Remembering Greenwood Center, Maine

knifeGreenwood Center is where I live. Our little house is across from Twitchell Pond, but the summer people call it Twitchell Lake. Maybe it sounds fancier for them, but it’s a plain old pond to me. It’s where I go swimming and sometimes sit on a rock and “plug fish” for some perch.

My Uncle Roy lives about a half-mile down the road from our house. He is very talented and carves things out of wood and paints on toadstools. He would much rather work in the woods and log it with my Uncle Louis.

There is an old mill near his house, which I think Grammy’s father, Ransom Cole, owns. It has not been running for years and looks as though it won’t be standing much longer. Sometimes my brother and I sneak in there to look around at the rusty machines and there is one little room where we think perhaps someone filed the saws and fixed machinery. We are not supposed to in there because it is dangerous but sometimes curiosity gets the best of us. Ma would really punish us if she knew and as she always says..curiosity killed the cat. Once my brother said, yeah, but information brought him back and then we both ran. We heard her say something about being sassy , so we waited quite awhile before we went back home. She was busy, so we figured she had forgotten or else she figured we could pay the consequences if we got in trouble there.

Grammy and Grampa Martin live next door, so we can run over there any time we want. We get all our drinking water from their house because we have no well of our own. We can use the brook water for washing dishes and clothes, but it isn’t fit to drink. One night, Ma noticed we were almost out, so she sent Rex to get a jug. On the way home, he dropped it on the tarred road and cut his hand so badly Ma had to rush him to the doctor in Bethel for stitches. His hand hurt for a long time.

Uncle Glenn and Norma live on the other side of us and we have a path to their house as well, right through the woods, so we can play with our cousins.

A half-mile beyond their house is the Lester Cole farm and oh, how I love to see all their hens and chickens running around.  They have a big dump truck, their own gravel pit, cows  and everything.  It seems like they are rich!  Well, after all, they have the only telephone nearby in the neighborhood. The line has not been run far enough for Grammy to have a phone and many a time I have run “up the flat” to make a call for her. Lester and Netta are very good about our using it.

Laura Seames lives in a little white house that Dad says used to be a schoolhouse. She buys the Grit from me. Oh, that’s right! I didn’t tell you that I deliver the Grit because Rex started it, but decided he did not want to do it because it took too much time from his other money making plans.

Near Mrs. Seames, is my Grammy’s brother, my great-uncle Elmer Cole.  He is blind because of an accident using dynamite years ago.  Sometimes if Ma gets laid off at the mill, she works for him doing housework and helping out in general. He has a little store as you enter his house where he carries all kinds of cough drops and other helpful things like Vicks Vapor Rub and Cloverine Salve. If I have a nickel, I go to Uncle Elmer’s, pull on the long cord, which clangs a bell inside, and he comes to the door. Ma told me to announce loudly that I am Sandra, Ethel’s daughter. The minute I say that, he smiles and says, come in, come in. He knows I always get a box of Smith Bros. black cough drops. I don’t tell him that when Ma smells one, she says, get away from me. I can’t stand that smell. Well, they are my favorite cough drop and I don’t even have a cold. I always thank him and when I leave, I look at the wooden path to his shed…all little flat boards laid out in a path. There’s a rope hooked to posts along the way so that he can guide himself.  He always seems so cheerful even though he cannot see. I know that Grammy keeps sending away to try and find methods to help him see again and she pastes stories of those who have regained their sight into her scrapbook.

Hollis Cushman lives in his camp on the other side of the pond opposite Uncle Elmer. I see Hollie, as we call him, when I deliver his Grit. I have a little ivory jackknife he gave me, which he says is made for ladies. He is always glad to see me and makes me sit to rest. It is a mile to Dan Cole’s house and then I have to walk down back the pond to his camp. Hollie is a friend of the family and a very nice gentleman.

We don’t have electricity at our house, so we use kerosene lamps. We have a big Aladdin lamp with a fragile mantle for our kitchen table. Ma is always telling us to be careful not to break it so we sit and read by the table and try not to make any big movements. Dad always goes to bed and reads his western paperbacks by the lamp by his bed. He used to smoke in bed, too, until one night he set the mattress on fire and it had to be dragged out the front door. That was a real scene and we stayed right out of the way. Finally it looked safe to drag back inside. Ma really sputtered and I must say, he never did smoke again in bed!

With no running water, you can imagine we also use an outhouse at the edge of the woods. That is no fun at all, especially in the winter, but Ma says you do what you have to do …and she is right. Even Grammy has an outhouse, but hers is in a corner of the barn with pretty pictures from magazines all glued on the walls. Ours is a roof and four walls and we are glad for that much!

Well, this is a picture of the place I call home. I love seeing the water every day with the sun sparkling on it or smelling the rain when it is coming.  Sometimes we hear the train going up the grade on the other side of Rowe’s Ledge and that means the air is right for rain.

I guess Greenwood Center is just about perfect for me.


One thought on “Remembering Greenwood Center, Maine

  1. Sharon says:

    Oh, Smith Brothers cough drops. I loved them, too. Not the red ones, but the black ones. Those and Teaberry gum were my favorites. Loved reading about where you were raised and could picture it in my mind. We did have indoor plumbing, but when I went to my uncle’s house, he had a two-holer in the barn so I’m familiar with outhouses. These stories must bring you back to a time in life when things were much harder, but we didn’t know the difference. It was what it was. Thanks for another trip down memory lane.


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