Probably because I lived by the school calendar for most of my adult life, with a teacher husband and raising three sons, September has always felt like a beginning. New clothes, new pencils, virgin notebooks and everyone out the door. Everyone but me, that is.
Except for the four years I taught way back at the beginning of our lives together, Wally was the one heading into the new year and I was the one staying home. It’s with a bit of amazement that I realize I haven’t held a job since 1971. Juggling babies and a household that included pigs, a cow, hens, etc. felt like job enough most days.
These days, however, it’s the rare woman who doesn’t go off to work somewhere no matter how many children she’s managing. I’m in awe of those women, their energy, their ability to do a job, raise kids, and keep a house together. I don’t see how I could have done it. Maybe without the barnful of critters.
I was pregnant with son number two in the summer of 1974 when Wally decided I ought to have “something to do” if I was to continue staying home with the kids. He encouraged me to set up a darkroom, which I did in our one bathroom, so I could learn to develop photos. That was short-lived, as the bathtub was the only place for the enlarger.
Then he found an ad in Uncle Henry’s for a potters’ wheel. “How about that?” he wondered. Sure, I agreed, I’d like to try that. We went to pick it up in Rockport on the third floor of the building known as the Beehive. It turned out to be a kickwheel, and the wheel itself was a three-foot diameter slab of concrete. Somehow we got it down those three flights of stairs and home to the barn where it sat for the next several years. I wasn’t cut out to be a potter.
But he hit it right the day he spotted an ad for a loom; the Union Historical Society had one for sale in their summer auction. We gathered up our three-year-old and went off to get me a loom. It turned out to be a pile of dusty lumber, guaranteed to be “all there” by its elderly owner, a Mr. Lenfest of the town of Washington. He remembered his grandmother weaving for her family on it when he was a little boy. He guessed it was 150 years old or more.
When it came up, I bid $5, a not unreasonable sum in 1974 when treadle sewing machines went for a dollar. (I know, because we bought one of those too). The good people of the Union Historical Society wanted to get rid of the loom, but also wanted to make something on it so one of them started bidding against me. When we got to $100, he dropped out and the loom was mine. One hundred dollars and I was set up with a new career. Or so it turned out, though at the time I wondered where this purported loom would fit into a barn already overflowing with pig, cow, kickwheel, etc.
MONDAY, Sept. 13
School Committee, 6 p.m., LCS (masks required)
Selectmen, 6 p.m., Town Office
TUESDAY, Sept. 14
Library open, 3-6 p.m., 208 Main Street
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 15
Schoolhouse Museum, 1-4 p.m., 33 Beach Road
Library open, 2-5 p.m., 208 Main Street
Wage and Personnel Policy Board, 5 p.m., Town Office
Comprehensive Plan Review Committee, 7 p.m.. Town Office
THURSDAY, Sept. 16
Cross-country meet, 4 p.m.. LCS fields
Broadband Committee, 5 p.m., Town Office
FRIDAY, Sept. 17
Library open, 9 a.m.-noon, 208 Main Street
Schoolhouse Museum, 1-4 p.m., 33 Beach Road
SATURDAY, Sept. 18
Library open, 9 a.m.-noon, 208 Main Street
AA meetings, Tuesdays & Fridays at noon, Community Building
Lincolnville Community Library, For information call 706-3896.
Schoolhouse Museum open M-W-F or by appointment, 505-5101 or 789-5987
Bayshore Baptist Church, Sunday School for all ages, 9:30 a.m., Worship Service at 11 a.m., Atlantic Highway
United Christian Church, Worship Service 9:30 a.m. outdoors or via Zoom
Lincolnville Improvement Association: Sept. 21
We set it up in the back room, the frame so big we could barely move around it, and me so pregnant I couldn’t fit onto the built-in bench. It would be four years, and another baby before I finally figured out all the parts, and with the help of a weaver-friend, Polly Schuessler. who lived on Youngtown Road, got it warped for the first time. And taught myself to weave.
With very little money for weaving supplies making rag rugs was a natural, a necessity. The only investment, buying the warp. Warp, the heavy cotton thread that is the base of a woven piece, was, and still is, relatively cheap. Strips of cotton or wool cloth make up the weft, woven in and out of the warp. I started by cutting into strips all the old sheets and worn-out shirts and jeans in our house for the “rags”. Before long bags of our neighbors’ and friends’ old clothes started showing up on our doorstep.
By 1985 I’d put out a sign – Sleepy Hollow Rag Rugs – and was selling rugs to passers-by. And I never went back to work.
Fast forward 25 years or so. It’s September 1999, the start of the new year when the kids and teachers head off to school, only this is the year Wally’s been waiting for. He’d retired the previous June after 35 years in the classroom, 6 as teaching principal in Lincolnville, and the rest in Castine’s Adams School. He said, when I wondered if the sight of the big yellow bus barreling past our house would be hard for him, “you’ve got to be kidding!”
But I wasn’t far off. He puttered and painted and mowed and fixed everything in sight until the day came when there wasn’t anything left.
“You need something to do,” I said.
So, I taught him to weave. He wasn’t the most patient pupil, but somehow, we got through it, even the times I made him tear something out to fix a mistake. I knew he was hooked the night he woke me up saying, “I wonder if I should put some yellow in that rug I’m doing.” He wove nearly every day for the next 17 years, wove or cut up cloth or warped the loom. As for me, I retired from weaving.
It’s a story I tell whenever a new customer comes in and stays long enough to appear interested in what we do. The “we” of course, has changed. After Wally died I had no intention of weaving again. After all, I hadn’t woven a rug in the 17 years of his retirement from teaching. But the old loom, its beater now polished from the touch of his hand, beckoned.
One day, on my way to feed the hens, I thought I heard the thump-thump of the loom from the barn studio, the comforting sound that meant Wally was working on a rug. Of course he wasn’t. But a few days later I sat down at the loom and finished the piece he’d left undone. And I haven’t stopped weaving since.
There’s a lot to be said for staying put. For instance, watching the seasons change through the same windows, cleaning out the same garden beds, hearing the yellow bus thunder by, right on time. Children tumble out of the shed door, burdened down with backpacks, hair still wet from the shower, off to another year of school.
Seeing September in again.
And yes, after some 15 months of Covid schooling – sometimes all remote, sometimes half in person, half remote – all our school age children are back in the building where they belong. Everybody masked to be sure, but thanks to the masks, many of the Covid restrictions such as not eating together in the cafeteria have been lifted.
This week’s Lynx Tracks thoroughly covers the school’s plan for safely reopening. Whether you have children at LCS or not, it is interesting to read how the staff and school committee have structured things for this pandemic time. Interestingly, the school now offers, free of charge, two meals a day to all students. There’s a mid-morning substantial snack (yogurt parfaits, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pizzas, and fresh fruit) and hot lunch which includes a choice of a sandwich (pb and J or ham and cheese) or a hot entrée. This is a state-funded program for all schools – what a great plan, making sure all children are well-fed.
The Busline League Cross-country schedule has the first meet this Thursday, Sept. 16 at Lincolnville. The girls run at 4:00 and the boys at 4:45. Cross country is a fun sport to watch as the kids run past the cheering parents and into and out of the woods. The first soccer game of the season had to be cancelled because of illness.
Words of Wisdom from Freddie Gray
One of the pleasures of staying put is the people you get to know. And if you stay put for a really long time many of them are now long gone. Freddie Gray, for instance, did beautiful marquetry which is the “process of making decorative designs using various wood veneers of contrasting colours and grain patterns.” He was a master at it; United Christian Church, where Freddie was a member, has examples of his work hanging on its walls. I have a clock he made with a colorful bird on it.
He liked handing out little printed aphorisms; here’s the one that I’ve had taped to my loom since the day he gave it to me:
The Clock of Life is wound but once and no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop at late or early hour;
Today is the only day we own so live, love, toil with will,
Put no faith in tomorrow, the hands may then be still.