Thomaston’s July 4th parade marshal has many stories to tell
THOMASTON — “Once upon a time, a son was born to Mimi and Clyde Harding, in a first floor, corner room of the Cambridge, Mass. City Hospital; it was Beniah C. Harding, on 5 July 1919.” And so begins Ben Harding’s story, in his own words.
Thomaston’s 2012 parade theme of “Once upon a time…” seems especially suited to Harding, as he has so many stories to tell. Growing up, Harding’s grandfather read to him every night. Those stories started him on a lifetime of reading and storytelling. As he began choosing his own books, travel, mysteries, and biographies expanded his world. Harding does remember one of his book choices that was not approved by his grandmother, and she took it away before he had finished it. He is still wondering how it ended…
Harding not only reads prolifically, but writes stories as well. He has written about his time as an officer in the U.S. Naval Armed Guard in Europe during World War II, and dedicated it to the men with whom he served. It’s a great read, as is his charming tribute to his favorite dog, Rex, who used to act as protector when Ben and his beloved Ida May walked to town to sell eggs.
Harding has served on many boards and committees in Thomaston, recently stepping down as president of the Senior’s Group in town. Anyone who knows Harding can’t help but notice that he is most often seen in a suit coat and necktie from his extensive collection. When asked which tie is his favorite, his face softened. Harding had a picture of his wife standing in the dappled sunlight, next to a brook in Union, imprinted onto a tie. It is this special tie that he wears three times a year: on Ida May’s birthday, on their anniversary, and for the past few years, to commemorate the day that Ida May died.
Harding has a special tie all picked out for the 4th of July, and he looks forward to showing it to all of the parade-goers on Wednesday. The Thomaston 4th of July Committee encourages all parade attendees to join them behind the Business Block after the parade to wish a joyous happy birthday to the USA and to Ben Harding (Harding’s 93rd birthday is July 5.) There will be a chicken barbecue, food vendors, craft tent, children’s games, bouncy houses, dunk tank, dance music by Freeze Frame and Creatures of Habit, and Thomaston’s biggest fireworks display so far. The committee booth has raffle tickets for sale, featuring more than 60 donated prizes, including several pieces of jewelry from Chambers Jewelers and an overnight for two at the Hampton Inn in Thomaston. Committee Chairman Julie Russo reminds festival-goers that “all proceeds from the raffle, barbecue and children’s games go towards next year’s festivities to keep the fun rolling!”
Courier Publications news staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.