Bethel June 24
By Donald G. Bennett
June 24 to July 9: Bethel swimming lessons at Angevine Park.
Saturday, June 26 at Telstar: Rotary Club Yard Sale (8 a.m.) and Auction (6:30 p.m.).
Thursday, July 1 at the Sunday River Brew Pub: 7 p.m., Meet the Cast Night for this summer’s Porch Plays.
Saturday, July 3: Bethel Art Fair on the Common and the Porch Plays.
Town Report: If you are a Bethel voter, I hope that you take the time to at least scan the town’s report for 2009. Please look at the Town Manager’s Report and the Report by the Board of Selectmen. For years these two pieces have been missing from Bethel’s annual town report. This year both the town manager and the airport authority have given voters a look at the year’s highlights— a welcome improvement. You can find the town manager’s report online at www.thebetheljournals.info/Bethel Town Report.pdf.
Trek Across Maine. Jan Stowell has this report about the Friday start at Sunday River Ski Resort of the 26th bike trek across Maine to Belfast. The American Lung Association is overall sponsor of the event which started with 2,300 riders compared to the first trek where only about 100 participated. Trek Across Maine has risen to become the top fundraiser of the American Lung Association in the United States. Last Friday when the Trek began $1.5 million had been donated with contributions still coming in. Start of the Trek at South Ridge Lodge kicked off with plenty of noise— cow bells, clackers and cheering— from a cheerleader squad made up of Tineke Ouwinga, Ginny Gamble and Jan Stowell who were shaking the cow bells.
This year saw a record number of teams registered. L.L. Bean’s team had 102 riders. Another team called the Mo Jo group fielded 41 riders. Four riders have made all 26 treks. A number have made at least 10 treks. This year several Bethel riders were among the starters. Jan’s daughter, Nancy, and son-in-law, Bill White, rode again this year; they have made the trip a number of years in a row. One standout was a 12-year-old boy who had raised $1,000 by himself.
At one point the ride was hailed as the Mountains to the Sea Trek. Friday morning’s clear skies and sunshine showed off the mountains in fine shape. After the riders peddled downhill from South Ridge along the Sunday River Road to the left turn onto Route 2, the bright, sunny morning gave them a second grand view of the mountains ahead as they wheeled by the traffic control team of sheriff deputies, state trooper and volunteer stop-and-go director. Friday morning traffic was quite heavy at that hour and at times up to 20 or more cars and trucks were held up waiting for the intersection to clear. Along with the bike riders, van loads of medical and health monitor people kept track of riders’ physical condition. In this group are water drinking monitors whose job it is to ensure that riders drink the right amount of water for the distance covered and the daily temperature. All in all it is quite an undertaking to safely move the trekkers from start to finish over three days.
Part Two – We Party Supplies: We Party is a family enterprise made up of Suzy, Kelly and Karen Harrington. Suzy told me recently that at least two people had read last week’s article because they had asked her about the Walter Emery place. Not to be overly emphatic, but the Emery Road is a private, Dead End road. There have been times when loaded 18-wheelers have started down the road to deliver their loads to sites in The Peaks development on Mt. Will. The buildings at the end of Emery Road, which made up the Walter Emery homestead, were torn down over 35 years ago. From the recovered material George Haines used some to build a house.
The Harrington farm has a history that covers three eras: First came the Eames era from before 1800; then came the Philbrook era from about 1870 to 1938. (Mrs. Philbrook died at the age of 98. She was the oldest Gould alumna at the time of her death. Their son Fred died in 1926 and daughter Edith lived in Portland.) The third era began in 1946 when the Roberts’ family acquired the farm from Phil Chadbourne; this period could be called the Roberts Poultry Farm era.
Highlights of the 210 years covered by these three eras are: Ebenezer and James Eames, brothers from Dublin, N.H., settled the land from the Androscoggin River across today’s Route 2 to what is still known as the Walter Emery place on the Newry line. Ebenezer was here before the 1800 census.
In 1862 Pauline Eames, Ebenezer’s granddaughter, married John Philbrook from Shelburne, N. H., and the Ebenezer Eames farm became the Philbrook Farm.
In 1946 the Roberts family from Mexico, Maine, bought the “Philbrook Farm” from Phil Chadbourne, establishing the Roberts Poultry Farm.
Sheila (Suzy) Roberts married Franklin Harrington and with other family members opened the We Party business within the Harrington Farm complex which used to be the Roberts Poultry Farm complex.
Somewhere within the structure of the 20-room house with its additions are boards from the legendary Anasagunticook House a long ago mineral spring resort hotel that stood on the North Road. This work was done by John Philbrook.
In 1895, the Philbrooks built and lived at what is now the Victoria on Main Street. They continued to spend summer months at the farm on Sunday River during haying season.
The 2010 Library Quilt: Every Thursday afternoon the Cross Country Quilters meet at the Moses Mason House, so I had a chance to get some more information about the making of this year’s quilt being raffled to raise money for the Bethel Library. Mabel Kennett is the quilt project director and the group contributes to the quilt’s making.
Another facet of the group’s work is having a Comfort Quilt made and ready to donate immediately to any family who has been burned out of their home. The tradition of comfort quilts goes back into the early 19th Century. Molly Ockett has the distinction of possibly being the first charitable comfort feather bed maker among early Bethel families. She made a duck feather bed as a gift for Nathaniel Swan. She lived with the family of Nathaniel and Mehitable Swan probably during the years 1798 to 1802. The family lived at “Swan’s Corner” on the Sunday River and Nathaniel Swan is on record of writing about the gift from Molly in his journal telling of her life with the family. See page 79 of William Lapham’s History of Bethel.
Calling All Cars: On June 15 the Oxford County Commissioners voted in favor of the Town of Bethel/Oxford County Sheriff law enforcement agreement; this was reported in the Sun Journal. Sheriff Wayne Gallant was authorized to change employment of two part-time deputies to full time.
Bethel Selectmen’s Meeting: Turnover of the police department functions to the Oxford County Sheriff is going smoothly. The “Bethel sheriff deputies” will also be working out points of coordination with the Bethel Fire Department and Bethel Rescue. There is no decision yet on what use will be made of the vacant police department office. Bethel’s fire station is a back-up option if in the long run use of the ranger station falls through.
Robin Zinchuk and Steve Etheridge attended the meeting re: Mollyockett Weekend. Mason Street will be one-way traffic for both days— traffic going from Broad to Chapman. Races on Sunday will close Broad Street for a while. The selectmen agreed to use of the Bethel Fire Station for nonprofit Bingo. There will be a wedding at the Bethel Inn on Saturday of Molly’s Day, so parking may require more walking than usual.