Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Favorite Library

I love to read. From the time I was very young I had a bookshelf full of picture books that I would peruse daily. One morning I fell down the stairs with a stack of my favorite picture books and my beloved blanket underfoot. As a junior higher, I read voraciously. I usually had five to ten kid chapter books going at a time, neatly stacked on my bedside stand. I credit this love of reading to my mom, who read to me every night for many years. I also have early memories of going to my local public library and taking out books with her.
The old customs house in Waldoboro
housed the library from 1964 to 2007.

Because I love to read I also love libraries, as many readers do. I loved my first library. It was in an old, architecturally fascinating building that at one time was the customs house. It had large steel radiators, bookshelves crowded into every crevice, an old fashioned card catalog (one had to stand in a corner to search through it), and a real librarian's desk--a desk--where the librarian sat and said "Quiet please" when you came in through the large heavy black doors. I got my own paper library card with my number at a young age. I loved the smell of the place with its creaky floors and big windows. Downstairs was the adult fiction section, and, if I remember correctly, a long low shelf along the front wall that held books for preschool children (where I discovered beloved Richard Scarry favorites such as Cars and Trucks and Things that Go). Upstairs there were three rooms. One was the nonfiction room with a large heavy wood conference table surrounded by book shelves wrapped around the room and lighted by those tall dome-shaped windows, and, of course, heavy, old books. I spend many hours there researching for school papers (back before the Internet told us everything we need to know)! Another smaller room had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that were probably biographies and such. And in the back room were shelves of children's books and two more long kid-size tables with chairs in the center of the room.

According to the summer 2016 newsletter of the Waldoboro Public Library, the library opened on May 1, 1916, in the Willet Block. In 1964 it relocated to the former customs house. Today the building is owned privately. In 2007 the library was able to move into a beautiful brand new, bigger, but not too big, building up the road a bit. This building has large windows that let light in, a window seat, new shelving, a computer area, a large checkout station/desk, and a children's room that is very inviting. It was a much-needed and long overdue project.

The new public library has an abundant perennial garden.

As I'm no longer a resident of the town I don't have a library card there, but I have been to a few children's events there. A beautiful and abundant perennial garden graces the front, and the building has a changing "marquee" of sorts. Every new season a new, large brightly painted symbol appears on the center front. It highlights the season, for example, a school bus for September, a flag for July, and a pumpkin for the fall. In June there was a white and pink birthday cake for the library's 100th anniversary!
Happy birthday to my first library!
The yellow customs house building holds many memories for me, and I'm sure the new library building will hold many memories for today's children as well.

For more information, go to www.waldoborolibrary.org

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tracking the Kennedys in Lincoln County

After my dad died in 2015, I became interested in knowing more about his family, especially my grandfather's family, which I knew little about, only that there were quite a few of them in his generation (4 sisters and two brothers). I know most of their names from my grandmother and her clipped obituaries. Unfortunately, the last sibling died the year before my dad, and he may have been a good resource on family history.
I never remember hearing anything about my Kennedy great-great-grandparents. I say I developed the interest, but I didn't do much about it, except start rummaging in Jasper Stahl's two-volume History of Old Broad Bay and Waldoboro but didn't find much. (More on that later.)
 That's where a family-history hound husband comes in. As he starting finding census data through Ancestry.com, we quickly learned that my ancestors lived in the neighborhood where I remember visiting my great-grandparents on Orff's Corner Road when I was a very little girl. At very start of that road was where my last living great uncle lived, and his daughter still lives on the road today as well. We also learned that the old name of the neighborhood corner (located in Jefferson) is named for the Kennedys, and we discovered that many of them are buried there as well. During this research my husband had a client who lived on that road and in talking with her she told him that Kennedys are listed on the title history of the old place, a Mary Kennedy, which would be my great-great-grandmother. I have traveled these roads and crossed this corner often but had never noticed the cemetery as it sits back from the road. (Also years ago we looked at a piece of land near here. How strangely our roots call us home!) So, we went graveyard stamping as I'd like to call it. And this is what we found:

We are fairly certain, based on census records, that each of these guys are direct ancestors of Guy C. Kennedy Sr., my great-grandfather. Edwin is listed in Guy's obituary as his father, and a Mary, but we also have a Maynard married to a Mary in the census records, too. My first greats, Guy C. Sr. and his wife Mildred, and a some of their children are buried up the road at Fairview. That is also where my dad, his parents Guy C. Kennedy Jr and Christine Eugley, his brother, and his infant son are buried. My great-parents are the only Kennedy relatives I ever remember hearing about. My grandmother made sure we faithfully visited over Memorial Day weekend to place flowers on the sites.
Because I visit Fairview more regularly than that now, I went searching through Fairview for more Kennedys. There are some, and I found Maynard with no spouse or children buried near him.

So eeny, meeny, take your pick. Who is my great-great-grandfather?

Before all these names, dates, memorial markers came to light, I skimmed through one of the  Jasper Stahl histories of Waldoboro to track any Kennedys in it illustrious history. A Henry Kennedy was fairly prominent, and I having been wondering if the Jefferson Kennedys had any connection with Henry. So today I visited another very old rundown cemetery in downtown Waldoboro and found the Waldoboro Kennedy clan, including the prominent Henry.

Jefferson census data lists Henry as being born in Jefferson, and while I don't have the crossover relative yet, I hope to. Its very cool what you can dig up with some patience and a good Internet connection.The large family stone and plot is well marked and lists everyone there, including his three children, Lincoln, Semandel, and Henry. Then each member has their own stone with just their name. The stones are somewhat fancy. From what I remember in my reading Henry was prominent and wealthy. I guess none of that side of the family's wealth trickled over to our side unless it was his wife's money, a Rachel Lincoln from Waldoboro.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Favorite Spring Sport: Baseball

Spring has taken a while to catch hold this year.

Here is the view of a local baseball field the night before the league's first games the last week of April.

Here is a view of players with a pile of snow in the foreground.

Finally this week we a nice night for baseball, only five games and two weeks into the season.
A week prior to this game, we froze in damp 40 degree overcast weather that ended in a light rain. Everyone was frozen before the third inning.

At this game, it was warm with no wind. The bugs were starting to show up, but they weren't biting. There was a great view of the Sheepscot River.

Spring baseball in Florida is probably far warmer, not to mention a longer "season."
But you really can't play baseball in four seasonal weather events in one season except in Maine!
Snow, rain, freezing, or buggy! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Favorite Steeple

The former First Baptist Church building has stood in the center of Waldoboro since 1838 and has been the home of, first, a Baptist congregation and now a UCC congregation continuously since that time. I walk or drive by it most days of the week, and it represents a long line of memories and history that is important and special for me, and for many others, I presume. At least twice in my memory the steeple has been struck by lightning, one time just before a youth service. We stood around watching my friend's brother climb the firetruck ladder to put it out. Often its bell has been rung to call to worship, memorialize, or celebrate. Some of the stained windows were paid for by families and have charmed my eyes during many Sunday services. The organ is locally famous, and the old chandelier requires a VERY tall ladder in order to change its light bulbs. (My husband climbed it once!) The wooden pews are still as curved and shiny as ever. The sanctuary still holds me in awe because of all the times I was able to sense God near me there. It was often a true sanctuary in the storms of growing up. 
I attended preschool in its basement, sat in its balcony (now closed) most Sunday mornings of my childhood, took piano lessons on the upright at the front of the sanctuary, sang from its stage's steps, played Mary in the Sunday School nativity play, was baptized in its baptismal on Easter Sunday of my 8th grade year, froze in the side yard standing for our living nativity, and in general experienced God's presence in worship and prayer here on many Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Not to mention all the Sunday school classes in the back narrow hall, tomfoolery in the nursery, puppet team practices in the basement, and carefully climbing the steps that wind up around the back of the organ from the back office to the stage. It was always exciting to explore those "off limits" places in the building. I remember when the church was never locked and when the decision was made to start locking it, which was a shame.
Today the Congregational Church owns it, and the church hosts community events and functions as well as its Sunday morning services. The church annually hosts lawn sales, a Christmas fair, and usually an open house during Waldoboro Day. There may be other chances to step inside. I did so on Good Friday last spring when it was open for prayer and reflection.
The Baptists held a prominent place in the history of Waldoboro as well, which can be read about in Jasper Stahl's History of Old Broad Bay and Waldoboro.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Favorite Squash

Every Columbus Day weekend pumpkins sprout up along Main street seemingly overnight. What's happening here? Well, its a crazy local event called Pumpkinfest and it has unusual beginnings. It was seeded with a simple scientific question that blossomed into a full-blown pumpkin party that lasts for a week, with most of the grand events--a parade, a regatta, pumpkin drops, a derby, and lots of pumpkin treats--during the holiday weekend. Living locally to the festival, I have joined the crowds some years, frustratingly tried to watch the regatta over the heads of other onlookers, viewed the parade, and generally gotten stuck in traffic on Main Street. This year we waited until the crowds had gone home and simply walked Main, viewing the pumpkins in all their decorated glory, and taking photos without holding up hoards of people and without having hoards of people in our photos. Nonetheless, these orange wonders delight us, and we look forward to seeing what local artists will design them into each year. Its pure fun and involves a huge community effort, from volunteer growers to coordinators, farmers, and law enforcement help to pull it all together. If you're near here anytime in October, it is worth a side trip. There are lots of great restaurants and independently owned shops and water views as well. Here are a few glimpses of our favorite squashes from 2015. For more on this fun festival, see http://damariscottapumpkinfest.com or www.theheartofnewengland.com/travel/me/pumpkinfest-maine.html.
Was wondering where Jonah was--maybe already in the belly?

A pumpkin crustacean

The chickadee in its habitat was our favorite pumpkin!

The largest Atlantic Giant grown in Maine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Favorite Swimming Hole: The Mills

The calendar tells me that today is the first day of autumn,
although it still feels like summer. In Maine, the temperature
starts to turn with the turn of the calendar to Labor Day.
An early fall view at the Pond
This year the temperatures stayed in the 70s and 80s throughout most of September, which is unusual. Just this week the overnight temperatures have been dropping down to the 40s and 50s. I likely took my last swim of the summer on Sunday when the water started to get its fall chill. September was actually a great swimming month, and I was very happy with how much swimming I was able to do. The best place on earth to swim is a secret that we share with only our luckiest of friends, and we call it the Pond, but this post is about the Mills, a great public swimming hole.
Located at one end of Damariscotta Lake, the Mills is a neighborhood and a swimming hole. We refer to them the same. I have yet to research the complete history of the Mills, but we do visit it frequently in the spring for the alewives run (another post for another time).

This swimming hole has good jumping spots (from rocks and a bridge) and a small sand beach, which leads to shallow water that gradually slopes to deeper water, good for the little kids or faint of heart (I have yet to jump from the bridge)! There is a no-wake zone buoy, and it makes for a good spot to swim to.
The two sides of the "hole" are separated on land by a building that is currently a residence. It sits smack dab in the middle of this town-owned park and directly on the water--imagine having a lake for your front yard! The park has no facilities, but there is a picnic table, a bench, and posted hours for usage. Parking is in short supply, but for a short walk there is more parking just up the road.
On any given hot day the Mills is busy with all ages swimming. We usually go in the evenings when when we need a quick cooling recharge. We often see friends or meet new people, and its always fun.
So, goodbye to summer and swimming. In three months we'll drive through the Mills and see the ice forming over the top of the water and in about eight months, we'll watch for the water to peek through the ice, just the start of what hopes to be another great swimming season.

The Mills at dusk

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Favorite Views: Medomak

Looking down the Medomak River in my hometown from the Main Street bridge, it is hard to imagine that 200 years ago big ships were built and launched within this view.

Medomak River from Main Street
According to Jasper Stahl in his history of Waldoboro (The History of Old Broad Bay, 1956, two volumes), in 1820, Waldoboro citizens owned 21,754 tons in boats (vol. 2 p. 141), which was the second largest figure (after Portland) in the state at that time. According to the Waldoboro historical society, on a sign at the public landing, which is located just past the trees on the right and across from the building on the shore, there were 22 boat yards "from the lower falls to Dutch Neck" and "more than 600 ships of various types and sizes have been built...." What is fascinating about how big an industry this was in this small town is that the brackish water here is tidal, and the river is fairly narrow. It hard to picture it, although there are old photographs. In Stahl's words he described it this way, "Wherever from a steep or sloping hillside the rains of autumn, or the melting snows of winter or of spring ran down in little brooks to the river, and wore out a guzzle through the mud beds to the channel, there was a likely site." (vol. 2, p. 143)

Today one or two boats may be seen moored here regularly in the summer. Locals launch skiffs daily to dig clams during low tide. (My dad did just that hundreds of times. He practically lived on this river.) In early spring elver nets crisscross the falls. Storer Lumber, the building to the left, is a busy place. (The Storer name also figures prominently in town history, and two shipyards on the map at the landing are labeled as owned by Storers.) The old hulking black and gray button factory with its dark windows still looks out over the river just down from Storer's. Many of those of my grandparents' generation worked there at one time or another, including my grandparents. I have my own memories of going down river with my family in our boat to fish mackerel or go to island picnics. I will never look down this spot without thinking of my dad or without wondering what it really was like to see a great five-masted schooner come down its wooden ways and sail off to trade in large cities.

The northern view on a cloudy day