Stop for a minute and think about your childhood summers. What does the word “summer” evoke for you? The first memory that pops into my head is my six-year-old self, lying under the dining room table. It’s a blistering hot and humid Illinois day, but our house is cool because my mother pulled down all the shades early in the morning, trapping the chill night air. The wool carpet is itchy where it touches my skin, and I’m dreamily looking up at the underside of the dining room table.
That’s it. A summer afternoon in my childhood. Just growing and thinking and storing up sensations, the stuff kids are supposed to be doing. There were plenty of days at the beach in my childhood, time following my dad around the garden, drinking ice tea on the porch with my mom, but aimlessly lying on the wool carpet under our table still means summer.
Overhearing two moms discussing their young daughters’ summer plans the other day brought it back. One mom was looking into Y day camp, the other at a sailing program to fill the time after the little girls finished the current week’s activity. Children who’ve just days ago been sprung from the routine of school — getting up on schedule, hurrying through breakfast, gathering up their gear, all in time to make the school bus.
Here’s what Joyce Wiley Webb remembered about the summers between 1925 and 1935 she spent in Lincolnville with her cousins:
“I looked forward to my summers with such anticipation that I packed my straw suitcase three weeks in advance of leaving Portland. Charles Lindbergh made an historic flight in 1927; I made an historic flight every year from the city to country by less advanced means of transportation. Whether I took the train to Rockland to be met by my cousins, or whether we drove up Route 1 on a busy Sunday and had to wait for hours in Bath for the ferry, it was all the same. I was on my way.
“My uncle, Lawrence Rankin, lived on the Rackliff-Rankin farm located about half way between Lincolnville Center and Lincolnville Beach on Route 173 (783 Beach Road), which in those days was surfaced with washboard gravel to Stevens Corner.
“At the farm, besides my uncle, there lived my Aunt Helen and their five children: Malcolm, Frances, George, Virginia and Laura, my double cousins. My Grandmother, Cora Rackliff Rankin, and my great-aunt, Edna Rackliff, also spent summers there. In the next house along the road to the right toward Lincolnville Center lived Sarah, Olive and Ralph Rackliffe. The area was then known as Rackliffe Town.
“The set of white buildings where my uncle lived had been constructed in 1865 by my great-grandfather, Samuel Rackliffe. The house contained six bedrooms, an ell chamber over the kitchen, parlor, dining room, kitchen and buttery. At right angles to the house was another wing containing the lower and upper sheds and the barn.
“It was to her playhouse in the upper shed that my cousin Laura always hurried me upon my arrival. The playhouse consisted of an area separated by ragged curtains into two rooms, a living room with a Victorian sofa upholstered in gold plush, but leaking excelsior, and a kitchen equipped with various enamel pans and a set of miniature square ironstone china dishes.
“Up another flight of stairs was Laura’s store, stocked with empty Royal baking powder tins, Kellogg’s corn flake boxes and play money. In back of the store under an ox yoke were stacked a number of wooden forms for making shoes. There were tin telephones connecting the playhouse and the store. We shouted only a little louder to hear each other than the adults did on the party line in the house.
“During those years jobs for adults were provided both by the federal government’s alphabet agencies and by such public spirited summer people as Mrs. Edward Bok who financed the construction of the ampitheatre behind the Camden Public Library and the landscaping of the Rockport waterfront. For us there were a few dollars to be earned by picking strawberries at three cents a basket for Donald Heald or Williard Calderwood.
“Some of our strawberry earnings were spent at John Collemer’s store, located a short distance up the road from the farm, for Old Nick candy bars and Moxie, a beverage which tasted like a cross between sarsaparilla and root beer. It was advertised by a white-coated young man, who later might have posed for ‘Doctors’ Recommend’ ad, impolitely pointing his finger and ordering all sundry to ‘Drink Moxie.’ If our money ran out we made wine, a non-alcoholic beverage concocted from currants, water and sugar.
“Besides picking strawberries for the neighbors, my cousins had chores at home. Picking and preparing vegetables, weeding the garden, pulling prickly kale from several acres of yellow-eyed beans and haying were all fun to me because I did not have to do them.
“In spite of household and outdoor chores there was plenty of time for us to go to Coleman Pond, a half mile down the field. We would hurry down the field with Scotty bounding joyously ahead of us. Scotty was not a Scotch terrier. He was a smooth-haired dog, a successful amalgam of German shepherd and collie. He chased the swooping field swallows, but I doubt that he ever caught one.
“At the pond we went swimming, fished for yellow perch or rowed the flat-bottomed boat over to Dana Spaulding’s cove where the fragrant water lilies grew in the deep muck. No one ever waded there except my Aunt Gertrude Rankin, who in spite of our warnings tried it once. As she sank into the muck almost up to her waist we extricated her with some difficulty. We forgave her stupidity as she was city folk and did not know any better.
“No one had to tell us it was time to get up on the Fourth of July. We were up at dawn. I grabbed my red, white and blue horn, and we were off down the road to rouse the Rackliffes who were no doubt expecting us.
“On that day I was allowed to shoot my cap pistol, throw torpedoes on the granite doorstep and shoot off strings of tiny Chinese crackers. Cousin George was the only one to be entrusted with the firing of the four-inch salutes.
“We children loved the Fourth, the adults tolerated it, but the dog, Scotty, hated it. At the firing of the first firecracker he crawled under Aunt Helen’s bed and celebrated the whole of Independence Day in a state of fear and trembling.
“In the evening the younger children were allowed to light sparklers and Roman candles. One evening Malcolm and George were shooting off skyrockets. One whizzed up and whizzed back again bursting in front of the dining room window. Luckily, the adults sitting on the doorstep saw it coming and fled before it shattered the window.
“After the Fourth, when the green peas were supposed to accompany the traditional Penobscot Bay salmon, they really came on. This was of interest to Snooky, a handsome black cat with four white paws and an immaculate white vest. He was usually to be found under Aunt Edna’s rocker when she was shelling peas. If a pea missed her dish and bounced across the kitchen floor, Snooky streaked after it. It was not a plaything; he ate it at once and resumed his watchful stance under the chair, being careful to keep his tail out from under the rocker.
“September came too soon. Early one morning George, Virginia, and Laura were waiting for the school team while I was reluctantly repacking my suitcase. Another summer was over.”
Read all of Joyce Wiley Webb’s wonderful story of summer in Lincolnville in Jackie Watts’ Lincolnville Memories, which she published in 1983. If you don’t have a copy, you can borrow it from the Lincolnville Library; it has lots of memoirs like Joyce’s.
MONDAY, July 13
Schoolhouse Museum Open, 1-4 p.m., 33 Beach Road
Conservation Commission, 4 p.m., Town Office
Selectmen meet, 6 p.m., Town Office
TUESDAY, July 14
Lincolnville Women’s Club breakfast, 8:30 a.m., The Mill Restaurant
WEDNESDAY, July 15
Fernalds Neck walk, 10 a.m., Fernalds Neck parking lot
Schoolhouse Museum Open, 1-4 p.m., 33 Beach Road
Recreation Commission, 6:30 p.m., Town Office
Poetry Program, 7 p.m., Library
THURSDAY, July 16
Soup Café, Noon to 1 p.m., Community Building
L.I.A. potluck and annual meeting, 5:30 p.m., L.I.A. Building
FRIDAY, July 17
Children’s Story Time, 10 a.m., Lincolnville Library
Schoolhouse Museum Open, 1-4 p.m., 33 Beach 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 763-4343.
Soup Café, every Thursday, noon—1p.m., Community Building, Sponsored by United Christian Church. Free, though donations to the kitchen/bathroom fund are appreciated
Schoolhouse Museum open by appointment only until June 2015: call Connie Parker, 789-5984
July 21: Fair Isle knitting workshop, Library
July 21: One-day closure of Beach Road (Route 173) One-day closure between Camden and Youngtown Roads for Maine DOT culvert replacement
July 22: Raindate for culvert replacement
July 26: Library’s Picnic Supper and Auction, Boat Club
Aug. 8: Blueberry Wingding
Women’s Club Breakfast
The Lincolnville Women’s Club plans to meet for breakfast Tuesday, July 14, 8:30 a.m. at the Mill, a new restaurant in Belfast. It’s across the bridge and in the same building as Th’ Barn ice cream shop. All welcome, even if you’re not a member!
Fernalds Neck Walks
Randy Fein, Seasonal Steward at Fernalds Neck Preserve, invites people to join her on the nature walks she’ll be leading on July 15, July 29 and Aug. 12, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. These Wednesday Walks will be about two miles in length and will explore different trails throughout the forested preserve. They are open to the public and free of charge; meet Randy at the trailhead parking area at the end of Fernalds Neck Road. Plan to carpool, as parking is limited to 15 spots. Directions can be found on the Coastal Mountains Land Trust website or call 236-7091.
Randy’s been a steward at the preserve for the past three years and knows it well. She says that the gentle terrain makes it appropriate for all ages; dogs are not allowed, however.
Everyone is invited to Poetry Night with Tom Crowley this Wednesday, July 15, at 7 p.m. at the Lincolnville Community Library. Tom will read from his book ”Gulls and Crows” and talk about his writing process. Those of us on the Lincolnville Bulletin Board know how he loves to respond to what’s going on with a poem! If you’re also “so inclined”, there’ll be a chance to share your poems during an open mic session toward the end of the program. Call, 763-4343 or email for more information/
Lincolnville Improvement Association Meets
The annual meeting of the L.I.A. will be held this Thursday, July 16 at the their building, 33 Beach Road. A 5:30 p.m. potluck will be followed by election of officers and a talk by town administrator Dave Kinney. Plans for the upcoming Blueberry Wingding will be finalized as well.
Lincolnville Center Indoor Flea Market
This Saturday, July 18th the monthly Indoor Flea Market, sponsored by United Christian Church, will be open 8 a.m.-noon at the Community Building, 18 Searsmont Road. Items for sale include antiques, crafts, maple syrup, household items, and books. For information or to rent a table contact Mary Schulien at 785-3521. Proceeds from the sale of books and table rentals benefit the Community Building Fund.
Fair Isle Knitting
I’ll be teaching a free workshop on Fair Isle knitting (or two-stranded color knitting) at the Library on Tuesday, July 21, 7–9 p.m. Anyone interested in learning about the technique is welcome. We’ll be knitting a sample using double point needles; knitters should bring #4 or #5 dp needles if you want to do the sample. Contact Sheila, 763-4343, to register, and to let us know if yoy’ll be knitting. Yarn will be provided.
The 22nd Strawberry Festival is a thing of the past this morning. Saturday was a perfect summer day, and all the elements of the S.F. were in place – shortcake, puppets, parade, music, games, crafts, hot dogs, and kids. Proceeds from this one day are a big part of United Christian Church’s budget, the money that keeps the church operating, and the wonderful 1820 meeting house in good shape.
Next up is the Lincolnville Community Library’s fourth annual Old-time Picnic Supper and Auction on Sunday, July 26, 5- 7 p.m. at the Boat Club across from the Library. Rose Lowell’s Dolce Vita bakery will provide the traditional menu of pulled pork or vegetarian beans and homemade rolls, with Lincolnville’s other good cooks bringing hearty salads and homemade cookies; watermelon and lemonade round it out. Auctioneer Rosey Gerry will provide the entertainment, as he auctions off the many donations from Lincolnville folks, a complete list to be printed next week. Tickets for the supper are $10 for adults, $5 for children, while those under 4 and over 90 eat for free.
Rounding out our summer fund-raising events is the L.I.A.’s Blueberry Wingding, Saturday August 8, which features a very popular blueberry pancake breakfast at McLaughlin’s Restaurant on Ferry Road.
While each of these events benefits a different organization, all of them depend on volunteers from throughout the community. Not every body dishing up strawberry shortcake is a member of the UCC, nor are all the donors to the Library auction involved in the Library, ditto the Wingding. It does, indeed, take a village to make a community.
Good-bye to Sally
Finally, Sally Laite slipped quietly away from us one morning last week, dying at the home on Main Street where she’d lived for many years, first with her husband, Keryn and family, and in recent years, since Keryn passed away, alone. Perhaps you knew her as the woman behind the desk at the Lincolnville Telephone Company, back when that company was actually in Lincolnville. Or you only knew her as the slight figure often seen walking through the Center, on her way to the Library or to fill a water jug at the Boat Club/former Fire Station spigot. I’ll miss her; for sure, I’m not the only one.