Kenneth J. Weymouth made Camden a better place
I recently wrote about the grocery stores in Camden, when there were many and the population of Camden was small. The credit for starting the small stores belongs to Kenneth and Harold Weymouth.
They came to town in the 1930s and opened a First National Store on Main Street, where “The Right Stuff” store is today, on the corner of Main Street and Tannery Lane. It was a family affair with Harold, Ken and Ken’s brother-in-law, Carl Milliken, who was the meat cutter.
I remember it well, as my mother would send me there to buy perhaps a pound of hamburger. As I was only about 6 years old, and in the days when children were "seen and not heard,” I was very quiet and shy. Ken was very quiet and gentle, but Harold and Carl always had to tease me. They all were wonderful Camden people for many years and everyone was fond of them.
Kenneth Weymouth was born in Clinton, June 8, 1913, the son of Jerome and Ada Weymouth. He attended Clinton schools and graduated from Clinton High School in 1931. Moving to Camden shortly after, he met Myrtle Milliken and they were married in 1935. In the spring of 1937, Ken was offered a job as manager of a First National Store in his home town of Clinton. They lived there for seven years and had two boys: Kenneth Alan in 1939 and Brian Frederick in 1943. The following year they moved back to Camden, where Ken opened an IGA grocery store in the same building where he had previously worked with his brother, Harold, when the First National Store was located there.
They lived one year with his wife’s parents on Harden Avenue, and then purchased the home at 20 Sea St., where he lived the rest of his life. Also they purchased a cottage on Megunticook Lake, where all enjoyed swimming, boating, skating and relaxing. That cottage was always an open house to their many friends. In 1952, they had a daughter, Pendra Lee (LeGasse).
Later Kenneth decided to build an IGA supermarket in Tannery Lane, where the River House Hotel is today. It was the second supermarket of its kind built in the state of Maine. Orman, Jr., remembers well the day that Ken came to tell his cousin, Orman Goodwin, of those plans.
After many long hours and hard work, Ken felt it was not conducive to healthy living, and he was not spending enough time with his wife and family. He sold it and became a very successful Electrolux vacuum cleaner salesman.
In 1954 Ken and Myrtle began attending evangelistic meetings in Lincolnville and were baptized by Pastor Lesher in August of the same year. They joined the Camden Seventh Day Adventist church. Ken became a very active member, serving in various capacities including Pathfinder Leader, Sabbath School teacher and many years as Head Elder. He helped acquire the property where that church is now located.
Also In 1954, Ken and Myrtle began ministry at the Maine State Prison, The Knox County Jail and the Bolduc unit. In addition to their participation in Chapel Services, the couple made scheduled personal visits with some of the inmates. Also they were frequent visitors in the health care facilities in this area.
He was a believer in healthy living, becoming a vegetarian and exercised regularly into his mid-90s. In his retirement years, he and Myrtle were seen riding their bicycles almost every day, and for long distances. They were identified by their white helmets and yellow jackets. They first started cycling in Clinton in 1941, when gas was rationed for World War II. That was their transportation for several years. The couple began again in their late 50s and into their mid-80s, clocking thousands of miles on their odometers. They became members of the Penobscot Wheelman Club and went on many seasonal June through September rides for 25 to 65 miles distance, culminating with the 100-mile ride on Labor Day, often to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The couple enjoyed bicycle camping, and those adventures were three- or four-day trips loaded with bikes weighing 80 pounds, plus their equipment.
When in his 90s, Ken would work for his nephew, Jeff Weymouth, at Bishop’s Laundromat. He cashed up early in the morning, walking all the way from Sea Street to Millville. One day there was a blizzard and the other workers did not show up that day, but “Uncle Ken” was there…. come rain or snow, sleet or hail.
He always had a very pleasant attitude and enjoyed people and everyone enjoyed him. Ken lived to see his 100th birthday. He passed to his rest Aug. 23, 2013, at his home in Camden. His daughter shared the other half of the duplex home and was there for him. Myrtle died in 2002. They were a wonderful couple and made Camden a better place due to all their caring visits.
People sometimes ask me how I know so many details about people. Well, it is through research, the memories I have of them and their nice relatives, who are kind enough to share other information with me. I thank the Weymouth’s daughter, Penda, for much of this material and pictures of her parents.
Barbara Dyer is Camden's official town historian.