Our Congress met last week. One hundred eighty-eight voters signed in. According to the registrars the record for attendance is 216 in 1983. Issues and their respective constituencies drew a crowd. Besides the keep-the-budget down and minimum regulation group, there were the pro and con oil sands in Portland Pipe Line groups (discussed from 7:15 to 8:04), the dog park pro and con groups, basketball pro and con groups and the various town committee chairs and members.
The various daily news media have already informed us about dog park: no; basketball court: yes; and another yes: rescind the no-oil-sands-through-Bethel resolution; and some related budget cuts. To me the important vote was on Article 4: which would have authorized the selectmen to decide what was “to be in the best interest of the Town” re: recreational facilities. That language goes beyond the selectmen’s charter to carry out the will of the “Congress”. When it turned out that there would be no town meeting to vote on recommendations of the Recreational Facilities Committee, the red flag was waved and the bulls charged with a No vote.
Quote of the evening: “The whole town is a dog park”.
New House – Old House
On the Barker Road, a new house is going up – location: the former Adrian Grover farm, known to old time summer boarders as the Maple Lane Farm. Rupert and Suzanne Grover recently acquired the homestead property from Nina and Michael Wheeler. The new house being built by Schiavi Home Builders sits on the original farm house site and next to the 1858 barn which stays. Making the transition even more attractive, the new owners will have a swimming pool, installed years ago already in place for them. A roadside patch of young maples has been thinned producing a beautiful scenic view to the casual passerby.
Nina has given me a few memorable stories about the old farm house. First, it had a three-holer for workmen at the farm and a seven-holer for women – five for adults and two small ones for children. In recent years the Wheelers had boarders from Chile staying at the old farm house while employed at Sunday River Ski Area. Twelve stayed at the farm winters for two years while the Mountain Explorer shuttle operated into West Bethel; after the shuttle service ended, boarders could not stay there and get to work daily. Nina said she enjoyed taking the Chilean visitors to Portland and Old Orchard, giving them a chance to see “cosmopolitan” Maine.
During the 1890s, Edward Grover owned the farm and summer news usually included a note that the Maple Lane Farm was filled with summer boarders.
Old House plus New House
On the North Road in Mayville, between the Mason house and the Mason dental clinic, Jeanne Rahilly who a number of years ago had purchased the former Sweetser home, has added a two story addition to the original house. It has a two-car garage on the ground level and a large living room with two bedrooms and a study on the second floor. Builder is Tadd Truman working for Turn Key Homes of Maine in Oxford. When the main new building is finished, Ms. Rahilly will have the small garage building torn down.
Jeanne has a new Maine license plate on her car, having just moved permanently to Bethel from North Reading, Mass. She told me that some time ago her brother had owned a place on Twitchell Pond which helped her decide on finding a place in the Bethel area.
The History Club
Bridge Street and Environs – 20th Anniversary of Pauline P. Davis’s history article.
With Pauline (Polly) Davis having just retired from the Citizen’s employ, readers should know that she wrote a detailed addition to Bethel history in 1993, with a very comprehensive article. “Bethel’s Bridge Street/Cross Street/Riverside Lane: A History,” was published in the summer 1993 issue of the Bethel Historical Society Courier. It is probably the most complete history of this part of Bethel ever compiled and published.
Her work includes some names from my early days of living in Bethel – Mrs. Peterkin (Polly’s grandmother) and Frank Boyker. Polly writes that the Peterkin farm buildings were on the land later occupied by the U. S. Forest Service. The Peterkin’s built a 100-foot barn with silo and many storage sheds, kept a herd of 50 to 60 cows, and peddled milk, butter and eggs, with milk at 8 cents a quart in 1932. After Eldon Peterkin died in 1940 his wife kept some of the cows. After we moved to Bethel in 1945, my father bought Mrs. Peterkin’s surplus milk. So I had a chance to visit the farm often to pick up the Peterkin cans of milk.
Another familiar name to me was Frank Boyker. Polly writes during the 1940s Frank Boyker owned a camp (in the vicinity of today’s Rite Aid area) and peddled meat and eggs throughout the area. I visited Frank quite often as he bought our bull calves to raise for veal. He was a very sociable, talkative person and I enjoyed my visits with him. He had large flowing eyebrows, piercing eyes and a face that would make a dramatic, unforgettable piece of sculpture.
More names from only twenty years ago are Java House, Red Top Truck Stop, Rhea Lu’s China Gem, and in 1993, the Bottle and Bag.
For photos with weekly online news see http://www.thebetheljournals.info/News/BethellNews6182013.htm.