My Home Town

dad n meAyah..that is my dad, Beryl A. Martin scaring the wits out of his only daughter by holding her up on the roof of what I think was his 1936 Ford.  Times have changed, people have changed, my home town has changed. I knew my dad for 28 years and his sense of humor, impulsivness and his reputation as a real character did not change.

I am about 74 years older than that whimpering child in the photo and during those years, I’ve seen many changes in my home town of Lockes Mills, Maine. Some things remain the same; there’s the church and the town hall still standing proudly, albeit the church has been improved over the years and the town hall waits for its improvements to come.

I remember climbing the long, cement steps of Arthur Vallee’s store after getting off  the afternoon school bus. If I had a coin in my pocket, it would be a short time before I was back out on the steps, with my dixie cup and wooden spoon. I couldn’t wait to see what movie star would be featured on the inside of that cover! The metal  railing was cool to the touch as was the ice cream as I divided the vanilla from the chocolate side. Soon the mill whistle would blow and I’d dash to the parking lot to ride home with Ma and Dad. Things had changed since I started high school and no longer could I have the house warm and supper ready for them when they got home from work.

If Vallee’s store was my refuge in the afternoon, then Hank Leach’s store at the top of the hill welcomed us each morning before the bus arrived to carry us to Bryant Pond. In the winter time, Hank would come early, unlock the door and usher us in where it was warm. We sat on a plank over the radiators to warm up after our first cold blast of the winter morning!  The bus did not take us on a direct route to Bryant Pond!  How simple that would have been instead of taking us over the Gore Road, picking up students, and then taking a right down through Pinhook and still going until we picked up Route 26 again to go down Merryfield Hill to the school. What could have taken ten minutes seemed to take forever! The Coffin kids and Cushman kids were our last pick ups and then it was non-stop. Lloyd Cushman was our bus driver the first year and thereafter, Art Farrington did the honors.

How well I remember Terrill’s store when I was very young. The teachers marched us, two by two, on the last day of school to get an ice cream. As I grew older, it became Jordan’s Restaurant and what a wonderful place for the teenagers to go. There was a jukebox and the jitterbug was popular!

Ray Langway owned the little store on the corner and that was a popular meeting place on Sunday morning for the paper to read and for dad to take his little blue can for the weekly refill of kerosene. That changed hands down through the years as I grew.

The old mill burned in 1950 and was replaced by the more modern Ekco plant later, but who can forget the little wooden toys and the toy parts! Dad always said he worked at the Popeye plant!

I can’t forget Mrs. Lister and the post office. Going by her establishment and jumping the little brook to go to school was absolutely forbidden and if she chanced to see an offender, the teacher was notified immediately. 

The street was lined with big houses, some of them beautiful to look upon and how I wished I could live in one for just one week ..or even a day! I could not imagine all that room!!  Mrs. Marshall at the top of the hill had a big white house I always admired.

I haven’t been back to Maine for a couple years. Somehow, I always feel sad when coming down Route 26 to see the houses gone and I want it just the way it used to be. Then I read about the local strawberry festivals, the dances at the Legion Hall, benefits for those in need and I realize, the town has changed; the people haven’t. They are the same good people who have always lived in that beautiful little town.

A person cannot grow up in a much better place than a small village tucked between lakes and mountains. I have been fortunate indeed.

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