Peg Miller was growing up on her parents’ farm, a mile in on the Van Sickle Road, today’s Elderflower Farm during the Depression years, when people all over the country were suffering. From all accounts, though, conditions here in Lincolnville during those years hadn’t changed much from the Roaring Twenties. People were still poor, winters were long, life was no more difficult than it had always been.
“We always had plenty to eat,” said the folks I interviewed for Staying Put, the book I wrote about our town during the first half of the 20th century. Of course, those people had been children then, and not privy to their parents’ worries and struggles.
MONDAY, Jan. 13
LCS vs Hope basketball – girls play first, 3:45 p.m., Lynx Gym
Selectmen meet, 6 p.m., Town Office
TUESDAY, Jan. 14
LIA Building Assessment, 4:30 site walk at 33 Beach Road, 6:30 meeting, Town Office
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 15
Middle School Concert, 6:30 p.m., Walsh Common
Budget Committee, 6:30 p.m., Town Office
THURSDAY, MAR. 12
Soup Café, Noon-1 p.m., Community Building
Conservation Commission, 4 p.m., Town Office
EMS Performance Review, 6:30 p.m., Rockport Town Office
MONDAY, Jan. 20
Martin Luther King Day, Town Office and School Closed
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 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., Children’s Church during service, 18 Searsmont Road
Peg told me about the winter her mother, Cora Drinkwater, had an eye infection that threatened her sight. She had to get to the doctor in Rockland for a treatment every day for weeks, right in the middle of winter. But getting out, down the mile to the main road, wasn’t always possible. So every day for six weeks, Herb Thomas, who plowed the roads for the town, drove his plow truck up that road to take Cora and her husband, Grover, down to the corner of Route 52 where Grover had left his car, and then brought them back up when they returned.
People watched out for one another. When Herb was out on the roads, plowing all night long, there were houses where he could stop for coffee and a doughnut or even a warm meal. Everyone was kin, more or less, in a town with fewer than 900 souls. Phones were on party lines, several houses on the same line, each house with its own distinctive ring, though nothing stopped the nosey from listening in. News was exchanged at one of the several stores in the Center or the Beach and at the garages, Dean and Eugley’s or Rankin’s.
We’re no longer all related; our kids have scattered; many of us left our hometowns behind long ago for transient lives following jobs and whims. And finally washing up on this shore, finding ourselves, maybe at the start of our adult lives or nearer the end, settled into a town with a still strong heart of Heals, Youngs, Marriners, Knights, Thomases, Pendletons, Moodys and others (who did I leave out?!) with tight family ties.
Such an interesting mix we are. We’re carpenters, artists, fishermen, doctors, plumbers, teachers, writers, laborers. We’re ministers, cooks, mechanics, shopkeepers, lawyers, musicians. We’re bankers, accountants, electricians, therapists, farmers, social workers. And we’re all ages.
People, wherever they live, are all ages, of course, but in a small place like Lincolnville we’re more likely to interact across the age barrier. It’s a pleasure I’ve always cherished, having friends much younger and much older than I.
In spite of our differences, though, we manage to keep track of one another. We get wind of our neighbor’s troubles: a lost job, a cancer diagnosis, a sick child. Prayer concerns are voiced at church; more than once news of a death or an accident or illness is first revealed on the prayer list. When someone’s close to the end we know it, and the day we see the driveway full of cars we know he’s died. We send a card, or make a call, or drop off a casserole. Often it’s not a family member, close friend or even a near neighbor. We just know about each other across the mostly quiet, rural roads of our town.
And now we have social media, mother’s milk to the younger generations, but still something of a marvel to my cohort. Corelyn Senn, a woman living alone on a long, dead end dirt road at the extreme edge of town, a woman with no family nearby, regularly posts photos of wildlife on the Lincolnville Bulletin Board, the Google group we all can access. With trail cameras in several spots around town, including her own woods, she’s shown us the animals we live amongst. We’ve seen otters, deer, raccoons, skunks, mice, fishers, rabbits, bobcats, beavers, and coyotes, all captured as they feed or nose around, often in the middle of the night on the edges of our ponds and forests.
So when she posted a message about her health, specifically a cancer on her lip that led to three surgeries and finally, radiation, folks all over town, fans of her photos, including several she’d never met, offered to help. If your family hasn’t been touched by cancer you may not know how far we here on the coast have to travel for radiation: Corelyn could choose between Augusta, Brewer or Bath, for six weeks of treatments, five days a week.
Some people are able to drive themselves, or at least for the first few weeks, but most find that fatigue and other side effects of the radiation make driving difficult. The visiting daughter-in-law of a woman Corelyn didn’t know met with her and set up a meal and ride “train”. This is a website where you can sign up to drive her on a specific day, and also to make meals for her. By the way, all the rides are filled, though not all the meals.
Getting enough nutrition through the weeks of radiation, especially this kind that involves the mouth and neck, is a challenge. She’s only able to manage soup or smoothies or other pureed foods -- through a straw. She’s asked that any food be dropped off at my barn fridge (through the double doors at 217 Beach Road) where she can pick it up.
Corelyn posts regular updates to the Meal Train site:
“I am overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of all of you. I had not been looking forward to this radiation but there is a huge positive aspect to it as I …. have a chance to talk with you---and to eat all these wonderful foods. By the time this is over I will be very spoiled!”
“Happy New Year to all of you wonderful people who are making this Great Adventure so much fun. It is a real treat to get to know people I have not known before on the trips to and from Bath. One doesn't often get to just sit and talk. Also, it is wonderful to be able to catch up with old friends who I also don't usually have time to see. …And, the food is wonderful. I am really enjoying it and I keep looking at the list of what is coming with mouth-watering anticipation. Really very exciting, especially as they want me to keep my weight up. …. I do know that much worse is yet to come but I am not going to dwell on that.”
“We are now just getting going on Week 2. I am still pretty frisky but there are some changes--a drier mouth and some days I am exhausted by 6:30 pm. Today I am planning to take a camera out to the suspected bobcat den--that is exciting and I am hoping for some good photos to post. I also have to hike out to pick up a camera that has moisture in it--hope to save it. As long as I can get out into the woods at least some I am happy. “
“The doctors were afraid I would lose weight--well, they didn't know Lincolnville cooks. …I am beginning to think that all communities should have a program where you ride in the car for two hours once a week or so with someone you don't know or haven't had a chance to talk to for awhile and just talk. ….I generally don't think I have time for that but now it is an essential part of my life … a really a great thing! So this Great Adventure goes on with unexpected perks.”
“Those of you who know me will think this is funny--for the very first time in my life I am disinclined to talk or even open my mouth--it hurts. Ever since I started to talk--early as a small child--I have always had something to say. Enjoy this while it lasts! The joy of my life these days continues to be the rides to Bath and the good conversation and all the good food. I am so grateful for all the wonderful things you have been able to make that I can eat with a straw. Maybe we should put together "The Straw Cookbook"! So, we continue forward--19 more treatments to go! (Down from 30).” Corelyn
Dependent as we all are on our cars to get us almost anywhere, finding ourselves unable to drive makes us vulnerable. But living in a small town, even one without public transportation, has its advantages. For the most part, we can trust each other; none of us are really strangers living in this place; even the newcomer knows someone here. The chain of six degrees of separation that joins us all certainly is at work in a town of 2,200 people.
The first step, though, is a big one, and that’s asking for help. I think Corelyn’s experience – showing her vulnerability and trusting that there were people who would want to help – shows the rest of us the way. We’re out there, plenty of us, with the time and willingness to help.
In Corelyn’s words: “…the joy of life these days continues to be the rides to Bath and the good conversation…..”
Beach School / LIA Building/Historical Society Assessment
The building at 33 Beach Road, home of the Lincolnville Historical Society and of the Lincolnville Improvement Association, started life as the one-room schoolhouse for the Beach. Built in 1892 the two-story building consisted of a second-floor schoolroom, heated with a wood stove, and an unfinished first floor space with outhouses attached, one for the girls, one for the boys. When the town built its first consolidated school – four rooms, two grades to a room – in the Center in 1947, the Beach School, along with five other one-room schools still in operation around town, closed. Eventually, the building at the Beach became home to the LIA – Lincolnville Improvement Association. In the 1990s the Lincolnville Historical Society moved into the second floor, which they named the Schoolhouse Museum.
Until a few years ago the LIA maintained the old building, adding a kitchen in the 1960s, a bathroom sometime later, keeping it painted, heated, and generally functioning as a place for their meetings, and renting it out occasionally for other functions. From May to October the group holds a monthly potluck and meeting with speaker/program.
The LHS added an office atop the downstairs kitchen, giving them space to store their growing archive of Lincolnville photos and documents. The old school room was transformed into a museum of Lincolnville memorabilia, open three days a week during the summer, and open other times by appointment.
Several years ago the town assumed responsibility for maintaining the building with the LIA still paying for utilities. The town voted a year or so ago to have a thorough assessment of the structure, top to bottom, figuring what would be needed to bring the building up to code.
Tomorrow, Tuesday at 4 p.m., the Selectmen will be doing a walk-through of the building to view the systems that need upgrading/rebuilding. These include a new foundation, roof, and siding among other things. At 6:30 they’ll reconvene at the Town Office to discuss the way forward.
LIA and LHS members are invited to join both the walk-through at 4 and the meeting at 6:30 p.m.