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Willard Myers of Lubec, Maine

It was on the thirteenth of April in the year of 1870 and in the home of Nelson and Elizabeth (Jordan) Guptill, the grandparents of this child, Willard, that came into the world this day, the first child of Charles Wheelock and Helen (Guptill) Myers. It was in a farmhouse situated on the farther end of North Lubec, about seven miles from the village of Lubec itself. This child was very light complected and in a few months had very light, or tow, curls. He grew very fast and was always larger than most children of his age. He was always a great favorite of his grandmother Guptill. Until she died he held first place in her heart, partly, I think, as he filled in the place of her own boy, Manford, that was drowned when just reaching the age of manhood. When Willard was two years, a little sister came into the home and the parents had moved into a new house which they had built near the grandparents, so Willard still lived with them. At the age of four another sister arrived and when he was five, there arose a question of his grandparents adopting him for their own. But the parents wouldn’t consent to it so he came home to stay as he was now big enough to help a little with the chores. His father was cook on some revenue cutter and away at sea most of the time. At this age he began his work by filling the wood box and with a small pail and many trips to the well, managed to keep the water pails full, thus saving his mother many steps. At first he liked these tasks but after a time found them a burden that he was made to bear. He also started school at the age of five years and at first liked it very much but as the years went by he got tired of that, too. As he was large for his age and very strong, he tried in all ways to get the teacher to punish him so he could show the class how strong he was, as he would defend himself at the teacher’s expense and show how weak the teacher really was. He left school at an early age but I will say that he was well advanced in his studies for what time he spent in school. I have often heard him speak of his last day at school. He had been wanting to leave school for some time but his parents insisted on him going. He had a teacher that he didn’t like so about in the middle of the afternoon session he left his seat and started for the door with his hat in his hand. But just before reaching the door he called out, “Good bye scholars, good bye teacher, you damned old fool.” The teacher went to his parents about it but he never went back to school. At an early age he started working summers in a sardine factory and at that time wages was very low, boys being paid fifty cents per day for ten hours work. When not in the factory he helped his grandfather on the farm, especially at haying and potato digging time. One summer, when just a young boy of perhaps fourteen years of age he got work at a summer hotel, the “Ne mat ta no” which burned down about twenty years ago. His work there was getting wood and helping around the kitchen, driving the team to the ferry landing whenever there was guests coming or going away. There was one part of this work that I have always heard him speak of liking more than any other and that was turning the crank to freeze the ice cream for he always had all of it he could eat. It was while working there that he had his first opportunity which might have changed his whole life and perhaps made life easier for him if his parents had consented for him to have taken it. There was an elderly gentleman and his wife there one summer and wanted him to go back to New York with them to work on their estate. His chores, or work, would have been to drive the team when they went to ride and then be a house boy. The employer furnishing clothing, board and wages, besides, but Willard’s parents couldn’t see how they could let him go so far from home as New York, to them at that time, was a very long ways off. So he continued to job around until finally he started going to sea with his father when he was about fourteen. His father furnished his clothing and taking his wages, which were very small. It was while at sea that he started chewing tobacco and probably learned many other habits that boys of his age should know. He made a number of trips or voyages to New York and as far as I know that is as far as he ever went while in his sea career. But he always liked to spin sea yarns of some of those trips. The family always watched for his home coming for he always managed to bring them some presents. I have often heard his mother tell of one trip home. He brought about a dozen watermelons and she said they were the biggest ones she ever saw. They all were looking for a great time but the voyage home was a long one so when he cut the melons open they had all gone to water. And they didn’t even get a taste of one of them. Another one of his favorite sea stories was about at the docks in New York. It was in the early fall and the evenings were chilly so he wore a long Ulster. While walking around (there was all kinds of fruit there and some of it was open) he met the night watchman and got in a conversation with him. The watchman asked him if he liked fruit, he replied, yes, so he told him to fill up his pockets but not to pick it from only one barrel or box. So Willard started in and he kept picking and walking around. At last the watchman said, “what kind of a pocket have you got?” Willard said it was just an ordinary one but it had a hole in it. The fruit had gone in between the coat and the lining. And then he laughed. When he started back to the ship the watchman told him to come back again another time and get some more but he had so much in his coat that walking wasn’t very easy. By hiding the fruit in his berth he still had some when he landed home again. After a few of these trips in the vessel with his father, on which his father was cook and he was cabin boy, which work he didn’t care for as he had to help his father prepare the meals and wash the dishes, he left and got a job before the mast on a different vessel with much more pay. At first, his father wanted him to stay with him and after some words in which he told his father that he was tired of working for nothing and wanted to handle his own money. So that was the breaking of home ties and thereafter he was on his own. He followed the sea for a few years, going home between trips, to work in the factories or job around. Then he and Jamie Huckins and two other boys started out to find work and had big plans, as boys around eighteen and twenty, usually have. They went to Sterling and Lancaster, Massachusetts, working on a farm. His work was to help with the milking and take it to the early morning train. As there was no milking machines in those days, it meant getting up very early mornings as the milk train was due at four thirty and there was quite a number of cows to be milked. After a time he and Jamie met a man from Ansonia, Connecticut who was a painter. He asked them if they wanted to learn the painter trade. They thought that would be their chance to get a start in life so they went with him to Connecticut, found a boarding place and went to work. Willard liked this work but after a short time he had severe headaches and his eyes began to bother him so much that he had to give it up. So he went to Seymour, Connecticut and got a job as a farm hand again. I don’t know what became of the other two boys but Jamie still stuck to painting, so Willard was alone, now. He stayed in Seymour for a while but his folks at home kept writing for him to come home so after a while home sickness got the best of him and he returned home. These trips home were most always made in the spring so he could take advantage of the factory work in summer. But home life wasn’t very pleasant for him as his sisters had grown up and they couldn’t agree very well on anything and many quarrels were enthused, some of them I have heard of a good many times. One day, he and Lizzie, his oldest sister, began to quarrel and it ended up by him taking her across his knee and spanking her bare skin, even if she was in her teens. She and Willard were the ones that quarreled most. Willard bore the mark of one of those quarrels all his life, a scar just above the corner of his mouth, where Lizzie threw a fork at him from across the dinner table. There were many others but I won’t mention them. After work in the factory for awhile, again, he and Fred Clark, another of the North Lubec boys, started out again to see some of the country. This time in their own state of Maine. He worked on the Kennebec River, around the ice houses there. But I am getting ahead of my story. First, for the winter he worked in the logging woods. He was a river driver which is quite a dangerous work as one has to stand out on the floating logs, with a peavey, and keep the logs from getting jammed, or in other words, keep the logs moving. The next summer he worked around the ice houses on the Kennebec River, loading ice in the vessels there, as it was shipped to many parts of the country. That is before artificial ice came. I have often heard him tell while working there of one vessel that had a parrot on board which the men used to like to make talk. And one day as they were loading someone let one of those large cakes of ice fall and the parrot was looking on. He exclaimed, “ what a hell of a blow” which the men thought very funny. While working with the ice company he went from one town to another as there were ice houses all along the river and after the ice was harvested in the winter, between that time and shipping time in the spring he used to get work on some of the farms, for board and a small wage. One of these places was with two old people and as they were trying to live within their means their only meat supply was mutton as they had a number of sheep and they were not worth much in the market. For the rest of his life he didn’t care for mutton. And, I, his wife, don’t ever remember of him buying a piece of mutton. On another one of these farms where he went to work he was supposed to cut their fire wood for the year. There was a lot of elm trees on the place and as there was a certain number of cords he had to cut and split in cord wood lengths he thought when looking at those elms how quickly he could cut his required amount. So, he cut and limbed quite a pile of them before starting to split it and he told me that they were the darndest, twisted trees he ever saw. So, one day he told the people that he had a new job and left. He often wondered if they ever got those trees split. He never went back to see. These farms were in or around either Dresden or Richmond, Maine. And it was here that the fair sex first appealed to him or the first that I ever heard him mention. As he only had himself to care for, he had become quite a dandy and had purchased a horse and buggy. After work or on holidays he could go a riding around the country. And, of course, the young ladies enjoyed these trips or rides, and I think, must have helped him to spend his money. One of these girls was Lottie Crabtree. She got him to have his picture taken with her and when he went to get them, she had ordered three dozen of them. Another name was Lucretia, the last name I don’t remember, although I still have her picture which I found in some of his things. And another was Eva Brown, who he always spoke of as a cute little thing. She wrote her name in his bible and it is still there. Perhaps if he had stayed in that section of the state he and Eva would have been married. But a change came. But, first, I will mention some of the other things he did. I never learned the names of any of the boys or young men he went around with but at one time he boarded at the home of the boss of a section crew of the railroad. At night he and the son of this man used to take the hand car, put it on the tracks and have a great time going many miles to a dance or some other kind of an entertainment. Sometimes going as far as Bath. Attending fairs always had a great appeal to him so he attended them for many miles around. Here, too, he was one of a group who started a band. He played cornet. I don’t know what happened to this group for they soon broke up, in fact, before he had really learned to play much. While working in Dresden or near there, for a winter’s sport, Willard and some other young men made an ice boat with a large sail. And as Willard couldn’t skate he had much pleasure with the boat. It carried several people and the girls came in for their share of this sport. Then, as they say, a change came. He had been away from home for quite a number of years. His sisters were married and he was now an uncle to two children. So he thought he would go home to see all his people. But, as I think of it he had been home for a short stay before this and had purchased an organ, thinking that his sisters might learn to play. Lizzie was a good alto singer but she didn’t care to learn to play. The youngest sister, Linna, wanted to learn to play but as her folks wouldn’t pay for music lessons for her, Linna only learned to play by ear, which was a great disappointment to him. Between these visits home, his grandparents had sold their farm in North Lubec and bought a house and small store in Lubec. His parents also sold their place at North Lubec and moved to Lubec. His father still followed the sea. Before the second, or last, trip home, Willard sold his horse and buggy and although he intended to return to work for the ice company but he did move all his belongings home after bidding farewell to all his friends and sweethearts. After he was home a few weeks he received letters telling him that the ice company had been taken over under a new management and that they were getting ready to make artificial ice. So once more he settled down in Lubec working in the sardine factory. At that time the cases were of wood and made by hand. He made cases at 60c per hundred and made good wages often making as high as nine or ten hundred cases per day. I almost forgot to mention a very interesting part of his life while working on the Kennebec River. One spring there was an unusual lot of snow on the ground and a heavy rain came. The logs in the river became jammed in with the ice, making a dam and causing quite a flood in the Main Street. The stores and Post Office were full of water and Willard became quite a help, in and out of the stores and Post Office, helping to remove the goods to safety. And, wearing long rubber boots, he carried some of the people to safety on his back. The pictures of these exploits he gave to his sister, Linna, when he came home. After working all those years these pictures and a few other trinkets were all that he had to show for his labors except the memory of the pleasant times. His sister Linna’s husband, Fred, and he became good friends. And as they owned a farm, Willard spent much of his spare time there at their home helping him in the spring with the planting and in fall with the harvesting of the crops which was mostly potatoes. He also helped in the winter in cutting fire wood. All this work was done free of charge except for meals while there. The little niece, Grace, Linna’s girl, began to think quite a lot of him and often a bag of candy or fruit or perhaps a doll, was found in his pockets when she searched through them. It was through his brother-in-law Fred, that he first came to my house as that brother-in- law was a brother to my mother, Mrs. Collom. This is the picture of him the first time I saw him. He was very tall and thin with hair, at first glance one would take for a gray or that had turned white, light blue eyes and white skin. One could never say that he was good looking at that time. He was much too white to be pleasing to the eye. In later years his hair turned darker and he had more color in his face which gave him a healthier look. His calls became quite frequent at the home of Mrs. Collom and as there was no man about the house he made himself very useful by cutting wood and often during the winter clearing the path from house to well and street, of snow. Sometimes getting storm stayed for a day or two. Mrs. Collom’s consisted of herself, a widow, and three daughters, the eldest being about fourteen and the youngest about four, when he first came there and Mrs. Collom’s sister-in-law, Susan. The girls all laughed and talked with him and one stormy day the eldest daughter, Lillie, tried to make him look pretty by curling his hair on the iron and how funny he looked. And how his folks did tease him when he went home as it wasn’t the custom for men to have their hair curled in those days. He and Lillie both were very fond of strawberries with cream and hot biscuits so one day they had a race to see who could eat the most and if I remember right, Lillie won. I forgot to mention that Mrs. Collom lived about four miles from the home of Willard’s parents and that he had an aunt, Lenora, and several cousins, who lived near Mrs. Collom. And although he thought a lot of his aunt he seldom went to see her. But when he was just a young lad his father was at sea and his Aunt Lenora and his mother lived in the same rooms and his aunt had two boys, Ervin and Lewis, that were around Willard’s age. They slept in unfinished rooms with some kind of a board partition between and there was quite a large hole in one of the boards. Early one Sunday morning Ervin and Lewis awoke and began to say that they were hungry but as there wasn’t anyone awake in the house they were supposed to stay in bed. So they told Willard and he got out of bed and went downstairs and came back with his shirttail full of doughnuts and passed them through the hole to them. I often heard them laugh about it after they grew older. Well, he had been going to Mrs. Collom’s something like a year or more when her friends and neighbors began to tease her and ask her when she was getting married. And one day while he was there Mrs. Collom and Susan tied a quilt. After it was finished Susan threw it over his head and told him that was a sign that he would be married before the year was over. He turned to Mrs. Collom and said, “well, aren’t we?” and I believe that they did become engaged although I do not know for sure. But somehow their plans changed and he proved that the quilt sign was a fake for he wasn’t married for several years after that. Mrs. Collom’s second daughter, which was myself, was about twelve years of age when Willard first came to the house and was in school during this time. And sometimes in the evening he helped her with some of her tough arithmetic problems. And as she almost always did the errands to the store which was about a mile away, he sometimes went to the store with her to help her carry home the groceries. And, too, as her grandmother lived with Willard’s brother-in-law, Fred, he met her there often. And as she was small with long dark hair and eyes I learned that he fell in love with her hair. So when this daughter was about thirteen and a half, Willard asked her mother for her hand in marriage, saying that he would wait for her until she was older. Her mother gave her consent and as her daughter was in the next room she went in and told her about it. The daughter was quite surprised as such a thing had never entered her mind, as her mind was really quite childish. But after a conversation between mother and daughter it was finally settled that they should be married at some future date. Time went on, Willard’s oldest sister Lizzie’s husband, was sick but only for a few days and died. And Lizzie, with two children, came home to live. The youngest boy, Glenn, became greatly attached to Willard, or Bill as he called him, and used to try to do everything that Willard did. One day they were out sitting in the open barn door when Willard put a piece of tobacco in his mouth and Glenn begged for a chew, too. So Willard told him if he would be sure to chew it just the same as he did, he would give it to him. Glenn promised. But after a few minutes Glenn had to be carried into the house. His mother was quite mad about it and there was quite a few words. But, really, it was a good thing for Glenn never wanted to chew tobacco again and that was Willard’s intention, to make him sick of it so he would never get the habit. Mrs. Collom and family moved to Lubec and Susan went to live with her eldest son who was now married. And as Mrs. Collom’s house was only a short distance from Willard’s he became quite a pest when not working, often being there mornings, again in the afternoon and in the evening. I forgot to mention before Mrs. Collom moved, that Willard’s sister and Lillie became quite friendly. So Lillie spent a week at Willard’s home with Lizzie. While there Willard had a phonograph and he purchased a recorder so he and Lillie made records, with which they were not very successful for Lillie’s lungs were not strong enough to make her whistling very loud. Willard’s father gave up going to sea and got a small boat so while not at work on land he could fish as he could always sell them at a good price. So often, Willard helped him with the fish and then, too, Willard used the boat to drive herring in the fall. So he continued to work in this way while he and his fiance spent some week-ends to his sister Linna’s. It was on one of these week-end trips that they went to church on Sunday evening with her grandmother, planning on going home after church but when church was out there was a thunder shower and most of the people stayed in the church until late. Then his fiance went home with a girl friend and her mother and left Willard to go and tell her mother where she was. The next morning when his fiance got home Willard was waiting for her to take her to a circus in Eastport as he was fond of attending all such places. While at the circus he left her for awhile, to stand around alone, while he went in to see the Hoochey Coochey dance. Girls or women wasn’t allowed to see it. Two or three times he became quite jealous of his fiance. Once when she had invited some boys who worked where she did, to her house and he was there when they arrived. They were all quite surprised for they was four besides Willard and they all picked the same night to call. Another time when he met her on the street hand in hand with a red-haired, cross-eyed boy, but still he hung on. Then Willard got the measles. His fiance did feel truly sorry for him for he was very sick and she used to go see him nearly every day after work. For a time, his life was really in danger as he was near thirty years old then. After a time he got better. His father got mixed up in some kind of lawsuit and he and Willard had to go to Portland, Willard as a witness for his father. They were gone about two weeks and everything turned out all right for them both. Willard, as I have said before, was always fond of going to places of amusement. He was also quite lucky at winning things. There was a show being put on in the town hall and prizes were given. One night Willard won a gold watch. But like all the rest of his possessions he soon disposed of it. He also liked to go hunting but never shot anything larger than a rabbit. Partridge was what he mostly went after. While helping cut wood one winter he fell, somehow and cracked two of his ribs. He was kept quiet for some time for at the same time he got a heavy cold and cough and with cracked ribs a cough is a rather troublesome thing. His brother, Lester was growing up but I never heard him speak of him much or about Lizzie’s oldest boy, Wesley. Linna had two more children, boys, Burton and Floyd. Floyd died at the age of two years. But Burt began to think as much of Uncle Will as Grace did. Willard’s grandfather Guptill died and he did chores and errands for his grandmother, also helping her with her garden. As Mr. Guptill had been sick for some time he had sold his store out. I think that Willard would have liked to take it over and I don’t know why that arrangement wasn’t made. Finally, on January 7, 1902 Willard and his fiance got married. They were to live in part of his father’s house and about a week before they were married he go the furniture so everything was ready to go keeping house. The wedding was kept quiet so that there were only a few that knew of it. They were married at the Methodist parsonage by Mr. Banghart. Then they took the ferry and went to Eastport for the day. As they were married at ten o’clock in the morning it made a long day. And it was on that day that they formed their difference of things in common. At noon they ate at a restaurant, he ordered roast beef while his wife had pork. And their desserts were different, too. And so it went through life. The couple went to the house of his grandmother for supper and to the bride’s home soon after. Before going away in the morning they had told her mother that they were going away “two” but were coming back “one.” She didn’t believe it although she had always encouraged this marriage. Well, anyway, at nine o’clock the night they were married Willard went to his home and his bride stayed at hers. This was on a Tuesday and they kept living like that until Saturday. Then the bride’s mother, Mrs. Collom, was going to visit her mother for a week, with her youngest daughter, Edna. Not knowing that the other daughter was married, she was supposed to go the home of one of her girlfriend’s for a week. But instead, she went to her own home and began keeping house. She was now seventeen years four months and twenty-five days old. Willard didn’t have steady work that first winter, only cutting a little fire wood and jobbing around. But he had saved up some money during the summer so they managed to get along very well. Their first quarrel was about two weeks after they were married. He brought home some halibut of which he was very fond. And I will say this, it was a sorry looking mess when it was cooked. He locked the door and stamped and raved and the poor little wife just sat in tears. After a while, his mother came to the rescue and helped to make a more tempting dish of it for supper. And the wife learned how to cook halibut. Some of those first winter evenings the menfolks liked to play cards so sometimes Willard and wife, and his mother and father would go up to the home of Mr. & Mrs. Zenas Myers to play and how funny it seemed to the young bride when she was called Mrs. Myers. She looked around and waited for someone else to answer. Along in March there was a church supper in the Methodist church at West Lubec. Willard and his wife and his mother and father went. But the young wife got a ride up to a girl friend’s house in the afternoon and the rest of the family came up in the evening. And, then, the newlyweds, after the supper, went home with Willard’s aunt, Lenora Ramsdell, for the night. His wife stayed a few nights more after he went home and had a lovely time to a party at a girl friend’s house, even if she was an old married woman. I forgot to mention at that supper that Zenas Myers and his wife, Philena, sat beside me and what a jolly time we had. He and Willard ate the most of one cake which had a filling made of chocolate and dates chopped together. In the middle of April Willard’s work became steady and his hours was from seven o’clock in the morning until sometimes as late as twelve at night. He worked in Factory A, taking his dinner with him. His wife had planned on working but by the first of May she wasn’t feeling very well so spent the time at home. One day in June, Rose Owen, her girl chum, came to see her and wanted her to go bicycle riding with her so they went, the wife getting a bad fall and causing a miscarriage of their first child, at three months. Willard’s father wanted to buy a larger boat and had the chance to get a small two masted vessel and wanted Willard to go in partnership with him. So after much talk, the vessel was bought, it being most of Willard’s money that went into it. He gave up his job at the factory and he and his father started freighting. The vessel was named Fannie Lindsay. They spent some time in Harrington where they went to purchase it. But their freighting didn’t turn out very successful and after a year or more, in which Willard earned scarcely nothing, he sold his share out to his father for a house lot and some time in rent. And, as he didn’t care to build a house on the lot he was to have, he only got the rent for the vessel. And as rents were very cheap at that time one might say that he gave the vessel to his father. Willard went in the factory again, this time nearer home. And in October 1903 near the end of the month he and some other men went to Bancroft, Maine. On the 17th of November, that same year, their first child, Henry, was born. It was after exchanging several letters before the name of Henry was settled on. The mother wanted to call him Eugene and so wrote to Willard. He wrote back, I don’t care what you call the thing, but it can’t be Eugene. In January after the baby was born there was some more men went in the woods camp where Willard was and some of them had lice. Willard got them plenty, not only head lice but body lice, too, so he came home. As he hadn’t shaved since going away he had quite a long, sandy beard and his hair was in need of cutting, too. But as he wouldn’t go to a barber until he had got rid of the lice, so it was then that his wife learned to cut hair. Soon after he came home Henry somehow got a heavy cold. Before this, Willard had almost refused to touch him, afraid that he would fall apart but by now he had begun to love him and during this first sickness refused at times to eat and just sat beside the cradle. And put all kinds of blame on its’ mother. Things went on about the same as usual. Willard working summers and cutting wood for himself or jobbing in the winter. On the 28th of August 1905 another baby came into the home, this time a girl, Ruth. Willard was willing when his mother-in-law suggested the name so no fuss was made about it. Henry was small of his age and used to toddle about, following his father when he would let him. But Willard still liked to go to places of amusement so the wife and children were at home alone quite a lot of the time. He also had his men friends and week-end fishing trips were made leaving the family at home. He also had joined the Independent Order of Foresters, from which he got a great deal of enjoyment, going in as a charter member. He used to have some trouble with his stomach. At one time when out to his brother-in- law, Fred’s, helping him cut wood, he had quite an attack and Fred had quite a time getting him to his house from the woods and later getting him home. At one time he was sick for some time with jaundice. Dr. Hammond was attending him at that time. In the fall of 1907 he informed his wife that we are going to have another baby, so on the 17th of May, 1908 another son came into the family. His mother wanted to call him Verne, but no, so after a while his father named him Arno. Henry was getting quite a boy now and claimed some of his father’s spare time for him to read to him. He was starting school but was always sickly so in the winter of 1909 Henry’s tonsil’s had to come out. Willard stayed at home with the family while his mother took him to Dr. Bennet’s office for the operation. One day Willard’s father got his leg badly hurt and as his mother fainted easily, he called to Willard to help him get his rubber boot off before the doctor got there. In a short time Willard called to his wife to come quick, and when she got there Willard and his mother had both fainted. So she stayed and helped until one of the neighbors and the doctor came. When Arno was four months old, Ruth got the whooping cough and of course, the baby got it too. When they made too much noise coughing in the night, his wife was told to take them downstairs so he could sleep. And, always, when they were sick in the night, it was the mother who waited on them. However, when Arno was about nine or ten months old, one night Willard had gone to Lodge and his wife had a bad heart attack which came near being her end. So for two weeks or more Willard had all the work to do as well as caring for the children and carrying his wife up and down stairs night and morning as she wasn’t allowed to walk, even about the house. Dr. Mahlman was in attendance at that time. Willard became quite a cook and what a time Henry and Ruth had when one day he made some biscuits that looked like circles of pie crust when they were done. Willard’s work continued the same and time went on. As there was now three children in the family his wife had been wanting to get a rent with more room. But it was hard to get Willard to move until Arno was about 2 1/2 years old and Ruth was about to enter school. Willard bought a large building a short way from his father’s and had it made over into a house. His plans were to still live in his father’s house for one more winter and move to the new house in the spring. But they only had two rooms and with the three children it was rather crowded so as soon as the windows and doors were in the new house and the chimney was through the roof, his wife took him by surprise. He was doing night watchman’s work at the time. One morning at seven o’clock when he came home from work a truck was in the yard all loaded with the furniture and ready to leave for the new house. Willard didn’t speak to his wife for two or three days but she always enjoyed that little trick. That first fall in the new house, as they moved in on the first day of September, was pretty cold, the house being just one large room downstairs with only studding where the partitions were to be and the same up stairs. The wife didn’t dare to complain for she was taking all the blame upon herself. In December when the first real cold weather set in and the whole family awoke one morning to find the blankets up around their mouths all ice from their breath, they all took it as a joke for there was plenty of bedding and they were as snug and warm in their beds as though they lived in a heated house. On December 24, 1910 a new baby came into the family, another boy. His grandmother Collom wanted to call him Herman but his grandmother Myers wanted to call him Manford, so it was agreed that was to be his name. During his spare time Willard had been fixing the partitions so the rooms were beginning to look home-like. And despite all the cold the children kept well and the new baby grew and seemed to be the healthiest of the lot. Willard had changed his work from night watchman to day work again. In April, the place of business where he worked, burned flat. That only made more work, for the owner worked the men overtime to get it rebuilt. In August, just four months after the fire, they were able to resume the business again. When Manford was about six months old his mother thought she would like to go to church so got him asleep and getting the other three ready, told Willard to look after Manford. He said that he would. But when she came home she found the door locked. At first she thought that Willard had taken the baby out, looked through the window and there was the baby, just waking from his nap. After getting in the house and giving the children their dinner she took them to see their grandmother Myers. Willard was there. He thought that his wife had taken the baby to church with her. After that, she did. For a few days Willard hadn’t been very well and was unable to work. One day one of his friends came in and as Willard needed his hair cut and his friend agreed to cut it. When about half finished, Willard fell out of the chair onto the floor and frightened poor Sam almost out of his wits. Willard’s wife and Sam picked him up and put him on the couch then Sam ran for Dr. Mahlman and he got there before Willard came to. The doctor said it was his heart. He had several such spells while working. I forgot to mention that the first week of their housekeeping that both Willard and his wife wanted the front side of the bed as it sat so one side was against the wall. So Willard said if he had to sleep on the back of the bed he wouldn’t build the fire. His wife said “that is alright, I will take the front of the bed and build the fire myself.” So she did all their married life. Willard kept working in the factory and the saw mill connected with the factory, in the summer and sometimes worked around the smoked fish stand in winter. The children were growing, two were in school and the three oldest attended Sunday School. But Willard never changed his way of living. He still had his places of amusement, his week-end fishing parties with his friends and was sometimes cranky and irritable around home. When Manford was about one year old, one night his mother was out, returning early in the evening. Willard asked if she had met anyone coming across the field as that is the way they usually came home, she answered, “no, why?” Willard and the children had heard some one rap three times on the corner of the house but when he had gone to look couldn’t find anyone. A few days after this, Willard’s grandmother Guptill died. Willard got a terrible disappointment for she had property and a little bank account, besides. He had always done work for her free of charge and she always said I will make it right with you someday. So Willard expected her to leave him something but when the will was read everything was left to Willard’s aunt Clara. Willard’s father had been sick for a long time and one morning the first part of December Willard awoke about five o’clock, jumped out of bed and called out, “What!” When asked who he was calling to, he replied that his father called him. The next morning his nephew came at five in the morning to say that his father was dead. One morning Willard got up at the usual hour and said that he wasn’t going to work and to hurry and get yourself and the children ready for we are going to the circus, which was in Eastport at that time. I don’t think that he realized the work there was to take four children between the ages of three and ten to a circus, but he sure gave them a good time and he was more tired when he got home than if he had worked. Then in the early part of 1913 he and his wife began to talk of going to California as his wife’s grandfather wanted them to come out and live with him. So during the summer they sold their house and furniture and the first of October left Lubec, as they thought at the time, forever. Property was very cheap in Lubec at the time of the sale and most of what they got out of it went for railroad fares. So, on their arrival in California it was necessary for Willard to go to work at once. Work was scarce and his first job was digging cesspools which was very hard work, some of them being more than a hundred feet deep. And then he dug graves and that, too, was hard work, as on the hardpan there one had to use dynamite to get through it. While Willard was in California he worked on a ranch. A man that lived near him worked there and got him the job. It was some distance from home and was called the Diamond B. Ranch. The first night he was put to sleep in a bunk house, alone, until they had more help. After he got in bed he heard such howling that he didn’t know what to make of it. He looked to the window and there were some coyotes looking in the window at him. The next night he slept in the bunk house with Mr. Cliff and his son, Vincent, the man who got him the job. Willard only worked there a week and a half, so that ended his life on a ranch. Willard, too, was rather homesick and longed for his home in Lubec but wouldn’t own up to it. One day he and his wife were to her sister Lillie’s as Lillie was away sick, her sister looked after the house so Willard’s wife began playing “Home Sweet Home” on the piano. Willard yelled out, “for God’s sake, shut that up.” He got up and went home. As he was only working part time he used his spare time in working in the garden. The man next door was homesick, too and was also out of work. He was from Grand Manan, NB. There was only a fence dividing the two lots so they would work awhile and then stand and talk. So one day when dinner time came, Smyrna’s wife called to him, “if you and Mr. Myers think you have held that fence up long enough, come in now and get your dinner.” Then for sometime Willard was out of work and the oldest boy was under the care of Dr. Owen for some time. Then the grandfather died so Willard sold the home that was left to him and his wife, for about one half of what it was worth and again, packed up and moved back to Lubec, getting to Lubec again on April 19, 1914. At first the family stayed with his brother, Lester, as his mother had been living with him, too, since the death of his father, until a rent could be found, but as rents were scarce the family divided, with Willard and Henry staying with Lester and family. The wife and other three children staying with her youngest sister Edna who was also now married. They lived this way for a month and then got a chance to rent the house they sold before going to California. And Willard returned once more to the sardine factory and saw mill. The summer passed about the same as usual. The wife worked some in the factory to help out. And then on the 17th of November 1914 the fifth child came into the family. It was a tiny, sickly looking little mite, weighing only two and one half pounds. And as it was so tiny, Willard wanted a real good name for her so he read that the name Agnes meant pure and that was the name he gave her. But the little body wasn’t strong enough to stand this world son on the 30th of November in the same year, God called her home to him where she would be happy and free from pain and sickness. On November 27th of that same year Willard was at that time working in the saw mill. He came home a little before six o’clock at night and called for some one to open the door. One of the children ran to open the door, supposing that their father had his arms full. But when the door was opened he fell head foremost on the floor. His mother and his mother-in-law both were there and they ran to see what the trouble was and found that he had cut the end off one of his fingers, in the saw mill. When Dr. Mahlman arrived it was Mrs. Collom, Willard’s mother-in-law, that held Willard’s hand as the doctor dressed it. As he had a weak heart, he couldn’t have ether at that time. It was most of the winter healing and nearly spring before he was able to work again. In the spring of 1915, Mrs. Myers, Willard’s mother, came to live with him. And with his wife working, things were beginning to look brighter. So in the fall of that year he bought a house lot across the street from where they were living, continuing to work and saving what they could. The next spring, instead of building as he had intended, he planted a garden on the house lot, raising mostly potatoes, which sold for a good price at digging time in the fall. And then the lot lay idle until the following year in the fall, when he had a cellar dug and cemented, to lay all winter. Finally, in the fall of 1917 he had his house started. This was a larger house than the other one was, with seven rooms, all hardwood floors and cypress finish inside. Willard worked in the factory days and did what he could to help the carpenters out on the house at night. So, in May 1918 the new house was all finished and ready to move into. No tricks from his wife this time! In one of the previous summers, Willard and wife had a little pleasure trip together with his sister-in-law, Edna and her husband, Charlie, who had a small motor boat. Hiring someone to look after the children they packed a lunch and started for South Bay. Their intentions was to get some berries. In going up the bay there was a new weir being built with an arm or branch of it, partly finished, extended to the shore. And as that section of the bay isn’t much traveled there wasn’t any kind of a signal to keep away. As they were motoring along talking and laughing when the boat grated and stopped with a jerk. They had no oars so they all tried by teetering in the end of the boat, to get it agoing again, without success. Finally, Charlie and Willard took off their shoes and socks, turned up their pants legs and got out on the pole which extended from the weir to the shore and with their wives teetering and them pushing, after a while they managed to get it free again. At the time the wives thought it fun, but since then they have thought what if one had slipped in, what could have happened, since Charlie was the only one who could swim. Well, after a time they found a landing place and looked around for berries which I don’t think they were very anxious to find as the day was very hot. They had just rather stay in the shade. Finally, they came to a spring. The water was running from out the side of the bank as if it was coming out of a pipe and as cold as ice. So Willard named the spring the “Merry Pisser.” Late in the afternoon we started for home and this time went the other side of the weir and got home safely. And with no berries. Another summer before the new house was built there was Willard, wife and four children, Mr. & Mrs. Huff and five children, some of which were quite grown up, and Mrs. Lynn. They hired a motor boat and went up to Straight Bay. It was a beautiful day and as the party all lived near each other they had a jolly time going up. After finding a good landing place the men set to work digging clams while the girls and women unpacked the lunches and picked up sticks for a fire. They found some boards or an old hatch from a ship that had drifted in on the shore which they turned up for a table. They put the clams over the fire, covering them with seaweed, steamed them, and what a lunch! After that, all walked around through the woods and gathered apples, starting for home early enough to reach there before dark. And all agreed that they had a wonderful time. Willard was never a heavy drinker but on holidays and fishing trips he and his friends always has some kind of intoxicating drink and it was when coming home from one of these days and walking so that he staggered that his wife almost cried her heart out to think that the father of her children would be coming home like that. And she kept them away so they wouldn’t see him. Well, in May 1918 Willard and family moved into their new house, the wife and children carrying nearly all the furniture while he was working. And when he got home at night he got a truck and finished the moving. And what a time, there wasn’t stovepipe enough, the stores were all closed at that time of night and Willard was tired and cross and the children were tired and hungry. But finally, by scurrying around the neighborhood some pipe was found and then all was tired enough to crawl into bed. During the summer Willard had more of his fainting spells and in the early fall an epidemic of flu broke out in the town. Willard had it very mild but his whole family had it excepting Ruth. And it was while his wife was sick in bed that one night he went out and became intoxicated so his friend, George Lasley had to bring him home and put him to bed, the first time that his wife ever remembered of such a thing happening. On December fourth, 1918 the sixth child came to their home, this time another girl. Her name was quite a problem and was left for a while. Willard’s work in the factory was done so there were some men going in the woods for the winter so Willard joined them. They went to Wytopitlock, leaving Lubec on December 26 for a winters’ work. The family was getting quite grown up and there was five of them so it took more to clothe and feed them. However, it was the same as the time before, when Henry was born. Someone with lice got in their camp and Willard, of course, got them and came home much sooner than he intended, wearing the same long hair and beard as before. He always said that while in the woods he let his whiskers grow to keep his face warm. So he loafed around until the factory opened. In April a name was decided on for the baby. Its’ mother wanted to call her Naomi, Ruth wanted to call her Nora but not either of these names was good enough so after a family council, the name Ila Jean was chosen. Her father picked out Ila and Ruth added Jean. And the whole family was happy for the baby had a name. Two quite important events of Willard’s life happened before he was married, which I forgot to mention. The first was when there was a company formed by a man named Jernigan, who claimed that he could make gold from salt water and started in to work on a creek, what we always called the back dam. Willard worked there for some time on the derrick which hoisted out the dirt as a new bridge was built. But one morning Mr. Jernigan was missing, taking with him the gold nuggets which were supposed to come from the salt water. A number of people had bought shares in the gold company, or the Klondike as it was called, but Willard hadn’t invested any, so was not much upset when it was broke up. The second event was when the Lubec Water System was first started. There was a boiling spring on a piece of property owned by Samuel Marston, not far from Willard’s brother-in-law, Fred. And from this spring they made a test to see if it would give water enough to supply the town of Lubec, all its homes and industries. This spring was so shallow that the water had to be dipped up with a pint dipper to keep from roiling it. They had Willard dig a ditch from the spring and put in a piece of pipe for the water to run through. He then stood with a pail to see how many pailfuls it would run in a certain period of time. This was the first work ever done on the Lubec water works. The town has grown since then but the boiling spring is still doing its work of supplying its water. Written by Fannie Collom Myers illiterate


Patricia McCurdy Townsend

lubecpat@adelphia.net