Perhaps it is the circumstances of the past year that makes me think more of home and the little village of Locke Mills, Maine than ever before. I’ve been away a long time, or so it seems, from the lakes and mountains which I love so much. A million things have happened in the almost 42 years I’ve been away. I married, lost my husband last October, developed heart problems and other health issues of my own and for the first time, I find my thoughts traveling back to the little town and all its people. This morning, I am sitting here with sight from only one eye, waiting impatiently to hear when I can be treated with laser to get the film from my left eye. Maybe my impatience has made me long for the old time doctors back in the “old days” who responded with what knowledge they possessed for such things. I don’t know. As most would say, “probably your age has got to you..” That could be as well!!
I think of the “filling station” located on the corner of the Greenwood Road and Route 26 , way back when Ray Langway operated the business. I looked forward to Sunday mornings when Dad would grab the little blue can from the kitchen corner, announce he was going to Langway’s to get kerosene for the week and if any of us wanted to ride along. The kerosene was seventeen cents, if memory serves me right. I’d go in the store, glance at the candy counter, but mostly at the magazines and wish I had a million dollars and buy every one I saw. Eating and reading were my two top priorities at the time. Ray was always so friendly to all and treated me like I was a grown-up. He and Dad exchanged the local goings-on and home we would go!
Hank Leach owned the store at the top of the hill in town and he was another who treated youngsters well. We waited there each morning for the high school bus to come from Bryant Pond and on those miserable cold winter mornings, he’d drive up from his home by South Pond and open the door so we could all go in and sit on the wooden plank atop the radiators to get warm. We may have dropped a few pennies for pencils or erasers or a notebook, but his sales were meager when it came to a bunch of poor high school students.
Down the hill, on the left, Arthur Vallee had his store atop a bunch of long, wide cement steps leading up to it. After a day at the high school, if there were no sports, I waited on the steps for the whistle to blow, the mill to open its doors and all the workers to spill out and go in different directions. Sometimes my mother would come into the store and pick up a few things for our supper and Mr. Vallee put them “on the cuff” until payday which was always Friday. I remember the glass cookie jar in which was stored some white and pink puffy cookies with coconut sprinkled on top. Those were my favorite in all the world and occasionally Ma would spring for six of those for a treat. Those you ate very slowly, savoring every marshmallow-y bite! If I had a spare nickel, I’d go for a Dixie cup , open it up and see what movie star’s picture was under the lid…then I’d take that wooden spoon and devour the ice cream!!
The street was lined with pretty houses that I would just look at and wonder how beautiful they must be inside. At one point in my young life, a Mrs. Lister (sp?) had the post office within her house at the bottom of the hill. We were forbidden to cross that land and hop the brook to the elementary school. The teachers were forever repeating that we must follow the sidewalk around ….no short cuts!!!
I’ve written about the wonderful old town hall which holds so many memories . Of course, the church remains where my children attended Sunday School and I sang in the choir for years. In all the years, there’s been an addition built and so many other things to keep it beautiful inside.
I sometimes think of the foolhardy capers I got into and wonder why I remained alive. I won a bicycle in a contest at Mr. Leach’s store when I was in the eighth grade. After school, I went up to the store, hopped on the bike and Mr. Leach told me some nuts and bolts should be tightened. I assured him I would be fine and rode it the four miles home. Lucky for me, they were tightened enough to hold together. Oh, to be that carefree and daring again!!!
My mind travels over the little village several times a week and I marvel at the closeness of the people. I smile when I read of fund raisers; of people helping others in time of need without question. I visualize the town meetings where everyone gathers to discuss, vote and top it off with a great meal put on by one of the Ladies Organizations. At least that is how it used to be!
I hope that way of living goes on forever and is never lost. I also am thinking once all these health issues are laid to rest or leveled out, it is time for me to come home for a visit.
Stay well, my home town folks!