This Week in Lincolnville: One Determined Woman
“Don’t tell me I can’t do something!” That might as well be Corelyn Senn’s motto as anyone who knows her will attest. For someone who lives alone deep in the woods on a nearly impassable road her name is quite familiar to the 900-plus members of the Lincolnville Bulletin Board. More about that later; suffice it to say, her notoriety in town predated the 10-year-old LBB.
Corelyn arrived here in 1996, the new owner of the Cats Pajamas, a cat boarding business located on South Cobbtown Road. It was a strange turn in the life of a woman who’d spent the previous 20 years as a Unitarian minister with churches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia. As she says, “I’m pretty old; I’ve done a lot of different things.”
Those included living in Europe for a time, raising two children in Virginia and Massachusetts, working in religious education, getting a master’s from Harvard, to becoming minister at a church in Cambridge, and many years working with children in different settings.
Corelyn grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, where her father was a pediatrician and child psychiatrist connected with Yale. She speaks of a childhood spent mainly around adults – her parents and her father’s academic colleagues. Imagine being the only child of a pediatric psychiatrist. She’s described it as being her parents’ experiement.
Corelyn’s love of the outdoors was set early, on her Norwegian grandparents’ Wisconsin farm, where she spent her childhood summers and remembers being told she “did everything like a boy.”
She happily went off to boarding school at the Putney School in Vermont as a young teenager, a school that describes itself as a place where “thinking and doing are interwoven…..[where] people learn best by doing rather than by being told.”
Students did farm chores, worked outdoors, and were generally expected to learn to be self-sufficient, a lesson Corelyn took in wholeheartedly. After Putney, she studied early childhood education at Sarah Lawrence College, and some years later received her master’s in divinity.
Then that change in direction, after her children were grown and her decision to leave the ministry brought her to Lincolnville. Before long she found herself involved in a controversy of a sort which started when she asked a simple question: “Why weren’t the selectmen’s meetings being televised?”
“I have to be interested,” she says, “when I’m bored, I love to stir the pot.”
She’d been attending those meetings, interested in learning about her new town and how it ran. Though there was usually a local reporter covering the meetings much of the selectmen’s conversation around decisions didn’t make it into the articles those reporters wrote. Shouldn’t citizens be able to hear the full story? Why should people have to attend the meetings when they could watch it at home on the public access cable channel? It should be fairly simple to video the proceedings at these meetings and broadcast them on that channel, she argued.
There was a surprising bit of opposition from some selectmen who were initially uncomfortable with the idea of appearing on television. Corelyn found herself smack in the middle of a controversy that was basically her own making as she pushed for opening up the proceedings to everyone in town with cable. For those of us who’d been living here for years, maybe for our whole lives, this was unheard of, a newcomer challenging the status quo this way.
But as she usually does, Corelyn prevailed. Within a year or so there was a camera trained on every selectmen’s meeting, sending out the proceedings to everyone in town with cable. Moreover, after repeatedly trying to bring up issues at the meetings and being told she had to get on the agenda, the agenda itself was changed . Now the first item on every selectman’s agenda is “Citizen’s Forum” when anyone can take the mic and inform the board of an issue in town that needs addressing.
It wasn’t long before Corelyn felt the need to do more than talk to her cats, and so she went to work for Midcoast Mental Health’s child and family support program. Today she’s still doing that work, now for Broadreach, an agency for kids and adults with special needs. At various times in the past nearly 20 years she’s been a one-on-one for individual children after school as well as at Mill Lane, an inclusive early childhood program in Belfast with students who have a range of needs.
She stays interested by constantly coming up with new and fun things to do with her charges. Geo-caching, the outdoor treasure hunt where participants follow clues to find caches hidden in the woods, kept both Corelyn and the children she mentored busy. Dozens of Waldo County children have benefitted from her enthusiasm for the outdoors, for wildlife, and for science.
In her regular day job at Mill Lane she devises science experiments to perform with a 4-year old, experiments that involve “oceans of vinegar and piles of baking soda, black light and fluorescent paint.”
There’s a vegetable garden at Mill Lane, woodland trails, plaster animal tracks, devised by a woman who hates to be bored and who loves to intrigue preschoolers to look at the world around them.
It’s not at all unusual for her to run into former students, all grown up now, who still remember with fondness the things she did with them when they were young and in need of a friend.
Corelyn, who is 76 and, by the way, dealing with quite serious back and nerve issues, which cause constant pain, does find time to relax after her day job. And that’s how her fans on the LBB know her. She tends some 20 game cameras set up around her own property near Ducktrap Mountain and at various places all over town. She generally doesn’t reveal the locations both to maintain the landowners’ privacy and to protect any animals that may show up.
She stocks her freezer with various dead animal parts that come her way – fish guts, dead chickens, meat someone’s cleaned out of their freezer – and uses them as bait to lure animals near her cameras. She also carries feed all winter long to the deer which yard up on Ducktrap Mountain and to the bird feeders around her house. The antics of various animals in front of her two live-feed cameras keep her entertained in the middle of the night, playing on a TV in her bedroom. The infrared light on the camera reaches 30 feet into the woods in the night, and a mic picks up what the animals are saying.
MONDAY, July 16
Schoolhouse Museum Open, 1-4 p.m., LIA building, 33 Beach Road
Recreation Committee meets, 6 p.m., Town Office
TUESDAY, July 17
Book Group, 6 p.m., Library
WEDNESDAY, July 18
Schoolhouse Museum Open, 1-4 p.m., LIA building, 33 Beach Road
On Raising Guide Dog puppies, 7 p.m., Library
THURSDAY, July 19
Soup Café, Noon-1 p.m., Community Building
FRIDAY, July 20
Schoolhouse Museum Open, 1-4 p.m., LIA building, 33 Beach Road
SATURDAY, July 21
Indoor Flea Market, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Community Building, 18 Searsmont Road
Coleman Pond Association meeting, 9 a.m., 32 Brawn Road
AA meetings, Tuesdays & Fridays at 12:15 p.m., Wednesdays & Sundays at 6 p.m., United Christian Church
Lincolnville Community Library, open Tuesdays 4-7, Wednesdays, 2-7, Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon. For information call 706-3896.
Soup Café, every Thursday, noon—1p.m., Community Building, Sponsored by United Christian Church. Free, though donations to the Community Building are appreciated
Schoolhouse Museum open Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 1-4 p.m.
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., Children’s Church during service, 18 Searsmont Road
July 23-24: Photography Workshop
Thanks to her cameras, LBB subscribers have become familiar with river otters, beavers, fishers, bobcats, deer, red and gray foxes, moose, coyotes, mink, skunks, raccoons, turkeys, crows, and an occasional bear.
Corelyn posts the best of the hundreds and hundreds of shots she gets as the animals’ movement triggers the cameras. Is there an animal that’s proving elusive? That would be a mountain lion; so far, though people report sightings from time to time, it hasn’t shown up at one of her cameras.
For the past 10 years or so, Corelyn has taken our dog out on a hike every week, her Sunday dog she calls him. Actually, it’s been two dogs, both Golden Retrievers. The first, Sammy, was as adventurous as Corelyn herself, ready to go anywhere with her.
When Sammy died, puppy Fritz took over, though it was a good many months before she began to see his good qualities. Fritz is a bit more timid, less reckless than his predecessor which ought to be advantageous in the long run.
As she and her Sunday dog roamed farther and farther afield, especially on North Cobbtown Road, Corelyn began noticing cellar holes. That sent her to the Waldo County Registry of Deeds to figure out who might have lived in those long-ago houses. She began putting names to these rough, stone-lined holes in the middle of the woods. Before long she’d uncovered a whole neighborhood, complete with its own school, District 13 known as the Cobbtown School.
Every summer she leads a popular tour up and down North Cobbtown Road, showing the people who have summer cottages on Pitcher the sites that have been right under their noses all along, the hidden history of their shore.
Her most impressive accomplishment as a researcher of things old found in the woods was discovering the person she fondly calls “Willie”, the 26-year-old man who lies beneath a lone stone, apparently the only grave in a rock-walled cemetery well off the beaten path of the North Cobbtown neighborhood. “William Delano, 26 years old, died 1826”.
The big question in her mind was always “who was this guy who doesn’t appear to be related to anyone here; what brought him to this spot?”
It took 12 years of poring over old records, corresponding with various Delanos around the country, and a trip to New Bedford, Massachusetts, to finally connect William Delano with the Drinkwaters who are known to have settled the shores of Pitcher Pond in the early 1800s. He must have been part of their entourage in some fashion.
Heading out into the woods, checking her cameras, exploring (and climbing down into) old cellar holes, hauling buckets of feed up trails, pulling feed on a sled over snow, navigating slippery and treacherous rocky terrain – there’s no stopping her. And no telling her what she “ought” to do!
Librarian Elizabeth Eudy reports:
Book Group meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. If you have read a book recently that includes or highlights interesting aspects of a culture or place unlike your own, please come join us and share what you loved about the book. It can be fiction or nonfiction. For this meeting we will each talk briefly about some of the fascinating things we enjoyed learning - we maybe even bring a tasty tidbit from that culture! (Yum!) Or just come to listen! All are welcomed!
Get ready for your cute fix! Wednesday at 7 p.m. Carol Rogers will be talking about her experiences fostering “puppies-in-training”. These puppies are specially chosen to be trained as guide dogs for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. “Raisers” like Carol nurture the puppies, patiently teaching basic skills and providing varied public outings. After a year or more, the well-socialized, young dogs are returned to Guiding Eyes to begin their guide dog training. Several adorable trainees will be in attendance.
Indoor Flea Market
The Lincolnville Center Indoor Flea Market regularly scheduled third Saturday of the month market takes place this Saturday, July 21st from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. A full house of vendors will be selling everything from antiques to handcrafts to "curiosities." Event sponsor, the United Christian Church, will offer baked goods, breakfast casseroles, and beverages. All welcome. For more information call 785-3521.
Coleman Pond Association
This year’s annual meeting will be Saturday, July 21, 9 a.m. at 32 Brawn Road. The speaker will be Roger Rittmaster a member of the Camden Conservation Commission, explaining polystyrene in dock floats, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Anyone interested in the topic is welcome.
A Week in the Life of Lincolnville
Starting Monday, July 23, through Friday July 27 9 amateur photographers from around the country under the direction of local photographer, Tillman Crane will be getting to know us as a community, roaming around, visiting various businesses and places of activity to put together a photographic record of who we are. All of this is in preparation for the United Christian Church’s celebration of the old Meeting House, their building’s 200th anniversary in 2020.