff story continues

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

Before I get into this week’s third column of the Burial of Flagstaff, I’m going to print the only recent news I have received: The August 10, 2020, Embden Historcal Society meeting has been canceled. My many thanks go out to Carol Dolan for keeping us informed.

The Burial of Flagstaff: The anxiety of waiting by Roland Hallee and Marilyn Rogers.

The dam was now under construction and the residents of Flagstaff knew the end of their quaint little town was near. Anticipating the changes that were coming, residents were saddened and serious. They were not resentful, rather, but rather bewildered. As to what they will do and where they will go, no one had a definite answer.

Outside the community the project meant work, cutting flowage, construction and after completion, more industry from storage water power.

The men of Flagstaff had always been lumbermen, rivermen and guides. Among the families who came down through the years were the Viles, the Wings, the Savages, the Hines and Taylors.

The most noted and remembered set of buildings to go was the so-called Parsons Place. A huge set of buildings built in the early 1880s by Thomas Butler and later sold to Samuel Parsons. This was a road house or old time tavern open the year around. The stage from “down river,”originating from New Portland and connecting with “up-river,” Eustis, and tied up there, lumbermen, river drivers, hunters, fishermen, guides and all who traveled the Dead River region planned to stop at the Parsons Place whenever going that way.

The Dead River was about 50 miles long. It ends at The Forks where it flows into the Kennebec River. It rises out of Chain of Ponds and watershed of the United States and Canada.

Also within the water area was the DAR market place in honor of Col. Timothy Bigelow, one of the leaders in the Arnold Expedition and the first known white man to ascend the mountain that bears his name.

Also taking place at this time was a meeting of the Flagstaff and Dead River boards of selectmen to discuss and name the desired location for the removal of their cemeteries. Eustis Ridge was the desired site.

Leroy Parsons, who was second assessor of the plantation, while referring to his own home and while pointing to the eaves of the house, grimly remarked, “They say that will be the high water mark.”

Mrs. Kenneth Taylor, a great-great granddaughter of one of the early settlers, Rufus Viles, remembered earlier happier days.”The beauty of these days, make us all realize our homes here are more precious than ever before.”

In an article in the Waterville Morning Sentinel, on March 7, 1949, columnist Clayton LaVerdiere wrote:

A gallant little town that is slated to die came out with one last, bold gesture of defiance here tonight.

As if nothing had ever happened – or ever would – some 30 of Flagstaff’ s voters conducted their annual town meeting in a business-like manner that belied the apprehehension lurking in the hearts of all.

Sitting in the the tiny schoolhouse, bronzed woodsmen and their wives studiously avoided discussing the numbered days of a community that will probably, by next March, be at the bottom of a lake….

They tackled 25 articles of the town warrant with enthusiasm, voting to keep their schoolhouse, and appropriated $1,000 for an “Old Home Day” that promises to be the biggest thing to hit Flagstaff in many a moon.

Deep in their hearts they all knew, though, that this celebration would be a colorful farewell to a town they knew so well, a town rich with the history of America’s struggles for freedom.

Voters dropped their ballots into a hat in the old-fashioned way, raised $11,368 and the called it a night.

Flagstaff had been an active, busy little town since 1865, thriving on the vast woodlands bounding it on all sides. It was established close to the banks of the Dead River, whose waters eventually would be backed up to cover the town.

Although town residents watched as 700 men were swarming over adjacent property, clearing the land for the huge project, they were still uncertain as to when the evacuation date would come.

Perry Burbank, who had just been elected to his 21st term as town clerk said, “we’ re still looking ahead as if nothing ever happened.”

Captain Cliff Wing, attending his 55th town meeting, slouched behind the tiny desk and said little. There was a gleam of sadness in the 76-year-old gentlemen’s eye. “I guess it’s a good thing in the end probably,” he said, after awhile, “but I kind of hate to leave. It’s just hard to tell where we’re goin’, what we’re going to do.”

Hilda Ames’ big job was teaching some of Flagstaff’s four high school, 14 grammar school and 22 primary grade pupils, but that night, she too, felt rather sad, “I’ don’t like it very well, she said. “I’ve always lived here. It’s hard to think of any other place to live.”

Her husband, Hazen, who owned a store on Flagstaff’s Main St. said “I wouldn’t mind if I had been younger. No one knows where to go, what to do.”

Evan Leavitt, postmaster and proprietor of the town’s general store, added “nobody likes to be forced out of their home. It’s just human nature.”

The light point of the meeting came when Perley Stevens was unanimously re-elected as road commissioner. He responded by saying he wasn’t sure he could do the job that year. (Perley Stevens was my dear uncle).

The residents now awaited the full flood of the spring runoff which once signaled the re-awakening of the lovely rural country side.

The residents of Dead River Plantation also faced the same fate. By March 1950, the highway was already flooded, thus closing forever the Dead River Road from the intersection where the new road leads to the dam at Long Falls. By this time, Bert Witham’s home had already been burned, as well as the old landmark of the highway, Parson’s Place and the old Ledge House.

By the spring of 1950 the waters of the Dead River crept slowly over a barren burned-over countryside with only a few scattered buildings, all abandoned to a watery death.

Water flowing into a 25-mile man-made water reservoir had already cut off the roads, and all the residents of Flagstaff and nearby Dead River, had moved.

And now for Percy’s memoir: People are only complete when they have a true friend to understand them, to share all their passions and sorrows with and to stand by them throughout their lives. Always remember: Don’t worry, be happy!

SOLON & BEYOND: More on the Burial of Flagstaff

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

This will be the second column written about The Burial of Flagstaff, by Roland and myself. He wrote quite a bit about the beginning of this sad happening and it starts this way…. The decision to build the dam at Long Falls had been in the planning stages for quite some time. Up to 20 years before the first tree was cut, Central Maine Power Co., in conjunction with Great Northern Paper Co. and Hollingsworth & Whitney, in Winslow, had begun buying up property in the Flagstaff area. The community was the only one of any size with an elevation low enough to be covered by the future lake.

By an act of the Legislature in 1937, the creation of the Dead River storage was authorized and the act was renewed in 1939 and subsequently, in 1941.

Maine ‘s hydro-electric output would be increased by thousands of kilowatts with the completion of the project. The Dead River storage basin contains no generating equipment at the Long Falls site, but provides additional prime capacity from the Central Maine Power Company’s five generating stations on the Kennebec River.

The storage system was increased by about 35 to 47 billion cubic feet of water, increasing the Kennebec River’s normal flow and making higher minimum flows.

The dam would act as a huge reservoir to control the flow of water into Wyman dam, as well as dams at Skowhegan, Madison, Solon, Shawmut, Fairfield, Waterville, Augusta and those along the length of the Kennebec River. The dam in Augusta has since been removed.

When completed, the dam would create a lake approximately 25 miles long and impound some 12 billion cubic feet of water. The estimated cost for the project was put at $4 million. Work began in 1949 and was was completed in 1950.

Up to that time the Dead River and its peculiarities had been controlled by one dam, a 21-gate hand-operated wooden affair. The Dead River would have been useless if it hadn’t been for that small dam. The river was a sight to be remembered after the zig-zag course, which at times runs all points of the compass. That river no longer exists as the entire basin is flooded with up to 20 feet of water.

By July 1948, the sound of axes were already in the air as the crews began to open up the area where the engineers and construction crews would build the dam. The few remaining residents sadly watched the preparations for the construction.

(I hadn’t thought it could get any worse!….. But then came all the raging fires! Can’t begin to explain what that was like! )

However, the tiny village of Flagstaff was to meet another challenge. In July 1948, forest fires broke out in the vicinity where crews were cutting in the flowage area. A Somerset County official said the Flagstaff fires were centered mainly on the Central Maine Power Co. flowage basin, sweeping unchecked through 50 acres of private timberlands. The town was threatened with complete destruction by one of three forest fires raging within sight of its main street.

At 5:30 p.m., an eye witness stated that Flagstaff “appeared doomed,” as a brisk northeast wind pushed a stubborn fire on the Eustis Road to within a half-mile of the built up section, before being checked by Flagstaff, Rangeley and state forestry department firefighters. Flagstaff was spared for the time being. ( I can remember one that was much nearer to our house than that, and our only means of escape was to cross the big bridge where the fire was close by, not a pretty sight!

At this point, Flagstaff was a town of 20 families. The people of Flagstaff had been taken by surprise, and almost stunned by the news that their homes were to be inundated as a result of the dam project. They had known for years that such a move was pending, but had gotten used to the idea, and it was always something that MIGHT happen SOMETIME in the future . Folks had heard the building of such a dam talked about for 20 years. But as time passed, it had become more or less a myth.

However, there had always been a feeling of uncertainty in everything they had done. No one attempted to establish anything permanent.

Financial arrangements were made with the property holders by the development concern, but the remaining residents were now faced with a stern reality that made them sad and homesick.

Public buildings included a fine school house, a Congregational Church, a mill, one store and the Masonic lodge.

There were many residents of Flagstaff who were born and had always lived there.

The Dead River Plantation was in a similar circumstance. Although they did not have a village, there were 27 sets of buildings in the area to be flooded.

I am sending an excerpt from a letter to the editor, published on June 29, 1948, written by a wonderful friend of mine who lived in Dead River.

To the editor:

Your recent editorial on the benefits to be received from the building of the dam on the Dead River makes me shake a wrathy fist at you people who are so in need of more hydro-power that we must sacrifice our homes and lands to it. To us who have put all our love, labor, and earnings into the lands that have been in our families for years, there can be no compensation for their loss.

It seems a sad and selfish thing when the needs of urban dwellers become so demanding as to cause, to be obliterated, two communities whose inhabitants live in greater happiness, satisfaction, and far more tranquil peace of mind than you harried city folk can imagine. (Written by Frances Taylor, who I miss very much)

I hope all of those who read this column every week are enjoying this old news about days gone by. With all that is going on in our world today, I’m going to send out a bit of information in memory of my dear cat, Percy. Hope it helps!

We need to feel more to understand others, We need to love more to be loved back, We need to cry more to cleanse ourselves, We need to laugh more to enjoy ourselves, We need to be honest and fair when interacting with people, We need to establish a strong ethical basis as a way of life, We need to see more than our own fantasies, We need to hear more and listen to the needs of others, We need to give more and take less, We need to share more and own less, We need to realize the importance of the family as a backbone to stability, We need to look more and realize that we are not so different from one another, We need to create a world where we can trust one another, We need to create a world where we can all peacefully live the life we choose.

SOLON & BEYOND: The day we had to abandon our homes in the name of progress

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

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

It has been awhile since I sat down at this computer (I had threatened to trash it from all the problems it had given me )….. But thanks to Peter it is up and running again!

As those of you know who read this column, I am very against the CMP Corridor……. and I have managed to get a few printed to the editor of the daily paper. A lot of that is due to the fact that I can remember when we had to sell our homes and move from Flagstaff (it was a very upsetting time for many of us). But……I can also remember how happy I was when Roland and I did the four part series called The Burial of Flagstaff. The following is from the first one in the series: “Like all progress, it will not be accompanied without some heartaches, for the waters to be backed up by the dam will cover the land on which is now located the little community of Flagstaff.”

Twenty-two years ago, I asked John Alden, editor of the Somerset Reporter, if he would print a story about Flagstaff. He had never heard of the place, but he did print the article which included parts of newspaper clippings of the building of the dam that flooded the area – 1949 was the year many of us headed out to a new adventure after living in Flagstaff and Dead River our entire lives.

I wonder what my life would have been like if 35 years ago we hadn’t been ordered from our homes in Flagstaff and Dead River by Central Maine Power Co. Did you ever stop to think what it would be like not to be able to go back home-town?

Like all progress , it will not be accompanied without some heartaches, for the waters to be backed up by the dam will cover the land on which is now located the the little community of Flagstaff.

In the Waterville Morning Sentinel, Tues., July 5, 1949, Eva Bachelder wrote:

The Rev. Arthur R. Macdougall Jr. called what was perhaps Maine’s most solemn Independence Day a “seeming burial.”

At this seeming burial of your little village, Rev. Macdougall said, “You the people of Flagstaff, can broadcast for all to hear that you have lived in one of Maine’s small villages beside a river, surrounded by mountains…a place where there was room to live and to work and to own ones acre… that you have the dignity of everyday freedom the like of which there is no wealth or treasure to compare.”

The words above are all taken from the first week of this four part article written by Roland and myself, Marilyn Rogers, before I became a Bull.

It continues: “I finally went back to where Flagstaff used to be … and the peace and tranquility were still there; and the strength of Mt. Bigelow towering in the distance was as comforting as it had always been in my childhood years.

Would the pace of modern-day living have reached Flagstaff? Some of us didn’t have electricity or plumbing, and yet I don’t feel underprivileged because of the pleasant memories I treasure.

The skiing and sliding on Jim Eaton Hill, skating on Flagstaff Pond in winter and swimming in summer. Everyone turned out for school socials and plays. It was a wonderful place to grow up in. But all during my childhood, every so often during the grown ups conversations, mention was made of a dam being built and having to move. The thought was intolerable, and yet it did come to pass, and in the fall of 1949 the people of Flagstaff and Dead River sadly went their separate ways..

Any homeowner, deep rooted in his own community and neighborhood, with many long-time friends, can easily realize the feelings of those about to be dispossessed. It may not be much consolation to say that the flooding of Flagstaff and Dead River is part of the price of progress long paid in the history of our national growth. First it was the Indians, who were driven off their lands to make way for the white man. At intervals since others have had to sacrifice for the benefit of the majority.”

Like all progress, it will not be accompanied without some heartaches, for the waters to be backed up by the dam will cover the land on which is now located the little community of Flagstaff. (Some of the above was printed in the Lewiston Daily Sun on July 1, 1948.)

This first article was called The Price of Progress, by Roland Hallee and Marilyn Rogers. Tucked away diagonally east of both Eustis and Stratton, in Somerset County, was once a small hamlet known as Flagstaff. The tiny village was located in a low lying area which the Dead River snaked through. Off in the distance could be seen majestic Bigelow Mountain. It was a post card picturesque community.

It received its name from the fact that Benedict Arnold on his way to attack Québec City in 1775, encamped there with his forces. They chose a tall juniper tree and created a flag pole to fly the national standard on that site. Until the demise of the town in 1950, a flagstaff always marked the spot.

Legend has it, according to family records of Isaiah Taylor and wife, that “six families had cleared land and built log houses, then came the big freshet of 1831, water coming into the houses causing the families to leave their homes and going to John Berry’s on high land. One man with a broken leg lay in his bed when Isaiah Taylor paddled right into his bedside, taking him and his bed into his log boat, and carrying them to a place safely on high land.” The log boat referred to was a hollowed tree.

It ends with this remark from guess who? Marilyn’s final comment in that article was: “With the price of electricity climbing steadily, will someone please tell me how high is the price for this thing called progress?”

SOLON & BEYOND: Alumni reunion canceled for this year

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

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

My apologies to all of you for not having any column in for several weeks. That computer of mine got more contrary than ever and refused to work, and so some of this news should have been in several weeks ago.

Received the following letter from Linda Rogers French: Dear Alumni and Friends, Because of the Covid-19 we will not be having the reunion this year as there is no way to predict if it will be safe by then. We have to make our plans now, and right now it is not safe. This will put a big dent in our scholarship fund so we are hoping that folks will still donate to the scholarship fund as we are still going to give out the scholarship and have already picked the recipients for next year. The scholarships this year will be Lilyana Aloes and Chantel Lee Whittemore.

Last year we had 54 alumni and friends attend the reunion. We made $1,020 on the auction from sales and donations. Diane Oliver Poulin was the auctioneer.

Deaths reported were Ruth Hunnewell Fluet, class of 1947, Mary Andrews Jackson, class of 1948, Odber Andrews, class of 1949, Harriet Cross Dolan, class of 1949, Issac Davis Jr., class of 1956, Jean Quimby Wooster, class of 1969. Also Clara Greenlaw and Carroll Greenlaw.

So since we won’t be able to have an auction this year if anyone would like to make a donation to the scholarship fund it would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be sent to our treasurer, Jo Rancourt Holden, 66 Parkman Hill Road, Skowhegan, ME 04976.

Please make checks payable to Solon Alumni Assn. Thank you all and let’s pray that we can all get through this that we will be able to have our reunion next year. God bless. Sincerely Linda Rogers French, Sec.

And now for some more news from the Solon School News. Please join us in saying good-bye to a special teacher, Mr. Terry Corson, who is retiring this spring.

Mr. Corson has taught 40 years, all but two of those years at Solon Elementary School. He has coached many different sports including soccer, basketball, softball, and tennis. Mr. Corson also served as lead teacher at our school for a number of years.

Mr. Corson will be remembered for his love of math, sports, teaching, and children, and his sense of humor. He always wanted students to enjoy the learning process. One of the many things that Mr. Corson will be fondly remembered is the Kitty Kats Basketball Program, which he started in 1983 at our school. This program gave all of the students who were Kitty Kats over the years a chance to develop their skills to learn team work and to have fun.

We thank Mr. Corson and wish him the best as he begins his retirement. We hope he will return to substitute or just visit with us, as he is greatly missed.

Would like to let all of you know the new shop, Simply Rustic, on the River Road, in Solon, is having an open house on July 18, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. There will be 10 percent off storewide and 20 percent off crystal jewelry.

And now for Percy’s memoir: Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. (words by Dr. David M. Burns)

Now with a fluttering heart and a great big long prayer I’m going to try to send this along to Roland!

SOLON & BEYOND: News about the Solon Community Garden

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

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

And now for more Solon town news: I was never contacted by anyone at the town office about the new Solon Community Garden but it was started a year ago. My sincere apology for not reporting about it before. I went to the Solon Town Office the other day to ask about the new building near the town office. It seems that I am way behind in reporting events going on there, but had never received anything about it to share with those who live in Solon.

The Solon Community Garden was started last year in 2019 by a group of dedicated gardeners. Deb Gerry came to the selectmen with the idea and a proposal. The selectmen and fire chief agreed to allowing the town land along Rogers Lane to be used for the garden.

They applied for and received a New Balance Move More Kids Foundation grant of $1,371.55 in 2019.

This year they applied for and received a $2,000 grant from the New Balance Move More Kids Foundation to build a 12-foot x 16-foot greenhouse on the site. The construction labor is being donated by two local builders. Other donations include a new storm door and an auto vent system. The greenhouse will have a cold frame inside to extend the growing season and other grow beds.

Volunteers are always needed and appreciated. There are also outside beds available to anyone needing a space to grow some plants. Contact Deb Geary at 643-2203 to volunteer or to ask for a space.

The above news was given to me at the Solon Town Office, and I was informed that there is an article in the 2019 Town Report on page 105.

Again, I would like to stress that I deeply appreciate and look forward to local news to share with you! ….And my apologies that I am just getting this in about the Solon Community Garden, it sounds like a wonderful project. (I must confess that I didn’t read the Solon Town Report much this year and it was the first time I have not gone to a meeting, but I had eye surgery at the time and everything was a big blur….) For others of you who didn’t see the Solon Town Report this year, there is more that I will be writing about the Solon Community Garden.

More Solon news: The Library is open to the public starting June 9 with some restrictions on the number of people allowed inside at one time.

The Solon road crew is out working on the roads and brush cutting and clipping. Please respect their safety and slow down as you drive through their work areas.

Regarding our cemeteries: There is an issue with people taking memorial objects off grave sites. Please do not take items placed at a grave site of a loved one that do not belong to you.

There will be no 4th of July parade this year. We are still undecided on the July 4th fireworks. We will decide later this month about doing them on the fourth or sometime in September.

Solon Fundraiser For Scholarship: This year Mr. Corson organized a fundraiser for a scholarship in memory of Solon custodian Jeanie Wooster, who passed away last June following a battle with cancer. Jeanie had worked as a custodian at our school for over 30 years and was very special to all of us. Mr. Corson proposed that we offer a scholarship to a graduating senior at Carrabec High School who had attended Solon Elementary School.

Mr. Corson got a big piggy bank that he displayed at every family event such as our Open House and our Christmas Program. People were invited to donate to the Jeanie Wooster Scholarship Fund by depositing money in the piggy bank.

In late May, Mr. Corson opened the bank to count the money and found that we had raised $200. The staff chose a senior to win the award, and that winner will be announced at the Awards Night at CHS this week. We will also announce the winner on our Facebook page. Thank you to all of the students and families who contributed to this scholarship fund.

And now for Percy’s memoir: My face in the mirror Isn’t wrinkled or drawn. My house isn’t dirty, The cobwebs are gone. My garden looks lovely, And so does my lawn. I think I might never PUT MY GLASSES BACK ON!

SOLON & BEYOND: Marijuana ordinance committee holds first meeting

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

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

It isn’t often that I have more local news to share than I have room for! I didn’t receive the following email until after the fact.

The Marijuana Ordinance Committee held its first meeting on June 3. They worked on drafting the town ordinance to regulate marijuana businesses in Solon.

The annual town meeting voted in a 180-day moratorium on allowing marijuana businesses in town. They have until September 3 to hold the special town meeting on a proposed marijuana ordinance. They hope to have the ordinance completed by the end of July so we can hold a public hearing the beginning of August with the special town meeting to be held at the end of August. Committee members are Jeff Pomelow, Peter Pfeiffer, Heather Forsten, Joe Albuit and Lisa Caldwell, with Wayne Gushee being an information officer.

The town office is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays with a limit of one customer or family unit at a time in the lobby area. Also, the governor has decreed that masks are required to be worn in businesses open to the public and in public buildings where social distancing is not possible.

Was very surprised and please to receive another Solon School News in the mail this week with lots of recent news to share. It starts with Best Wishes to Fifth Graders. We want to extend our best wishes and good luck to the fifth grade class, who will enter sixth grade at Carrabec Community School, in the fall.

All of us will miss our wonderful and talented fifth graders. We wish we had been able to have them with us at school all year long. They are wished the best luck in the next step on their educational journey.

Please check out our slide show farewell message to them, which will be posted on the Solon Elementary School Facebook page on Friday, June 3.

Goodbye and good luck to Izaiah Busler, Kaylynn Clark, Katelyn DeLeonardis, Kaitlin Dellarma, David Dixon, Emmy Golden, Veronica Hoffman, Alex Jerkins, Elijah Katz, Joseph McLaughlin, Craig Nile, Riley Pelkey, Jillian Robinson and Haylee Towers.

Solon staff members stay busy during school closure. Our school has been closed since March 13, but the staff members have been busy. Teachers have been preparing learning packets for their students every week as well as contacting families to check in. Some of the staff have worked at the food hub or helped to deliver packets to students’ homes. Mrs. Hines worked at CCS to prepare meals for the food hub. We hope our efforts have helped students and families during this difficult time.

Third quarter honor roll includes: All A’s and B’s, Isabella Atwood, Kaylynn Clark, Amelia Cooper, Lydia Dixon, Emmy Golden, Veronica Hoffman, Allyssa Hutchins, Alex Jerkins, Jayden McKenney, Joseph McLaughlin, Riley Pelkey, Aiden Powell, Ben Powwell, Spencer Rogers, Haylee Towers and Michael Towers.

All A’s, Maxx Caplin, Katelyn DeLeonardis, Kaitlin Dellarma, David Dixon, Lane Frost, Charlotte Hamilton and Jillian Robinson.

A letter: Dear Solon parents and guardians, The Solon staff would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to all our parents, grandparents and guardians who took on the role of “teacher” for our students when our school closed on March 13 for the remainder of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic. You helped your child complete the activities in his or her learning packet for ten weeks, and you taught him or her lots of other things about the world we live in through family activities. We know this has been a difficult time for you as well as for us.

You have been strong and you have supported the school through these hard times. For that we are immensely grateful.

We have missed our students so much this spring. School is not the same without them. We hope that with some safety protocols in place, our school will be able to reopen in the fall. We will keep you posted over the summer.

We hope that you and your families will stay healthy and safe until we meet again. If there’s anything we can do to support you, please email or call the school or your child’s teacher at any time.

Stay the strong and wonderful people that you are and have a nice summer.

And now, for Percy’s memoir: Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts. (and I think there is a lot of stress these days…try it, you might like it!

SOLON & BEYOND – Water Witching: My experience

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

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

This morning I’m going to write about Water Witching! This information is from an old yellowed bit of paper that I saved from years gone by… “Nearly every rural community in the United States has a water dowser who claims to be able to locate underground water by means of a diving or dowsing rod. The gift seems widespread or, at any rate, there are quite a few people who think (or try to persuade others to think) they possess the knack of finding water by use of a stick.

What is dowsing? Kenneth Roberts in his book Henry Gross and his Dowsing Rod gives a definition: “When certain sensitive individuals hold between their fingers a flexible Y -shaped branch with no intention of bending it, twisting it or moving it, the branch will, under certain conditions, turn downward. It bends in the hands of the individual who is holding it, even seems to turn itself with extreme force and independent of the will of the operator.

When such an individual grasping a branch or a dowsing rod, passes over a region crossed by subterranean and unknown sheets of water, the rod twists down with almost irresistible force.

Whether we accept this as fact or fiction, the art of dowsing is as old as the hills. It has been suggested that Moses had something like a divining rod in his hand when he found water in the wilderness. Such rods were a favorite subject with writers for centuries. In 1659 Gaspard Schott denounced the dowsing rod in his Magiae Universalis Naturae et Artis, proclaiming it an instrument of the devil. However, Schott seems to have had second thoughts on the matter, for some years later he wrote that people “…of great piety have used it with really marvelous results.”

Divining, or dowsing, for minerals was common, too. A large number of the Cornish tin mines are said to have been discovered by a diviner from Saxony in Elizabethan days.

There are people who refer to water dowsing as “water witching,” feeling that it is a supernatural procedure, but they are outnumbered by the skeptics who see nothing but fraud in the entire affair. These disbelievers claim that the movements of the stick are faked or they are due to unconscious muscular contractions. Dosing exponents, on the other hand, maintain that the movements are independent of the muscular control of the operator.

Would like to add a few words to the above article. I am very proud to state that I am, indeed a dowser or Water Witcher!… and I can’t explain the wonderful feeling when I first feel that stick starting to turn in my hand and point down to where the water is!…. It is beyond a miracle!

And now some news from Happyknits: In the “remaining the same” column, they are still closed to the public, but they can provide a curbside pickup or mail delivery for anything they have that your heart desires. Give them a call when they’re in the shop (Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., or contact them by email or on Facebook and they will be happy to fulfill your request.

The Maine Yarn Cruise carries on in 2020, with a new format, through September 7. Instead of traveling from shop to shop in your car, try visiting each of the participating shops virtually. There is no passport or entry fee this year, so it’s easy to participate at any level. Each shop will feature its own special event or project, and a purchase from Happyknits will give you a chance to win one of the prizes, which they’ll reveal over the summer.

And now for Percy’s memoir: LIFE: Life’s made for living, And giving and sharing, And daring and caring. Life’s made for doing, Pursuing of dreams, Sowing and growing, Whatever the means. Revealing and feeling, And finding that you Must learn how to take it, To make it come true. Along with its ups, In spite of its downs, Life’s made of losses, and crosses and crowns. (words by Grace E. Easley).

And now an extra special one from Percy….Laughing Helps…it’s Like Jogging Inside.”

Hope these few words help in this difficult time.

SOLON & BEYOND: Clarence Jones and the river drives

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

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

Now I will continue with the article in last week’s column called, Memories of a Lost Art. I tried to get a picture of the life-sized carving of a river driver done by Rodney Richards, of Rangeley. The carving was placed in a bateau which sits in front of the Dead River Historical Society Museum, in Stratton, and it was named “Clarence Jones” in honor of his many years as a river driver, and boatman on many drives.

Clarence told a story he had heard about long logs being driven down through Spencer Gut many years ago. In that part of the river cliffs go straight up 40 or 50 feet high for a mile or so and when a jam would form in there a dynamite man would be lowered by a rope and when the charge was placed he would signal to be hauled up fast. It seems that one man got a bumpy ride down one day and the guys at the top thought he had given the pre-arranged signals on the rope to be hauled up, and so he got two rides down with the same charge of dynamite.

Another quote from Salt states, “The drive was a fascinating example of man’s ingenuity, guts and daring.”

When I asked Clarence if the men saw much wildlife on the drive he told about one day when they were driving the south branch at Screwaugor Falls and they had their bateau in a little eddy, a deer ran down into the river probably being chased by a bobcat or coyotes. It jumped into the river and started to swim across but saw the men on the other side so it turned and came back and washed right into the little eddy beside their bateau. Clarence said they could have reached out and touched it before it swam back to shore.

River driving was outlawed after 1976 by the state legislature. Those who voted to outlaw river driving came to the conclusion the logs were polluting the rivers. And so came the end of an era.

My thanks again to Clarence for sharing a bit of history about the lost art of river driving.

Clarence always looked forward to the River Drive each spring. As I remember the whole episode, there was quite a bit of controversy over the whole thing, (I could be wrong.)

Griswold’s Dining Room is open again, but they are still doing curbside and take-out. Kitchen hours Sunday, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Monday – Wednesday 5 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Thursday – Friday 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Saturday 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. The store is open Sunday d7 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday – Friday 5 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Saturday 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The New Portland Library will be open the regular hours, if nothing changes with state mandates, starting June 1. There are some restrictions so please check the front door for instructions.

With that said they have quite a few new items to read and watch. All overdue items are now back to the library in the drop box; no charges apply.

The Library Club winners for June are Jean Antonucci and Alan and Kay Michka – congratulations and thank you for your support of the library.

They are hoping inter-library loans will soon commence. Please keep checking their Facebook page and the front door of the library for updates. Also, do check their Facebook page for lots of websites for learning and fun activities and sites. (Please note there are two Facebook pages for the library; please check both at New Portland Community Library.)

The summer hours at the library are Tuesday 9a.m. – noon, Wednesday 4 – 6 p.m., Thursday 1 – 3 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. – noon. You can reach them by calling 628-6561 or e-mail at

And now for Percy’s memoir: “When Words Fail,” There is a time for silence, A time for us to withdraw, From the good we’re pursuing, That we may accomplish more. There is a time to repair, To a favorite quiet nook. There is a time to desist, From words that so often fail, And turn to good example which more surely will prevail. (words by Sr. Mary Gemma Brunke).

SOLON & BEYOND: There’s a new business in town

photo: Simply Rustic Facebook page

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

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

I am so excited and happy to tell you about a wonderful, new shop that has opened in Solon. It is named Simply Rustic, at 1654 River Road, on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The phone number is 431-0028.

I was very impressed with all the many items for sale in the house where Gary and Cindy Rogers and their family lived in years ago. It was very welcoming as I went in the door, and I immediately spied something I couldn’t live without! Here is a list of some of her wares: Lamps, small furniture, signs, candles, jewelry, pip berry garlands, Boot jacks, jams, jellies, pickles, dilly Beans, New and used wraths by Wanda Blanchett.

Much USA-made large wooden sunflowers for outside, granite cheese boards, local honey, local maple syrup, stands from live edge wood, and Goats milk soaps and lotions.

Hope you will all support Cindy with her new and unusual shop!

I received an e-mail from Happy Knits in Skowhegan that says Happyknits is now open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., for phone orders and curbside pickup. Whether its yarn, needles, accessories or patterns, they will be happy to bag it up or mail it out to you. Give them a call, or contact us by email or on Facebook.

Came across an old The Carney Brook Chronicle, dated April 17, 1998, paper that I wrote for back in those days, when I was looking for things to write about now, in a world that has changed. That paper was owned by Terry Drummond and he was very good about putting in whatever I wrote.

That week it happened to be, Memories of a Lost Art, by Marilyn Rogers. The end of an era took place 22 years ago and log driving has become a lost art. It is my belief that history should be remembered as it was before progress set in with the constant rumble and roar of the big trucks now on our highways. Twelve years later I wrote a similar article for the Somerset Reporter. Perhaps there aren’t too many log drivers left in this area that will recall fond memories from these words, but it is my hope that some in the younger generation will find it interesting. The words of the wonderful book Salt say it so well: “If somebody don’t go after things like that – it’s an art that will be lost forever. There will be no remaking of it.

This story will center on river driving in the Dead River area. It started every year as soon as the ice was out, usually in late April. The drive would start on the south branch of the Dead River and it took about two weeks to put in a landing. Large cranes were used to pile the river banks high with pulp, which often extended out into the stream where the pulp wood froze together.

There were two boatmen and a dynamite man to each bateau, a small boat used in river drives, and they would have to open the stream so the pulp could begin its only one journey to the mills drown stream. This was done by poling the bateau upstream where the dynamite man would place charges of dynamite on a long pole, light the fuse and place it under the pile of wood and then get down stream quickly before it blew. It usually took two days of using dynamite before the stream was clear and what was left on land was bulldozed into the stream and then the “rear” started.

Men in the bateaus picked off the center jams and others waded in the cold water clearing pulp from the bushes along the banks . It took about three weeks to drive the south branch – this was eleven hours a day, seven days a week. The men had to work while they had water.

The south branch was all rapids with one set of rips after another except for five miles of quick, deep water and then more rapids. The north branch was also driven but it didn’t have as many rapids. Different companies did each drive. For many years there wasn’t any drive on big Spencer Stream but in the years 1957 through 1959 it was driven again. Ten thousand cords of pulp was taken out each year and two men worked every day breaking up jams when the water was low. I interviewed my stepfather, Clarence Jones, for the information in this story. (Will continue the story next week, but must leave enough room for Percy’s memoir, and here it is…:

“The more you read, the more you know, The more you know, the smarter you grow. The smarter you grow the stronger your voice, when speaking your mind or making your choice.”

SOLON & BEYOND: MCS Library newsletter ready for viewing

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

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

This morning I have some e-mails to share with you, and as always, I thank the people who send me some news.

The following is from Angie Stockwell;

Dear Readers: COVID-19 has not stopped the presses from running nationally, locally, or at the Margaret Chase Smith Library. The May newsletter is ready for viewing. Most all activity here has been done virtually and it seems that may be the “new normal” for awhile yet. Featured are the Essay Contest winners; National History Day updates; Harley Rogers’ update; links for educational resources; and the 50″ anniversary of Senator Smith’s Second Declaration of Conscience. Here’s the link:

Stay safe, social distance, and be well, Enjoy!

The other e-mail I received last Friday is from Happyknits store, in Skowhegan, and it starts: Good Morning, Yarn Friends! We’re trying a few new things as we adapt to the world around us. One of those new things is a weekly newsletter offering some ideas of how to keep our collective spirits up until we can see each other face-to-face again. Another “new” thing is that we will be in the store on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., to provide you with curbside service or phone help. We can also pack things up and put them in the mail for you. We’ll be featuring some kits and yarn, and starting a knit-along on Ravelry.

By their very nature, knitters are people that look forward to what is still to come. We think Casapinka’s Breathe and Hope shawl is the perfect project for knitting optimism into your day. We will be starting our own Breathe and Hope Knit-Along on our Happyknits Ravelry Group which began May 8, and we hope you will connect with us and your Happyknits friends by joining the group. We’ve got some kit options available here at the store or we can put something together for you if you have a special request.

Have been trying to organize all the items I have saved during my many years of writing for different papers and came across some more clippings that I had cut out. I also took the pictures for some of the articles. Don’t know which paper this one was in; but the headline caught my attention … Solon couple saves Canadian! By Marilyn Rogers, Solon Correspondent. Solon: Late Friday night, Nov. 30, Larry and Wanda Blanchet were returning home and met a large Canadian truck on the bridge in Solon. Larry glanced in his rear view mirror after they passed and saw fire and sparks coming out from under the truck.

Thinking of the safety of the driver, he hurriedly drove to the Solon Superette and turned around, then raced back through town trying to catch the truck. The truck was rolling right along but the Blanchets caught up with it the other side of River Road and by flashing his lights Larry got the Canadian driver to stop.

Larry was able to converse and got it across that the guy’s truck was on fire. They got the fire extinguisher from the truck and used that all up and the fire still persisted, so Larry went to the home of Gary Davis nearby and got water, finally extinguishing the blaze.

A wheel bearing had caught on fire and oil kept the blaze going: it got so hot the tire exploded.

The Blanchets brought the Canadian back to the home of Wanda’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Clayton Adams, where he called his boss in Québec. There was a picture of the couple who had helped the Canadian with that awful situation, and thankfully no one was hurt.

And now for Percy’s memoir; Think on this a bit this week; How to live a hundred years happily: Do not be on the outlook for ill health. Keep usefully at work. Have a hobby. Learn to be satisfied. Keep on liking people. Meet adversity valiantly. Meet the problems of life with decision. Above all, maintain a good sense of humor, best done by saying something pleasant every time you get a chance. Live and make the present hour pleasant and cheerful. Keep your mind out of the past, and keep it out of the future. Hope you have a wonderful week.