IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of April 27, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS and faithful readers, so glad that Computer Improvements in Downtown Skowhegan came to the rescue! Unfortunately, this is a completely new program, but hopefully, our faithful readers will be patient with us.

Yes, the last WALLS did give you faithful readers a reason for folks who are no longer with us but passed on the reason they spoke of the year Maine had no summer. Yup, WALLS, you were absolutely right. The year was 1816 when our beautiful blue skies were clouded by a volcano’s eruption in Tasmania, Indonesia, and the smoke and ash came all the way to make Mainers talk about “the year with no summer.” Yup, Mainers are great story tellers and the subject of “what used to be” has been a favorite one for all to give us our history lessons.

O.K., WALLS promised you faithful readers Chapter 2 last week. Actually, that volcanic eruption was in 1815, but Mainers didn’t realize the travel time for the ashes until the summer of 1816. However, with much of today’s emphasis being on art, the artisans of that era recognized that the sky had a “yellow tint” and have educated us by painting that yellow as each interpreted it. So, faithful readers, now you know!

Here’s another bit of history. Today is Earth Day and, admittedly, through little or no planning, do you know that East Madison holds the historic prize for being the first of many happenings? Little old East Madison in very early times was the first Madison until the paper industry discovered the power that the Kennebec River would afford ‘the mill’. Yes, WALLS, you are right in that now that paper manufacturing mill has ceased to exist…again.

Another first? East Madison had seven active manufacturers at one time. Yes, the Cummings Mill manufactured woolen goods and the late “Bill” Cummings, who grew up in East Madison, founded Skowhegan Art School. East Madison’s history also included a park where Donald Perkins’ East Madison Store once had a cribbage board for the men to enjoy and now the American flag flies for the first East Madison soldier to be killed in Vietnam and famous poet, Florence Burrill Jacobs was born and grew up in East Madison. So what does this have to do with Earth Day, you ask? Well, East Madison had the first Earth Day in the U.S.A.! No, WALLS is right! The date in 1970 had been set, the town youngers had been recruited. The late “Joe” Denis would walk and pick up trash from the White School House Road to Perkins’ Store (and Donald had snacks waiting). Katie would drive the town truck! Well, that truck wasn’t available for the official Earth Day, because of its being used “in the big town of Madison’ for Earth Day. So, guess who drove the town dump truck….yup, Katie! Oh, we found an old still, lots of junk, and the youngsters have all grown up…and even moved, but the memories linger on! Lest we forget, faithful readers, lest we forget! Earth Day was born in 1970 and Maine pride still is celebrated and Katie drove a Madison dump truck. Oh, yes, and East Madison had its own dump!


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1 reply
  1. Audrey
    Audrey says:

    I was one of the students of Mrs Ferguson’s class at Madison Jr High who participated in the earth day project in 1971. We walked and picked up trash on rt 43 on a sunny day in April. I still remember all those trash bags along the road . . .


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