When D. Grover Brooks purchased the hardware store of Nathanial F. Brown in 1917, the sale included a sheet metal shop, now a unique facility in Bethel’s business community. What does a sheet metal shop offer? For hot air heating systems and fabricating stove pipes, T’s and elbows it’s a necessity in town commerce.
In 1984-85 when we hoped to get a central heating system into the Crosby family Red House in Sunday River, Brooks’ sheet metal shop was a major factor. The old house had always been heated with wood stoves in almost every room. To start, we had bought an oil furnace and wood side unit from Steve and Linda Blake along with the piping. Don Brooks handled getting the furnaces and hot air piping from the Blakes to the Red House. However, installing new trunk lines, T’s and elbows took a fair amount of new sheet metal fabrication. This was done at Brooks Bros. sheet metal shop.
Last Thursday, Brian Colby at Brooks Bros. showed me seven different pieces of special equipment-tools needed to do sheet metal jobs such as turning flat sheets into pipes, creating joints and other custom shapes needed for a hot air heating system. The room itself is an addition to the building which houses the hardware store.
In Rollie Chapman’s 1997 history of Main Street, her research showed that the Brooks hardware store building appeared on the 1880 map of Bethel. The Methodist Church side of the building was occupied by a Mr. A. B. Stevens store and Tin Works; Samuel Philbrook’s store was in the right building.
D. Grover Brooks purchased the store from (possibly the estate) of Nathaniel F. Brown (1843-1917) who had acquired the business including hardware store and “tin shop” from Seth Walker. Mr. Brown’s career showed him to be an influential and prominent citizen – member of the Legislature – connected with many town business interests – trustee of Bethel Savings Bank, trustee of Gould Academy and chairman of the Executive Committee; trustee of the Methodist Church. Director of Bethel National Bank – member of Bethel Masonic Lodge; he was collector for Bethel Village Corporation in 1890.
At the 1891 town meeting a motion was made from the floor by Dr. John Twaddle that the position of supervisor of schools be created. This motion passed. A second motion immediately followed nominating Nathaniel F. Brown to fill the new position.
A final story about Brooks’ hardware store came from the late Albert Cotton. Albert told me that not long after he arrived in Bethel and opened his store on Church Street, he needed a loan for his business. Asking around Albert said he was told, “Well don’t go to the Bethel Savings Bank; go see D. Grover Brooks.” At the time Mr. Brooks was either treasurer or president of the bank.
Norma Salway’s New Book
In the basket full of downtown Bethel events on Saturday, Norma Salway’s new book, “I’m Just a Kid, You Know”, made its debut on Main Street with a book signing at Maine Line Products. Lessons for first grade school teachers might be an alternate subtitle. There’s lots of humor in the book and it would be a good read for young parents whose kids are ready to start school.
After being told by Mrs. Salway to check their work, one student turned in a paper with a check mark over each word. Another time, while her class was working, Norma signaled one girl to come up to her desk to see her. Norma used the standard hand signal motion of crooking her index finger. After two or three signals that the girl saw but ignored, finally Norma walked to the girl’s desk to tell her to come to the teacher’s desk. Come to find out the girl thought as she had been told by her parents that using the finger like that was a naughty sign (giving someone the finger) so the child had ignored her.
Recognizing Problem Skin Moles
Worried about a mole on your skin? Wonder which ones are harmless and which could be a sign of cancer? Dr. Alyssa Paetau, surgeon, Stephens Memorial Hospital, will explain what skin changes you should look out for and what to report to your doctor at a program to be held on Thursday, Oct. 3, 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the West Parish Congregational Church, Bethel. The program is sponsored by To Your Health of WMSC. The public is invited, admission is free and light refreshments will be available. FMI call R. Tifft at 824-2053.
Androscoggin River Drift Boat Race
Friday afternoon of Harvestfest weekend, Bethel Outdoor Adventure hosted its second Drift Boat Competition. Wendy Gray was Drift Boat Commodore for the event along with assistance from BOA owners Jeff and Patty Parsons. Last year five teams completed, but this year there were only two. (Last year the event occurred on Friday the thirteenth.) The race started at BOA canoe landing beach and ended at Davis Park landing. Race challenge had three elements: maneuvering the boat, reading the river, i. e., eddies and currents, and of course rowing speed.
This year’s teams were, first a repeater from last year, “Fish-N-Chicks” from Bath with Kate Farnham as oarswoman and her passenger was her mother Cheryl. Second team was new: “Bethel Bait and Tackle, Allmarine.com, and Locke Mountain Guide Service” with Luke Gray from Newry as oarsman and Eric Melanson, passenger. The passenger’s job is to stand in the bow throughout the race holding a full glass of Champaign which must still be full to the brim at the finish.
Race ended in a tie. Teams had to negotiate seven strategically placed buoys that were placed on the river to test each team’s ability to maneuver around the buoys, rowing both with and against the current. On reaching Davis Park the passenger is allowed to sip the Champaign.
Harvestfest and Chowdah Cookoff 2013
I am amazed at how many people come to Harvestfest and Chowdah Cookoff and how very few I recognize. Most of the vendor tents were populated by people I did not recognize although a number have been at earlier Harvest fairs. Hancock Lumber had maybe the largest exhibit. The Common becomes sort of the midway of a county fair in appearance.
Even after the line-up for Chowdah had formed, the weather was downright chilly. Luckily within the next hour sun broke through, wind died down and temperature turned comfortable. About 2:30 when I got back to the Common, Chowdah and apple pie tasting was over.
I was able to get the people’s scoring of the eating events from Robin Z. Here are the results: top three in Chowdah came out as – First place was Sudbury Inn’s traditional clam chowder; Second place was a tie between Rooster’s clam and corn chowder and Black Diamond’s corn chowder; Third place went to the Phoenix at Sunday River for their shell fish chowder. In the Apple Pie contest, Pam Forman won for her non-traditional pie entry; Fred Coseglia (Harrison) won the traditional pie category and for best in professional apple pie there was a tie between the Sudbury Inn and Little Red Hen (Andover).
Talking about the Appalachian Trail
A full house plus were at the Bethel Historical Society Saturday afternoon. Retired University of Maine professor, David Field, narrated a slide-show hour about the history, people, locations and terrain features that one encounters on the AT from New Hampshire to Mount Katahdin. Mr. Field has spent practically his entire adult career working, maintaining and writing about the Trail. He also held a book signing for his new book, “Along Maine’s Appalachian Trail”.
Myron H. Avery (1899-1952) you might say is the Godfather of the AT. He was born in Lubec. He died from apparent overwork at age 52. After his death his correspondence file of over 12,000 documents were secured in Maine’s archives. After Mr. Field’s talk, he told me that within the mass of Avery’s correspondence there were many letters between Avery and Daniel Wight of North Newry who was a key local person in laying the trail in the Mahoosuc Notch area. Mr. Wight was a fire warden and manned the fire tower on Old Speck the 1930s when the trail in Maine was being negotiated.
Some other interesting points in Mr. Field’s talk were: At one time, Mt. Washington was the agreed upon goal of the AT’s northern terminus. During the CCC days of the ‘30s, much of the Maine trail work was done by men housed at these camps. The Appalachian Trail is managed by the National Park Service of the U.S. Forest Service. The book signing was successful – all copies on hand were sold.
Selectmen’s meeting Sept. 16
Citizen/voter comments at the beginning of future meetings will be provided for in meeting agendas. Stan Howe moved to do this and it was approved by board vote.
The FY 2014 Sewer Budget was passed although there is to be a follow-up action to add more customers to the present roll. The anticipated total of revenues including grant and loan amounts is $1,706,276. Total anticipated expenses including debt service come to $1,723,965, leaving a projected deficit of $17,689.
There are five major capital improvement jobs scheduled for next year: Chapman Street main, new dewatering system and garage at the main treatment plant, replace the Vernon Street pump station and main, replace grit and inflow pumps, and replace the Mill Street pump. The other big capital improvement item was for buying a replacement tractor which by all accounts is no longer economically repairable, $15,000. After discussion at the previous board meeting, an increase in wages was capped at two percent which will make it less than the actual total amount paid out in FY 13.