Covers towns roughly within 50 miles of Augusta.
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Recycled Shakespeare Company (RSC) will hold auditions for their upcoming play Richard III on Sunday, November 26, 5 to 7 p.m., at South Parish Congregational Church, in Augusta, and Monday, November 27, 5 to 7 p.m., at Fairfield House of Pizza, in Fairfield.
Auditions will consist of individual and group cold readings, but you may come with a memorized piece if you wish. If anyone would like to audition but cannot do so at these times, please call 314-4730 in advance to discuss alternatives. All parts will be offered by Friday, December 1. RSC also seeks people to do tech and stage work, costuming, props, and concessions. Please come to audition or call to join the crew. People of all skill levels and abilities are invited to participate with this grassroots community theater company.
The play will be performed in Fairfield, Waterville, and Augusta, February 23 through 25. Table Read will be 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, December 21, at Fairfield House of Pizza. All actors are responsible for learning their lines before Blocking rehearsals begin on Saturday, January 6. Rehearsal schedule is basically Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m., in Augusta, and Wednesday 5:30 to 8 p.m., in Fairfield.
Richard III is the tragic story of a tyrant who rises to power through his cunning charm which does not stop at murder. “Plots are laid” as characters build alliances, break the bonds of friends and family, and strive to maintain the kingdom as England nears the end of the brutal War of the Roses. One of Shakespeare’s often performed plays, this production by RSC is reduced to 90 minutes with script editing by Becca Bradstreet and a directorial team of Lyn Rowden, Shana Page, and Murray Herard.
For more information contact 207-314-4730 or see, like and follow Recycled Shakespeare Company on Facebook.
Here is Earl H. Smith’s introduction to Martin Keyes in Smith’s Downeast Genius, beginning with a comparison to the inventor profiled in this series two weeks ago.
“Like Alvin Lombard, Martin Keyes (1850–1914) was blessed with an inquisitive and clever mind, but unlike his burly tractor-making neighbor, Keyes was a diminutive and fastidious man. He kept a diary every day, and it was his thorough way that led him to claim an invention that established one of Maine’s most successful international industries.”
Keyes’ profile in the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame, in Appleton, Wisconsin, says he was born Feb. 19, 1850, in Lempster, New Hampshire. Smith wrote that he first worked in his father’s sawmill, then established his own business making “sleighs and carriages.”
The Hall of Fame and other sites credit young Keyes with designing a furniture line (called “exquisite”) and “a new type of fishing reel” that he used the rest of his life. An on-line site says he kept a pad and pencil by his bed in case he thought of an invention during the night.
Smith and the Hall of Fame disagree on where Keyes got the inspiration for his major invention, and neither provides a date. Smith wrote that while working at “a veneer mill in upstate New York,” he saw workmen eating lunches off thin scraps of veneer and came up with the idea of making disposable plates out of molded pulp.
His first efforts using veneer failed, Smith wrote. Later, Keyes became superintendent at Indurated Fiber Company, in North Gorham, Maine; it was there, the Hall of Fame writer said, that he got the idea of making the plates from molded pulp.
Both sources agree he began figuring out how to manufacture his disposable plates at Indurated, “with the support of his employer,” Smith added. After “several years of experimenting,” he designed a machine that would make the plates.
The section on the Keyes Fibre Company in the Fairfield history offers a third version of the story. According to that writer, Keyes became Indurated’s superintendent in 1884, and the North Gorham company already made “tubs, pails, and small pressed pulp ware.” When the North Gorham mill burned, Keyes transferred to another Indurated facility in northern New York, which was where he saw workmen eating off veneer chips from nearby plants.
Two historians again offer conflicting views of what happened when Keyes tried to patent his machine. In the version in the Fairfield history, a “large paper manufacturer in eastern New York” offered him $100,000 to build a machine to make plates from pulp.
In 1902, Smith said, Keyes had the first machine manufactured, at Portland Iron Works (in Gorham, he had worked with a man associated with the company). Smith described it: “With flailing arms that hissed and groaned as they rotated through a process of dipping, drying, ejecting, and packaging, the finished apparatus resembled the complicated contrivances of the cartoonist Rube Goldberg.” (See box.)
The Fairfield history say the upstate New York paper company “tried to claim the patent.” Smith’s version is that when Keyes applied for a patent, he learned that another worker had “stolen his idea” and already patented it.
The two versions reach the same conclusion: Keyes went to court and, after extended litigation, won. In Smith’s book and in an undated on-line history of the Keyes Fibre Company, written by the eminent local historian Dean C. Marriner, Keyes’ daily diary provided the evidence to convince a jury that he had done the work to design the machine and therefore earned the patent.
His next problem, the Fairfield historians wrote, was to find capital to start a factory. Eventually he connected with a Fairfield company, Lawrence, Newhall and Page, which ran lumber mills. This company had at Shawmut “one grinder installed already for the production of mechanical pulp.”
Keyes built “a small shack” on the side of the grinder building and built one experimental machine (Smith wrote that he rented space in the Shawmut plant). On Nov. 2, 1903, the Fairfield history says, the company he named Keyes Fibre started production, with that single machine.
The Hall of Fame writer said the first shipment of “pulp molded pie plates” went out in 1904 (other writers add that this sale led local residents to call the manufactory “the pie plate”).
Multiple sources credit a local man named Bert Williamson with helping Keyes get his plant up and running. Marriner wrote, “Williamson was at the inventor’s side when the first shipment of a carload of molded pulp pie plates, for the use of bakers, left the Shawmut plant on June 24, 1904.” Williamson remained with the company for two decades after Keyes’ death.
In 1905, the Fairfield history says, Keyes built “a small plant” with four machines. Smith wrote that early production was 50,000 plates daily, without explaining whether he was talking about one machine or four.
However, the Hall of Fame site says, Keyes’ plates were priced higher than competing products, described on-line as “stamped paper plates.” In early 1905, Keyes closed his plant for several months.
He acquired new investors, including his landlords, Lawrence, Newhall and Page, added more of his own money and reduced prices to restart production. After the April 18, 1906, San Franciso earthquake and fire, demand increased – one buyer ordered an entire carload of plates.
But then, Marriner wrote, Lawrence, Newhall and Page sold the pulp mill. The new owners let Smith continue to use their facility, but they sold within a year to another company not interested in wood products, forcing Keyes to relocate.
Keyes considered sites in Maine and elsewhere. Marriner said he and Williamson checked out possibilities in upstate New York over the 1907 Labor Day weekend, attending a parade in which many of the marchers were drunk.
Keyes, a Prohibitionist, reportedly said to Williamson, “Bert, you and I could never use that kind of labor.” (Smith located this incident in Portland, writing that when Keyes visited the city, “he was dismayed to find many drunken workers.”)
Keyes moved to Waterville, buying “a site immediately north of Lombard’s tractor factory” (per Smith) on the east side of what is now College Avenue.
Here he built what Marriner called “a modest brick building, which turned out its first plates on Sept. 20, 1908, and is still the nucleus of the giant plant that now stretches half a mile along the roadway,” partly in Waterville and partly in Fairfield. The plant, since 1999 owned by and called Huhtamaki, produces “a variety of pulp-molded products.”
Keyes died Nov. 18, 1914, in Fairfield. By that time, according to a Dec. 2, 1914, obituary in a New York weekly journal of the pulp and paper industry called simply Paper (found on line), Keyes Fibre could produce almost two million pie plates every 24 hours, providing an estimated “four-fifths of all the pie plates used in the United States and Canada.”
Your writer was unable to find personal information about Keyes except in the obituary. It recapped his career and said that survivors included his mother, Mrs. L. A. Gilmore, of Holyoke, Massachusetts; his widow, Jennie C. Keyes; two brothers, in Minnesota and New York; a sister in Holyoke; and a daughter, Mrs. George G. Averill.
Another source says Mrs. Averill’s first name was Mabel. Keyes’ son-in-law, Dr. George Goodwin Averill (1869 – 1954), took over the management of the company.
Keyes is recognized by Keyes Memorial Field (now Keyes Memorial Athletic Fields), on West Street, in Fairfield. The Fairfield history says his widow gave it to the town on Oct. 1, 1938.
* * * * * *
If Frank Bunker Gilbreth’s name sounds familiar, it might be because two of his 12 children, Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Moller (Gilbreth) Carey, wrote a “semi-autobiographical novel” titled Cheaper by the Dozen, published in 1948. Cheaper by the Dozen was made into a movie in 1950 and has been variously adapted since.
The real Frank Bunker Gilbreth was born July 7, 1868, in Fairfield. He was the son of John Hiram Gilbreth (born in Augusta in 1833, died in Fairfield in 1871) and Martha (Bunker) Gilbreth (born in Maine about 1834, died in Montclair, New Jersey, about 1920), and the brother of Mary Elizabeth Gilbreth, born in Fairfield in 1864 and died in Brookline, Massachusetts, Aug. 8, 1894.
His main claim as an inventor, in Smith’s view, was as an efficiency expert. An on-line site called him “The Father of Management Engineering.”
Gilbreth started, Smith wrote, by graduating from Boston English High School and declining to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology in favor of becoming a bricklayer’s apprentice.
After 1895, Smith wrote, Gilbreth was “a self-employed general contractor” who built “mills, dams and power plants” in the United States and Europe. “Along the way, he invented a number of building tools and machines including a safety scaffold for bricklayers, conveyors, and an improved concrete mixer.”
Managing so many projects “led him to formulate the first cost-plus-fixed sum contract and to develop a number of systems to reduce waste, monitor work progress, and improve the productivity of his workers.”
In 1904, Gilbreth married a psychologist, Lillian Evelyn (Moller) Gilbreth (1878 – 1972). She worked with her husband on time and motion studies; the two “built a reputation as efficiency experts.”
Gilbreth died June 14, 1924, in Montclair, New Jersey. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered over the Atlantic.
A gravestone in Fairfield’s Maplewood cemetery has his and Lillian’s names and dates. His parents and sister are also buried there.
Rube Goldberg machine
Born in San Francisco July 4, 1883, Goldberg earned an engineering degree at University of California, Berkeley, Class of 1904. He began his career as a sports cartoonist in California and moved to New York City in 1907, where he earned fame as a cartoonist for various newspapers and other publications.
Goldberg and his wife, Irma Seeman (married in 1916) had two sons, Thomas and George (who both changed their last names to George). Goldberg died Dec. 7, 1970.
Goldberg’s cartoons won several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1948. Wikipedia says he was one of the founders and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society (1946), whose annual award is named the Reuben Award.
On-line sites say the 2023 Reuben Award winner is Bill Griffith (full name William Henry Jackson Griffith), of New York City, best known as the creator of the “Zippy” comic strip.
Fairfield Historical Society Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Smith, Earl H., Downeast Genius: From Earmuffs to Motor Cars Maine Inventors Who Changed the World (2021).
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden announced that Maine has been awarded more than $38 million in funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP) in 2024.
“Over 45,000 Maine households rely on LIHEAP to stay safe and warm during the winter,” said the Maine Delegation. “With home heating prices set to remain at near record levels in the coming months, it’s essential that this assistance continues to get to the families that need it most. Securing these resources has been a shared priority, and we remain committed to that mission so hard-working Maine families have one less thing to worry about as temperatures drop.”
Alongside $36 million in regular block grant appropriations, over $600,000 of the FY 2024 funding will come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that the delegation championed and that Senator Collins negotiated with 9 of her colleagues.
Last year, Senator Collins and Representative Golden successfully led efforts to secure a total of $6.1 billion for LIHEAP in FY 2023.
Nationwide, an estimated 6 million households receive assistance with heating and cooling costs through LIHEAP, including over 45,000 Maine households. LIHEAP is administered by states and accessed through local Community Action Agencies. Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.
Guarino, who was the associate director for the Maine Sports Commission and former community relations director at Snow Pond Center for the Arts, in Sidney, has 25 years of tourism, community relations, and event experience in Maine. He currently chairs the Kennebec Valley Tourism Council and has operated Maine Wilderness Tours since 1996.
Guarino is a graduate of Thomas College, in Waterville, with a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in marketing/management.
This new position will work with event organizers to secure the Mid-Maine region as their destination for a variety of events and conferences while developing and implementing strategies to engage local businesses.
Mid-Maine Chamber President and CEO Kimberly Lindlof said of Guarino, “Mike brings a vast knowledge of event and tourism expertise, destination management experience, and business connectivity to our team. We are excited to have a point person here at the Chamber to roll out the red carpet for event organizers interested in bringing their activities to our region. Staff and volunteers alike are pleased to welcome him onboard.”
This October, Sheepscot Valley Health Center staff is happy to welcome Kristina Mont, LCPC, to their professional healthcare team.
Mont earned her master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Monmouth University, in New Jersey. She previously earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northern Arizona University. Mont’s wealth of professional counseling experience includes substance use counseling, group therapy, and family therapy. She will apply this diverse skillset to her work at Sheepscot.
Mont shares, “I love the saying, ‘We don’t grow when things are easy – we grow when challenged’. Every one of us can use help navigating life’s challenges. I’m a firm believer in maintaining our emotional and physical wellness to avoid ‘dis-ease’, so I’m excited to be joining the HealthReach team. HealthReach uses a holistic approach to treatment and is dedicated to improving the lives of community members. It is very fulfilling to meet someone where they are and watch them gain confidence and courage to become the person they want to be. When a person is feeling stuck or is ready to make changes, I offer my support.”
Mont joins the existing Sheepscot clinical team in Coopers Mills: doctors, Ann Schwink, Daniel Keane, and Kathryn Wistar; physician assistants, Brooke Perez, Anna Simmler, Craig Urwin, and Zachary Wissman; and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Melanie.
Race horses and work horses
Some of the central Kennebec Valley agricultural pioneers chose to breed racehorses, specifically trotters, instead of, or in addition to, the cattle discussed last week. For example, Kingsbury mentioned in the chapter on Waterville in his Kennebec County history that George Eaton Shores, of Waterville, who bred Hereford cattle, “also handled some horses, selling in 1879 the race horse Somerset Knox for $2,700.”
The April 2016 lead article in a publication called Fishermen’s Voice: News and Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine, written by Tom Seymour and found on line, offers historical information on Maine horse racing.
Seymour gave three reasons for the interest in breeding and racing horses in the latter half of the 19th century.
First, he said, by then “technological innovation made farming more efficient,” giving farm families time for recreation. Second, since many farms had horses, “it was only natural to employ these animals in something other than work-related activities.”
The third factor Seymour cited was “the new and hopeful attitude of Americans coming out of the dark days of our Civil War. Returning soldiers and their families needed something to belong to, to feel good about.”
Simultaneously, he wrote, farmers’ organizations began putting on agricultural fairs in late summer and early fall. Therefore, “Maine’s fairgrounds included not only buildings where people exhibited new, perfectly-shaped and sometimes giant vegetables and flowers, but also raceways.”
An on-line source says horses in the first trotting races were “under saddle,” but soon they were “in harness,” pulling first a wagon, then a two-wheeled sulky and as the sport developed, a bike sulky, the light-weight, two-wheeled single-seat cart still used today.
Seymour wrote that there were more than 100 Maine trotting parks during the post-Civil War decades, enough so that “horse owners were able to go from one trotting park event to another, with little time left in between.” With prizes for winning races and publicity that led to stud fees, owning a good trotting horse became financially rewarding, as well as a source of pride and prestige for breeder and owner.
Your writer was unable to learn more about the horse named Somerset Knox mentioned above, except that he was one of many descendants of General Knox, described in an 1895 issue of the Eastern Argus (Portland) as Maine’s most famous horse. General Knox was owned for 14 years by Col. Thomas Stackpole Lang, of Vassalboro, another area farmer who bred both cattle and horses.
A register of American Morgan horses found on line says that General Knox, also known as Slasher, was born in June 1855, in Bridport, Vermont (a town at the south end of Lake Champlain), and died July 29, 1887, in Trenton, New Jersey. He is described as “black with star and snip, nose, flanks and stifles brownish, 15 ½ hands and weighed 1050 pounds.”
(The world-wide web says a star is a white mark on a horse’s forehead between the eyes; a snip is a white patch on a horse’s nose; a stifle is a hip joint; and a hand equals four inches.)
Lang bought General Knox in January 1859, for $1,000. He was used primarily for breeding, as Lang showed in an August 1870 Maine Farmer article he wrote (quoted in the Morgan register).
Lang said of General Knox: “His temper is always good, always cheerful and full of spirits and ambition, and never nervous at the most exciting sights and noises. Strike him in anger or abruptly, and it must be a strong man to hold him even when tired with trotting, yet entirely under control of the voice; attaches himself readily to those who pet him, and when away from home on the boat or on the cars, lies down to rest readily if his groom lies down with him.”
Lang described two trotting races General Knox won in the early 1860s, the first when the horse was seven years old.
The General was supposed to compete in Skowhegan against General McClellan, in response to a challenge from McLellan’s then-owner, G. M. Robinson, Esquire, of Augusta. However, Lang wrote, Robinson withdrew McClellan, because a few days earlier a horse named Hiram Drew had beaten him in Portland and Hiram Drew was running in Skowhegan.
General Knox had 22 days to relax from his stud duties and prepare for the race, “having served 136 different mares since April.” (Lang did not say what month the race was; your writer guesses September.) He “beat Hiram easily in three straight heats, without a break.”
(E. P. Mayo, in his chapter on agriculture in Edwin Whittemore’s history of Waterville, said General Knox outpaced Hiram Drew on Oct. 22, 1863, in Waterville. He wrote that supporters of both horses came from all over Maine to watch the race, “which is recalled even to this day by the oldest lovers of racing as one of the great events of their lives.”)
Lang wrote that he intended to stop racing General Knox, but was persuaded to enter him to uphold Maine’s honor in the Springfield fair (presumably, the fair in Springfield, Massachusetts, now the Big E [for Exposition], dubbed the only multi-state fair in the world and held this year Sept. 15 and 16).
That year (1863 or 1864) General Knox had served 112 mares since April and had 15 waiting. Lang and the General left home on a Thursday morning and reached Springfield Sunday morning. General Knox raced on Thursday and won easily.
They came back as far as Boston Thursday night, “making,” Lang wrote, “in all 21 days from the time he was drawn from service until he had traveled upon cars and boat three days without rest, won his race and was bound home.”
After the race, Lang wrote, four other New England horsemen offered to buy General Knox, bidding up to $30,000. Lang declined. He wrote that Knox had raced only once since, in 1866, and in 1870 was anticipating the most mares he had ever served in one year.
In 1872, the on-line Morgan register says, Lang sold General Knox, for $10,000. The register includes a list of some of his descendants, with remarks about two or three.
Mayo wrote in the Waterville history that Waterville’s trotting park was initiated by the North Kennebec Agricultural Society, legislatively incorporated July 31, 1847 (and mentioned last week in connection with early officers Joseph and Sumner Percival).
In January 1854 the society appointed a committee to find land for a racetrack. A site was chosen in southern Waterville and a half-mile track was built, perhaps the same year.
On Aug. 22, 1863, Mayo found, the track “was leased to the Waterville Horse Association for their annual exhibition.” T. S. Lang was one of the signatories to the lease.
Mayo also found in the society’s records an Oct. 4, 1859, vote of thanks to Lang for donating his horses’ prize money to the society. He quoted: “He ever strove to win all the prizes that he could in order that the society might be the more benefited thereby.”
The North Kennebec Agricultural Society gave annual exhibitions into the 1880s, until increasing competition from nearby towns’ fairs caused members to give up. They leased the track for a while and finally sold it “for the enlargement of our present beautiful [Pine Grove] cemetery.”
* * * * * *
Alice Hammond, whose history of Sidney was published in 1992, did not mention any Sidney horse-breeders, but she gave more detail than many other historians about horses as work animals.
In her chapter on agriculture, she summarized sequential methods of harvesting hay: men mowing with scythes gave way to “horse-drawn mowing and raking machines,” which in turn were displaced by “mechanical reapers and balers.”
On-line sites say the first horse-drawn mowers date from the 1840s or 1850s. The machines became popular after the Civil War, and, one source says, are still used in this century in special areas like nature preserves and organic farms.
But it was in her chapter on transportation that Hammond expanded on the important role horses played on early Sidney. The Kennebec River was important, and she mentioned oxen, for example used to build the first roads.
Most of these roads succeeded bridle paths, which followed earlier Native American trails. In the late 1700s, the “bridle paths were widened to allow pack horses and even carts and sleds in season.”
Through the 19th century and into the 20th, Sidney residents rode horseback or in horse-drawn carts or wagons. Road maintenance depended partly on horse labor; Hammond wrote that between 1860 and 1870, horses pulled the “road scrapers with metal blades” that “were used to shape and smooth the roads.”
“Later,” she continued, “mechanical road machines pulled by horses were used,” until trucks replaced the horses.
Hammond quoted an article written by an earlier Sidney resident, Russell M. Bailey, on winter travel and road maintenance early in the 20th century, with horses still a major power source. She gave no dates for events he described; one of the genealogies in her history says he was born in 1901.
Bailey wrote that there were three kinds of personal winter vehicles. The fastest and fanciest was the single-seat sleigh, “with a sweeping high curved dashboard and luxuriously upholstered seat.” One horse, “a light driving horse if available,” pulled the sleigh.
The pung was “a lower slung, long runnered, single horse utility winter vehicle, suitable for hauling light loads or the family.” For heavy loads, a farmer would use the double sled drawn by a pair of work horses.
To keep roads passable, Sidney and other Maine towns used snow rollers, large wooden and metal contraptions that packed down the snow. On-line sources say horse-drawn rollers were used from the late 1880s into the 1930s.
Hammond wrote that in 1895, Sidney “raised money to build snow rollers.” Bailey described a Sidney roller as pulled by eight horses, in two sets of two teams.
Hammond included a story of a winter storm Bailey remembered that covered roads with more than a foot of new snow under a thick icy crust. When the horses’ hooves broke though the crust, the sharp edges cut their legs.
After protective padding failed, Bailey wrote, “additional men were hired to proceed the lead team to break the crust with their feet and shovels.”
Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).
CORRECTION: In last week’s article, the location of Waterville Railroad Station was incorrect. It should have said, the Waterville railroad station was located on what is now an empty lot, on the west side of College Ave., to make room for Colby St. circle where it intersects with Chaplin St., near Burger King. The railroad tracks that cross Chaplin St. are an indication of where the train terminal was located. The locomotive pictured in this 1920s photo, is located where the train tracks cross Chaplin St.
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
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