This Week in Lincolnville: Swiss Hardy – College Boy
Last week, after living for several years at the Maine Veterans Home in Augusta, Willard — Swiss to everyone who knew him — Hardy quietly passed away. Swiss had increasingly drifted into dementia and could hardly have known that this was the very week his whole clan would be reuniting at their Coleman Pond camp to return his sister’s, Dorothy — Dot — Hardy Santi, remains to Youngtown Cemetery. Dot passed away last November at the age of 94; Swiss was her younger brother by two years. The two, along with the youngest Hardy, Charlie, grew up on their parents’ Youngtown Road farm. Swiss never went far from that farm, except during World War II and winter trips to Florida. Dot, after her marriage to Gene Santi, made her home in Dayton, Ohio, but returned to Youngtown Road every summer, where she was happily surrounded by a crowd of relatives — cousins, first and second, nieces, nephews, and of course, her brother Swiss. Her daughter, Jan and husband Tom Shandera, lived nearby on Scoppa Road for many of those years.
I had the privilege of helping Swiss write Eighty Years and Still Going Strong, his life story. As a long-time employee at Rankins in Camden, he was well known in the area, and when that book was finished, he could barely keep up with the demand, as copies flew off Rankins’ counter.
“I had to have another hundred printed,” he’d tell me every few months. Here’s a story I included in Staying Put in Lincolnville, Maine 1900-1950. It’s vintage Swiss; doing the impossible, or at least the improbable, always flirting with bodily harm. He was quite a guy, and I’m so glad to have known him.
And maybe, just maybe, Swiss did understand what his family must have been telling him, that everyone would be assembling in Lincolnville for Dot this next weekend. Her service will be Saturday, July 2, at Youngtown Cemetery; his will be Sunday, July 3, 1 p.m. at United Christian Church.
College Boy: Swiss Hardy — 1942
MONDAY, June 27
Selectmen meet, 5 p.m. at Town Pier, 6 p.m. at Town Office
TUESDAY, June 28
Needlework Group, 4-6 p.m., Library
Lakes and Ponds Committee, 7 p.m., Town Office
WEDNESDAY, June 29
Community Solar Farm Program, 6:30 p.m., L.I.A. Building, 33 Beach Road
THURSDAY, June 30
Soup Café, noon- 1 p.m., Community Building
Veterans Park Committee meets, 6 p.m., Library
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 Good Neighbor Fund are appreciated
Schoolhouse Museum is open M-W-F, 1-4 p.m.; call Connie Parker for a special appointment, 789-5984
Bayshore Baptist Church, Sunday School for all ages, 9:30 a.m., Worship Service at 11 a.m.
United Christian Church, Worship Service 9:30 a.m., Children’s Church during service
July 9: Annual Strawberry Festival
Something wasn’t working right. Swiss Hardy had been standing by the side of the road with his cousin Vinal Hardy’s suitcase at his feet for almost half an hour. The signs taped to it read “CAMDEN” on one side and “U OF M” on the other. He’d carefully set the suitcase so approaching motorists saw the CAMDEN side.
“It always works for me,” Vinal had told him this morning. “Just stick out your thumb; they’ll stop.” Swiss hadn’t bothered with the thumb, since not a single car had passed by yet. He’d taken the bus down from Orono to Hampden where he’d hoped to catch a ride home to Lincolnville. He sighed and picked up the suitcase; he might as well start walking. As he strode along he thought how the events of the past year and a half since his Camden High School graduation had put him afoot on this unfamiliar roadside in the middle of winter.
First off, he’d needed a job, and it looked for a time as if that would be at Bath Iron Works. Even as far back as the spring of ’41 the military build-up had started, though the U.S. wouldn’t enter the war until December, and B.I.W. was coming in for its share of the work. Horace Bryant, a Youngtown Road neighbor, told him where to apply. Swiss was hired and then sent in for a physical. “When do I start?” he’d asked the personnel man afterwards.
“You don’t,” he was told. The physical exam revealed that he had a bad eye, and they wouldn’t be hiring him after all. At about the same time his high school sweetheart, Virginia Carr, who had enlisted in the Air Force, was sent to Lubbock, Texas, to be a cook. And Swiss ended up back in Camden, working at the Hughes Woolen Mill on Gould Street, where his father Si was working, as well. He decided to begin saving up the tuition for the University of Maine in Orono.
He started out in the mill’s card room where the raw wool was put through wire-studded rollers to align all the fibers in the same direction. The wool was dirty and greasy when it first came in, the fleeces stuffed in burlap bags just as they’d come off the sheep. The smell of lanolin and animal was strong in the card room. His boss moved him around, to the picker room where the newly-woven cloth was teased and plucked, then later to the fulling room where the cloth was wetted down to make the fibers felt together. He worked overtime every chance he got, for that was the only way he was ever going to save enough on his $14.25 weekly salary.
But mills were dangerous places. One day he tangled up with the carding machine and could have gotten killed. The doffer belt had come off and in trying to put it back on, it caught his arm and pulled him around. He hit a cog gear and then was smashed, headfirst, onto the floor. He was pretty dazed, but he managed to walk, and they got him to the hospital down on Mountain Street. The cut under his eye needed 13 stitches, and then they sent him home. When his father came in later that afternoon, he was surprised to see him lying on the couch. No one had told him that his son had been in an accident.
When the 1942 fall term started, he was glad to leave the mill behind. Swiss and Vinal, who were double cousins, since their fathers were brothers and their mothers were sisters, were roommates in a cabin on the Stillwater River in Orono. The war was on everybody’s mind this fall, and Swiss tried to join the ROTC on campus. He wasn’t surprised to be turned down, though—that bad eye again. But at least they said he could play in the ROTC band.
He got a campus job cleaning films. Each time a movie was shown in class it had to be cleaned with carbon tetrachloride, and its broken places patched. Swiss worked in a tiny cellar room with no ventilation. Those carbon tet fumes could get pretty strong, but Swiss figured after his months in the woolen mill he could take anything.
Now that cold weather had set in the cabin was freezing, especially in the mornings. A couple of days ago it was 38 below; Swiss found a few live coals in the woodstove and managed to get a fire going. But when he started to put the tea kettle on he discovered it had frozen and broken! Vinal thought it was pretty funny, but then he hadn’t budged from his warm bed, preferring to watch Swiss struggle into his clothes and try to get the fire started.
At least it had warmed up some since that really cold morning. Swiss saw a town-line sign coming into view now — Winterport it said. In all the miles since Hampden only one car had passed him, and that was going the other way. There was virtually no traffic today. He’d heard that gas rationing was causing people to stay home more, but this was ridiculous. Between going to classes and working he didn’t get off campus much; he guessed he was out of touch.
He kept going right through Winterport, through Frankfort and along the Penobscot. Here the wind off the river was brutal. Great clouds of snow blew across the open expanse of water and tidal flats, all but obliterating the sun, and piling up along the snow fences meant to protect the road from drifting in. One car came along, but Swiss was concentrating on just putting one foot ahead of another, and before he thought to stick out his thumb, it went past him in a cloud of exhaust and blowing snow. At least he was wearing a hat today. The other morning, the 38-below day, he’d run off to class hatless, and ended up freezing his ears. In algebra, the boy behind him noticed they were double their normal size; Swiss couldn’t even dent them with a fingernail.
Near Prospect, he began to think maybe he could make the McLaughlin Brothers’ bus going down the coast. With no watch he wasn’t sure of the time, but then he wasn’t sure of the bus schedule either. It would be sheer luck if he got to the Stockton Springs bus stop in time. Just to be sure Swiss started to jog up the last hill before Stockton, and then down into the village. The bus was just ready to pull away, but the driver saw him coming and waited. Swiss sank down gratefully into his seat. He’d seen a total of three cars since Hampden, and not one had stopped for him.
Almost before he’d had time to catch his breath, it seemed, the bus came into Belfast. Swiss climbed down and started walking again, this time out Route 137 (today’s Route 52) through Northport into Lincolnville. Blessedly, a familiar car came alongside somewhere in Northport; it was Bert Eugley, and he told him to hop in. Swiss said he could let him off in the Center and he’d walk the last two and a half miles, but Bert kindly drove him all the way to Youngtown Road and home. He stood in the driveway while Bert turned around to go back to the Center, vowing this would be the last time he’d ever hitchhike.
Within a couple of weeks of this trip home Swiss received his draft notice. This time the Army overlooked his “bad eye” and took him. At about the same time his roommate and cousin, Vinal Hardy, was drafted as well; he, however, was killed in action. Read his story here. Swiss served at various bases in the States, in Germany as a cook, and as an escort at the Nuremburg Trials, finally coming home in the spring of 1946, and marrying his high school sweetheart, Virginia Carr.
The new slate of town officials has been duly elected and sworn in following the election a couple of weeks ago: Dave Barrows is our new selectman, Briar Lyons and Michael Johnson are School Committee members, David Perkins, CSD Board, and Budget Committee members are Cecil Dennison, Robyn Tarantino, Sandra Thomas, and John Williams. Congratulations, and thanks from all of us here in Lincolnville for “stepping up to the plate” and running for one of the open seats on our town’s boards.
And a big thank you to Rosey Gerry, stepping down after serving three terms — nine years! — as one of our five selectmen. That’s at least one meeting every other Monday night for nine years, and as any selectmen will tell you, those are the good weeks. There are many, many other meetings that some or all of them attend, often being called in to the Town Office to sign a warrant or deal with some other piece of business. Although we have a town administrator running things, as David Kinney always explains, his “boss” is the Board of Selectmen. They decide on issues, he carries out their wishes.
Tuesday, 4-6 p.m., is Needlework Group at the Library. Stop by with whatever project you’re working on and enjoy visiting with other needleworkers…
Do you enjoy reading books about Maine? Librarian Sheila Polson suggests reading books in this summer’s Waldo County librarians’ discussion series, "Communicating Maine: Women Authors of the 1950s." Lincolnville Community Library’s three choices are books by Louise Dickinson Rich: “We Took To the Woods,” “The Coast of Maine,” and “Start of the Trail: the Story of a Young Maine Guide.”
The Library will host the discussion on Louise Dickinson Rich on Wednesday, August 3 at 7 p.m.; extra copies of her books are available for anyone who would like to borrow them. Wally and I re-read “We Took to the Woods” last winter and really enjoyed it.
Here is the complete schedule and list of books for the discussion series:
- July 14 at 6 p.m., Searsmont Town Library: "Contentment Cove” by Miriam Colwell
- July 21 at 6 p.m., Winterport Memorial Library: “The Day Before Winter” by Elisabeth Ogilvie
- August 3 at 7 p.m., Lincolnville Community Library: selections by Louise Dickinson Rich
- August 11 at 7 p.m., Carver Memorial Library (Searsport): “Windswept” by Mary Ellen Chase
- August 16 at 6:30 p.m., Belfast Free Library: “Spoonhandle” by Ruth MooreCommunity Solar Farm Informational Meeting
This Wednesday, June 29, at 6:30 p.m., come to the L.I.A. Building, 33 Beach Road, to learn about a new project brewing in town, a Community Solar Farm. Up to nine people will have the opportunity to buy a share of a large solar array being proposed for a parcel of land in Lincolnville. If you’re interested in learning more, Chuck Piper of Sundog Solar will present the details that night.
Camden High School Alumni Banquet
This year’s Alumni Banquet, the 111th, will be held August 12 at Point Lookout. The deadline for buying tickets, $30 each, is Friday, August 5. Order yours by sending a check payable to the CHS Alumni Association to Sheila McFarland, 448 Youngtown Road, Lincolnville. This year’s reunion classes are ’41, ’46, ’51, ’56, ’61, and ’66. This year's Scholarship winners are: Brynn Kooyenga, Natasha Morong and Emma McGurren., and two Post-Graduate Awards went to Adam Landweher and Isaac Young. Anyone needing a ride to and from the banquet, please contact David Ames, 789-5118. .
Every year when Gene Stinson sends me this item, I feel a little pang of regret that I don’t live among my childhood and high school friends as do so many of the members of the CHS Alumni Association. From time to time I see a group of them out for their monthly lunch get togethers at one of our area restaurants. For many of us, who are living our lives far from our original hometown, those old connections were severed years ago….
The Pitcher Pond Association’s newsletter, Call of the Loon, is full of interesting news around the pond, including that according to regular monthly testing during the summer the Pitcher’s water quality continues to be consistent and good. Also, Coastal Mountain land Trust has acquired 300’ of shoreline in Northport that is accessed through CMLT’s Newman Preserve on Beech Hill Road; a bequest of Elizabeth Breslin it will be known as the Breslin-Richenaker Preserve. Find the trail guide to the Newman Preserve on CMTL’s website. Also, to access the gate at Pitcher’s boat launch on North Cobbtown Road, call 1-877-878-3965 and you’ll immediately be given the combination to the lock, as well as information on how to clean your boat and trailer from invasive plants.
The Association’s annual meeting is planned for Saturday, July 30, 10 a.m. at the Community Building.
Coleman Pond’s newsletter reports that the Department of Marine Resources stocked Coleman with 1400 adult alewives this past May. Thanks to the use of a slippery tarp, the fish slid right into the pond without the delivery truck getting stuck (which apparently it’s done most other years due to the steep incline into Coleman and has had to be pulled out with a tractor.) Josh Gerritsen took some dramatic footage of the alewive stocking which will be shown at the annual meeting.
That meeting is scheduled for Saturday, July 23, 9 a.m. at Whitney Oppersdorf’s studio. Linda Bacon of the Bureau of Water Quality, Maine Department of Environmental Protection will discuss what changes might be seen if the climate variations is actually climate change. “Ice cover is the just the tip of the iceberg, ultimately effecting the lake season, chemistry, biology, and ecosystem.”
Finally, the newsletter reports that the town is seeking a $95,000 grant from MDEP to replace the Andrews Brook culvert under Slab City Road, which should enable alewives, brook trout, American eel, and even Atlantic salmon better access to Coleman Pond. The total project will cost $183,500; other entities contributing to it are The Nature Conservancy, Georges River Trout Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Trout Unlimited.
One continuing thread of talk in Lincolnville revolves around the Center General Store. Here’s a little synopsis of a recent Facebook post from Briar and Jon Fishman, owners of the store:
“Yes, there is talk! We are working with Cold Mountain Builders. We've taken some time to familiarize them and our new architect with the project, but have made great progress.... the project is next on their list.
“The first and most important part of this project is good clean water, and a lot of it.... We recently drilled a new well and found a lot of water and are currently undergoing the testing process to determine what type of filtration system we will need, if any....
“Our goal is to be open in the spring. The store will serve the needs of the community as a grocery market as well as prepared foods market..... [and] to become that place that the community gathers to fill their belly and soul.
We've been working a very long time on this project, and we assure you it will be well worth the wait. We realize how disappointing and frustrating it has been to see such an eyesore in the center.... Thank you all for your patience and support, we are all very much looking forward to being a part of the amazing revitalization that has happened in the Center.”