Sunday, July 5, 2009

Final entry of: A Picnic Became A Lifetime

Little did we know what owning a cottage meant, I should mention that this all took place in mid August, ours was rented for the month so that meant we were unable to take ownership until right after Labor Day as a result we spent our time along with everyone else at Bobs place. Then it finally happened Labor Day was on Sept. seventh that year, and on the eighth we were able to go in and check out our cottage. Realizing that September brings on cooler weather and with an unheated cottage plus its being unfinished and unfurnished, this meant mighty cold nights. Believe me, we got cold nights and a short stay, it seemed that no sooner had we gotten inside to find out what we would need for the next summer season, and this season was nearly over and the water would soon be turned off. When Betty and her sister spent their first night there; I was unable to go for some reason.  They said their night was sort of mysterious and creepy, the fog horn blew and the buoy bells rang all night long. The cottage made all kinds of creaking sounds, and during the evening all of a sudden two eyes peered through the living room window, first one window and then another. Betty’s sister was really freaked out, they later found out it was a neighbors dog which they had not seen before, it had made it’s way up the hill and onto the porch and kept looking in the windows, it was a white dog with one black eye. When the light of day came Betty’s sister was ready to get out of here, she has never been back since for an overnight.  Then around four A.M. the black crows welcomed in the dawn.  It is strange how different the sounds can be on an island.  By the way the crows are still cawing their heads off.

The next weekend proved to be a disaster of a different kind, the first time we flushed the john water hit the ceiling, fortunately there was a card pinned on the wall above it with the name of a local handyman, he proved to be an all around do it yourself guy, plumber, electrician, carpenter, what ever, you name it,   he considered himself, “a professorial” what ever the problem was, he could fix it, plus he was a real nice guy.   Hey! This is an island remember, what could you expect.  

I went across the street to my neighbors, introduced myself and asked if I might use their phone.  They were, more than obliging, and over the years they proved to be our closest friends and we spent many nights with them before our cottage became a year round house.  The repair man arrived by taxi carrying what looked like a doctors bag, it proved to have a variety of things in it, and I’m sure a prayer that he would find among his treasures, something that would remedy the problem.  He or we, which ever way you want to look at it, this proved to be a lucky day.  He took out a ball of cotton twine and explained that he would wrap it around the joint and nut which was a little worn and that it would swell.   He then explained that the worn part was called a ball cock, nothing to worry about.   Well it took more then several flushes I can assure you before we saw results.  The next weekend water hit the ceiling again.  One more call and the taxi arrived with Jack, that was his name, this time he came with a larger bag and out from it came this long rod with a big round ball attached to it.   Now remember we are new at this ownership stuff, so we were all eyes and ears as this kind old gent proceeded to fix the problem.  All the time explaining how he could not believe the twine hadn’t solved the problem.  This he said as he proceeded to replace the part is “a ball cock,” glory be, at last a new repair job.  This old gent by the way turned out to be a very good friend.  Always willing to show up when needed, never upset when it was necessary to make return trips, which was often, but like I said this is an island, right?

The long winter ahead gave us time to get some things together to help furnish the place, thank heavens for the dump, thrift shops, family and friends.  We were not as lucky as Bob.  Our cottage did not come with all the furniture; however the four bedrooms did have high oak beds with designs carved on them, without mattresses. They were an odd size, and proved to be good for nothing except a great source of heat on a chilly night.  We wish we had them today; they would be worth a fortune.  There was a large flat grand piano

in the living room which was really out of tune, I’m sure that because of its weight it was one of the very few things left behind.

Spring finally came; after a long, long, winter. Now  

  for a cottage of its size the bathroom was so small it felt as though one needed to put a leg in the tub in order to sit on the john, and after our spending time here we realized that the under pinning was in need of some repair, not only did you feel like you needed to put a leg in the tub in order to sit on the john, but when the wind blew you felt like you were on a boat. The cottage sets on a hill and really it was not safe to just neglect the under pinning so we decided that before we could ever live there year round we would have a basement built. Little did we realize the expense and the time involved in a job like that, so we decided to take a chance and put it on the back burner for a later date, keeping our fingers crossed that it would be ok, three years down the road we got the job done, a major accomplishment.

Foundation material


Foundation being  put in

In progress

Foundation finished


Hosta 6-5-07


We did however decide on the last week of that first summer that we would have some friends of ours remove the big claw footed tub and during the winter we would look for a smaller one to replace it. Our two friends Ron and Ron did just that. It took a heck of a lot of work trying to pick the claw footed cast iron tub up and over the John and out, but after sweating, swearing and damn near passing out from exhaustion, they finally got it out and put it into a back bedroom which was right next to the bathroom, at that time we were using it as a storage room. Like I said we planned to buy a new tub during the winter and have it shipped to the island in order to have it installed during the spring.  I called our old handy man and asked him to replace all the old galvanized piping with new copper sometime during the winter, no hurry.  Two weeks later he called to say the work was all done, and that he sure was glad he and his helper had opened the door to the back bedroom and found the tub, but not to worry, that it was all piped in and ready to use.  I damn near fainted after all we had gone through to have it removed.  After telling him this, he assured us that we would be thanking him down the road. Well it’s been over forty years and I cannot tell you how many times  we have thanked the old guy for saving that tub, oh we have remodeled the  bathroom and even moved it to a knew location but the old tub got moved as well.

Bath rm. w tub 1 (4-09) The Tub that was

Right up until this very day when our plumber removed it, he said “you’re not going to get rid of this are you, you should keep it” so we had him put it in the basement.  You see the years have taken their toll, as a result our poor old backs and knees make it impossible for us to use it, but we just couldn’t part with it.  Perhaps someday someone else will find it in the basement and decide to put it back in again and enjoy the pleasures that we once had.

Bob has been gone for years.   His job with Delta airlines took him to Arizona and his wicker furniture and gold leaf frames became a part of our home.

Fred and I were still working together in the department store.  I was still in display and Fred had become assistant manger he was great at his job, he liked every one. On his lunch hour when he didn’t join Betty and I he would go to the hot dog counter in the back of W.T. Grants, it seemed that every kid from the poor side of town would follow him there; needless to say each one got a hot dog. Fred was that kind of guy he had a heart bigger then his chest and as a result he was always broke.

  He and I worked together for about three years before the store went into receivership. All the other stores that belonged to that company  sent their inventory to our store. Truck load after truck load would arrive daily and the merchandise would just be unloaded into bins, our store looked like a warehouse, no rhyme nor reason as to its method of display, nothing ever got checked in. Women’s dresses would come packed with men’s shoes, men’s jackets would come with pots and pans, toys with towels etc. The Toys were put into a large net like pen right in the middle of the first floor and every one of Fred’s hot dog friends would come in to review the new stock that arrived daily, it goes without saying this tugged at Fred’s heart strings. As time went by and the store got closer to closing its doors for good Fred started bagging up the toys, you can be sure there was a bunch of happy kids before the doors were closed for good.

Now it seemed that for at least two years before the closing of our store every month without fail, this older couple would get off the bus right in front of our store.   They would with out fail always enter the store and the old man would look at the same mackinaw month after month, it never got sold and each time they would look at it and he would try it on,  his wife would say “ it will go on sale and maybe we’ll be able to buy it”. Fred hated to see them coming he would tell us about it and how he felt sorry for them, he said they were well into their late seventies, if not eighties. He said month after month they would come in and he would try on that damn jacket.   After the store went into receivership he said to me one day “if you see them getting off the bus let me know”, he knew the chances were that I would be in one of the windows and see the bus when it stopped. Sure enough one day I saw them getting off the bus so I yelled to Fred,  I saw him running out side with two coat box's, I heard him say  “just take it and don’t ask questions”, the poor old man was shocked he didn’t know what was happening. That noon when we went to lunch he said “Gees I thought the old guy was going to faint when I told him to take it and leave” Oh he said “I gave his wife a couple of dresses, and some other things I thought she might like, what the heck they would only job lot them out to some crook”. But that was Fred, always broke, always giving his money away. A week or so later he was down where they had put the baby furnishings, one day this young mother came in carrying her baby, she looked like she wasn’t able to buy much, after looking around for quite a while she put the baby in a stroller, perhaps wishing she was able to buy it, well crazy Fred propped the back doors open, he grabbed the stroller and pushed it out onto the sidewalk with the mother running after him, he stopped and said “get going, it’s yours”.

After the store closed Fred got the wander lust and found himself in Florida.   Betty and I decided that the island was the closest thing to heaven that we would ever find or could afford, so we're still here.   

Like I have stated before with determination and persistence we made it, we held on for dear life , and so with a great deal of hard work and lots of money,  that did not come easy, it has been our home for forty plus years, how quickly the years come and go. There never have been any regrets. So let me warn you, be aware if you visit an island, be prepared to either like it enough to stay or walk away without looking back.  And yes I do think that after forty plus years we have made the grade and that the real old-timers consider us inlanders, it takes a long time for a title like that. Right now there are a lot of cottages for sale, but not ours,

Tref. Home

no I would say we are here for the long haul, and now you know how a picnic became a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Continuation of ….. A Picnic Became A Lifetime

Saturday morning came we packed a picnic lunch and we were off on our adventure, we took my mother with us, she was excited to see parts of the island that she had not seen before and she was anxious to see the cottage.  We took Bob over to see the former owners; he needed to go over some things with them.  We said we would be back to get him later. Then  we were off to tour the island which consisted of one paved road that went around the perimeter of the island and many unpaved side roads and streets.  The scenery was really beautiful and the cottages were of all shapes and sizes.  We located two churches, Methodist and Catholic, three grocery stores, a few little gift shops, a bowling alley, a gas station, a laundry mat, a fire/Police barn, a Post Office plus two dinning places, and that pretty much sums it up. 

We were very much impressed and thought this must really be a great place to live.  Riding around while we waited for Bob we saw many houses and cottages for sale. After riding around for quite sometime we picked him up and listened to his excitement of just having become the owner of a cottage.  He could hardly wait for the next weekend, when he was to actually move in, finding it hard to believe that all the furniture was to go with it, and just knowing that it now was his. 

While driving around we found a place on the back shore to park and had our picnic on the rocks.

Back shore 1966

Back shore  1964

Then we rode around the island again to show Bob what it was all about, he was excited and impressed.   We rode around the island at least a dozen times, this was not hard to do the island is only three and a half miles long and one and a half miles wide. We stopped along the way to watch the ocean and marveled as the sea gulls performed their incredible maneuvers, and we were amazed at all the boats going by. The lobster boats were busy hauling in their catch, it seemed so different from the mainland, even though it was only three miles from the city. Everyone seemed so friendly and the children were either carrying buckets with fish or fishing poles, it seemed everyone’s life and interests were somehow connected to the water. There just was a different feeling about it.  It was sort of a laidback slow moving way of life.

Then the inevitable happened, we saw a cottage with a sign that read “For Sale by Owner.”  It was a rather large cottage with a wrap around porch, on a corner lot with a nice lawn.  We all said “gee’s this is a great place” but we all knew the price would be too much for us, yet Fred insisted we go in just to see it.  No one else felt it right, just to go in, knowing we had no intentions of buying.  However, he kept insisting and after driving by several more times, he finally won me over.  He and I went in while the others waited in the car.  We knocked on the door and a woman greeted us with a rather gruff voice saying “it’s already rented” Fred said “we saw the For Sale sign and are here to look at it,” with a change in the tone of her voice, she said “come on in.”  I remember the fireplace impressing me as we entered and the room being very large, the whole cottage seemed to be very spacious.  After she finished showing us the rest of the cottage, I asked her how much she was asking for it, she told me four thousand dollars, I thanked her and asked if my friends might come in to see it, she was willing, so Fred went to get the others.  At this point in time there was no interest in buying, although I really did think it would be great. 

Then we thanked her for showing us the cottage and told her we would call her tomorrow, you see I had in the back of my mind that I could get my father to co-sign for me and that it would be a great buy.  My mother was as impressed as I was, and envisioned herself spending time here. 

Margaret's mother

     Margaret’s mother on the back shore that first day

Before leaving I boldly asked if she might consider thirty five hundred and she said she would think about it and let me know. So we left with my promise to call her the next day.

Fred had just gotten a divorce and had no money, I wasn’t making didly squat, my only hope was that Betty might be willing to go along with the idea that we buy it together, I hit it lucky, she was willing, so we approached my dad and asked if he would co-sign. He was willing so now we were going to own a cottage on the island as well.  After calling her the next day as promised, within two weeks we had bought the cottage.

Our cottage 1964

             The Inevitable cottage

Bob was excited to hear we were going to buy the cottage. Things were really starting to look up! We envisioned great times just summering on an island.

The following week when Bob moved into his cottage he got an unexpected surprise. When he inspected his buy more closely, it seemed that sometime in the past years the fireplace had gotten out of hand and burned the underneath floor quite badly. It had been covered with a heavy brown construction paper that camouflaged the damage, but with his love for the place and the price he paid he was not too disappointed.

He called home to Illinois and before long his brother and brother in law were up here and things got put back into shape.  So for the next month they kept his cottage hopping.  His whole family came from Illinois and they all really enjoyed the ocean, having lobster bakes and cookouts down at the oceans edge, that summer was really something.

Edmund, Olive, Joe & George

   Cookout Fun, Yum, Yum!

Youth has a way of making things happen, it seemed as though we were meeting every boat, friends and relatives came from far and wide to enjoy what the island had to offer. We really made the most of that last month of summer, fishing became a new adventure for us all, and hiking through the woods took on a new meaning with new found explorations of old forts built for the soldiers during the Second World War.  Entrance to Battery Steele

            Entrance to Battery Steele

On top of Battery Steele

       On top of Battery Steele

The under ground ammunition forts were still accessible at that time and easy to explore although somewhat on the scary side, very dark and they gave off a hollow sound that made ones voice

echo back sending chills up your spine. Over the years they had become dumps for anything and everything not a pleasant site, Adventure on the island was never dull, it seems everyday brought new experiences.

to be continued……

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Continuation of…. A Picnic Became A Lifetime

When he arrived on Friday night  he was  looking very downhearted, it seemed that very day he had received a phone call telling him the owner had changed his mind about selling, even with all the problems, he had become so attached to the cottage he felt he could not part with it. The next day we all felt sort of down in the dumps, our excitement had been short lived and remained that way until, Sunday morning when Bob again started reading the Sunday paper and shouted "this is it I'm sure, can you believe a six room cottage completely furnished for only sixteen hundred dollars, it's on an island approximately three miles off  Portland, can this be right, do any of you know where this is?"

Fred said he had been there years ago on a school picnic and Betty said her aunt had taken her sisters there when they were just kids.  I had never been there but knew something about it, my mother  used to go there with the senior citizens for lobster bakes,  she told us it was  lovely and verified that it was not very far from Portland , and  took only a few minutes to get there.  That was all it took for Bob to once again make a call to the people who owned it.  He was told that he could come anytime, and for him, anytime meant right then and now. 

I must admit everyone except myself was excited, my hesitation was due to my having vertigo which still haunts me to this day.  However after all their pleading I gave in and we were soon on our way, the trip proved to be an adventure that not only upset my stomach but also frightened me because of all the motion in the bay.  The water was rather rough and for a person with vertigo this is a no-no, I can only say I was very happy when the ferry landed.  Although the trip only took fifteen minutes, with a sick stomach, it felt like an eternity.  We found our way to a small  eating place  called “The Coffee Cup,”  we had tea and muffins then inquired as to where the people we were looking for might live, we were given directions and once again we were on our way.  Needless to say I was worried about the return trip.

Not knowing anything about the island it seemed as though we walked for miles, stopping several people along the way to verify that we were still heading in the right direction.  After what seemed like forever we came to a small road, which looked more like a lane, it had a home made hand painted sign that read “Winding Way.” At last we had made it, we gave a sigh of relief, after walking a short distance we made a sharp right turn in the road, which became shadowed with over grown pine trees, it looked like an archway, we forged onward for a short distance when we came upon a clearing among all the tall trees, there we saw several small cottages and one very large farm house, a dilapidated structure that you might say was definitely out of place, and had no resemblance to any of the other cottages.  We just stood there in awe; it sort of looked like a picture one might see in a foreign travel magazine. On the opposite side of the dirt path that lead to the cottages, which I think we all noticed it at the same time, was a home made “For Sale” sign, with large red and black lettering; this had to be the place.  It was a tiny little cottage neatly kept and from what we could see, it looked inviting.  I remember remarking how the steps looked freshly painted as we went up onto the porch.  Bob knocked on the door and a cute little older lady in a crisply starched apron opened the door and waited for Bob to introduce himself, then she invited us in.

Standing in the background was her husband; he introduced himself and invited us to sit down.  The living room was very small and so very neat, it looked like one would imagine a New England cottage to look, it had wicker furniture and a small braided rug on the floor, and on the wooden walls were heavily gilded gold leaf picture frames with oil paintings and tables with oil lamps and fancy doilies,it was hard not to be overly impressed with the old furnishings that appeared to be in pristine condition.

After our normal introductions and chit chat Mrs. Mc Milan took Bob on a tour to see the rest of the cottage.  They went up a very small set of stairs that went from the living room to the second floor; we later found out from Bob that there were three tiny and very neat bedrooms with lovely antique furniture.   After he had finished his tour we resumed our chit chat and then he made his offer to buy, giving them a down payment just to make certain they would not change their minds, he promised to return during the week to sign all the necessary papers and to pay the remainder of the balance.  The  walk to and from the cottage had a beautiful view of the ocean,  in fact the road ran along  the side of the waters edge  where there were Blue Corn Flowers, Queen Anne's Lace and Wild roses etc.

Roadside B-S 1

           Views along the roadside Oceanside B- S 2 Oceanside B-s 1

Oceanside B-S 3

Our excitement was overwhelming; Bob was in a state of awe and could hardly believe this was actually going to happen.  What we got to see that day was indeed an island paradise.  The trip home was much more pleasurable, it was on a different ferry boat and the water not nearly as rough, that plus the excitement of finding this adorable cottage was all we could think about.  It seemed as though the return trip was not nearly as long as going.  We were all anxious for the next weekend to come and decided to take the car in order to see what the rest of the island was like.

During the week Bob had taken time off from work, he came to Portland to finalize his purchase, the cottage was now his. He was to take it over on the following week end.

The cottage was located on the southern side of the island; it sat high on a hill and had a grand ocean view, over looking the open ocean where the large ships came through the channel. 

View from Bob's cottage

                    View from Bob’s cottage

There was an over grown path leading through the tall bayberry bushes with a colorful growth of lupine that took you right to the waters edge, it was indeed an island paradise.

to be continued….

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Continuation of …. A Picnic Became A Lifetime

Well as you can imagine, Bob  was overly excited as he read  the ad, for sale by owner, he called the number and was told that he could see it anytime,  he asked if we might come  right away,  the owner said  that was fine,  so the  four of us left immediately.  The road that lead to the cottage was the same as I had remembered it, a dirt road, not very wide and still in need of major repair.  After a bumpy ride down a rather steep hill we came to the clearing. The cottages were the same as I had remembered them, except some had miner repairs and shown where the paint had been changed but on the whole things were very much the same.  And there it was the sign that read “For Sale.”   It was only two cottages away from where I had stayed as a child and was the cottage I had always liked the best, although I had never been inside, I really liked it.  The clearing where the cottages were located was not spacious and finding a place to park was not easy. As we made our way to the door I could not help but feel a sudden loneliness for the days I had spent here as a child.

Bob knocked on the door and we were greeted by a very nicely dressed middle aged man who invited us in.  Bob explained that he was the one interested   in buying a place near the ocean.  The view that we had seen before we entered was all that he needed to convince himself that he had found a dream come true.

Once inside we were lead through a short entry way into a large living area, the floors looked as though they had never been walked on.  There were several captain chairs with canvas backs and seats depicting scenes of the ocean and large framed pictures of ocean scenes covered the walls, along with maps of the bay.  The wall facing the ocean was all glass and the view was spectacular.   After the normal inquiries as to why Whites Cove and the regular chit chat that goes on among people with whom you are not familiar, he took Bob on a tour of the house.  We waited in the living room and marveled at the magnificent ocean view.  Directly below us we could see children playing in the tidal pools and men harvesting the mud flats for their take of clams.  A scene so familiar from my childhood days.

After Bob and the owner returned from touring the house  we all sat around and engaged in more conversation about Whites Cove, then Bob made a commitment to buy, promising to return the next weekend with his money.  It was at this point the owner started telling Bob all the things that needed to be repaired, right away, “the side entry steps were nearly gone completely, the under pinning on the left rear side needed attention and when it rained the water came down the hill and went directly under the cottage and as a result the cottage smelled very musty most of the time.”  Although we saw no evidence of it while we were there, perhaps it may have been that the aroma from his pipe tobacco camouflaged it. 

Bob did not seem a bit upset or discouraged knowing that the problems could be taken care of.  As we got up to leave, he explained again to the owner that he would be back on the weekend with his money and to sign the necessary papers.  The owner  thanked him and walked us to the car, at which time he said "Oh I failed to mention that there is a problem with mice, I have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of them but have not had any luck, and carpenter ants seem to be quite a problem and need to be sprayed weekly.”  Still Bob was not deterred, and was certain that this was paradise and the perfect place for him.  As we left the excitement in the car was awesome, Bob could not wait for the next weekend to arrive.  We all envisioned spending our weekends there.  Everyone mentioned however that the man sounded uncertain as to his really wanting to sell it, and seemed to only have negative things to say about it, after Bob decided he wanted to buy.  Not wanting to believe this to be a reality, we remained overly excited wanting the week to pass quickly.

to be continued ….

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Continuation of….A Picnic Became A Lifetime

It was during the war and the soldiers were stationed in camps not far from our cottage.  The Army had taken over a prestigious Inn known as Homeward Inn, at Princess Point, a place where the √©lite came to spend their summer vacations.  Along with the Inn there were small cabins located on the banks over looking the ocean, the Army was station there as lookouts and guarded the ocean passages.  After the war ended Homeward Inn got back to being a place for the elite to go, Bette Davis and Gary Merrill lived there for several years.

  At the time that the soldiers were there I had an aunt Lydia and several cousins that were of the dating age, as a result the soldiers became frequent visitors to our cottage.  They used to come on horseback on a bridle path that ran through the woods.  At night they would shine the search lights on our cottage.  I remember a bunch of giggling girls.  On weekends they joined us when my father and my uncles would dig clams and we would have big clam bakes and barbecues.  I remember one weekend when the beer was flowing quite freely and all the men were having a grand old time, when the time came for the soldiers to leave my father insisted on taking them back to their camp. This meant that he would have to go several miles; the roadway circled the point of land where Whites Cove was located.  It seemed that his driving ability was not quite what it should have been on that night, and when he came home he had a very large bouquet of garden flowers attached to the rear bumper of his car, your right, he had gone through the Inn’s flower bed.  Needless to say my mother was not pleased, even though the flowers were in fairly good condition and made her a great bouquet.

Yes, even though I had not been to Whites Cove in well over twenty five years it was still a place I fondly remembered. I remembered how my cousin Rita and I would gather hazel nuts along the roadside that lead to the cottages.  Did you know that Hazel nuts look like Hersey kisses and they have  what appears to be spun glass all over them, you have to be very careful when you gather them or you will feel like your hands  have splinters  of spun glass sticking all through them.   My dad would dig a hole in the ground and bury them in a paper bag for about three weeks, and then he would dig them up and shake the skins off.   We would have a grand time swinging in an old hammock and having a great feast on the nuts. We would swing for hours singing “Oh Give Me Land Lots of Land Neath the Starry Stars Above, Don’t Fence Me In” This was a song that was popular back in the Forties. I wonder if she remembers this. What great fun we had digging clams, playing in the tidal pools and wandering through the woods gathering wild flowers, especially lady slippers.

to be continued…..

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Picnic Became A Lifetime … continued

As time went on  my friend  Fred, started joining us for lunch, it then became a three some.  One day he mentioned that Bob a friend of his from Boston was coming up for the weekend and  he hoped we might all get together and perhaps take a trip to Orr's Island.   His friend was from Illinois and was really in love with the ocean.  After our meeting Bob, he explained that not until he graduated from collage and had taken a job in  Boston had  he ever seen the ocean.  He explained how he had read about it and knew about the tides and etc. but he went on to say that until you see it first hand you can not really know the true meaning of such an event.  He told us that  he had written home to his brother John and said “you just have to come and see for yourself  how this really works”  and they spent 24 hours just watching the tides come and go.  It seemed that every weekend after that we four were visiting every beach from York to Wiscasset.

My family's home became our haven of rest and my parents enjoyed having all of us around.  One Sunday  morning after my mother had served breakfast, Bob started reading the Sunday paper, when all of a sudden he shouted  very loudly  from the living room, "This is it , I have found a cottage for sale on a beach right here in Yarmouth, it's at Whites Cove, do you know where  this might be ?”  Did I know where that was, you bet I knew where it was.  Back in the early forties, I'd say perhaps  in forty two or three my father rented a small cottage there for six dollars a week.  I can still hear him and my mother discussing whether or not they could afford it for two months or not , she thought they should only take it for one month, but my father won out.  It was a very small cottage, in fact as I recall  there was only one small bed room and a cot under the stairwell, no running water and a single holer outside  of the back door.  We had to get our water from a hand pump that was located half way down a steep hillside.  I remember my mother sending me down there with a  small pail to get water when my father wasn't around.  Those years were some of the best times that I can remember.

to be continued…

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Picnic Became A Lifetime

In 1955 I was working  as a window decorator  for the Lerner Shops, I had an assistant that proved to be much better at the job than I, she was  more detail oriented, so we made a great team. We had 67 mannequins and our main job was to decorate the 6 windows in such a manner that would attract the people, bringing them into the store to buy. With this job came a lot of things that anyone who has never done this type of work would ever realize.

First of all it goes without saying that no matter what the article of clothing is that  you are displaying  it’s always the one the buyer wants. There may be others just like it on the racks inside the store, but it’s the one in the window that they really want. I guess maybe they think that the one in the window is something special or of a better quality. What ever the reason it goes with out fail that you will have to replace what ever you display at lease three or four times before you do a complete new window, of course this means you will be pressing and pinning garments along with all of your other display work, which includes interior setups, nitches, plus setting up for special sales etc. Remembering at all times that the costumer comes first. Then there are the times when you have your garments on a rolling  rack all pressed and ready to go into the window when someone comes along, and starts going through them and wanting to try them on.  This causes a little upset, even when they are shown their size is on a nearby rack. They usually fail to understand that these are the very same garments as the ones they wanted to try  only the ones on our rack have been pressed and ready for our window display.

But I dare say that this is the real kicker, it happened one night. The next morning when we were approaching the store,  we could see that the island window had been broken into,  some Sick -O had taken indecent liberties will all of the mannequins, eighteen adults and seven children.  Need I say that the window was a total disaster, the police department  a detective and the criminal squad were all over the place trying to  solve the puzzle, but no one ever did.

To this day, I cannot help but wonder where the police patrol were that night while all this was going on. I guess men must have been better back then than they are today; this happened long before Viagra was ever heard of.

I stayed there for several years then moved on to a larger  department store which I found to be more interesting, while there I met a young man (Fred) who had recently worked as a buyer of children's wear  in Boston . We  became very good friends and spent much of our time together.  My assistant at Lerner's’ became head of the display department after my leaving, she and I would often meet for lunch,  we would discuss the pros and cons of displaying.

To be continued:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh This Budding Month of May



I have nothing good to say

When it comes to the budding month of May.

What’s my reason?

It’s the beginning of the Black Fly season.

But wait there’s more,

I need only to open up a door

And to get a whiff of the spring time breeze,

For my world to become filled with allergies.

And hiding somewhere undetected

With an aim that is so perfected,

Is a tiny little speck of black

Already planning its attack.

What a sneaky little witch.

It strikes with vengeance, and do I itch!!

It seems to like my hair line best,

I’ve scratched so much that I’m a mess.

And just look at my swollen bloodshot eyes

It’s the handy work of the damn Black Flies.

First I cough and then I wheeze.

And before to long I start to sneeze.

Really it’s a Witch,

There is not one place that I don’t itch.

I bought Kleenex down at the store,

I have used them all and I still need more.

Then I bought a gallon of citronella,

Hoping to kill the pesky feller.

What a jerk.

It didn’t work.

It seems that they’ve become attuned,

Over the years they have become immuned.

So what in hell can a person do?

Besides cough and scratch the whole month through.

Now there are places I do not wish to share,

But they have somehow invaded my underwear.

I guess I’ll just go on coughing and wheezing,

I’ll scratch a bit along with the sneezing.

I’ll swear a lot and I’ll blow my nose,

Which by now resembles a blooming rose.

I think I’ll call it my red balloon.

Perhaps it will help me prepare for June,

And the Damn Mosquitoes

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Young Entrepreneurial Days

My entrepreneurial days:

Started at a rather young age, I’d say around seven or eight if my memory serves me correctly. Thanks to two large crab apple trees that grew in our yard, the produce for selling was free for the picking. My cousin Joe and I would bag up all of the drops that appeared to be in good condition and then we would go door to door selling them. Somewhere we got an old wooden cart that Joes father my uncle Mike was able to put into good enough shape that it would carry our load. We were able to make the rounds in our town selling half and full pecks of crab apples. As I recall they were twenty five cents for a peck bag and fifteen cents for a half peck. The money didn’t amount to much but we had fun along the way. It was enough to buy candy or gum and to play the punch card machine hoping to win a prize. Gees I loved that Oh Boy gum it was one stick of gum about five inches long and it was wrapped in green paper with little pixie like characters printed on it, I sure loved that gum. Then we would buy jaw breakers they were good and they lasted a long time, once in awhile we would get mint leaves and squirrel chews. The reward for pulling that old cart around seemed to always pay off.

The second enterprise:

We advanced to a much bigger enterprise, there was a hen factory that came to town where they processed chickens, I hated it there, it was a slaughter house for hens, and the smell was enough to make you want to heave-Ho. sometimes we would sneak up and peek in the windows to see what was going on and there was blood all over the place I did not like it there, but it was the source of our money and so we put up with the smell. We would sit on the opposite side of the street from the factory and if we were lucky the trucks would come in that day bringing the chickens. This would be our chance to make it big, according to how many chicken that got loose when they would unload the truck. The man on the truck would holler “ok kids this is your day.”  And we would take off running. Once in awhile he would let a whole crate full loose just so he could watch us kids chase them. He got quite a laugh at the site of us chasing and trying to catch them.The ones that got away flapped their wings and flew away to what they thought was freedom. They would take off for the woods where they would find a safe spot under the trees. Joe, I and Lillian our friend would be waiting there, we each had a burlap bag and we would sneak up on them and if we were lucky we would catch one and put it in our bag.   More times that not they would get away and we would have to chase them, they really ran fast.  Sometimes we would get six or eight and that bag was heavy. Thank heavens for our old cart.  We had been told it was ok if we caught them, because if we didn’t they would only die there in the woods.  We all kept a pen full of chickens at home and  then we would sell the rest for fifty cents apiece. One day my friend Lillian and I were chasing some chickens through the woods and had already caught 2 or 3 and had them in our bags when Lillian looked up and saw some letters in the sky overhead and she said “ Oh my God it’s the end of the world” we dropped our bags and started running for home. When we got to my house my father was in the yard he could see that we were very upset and asked what is wrong, we explained to him what we saw in the sky and that Lillian thought the end of the world was coming. My father laughed and explained to us that it was just an airplane advertising Pepsi Cola. We had never seen anything like this before. He asked if we got any chickens, we said yes but we were so afraid we left our bags in the woods and ran home.   By now we were tired and my grandmother gave us a drink of P. E. I.  ginger ale that she made with vinegar, water and sugar.   After we had rested we went back for our bags but the chickens were gone.   So that day we ended up empty handed. This job lasted for a couple of years or so, until we got sick of it and some other kids took it over.

The third enterprise:

Was the one I liked the best.  By now I was eleven and the country had just gone to war.  My cousin Joe and I were back in business. Every Saturday morning we would take that old cart and go to the three grocery stores in town.  We would collect all the meat scraps which the meat cutters back then just threw in a cardboard box under the bench where they did the cutting.  Then we would  take them home and build a big bond fire out back of the house, my grandmother would give us a big black iron kettle and we would render the scraps pouring the grease into any old cans we could find.  Then we would take them back to Joe Goodie’s grocery store and he would pay us 4 cents a pound for it. We did this all during the war.  Back then people were asked to save their grease to help with the war effort.  This proved to be a profitable enterprise especially during the summer months when school was out and we were able to make two or three runs a week.   By now my appetite had change from candy and gum to caraway seeds and yeast cakes plus a package of Bugler tobacco that came with its own papers.  Now in addition to collecting meat scraps I was rolling cigarettes and selling them for 2 cents a piece to all the kids in town.  This lasted until my father found out his cigarette roller was missing.  From then on he decided I should  go into early retirement.  With my enrollment in Jr. High there would be no time left for any extra curricular activities. I did however continue to nibble on yeast cakes all through high school.

Back then it took a lot of hard work and determination to earn enough money for candy and gum. Now if you are lucky enough to find a kid to do it, he wants $40.00 or more to mow your lawn, a small lawn at that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Moments To Remember

At the beginning of our island living we noticed an elderly lady that walked by our house at least twice a week in the summer. She was very crippled and walked with much difficulty. She had a cane in one hand and on her other hand which was crippled hung her handbag and a shopping bag. I would say that the distance she walked in passing our home was approximately fifty to sixty feet; literally it took this woman nearly twenty minutes to walk this distance. She was a very frail looking person and for a long time I wondered who she could be and where did she live. I was concerned because there were no other houses close by that I did not know the occupants. As time went by and I became more familiar with the people in my area I realized that this woman did not come from close by and that made me all the more concerned about her. I have always felt great compassion for the elderly. Finally after inquiring about her from others that had lived in this area much longer than we had, I was told that she was a recluse and shunned any one who tried to give her a ride or get to know her in any way. We could not get her out of our minds and watched each day to see if we might see her in passing. Each time we did see her we became more concerned with wanting to help her. Finally one day we saw her approaching our home so I said to myself, this is it. I went outside and tried to introduce myself to her but she wanted no part of it, she simply said in no uncertain terms “I’m fine and I know my way and need no help” I apologized for interrupting her progress and left feeling sad and defeated in my offering to give her a ride. I guess our neighbors were right they knew her better than we did, or ever would, or did they.

That first summer went by without my feeling less sad each time I would see her pass by. That winter even after we left the island for the mainland as we had not as yet taken up year around residence  we   wondered  about her a lot, if she had relatives and where she lived in the winter.

The next summer she was back again and still we watched to make sure she was able to make the hill that is rather steep  and which was a part of her journey. One day I happened to be down at the front of the island where the ferry boat comes in and where the stores are located, it is about a mile and a half from our home and even further from hers. There on the street walking very slowly was this same lady. I could not imagine her walking that great distance and so without giving it a thought I stopped my car and crossed the street and without introducing myself again I simply said “Won’t you please let me give you a ride, I know that you live somewhere past my house” She looked me right in the eye and asked “Where do you live when you don’t live on the island” I told her where I lived, and that I had lived there all my life. She did not ask my name but asked if I knew anyone in the next town over from my home town. I told her I knew very few if any, without listening to me, she asked if I knew her niece who lived there. Strange things do happen ,I swear her niece was the only person that I did know from that town, and knew her only because she happened to be the head of the Maine Poetry Association. The fact that I knew her niece opened a line of communication and a friendship that lasted for many years. She accepted a ride that day and I could see she was relieved from not having this long walk ahead of her. She asked how I knew her niece and I explained that I wrote poetry and that her niece had gotten in touch with me and wanted me to join a writers group.

When she told me where she lived I wondered how she could ever get to her house, there is one of the largest hills on the island leading up to her house, and no roadway just a path. I asked how do you make it up this hill, she explained that there was a back road through the woods and sometimes when she felt tired after her walk to the store she would go through the woods, she did say however that it was a much longer way to go. I asked if a car could go that way and she thought that it could. I made up my mind that I would give it a try, anything to keep her from having to walk up this large hill which I wasn’t sure I would even be able to make it myself. We made it through the woods just fine using a great deal of caution, it was rocky and a place I would not want to put my car through very often. She asked me in, it was an experience I shall never forget. It was like entering into the last century, the first thing I noticed was this giant stuffed hawk which was fastened to a large tree branch located above the brick fireplace. I did not want to let my fascination and surprise of such a place be obvious. Next I noticed this round oak table, covered with some kind of a cloth and on it was an open bible. Hanging from the open beams were coconut shells on chains which had candles in them. The house obviously had not been cleaned in years, there was enough hay seed and grass on the floor, that it literally looked like a part of the carpeting. My time there was not long, but I left with a feeling of satisfaction of having proven to her that I would be glad to help her if she ever needed someone to call on. I still watched for her to pass by and even today after all these years I still can not help but wonder how she ever managed to do all that she did.

We spent many an afternoon reciting poetry and her telling me stories of her growing up on the island and how her grandfather had their cottage built in 1906. She told me that her grandfather ran a shoe and boot store on Commercial  Street and how he would take her with him and they would travel by stage couch up to South Paris Me. To sell their goods. Then she told me about her father owning a pickle factory in Biddeford Maine  and also was in business with The Grand Union Tea Co.. She told how he would take her to Florida to see the ball games when she was very young and how they use to stop at an open bar on the street. It was a bar with a brass railing, her father would order an ale and the bartender would just give it a shove and it would slide down the bar and her father would reach out and grab it. One day when we were having work done on our house I saw her walking by so I went out and took her to the store, I asked if she would like to have lunch with us, much to my surprise she accepted. The work was being done by Betty’s brother in law, so when lunch time came he decided to have a beer with his lunch and I think he was kidding when he ask if she would like a glass of beer with hers. To the surprise of all of us she said “I would like that” So when he finished filling her glass she said to him “that’s quite a shirt collar you’ve put on it”, we all got a real laugh out of that.

We had always thought when she walked by that she had arthritis, however, we were to learn as time went by that she had polio as a child and that was the reason she was so crippled. She told us that after she was well enough to walk she studied how to make bandages, braces & different devices for polio victims and worked in the hospital teaching the nurses how to use them. She taught school for a time. Unfortunately do to her age and her infirmities she was unable to take care of her own hygiene and as a result it was not good. Her sneakers were missing their toes and her dress I’m sure had not been changed in years, it was noticeable when you were close by. Many nights we helped her get into bed which was a fainting couch at the bottom of her stair way. The springs were all gone but she did not seem to mind. She insisted on going to bed fully dressed with her sneakers on. To me that mattered not, for I was never a clothes horse; give me a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and that satisfied my needs. In the summer it was shorts and sweatshirt, and so it was that she and I became friends. Many a night we would bring her supper after we got home from work.

During that summer the art gallery on the island was having a poetry reading and the guest speaker was my friend’s niece so I told my friend about it and asked if she’d like to go with me and she was delighted. I picked her up and we attended the event, needless to say our attire was not up to snuff. I had my every day shorts and she was unwashed or combed, and we made our grand entrance!

Because of this experience I wrote the following.

              A ROSE AMONG ROSES

As we entered their stately mansion I felt every eyebrow that rose

They were bedecked in high fashion and we wore our everyday clothes

I became aware of each little whisper I saw their

sinister smile

We were like a couple of wharf rats whose fashions were way out of style

I saw their curious wonder and I felt the sting of their stair

But with due respect I held my head erect

And I chose us a front row chair

Then came the nights guest speaker

And from her came a genuine smile

Now we were no longer wharf rats whose fashions were way out of style

For my friend she addressed as Aunt Cora and as for myself she called me her friend

And starting with that very moment I thought the hand shakes would never end

Suddenly they forgot how to whisper and they lost their snobby old noses

And before to long we were no longer a thorn

For they had made us a rose among roses.

The next summer came and she did not show up, we called her niece and was told that she had gone into a nursing home to recover from cataract surgery. The next year she was back again and this time things were not good. We use to check on her every night when we got home from work and would bring her supper. One night we found her down at the bottom of the hill.  She was crawling in the grass, she had been outside trying to clip her grass with a pair of grass clippers that looked like they came from the nineteen twenties, she said she had been painting her fence post earlier that day and lost her glasses. We got her back inside her house after a lot of effort on both sides; we never did find her glasses. I called to inform the niece only to be told that she was busy having a birthday party and that she had been adopted by the family and did not want to get involved. She told me to call the other niece whom I had not heard of before, this one told me that she did not like the ocean and therefore she was not going to be able to help, and that her aunt was very independent, and was capable of taking care of herself.

We finally got it touch with the health nurse on the island and they started checking on her and we arranged for her to start getting meals on wheels.

She was in her nineties when we first got to know her, God came and got her during the winter, at the age of one hundred and two. and we lost a great lady and a wonderful friend. I’m so glad I stopped that day and insisted on her taking a ride, what a ride it turned out to be, years of stories and moments to remember.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It’s Here


The cold winter has finally taken it’s bow though the curtain  has not really fully closed ,the cold chilly air seems to hang around. There were many walkers out  an about today, perhaps getting there legs back in shape  after the long winter and the slippery roads. I enjoy seeing them taking their long brisk strides remembering what it was once like for myself ,now I just watch and dream. Now my days consist of new adventures like having time to write poetry and sculpting miniature flowers and crazy charters. Enjoyment come in many ways and changes with the different stages life has to offer. Blogging as certainly open up a new avenue for me I just wish I had more time to put into it, perhaps after I get my shop stocked with my flowers etc. I will be able to blog more. But for now its only when time allows or the sprit moves me.





I cannot not wait for the first kiss of spring.

When the rivers de-ice and the robins sing,

When old man winter has released the sod,

And every darn inch of the ground has thawed

Then I’ll drop down on my arthritic knees,

And plant me a package of Burpee’s Sweet Peas

And hope they’ll be forever blooming.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some Things Are Not Meant To Be Forgotten

Something that seems never to be far from my mind and I’m sure the minds of many others, is the tragedy of Katrina.  Perhaps you are wondering why I’m writing about this now after all this time, well not because I heard comments on this just today, no not that. The reason is  that it has really never left my mind. Maybe it is because I have a very dear friend whose daughter and her family were  victims and lost every single thing that they owned. It was hard to hear of things like that.  So when I hear how things are still in such turmoil today, then I know why my thoughts and the thoughts of others are not to be put aside as just something that happened and then  forgotten.  I am  going to share a poem with you that I wrote a week after it all took place.


                    Five Days on a Rooftop

White flags of fear and hope beneath a pale gray sky

And rooftops become a refuge for those who fear they’ll die

And as the water keeps on rising with no end in sight

People hug their rooftops throughout the blackened night

Daylight brings a reality which knowing cannot deny

The sight of complete destruction beneath a threatening sky

The pains of thirst and hunger are unrelenting in their way

And the water keeps on rising for yet another day

And that which once had been waist deep now reaches the second floor

We thank God for the rooftops we dare not ask for more

And as the stench of rot and human waist permeates the air

Each moment slowly passing turns hope into despair

With belly pains of hunger and lips parched and dry

We wave signs that read “please help us” or it’s certain we shall die

And while we wait for FEMA to help us in our need

We pray to God for a miracle and for the waters to recede

The wailing sounds of sirens and copters over head

Rescue the lonely living and search waters for the dead

And still the water keeps on rising with no end in sight

And people hug their rooftops for another lonely night

Where oh where is FEMA where can they be

There’s destruction all around us and as far as we can see

Katrina in her fury has destroyed everything in sight

And we thank God for the rooftops it’s another lonely night

Sadly from the rooftop we watch our city drown

And still we wait for FEMA who is no where to be found

Something surely has gone wrong something isn’t right

And once more we’ll hug the rooftops for another lonely night.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Day After Yesterday

Today I’m back in my workroom still trying to get enough inventory to open my small shop. I need to make many more flowers and today I am working on Foxglove.

Yesterday I took the day off, left the rocky coast of Maine my ( Island Paradise} for a trip to the city with it’s hustle and bustle. I would have preferred to stay home but I guess a day away once in awhile is good, at least that's what I’m told.

Yesterday was more or less a necessary trip, you see the accountant was waiting to prepare my taxes . Well old Uncle Sam was good to me this year. I got a refund, nothing to get  excited about , no trip to Bermuda, just enough for an ice cream at Big Reds,  Betty swears they make the best soft serve around and so we treated ourselves to a cone of chocolate . I had just few licks off mine . I would rather have had Kentucky Fried chicken wings, but that's a no, no when you’re a diabetic and have already cheated for the day.

Leaving yesterday morning was not something that I was looking forward to, for more then one reason.  At this time of year our ferry  goes into dry dock for four to six weeks and so in the mean time we have to take a barge to get to the mainland. The barge itself is not bad it’s just the boarding that really gets to me. Depending on the tide one usually has to back on and that means backing on two pieces of planking not much wider then your tires, and can be very steep, it makes a nervous wreck out of me.  I worry all night long if I’m going to be able to do it or not.  This year my worrying was unnecessary, the tide was right and we were able to drive right on. It turned out to be a great day our tax burden was behind us and we had a cone of soft serve. I snapped a couple of pictures on the way up and I will share them with you.

Well dinner is just about ready and the smell of food is getting to me, then it’s back to the grind , more flowers and continued work on a character.  Hopefully I’ll be back blogging tomorrow. Until then Enjoy your day.

                           Plantes Marina

The barge that we were on belongs to this marina and this is  where we boarded and left from.

McQuoit mar. 17-09

 This is the McQuoit, a passenger ferry arriving at the passenger slip as we were leaving the island.

Harbor side of island

This is the harbor side of the island. Not much to look at in March but just wait until May.


Fort Gorges

Fort Gorges, this fort was commissioned by George Washington.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It’s On Its Way!

When it comes to my blog, it has sort of been on the back burner. I hope to catch up with myself one of these days and maybe find out which direction I’m headed in. I think that Debbie to has lost her way, perhaps she’s out there some where in space. It seem like the feeling of spring has crept up on us, although it has not brought the warmth with it. It feels like a cold 33 degrees right now and I like it warmer. It does however give one hope. Yesterday I ventured outside for a short journey around the island took these pictures and I saw some Pusey willows poking their heads out from beneath the snow, what an awesome sight. There are still banks of snow where the plow did its thing and they are always the last to go. Some of the summer folks have come by to check on their cottages that is always a good sign. The birds to are enjoying the warmth of the sun, their singing is coming from every tree and the deer were out this morning looking around for something to eat. Oh yes it definitely is on its way. One morning a couple of weeks ago I was getting my breakfast and I happened to look outside the window and looking in from a branch that hangs very close to the house was this robin and I mentally wrote this poem which I shall share with you .



Car Ferry Approaching 2006

back shore 1

             Good  Morning Mr. Robin

Good morning Mr. Robin, with your brightly colored vest,

Your feathers seem a wee bit ruffled, could this be the sign of some protest.

Perhaps the chilly winds of springtime, which seem so reluctant to let go.

Well we best be happy my old friend for they had predicted snow.

And I too know the feeling and I just don’t think its fare,

For who in the early springtime needs this blast of arctic air.

So let’s hope for both our sakes that its stay is rather brief,

For my old bones are aching and I’m in the need of some relief.

So won’t you please sing your song to brighten up my day,

I need some reassurance that spring is here to stay.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Tin-Lizzie Days!

Again, I am taking you on a little journey back in time, the thirties in fact. This memory is as clear and picturesque today as it was the day it all took place.

It all started with my fathers old flivver not wanting to cooperate, it had not been running right for quite some time , but with little cash available it seemed that this was a problem best left on the back burner. Lucky for my father I had an uncle Sidney, who like my dad felt that he was entitled to his weekly reward, so the fact that dad’s old tin-lizzie refused to cooperate wasn’t really as big problem as it might have been, had my uncle not been willing to take my father along for his weekly purchase of beer. Otherwise back then it was not a necessity to own a car. One could go most anywhere on foot, the grocery market was handy and all the necessities of life seem to be close at hand even the church was near by.

As time went by and my father longingly looked out the window at his old flivver, the more he felt that it would be nice to have one of his own that would run. I was just a kid but I listened to my parents discuss the possibility of trying to get his old tin-lizzie fixed, but my uncle Sidney who was an automobile mechanic advised him if he should be lucky enough to get it going, he’d better go see Oren Young. Oren was one of those used car dealers who thought every car he owned was a peach, but never a lemon. So my uncle Sidney and my dad worked on his tin-lizzie weekends until they got it to run. It was at this point that the real fun began. My mother was against the idea at first because of their money situation. But my father was eager to get a car of his own, that he felt he could depend on. Then my mother said, “If you do this, you will have to teach me how to drive”. He agreed. Then he decided to go up to see Mr. Young. I begged him to take me with him, he said ok, but my mother said “no, what if the damn thing won’t make it up there. What are you going to do with Margaret”, but he insisted, he was sure it would be alright. So he took me with him. We made it up there ok.

I remember when we got there my father knocked on the door and when Mr. Young opened the door he said “well, hello Eddie come on in.” Mr. Young was a funny old man, I can remember he was real short and he had a big bubble behind his ear, it looked like bubble gum and it was all red and blue I was afraid of him. He had a deep voice he said “Well Eddie what can I do for you” I had a hold of my fathers hand while he and Mr. Young talked about cars. His yard was full of old cars. There was all kinds of old junk everywhere in his yard. He asked my father “what do you have in mind, what do you want to pay” and my father said “well I was hoping to get a trade in on my car and maybe get something a little newer.” Mr. Young said “ let’s go out and see what I have,” he took us down in back of a big barn and showed my father an old car that was out there , it wouldn’t even start. Mr. Young went somewhere and got a battery, and still it didn’t want to start. He said “don’t worry Eddie it’s the damn spark, it’s been setting out here for a long time.” Then he got inside of the car and did something with the spark which was a lever on the steering wheel. He said to my father “give it a crank” so my father turn this handle in the front of the car, I remember he turned it a lot of times and my dad said to Mr. Young, “I don’t think I want to have to do this every time, to get it started”, and Mr. Young said “once you get it going it will be alright, it’s because it hasn’t been run for awhile”. Well my father couldn’t seem to get it to start, so Mr. Young grabbed hold of that handle in the front and he gave it a big turn and he told my father to work the spark. Well it made a big bang and I started to cry, I was so scared I thought someone had a gun. Before long the car started to shake and it made some more bangs and then he said to my father “drive it up in front of the house” so my father and I got in and Mr. Young walked up to where my father parked the car. He told my father to keep it running. Then my father asked him “what happened to back seat” he said that “he had sold it to John Gear, but don’t let that bother you, if you buy it I should be able to find one in a few days”. Then my father said “where is my kid going to sit when my wife is with me”? Mr. Young said “don’t let that bother you I’ll just put a couple of wooden boxes in there for now until I find you a back seat. Get your wife to put a couple of pillows in there and it will be just as good”. While my dad and Mr. Young talked about how my father wanted to pay for it, the car kept on running. My father seemed please. So dad and I started for home. The car started shaking and it kept on making a banging noise and it was like it was going to stop. I was afraid, but my father said “it’s ok it will be all right” and after awhile it stopped shaking and making that banging noise.  By the time we got home it was running like a new car.

This is a picture ford2901  of a similar car only this is how it would have looked when it was new.  Long before my father got  one like it.

My mother saw us when we were coming up the drive and she came outside to see it. She was upset because there was no back seat but my father said that Oren was going to get him one and she said “it will never happen” and she was right. Then she said “Margaret go in the house, your father is going to show me how to drive” I went inside and stood up in my father’s old leather chair that someone had given him and I watched out the window as my mother kept stopping and starting. Then she hit the clothes pole and broke it and kept on going. I ran into the bed room, got up on a chair so I could see out and my mother had stopped right in the middle of our garden, the car was stuck there. I watched as she got out and hollered at my father “You don’t know a damn thing about teaching me how to drive”. She was very up set. I kept watching to see what my father was going to do, after awhile he got the car out of the garden and he drove right passed the house, I said “where is daddy going”. She said “up to Oren Young’s to see if he can get a new headlight, the damn clothes pole broke it.” I watched for my father to come home he was gone for a long time, when he did come home my mother was waiting for him and said “well, how much extra did that cost you”? It didn’t, he gave it to me instead of the back seat.

My father and my uncle Mike had to cut a piece of wood to put between the two wooden boxes so that they wouldn’t move around. My mother covered them with an old comforter. My father had that car for along long, long time, we never did get a back seat, but we sure had lots of rides to Gray and Falmouth. They continued, until Yarmouth was no longer dry. My mother never did learn how to drive.

My dad had a lot of old clunkers in his day. He died in 1991 having had only one new car in his life time, a 1972 Ford Station Wagon,

When we were young we were wrapped in the arms of contentment and simplicity. Today we have to look up these words to see what they mean; there is no simplicity today its utter confusion just trying to keep up with the Jones, Smiths, Browns etc..

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Treasures Are Where You Find Them

After my father retired from his job at the SD Warren paper mill he started a small vegetable garden where he found pleasure and contentment, this plus splitting wood for his small wood stove seemed to be sufficient for fulfilling his days. Then the unexpected happened, he had a small heart attack. This put a stop to his gardening, the doctor said too much bending and pulling weeds was not good for him. He suddenly found himself in a state of both fear and depression. Now his days consisted of just sitting around, sipping on his warm beer. My father never wanted his beer in the refrigerator. I think he was one of a few, when it came to that. After several months passed his fear and boredom seemed to become less and less. He started hanging out at the town dump with all the other bored retirees. It become their haven of rest, drinking beer, playing cards , going over the news of the day and recalling all of their of old memories. Then one day, came the dream of a life time, he came home and proudly showed my mother a set of keys, he had become custodian of the dump. He was as proud as if he had been given the keys to the White house. Things were good! He had a good friend, named Ham. Ham had a truck so they decided to salvage the copper from the dump. My father was unable to pick the rubbish looking for copper, but Ham seemed to have an eye for it. He would take the copper to the salvage yard and split the loot with my dad. They were making more money at salvaging, than they did on their jobs before their retirement. Well it seems that while Ham looked for copper my dad would walk around the dump checking to see if the people that were bringing their rubbish were putting it in its proper place. Now and then he would sort of look over what he thought might be an interesting bundle of trash hoping to hit pay dirt, more often then not he came up empty, there were times however when his luck ran in a different direction. My mother by this time was getting upset with all the junk he was putting in the basement. You know the stuff that you just can not let go of, knowing it will get caught up in the crusher. When my parents were no longer able to remain in there home because of their age. I had to hire a trash collector to haul all the trash back to the dump, I am sure the crusher got it all in the end. Now my dad loved his job and he did indeed remain faithfully to his position. Then one day a friendly gentleman stopped by and started chit chatting with him about this and that. You know all the things that strangers talk about when they first meet. My father who like me was a talker was impressed with this guy’s friendliness. During their conversation, in what seemed not to be an intrusive way asked “If you don’t mind my asking what do you get paid for a job like this?” My father so the story goes, said and I quote “Not a hell of a lot, I just took the job for something to do and to get out of the house, all my buddies come down and we have a beer and play cards its like a get together for us old guys”, a short while later the friendly man left. That night when my dad got home from work he told my mother about the guy that had stopped around to visit. Soon after a letter arrived in the mail telling him he had to appear in the office of The Department of Labor, there was no explanation as to why. My father was terrified he didn’t understand what it was all about. We kept the appointment; it turned out to be that the friendly man with whom my father had the great conversation was a government official checking on people that were getting under paid the minimum wage. So after three years of employment they gave my father a pink slip and a sizable check, back pay for all the hours he had worked, and took his job away, it seems that the town felt they could not afford to pay the price. Well this check could have been considered a reward but my father tried to explain that he did not want the check he wanted his job back, but no go. The friendly man said sorry the laws the law. There were days however before his job came to an end he did find among the rubble many treasures and I will mention only those that I still have and treasure to this day.

#I) a complete set of sterling silver flat wear in a dark brown leather case, it has a wonderful pattern and I still use it today, in fact its our best and used only on special occasions.

# 2) A beautiful piece of glass wear that I had appraised, I was told it was known as A Thousand Eyes, I have it displayed along with our other glass pieces. clip_image002

# 3) I am not sure what it really is, I have taken it to two different antique dealers and neither could tell if it was sterling silver or not and nor could they tell me for sure what it’s function was meant to be. Both thought it may be a Russian wedding cup but both had reservations and would not give an appraisal. One did suggest that it may have been made by Paul Revere; he was a silver smith in his day. I will put a picture of these treasures in so that you may view them. This piece has an appearance of having been hammered and deeply engraved with scenes of houses and churches with steeples and ocean scenes with boats, all old in appearance definitely not of our day and time. clip_image003

#4) this most of all is what I and many others have called a fantastic find a collection of over 500 Civil War covers. Anyone not familiar with the word covers, they are envelops that came out during the Civil War and they depict pictures showing the battles, generals and etc. all related to the war. Along with this box of goodies was also a very tattered , mildew and torn Civil War uniform, my mother kept all the buttons and I have them, however I have sold many on Ebay. clip_image004

Perhaps because of my fathers dump picking days there was something in his genes that led to the fascination I have with the art of dump picking. At least I was able to until these arthritic knees started keeping me from that pleasure, I do however cast a wondering and longing eye when I go to deposit my rubbish. My days of picking resulted in several treasures worth mentioning. There was the … Oriental rug that nearly broke my back trying to load it into the car, but with determination I succeeded and the reward was the sum of seven hundred and twenty five dollars from a prominent antique dealer. Then there was the… peddle car, a nineteen fifty six Volkswagen Convertible it has a few nick and bruises but like my father just could not leave it behind so its in my basement waiting for the right offer to come along, or maybe become an Ebay item. Then there was the day that we really hit pay dirt, you understand that our picking took place before the days of recycling when many people thought of dump picking as a pass time, at least they did on the island. By now we had become professionals in this game of chance, we carried a pointed stick and found that careful inspection of the bags offered up prizes worth of our time and effort. That day someone had deposited a bag of goodies, sterling sliver bracelets, necklaces and even antique coins in mighty good condition. But the real kicker was, further down in the dump when Betty found a … quarter and the date on it was the year she was born, no I’m not telling you what year. Then low and behold she came across a … sterling silver bracelet and attached to it was a dime with the same date as the quarter and when she turned it over the reverse side had been sanded off and the name Betty had been engraved on it. We both were a little shaken up and Betty said do you think this is some kind of omen. She took it to the jewelers and was told it was a very fine custom piece and hand made.

Damn these arthritic knees and now a bad back, I do miss my picking days. But the pain and discomfort helps me to forgive the upgrading of the land fill.