Harold S. Corthell was born to be a salesman, and was one of the best store owners Camden ever had. He was also an instigator who could get things started to benefit his town.

Actually he was born in Rockport on Oct. 21, 1897 to Albert and Jeanette Sheldon Corthell. He went to work for Sam Haskell at age 13 with only an eighth-grade education. In April of 1923, after only 10 years of hard work, S.B. Haskell sold one half interest in his clothing store to his clerk, Harold Corthell. The business name was changed to Haskell and Corthell. Mr. Haskell had not been active in the Camden store for many years, when he died in 1945.

During his lifetime, Harold continued the clothing store that S.B. Haskell had founded, and expanded it to a four-part merchandising complex that took up half a block on the west side of Main Street. There was Haskell and Corthell’s Men’s Shop, the Women’s Shop, the Shoe Hutch and the End Shop. Also with the help of his son-in-law, Kenneth Dickey, he added a Ski Shop that was run by Ken’s son David Dickey and the other son Billy Dickey clerked in the Men’s Shop. Harold’s wife, Olive, ran the Women’s Shop. It was a very successful family run business.

Harold knew all there was to being a salesman. His front store door was open as an invitation to come in. People remarked that he was thinking all the time, as well as working all the time. If it was a rainy day, he had raincoats and umbrellas by the doorway. During the Depression, he was kind to many families. If the father was paid only once a month, the family could charge for all their necessary clothing, and pay when the bill came. If someone in the community had some difficulties, he would let them pay “on time,” as long as they had a plan and kept their promise. He quietly helped many Camden people in the days when the town was small and one big family.

Before businesses thought of having sales, Harold Corthell started the year-end sales, and sometimes before year-end. One thing many old natives remember was the Christmas raffle. With his surplus, he would make up large lists of giveaways, sometimes hundreds of items. Weeks before Christmas, everyone who paid cash for purchases received a ticket with a number on it. After closing on Dec. 24, he had quite a few tickets. Christmas morning there was always a large group of ticket holders waiting outside the front door to check their stubs against a list that he had written up and taped to the door.

In addition to never taking a day off or vacation, he found time to take part in his community. He was a charter member and officer in the Camden Rotary Club and was a member and served as president of the Businessmen’s Club. He was active in the Masonic fraternity and in 1925 he was Generalissimo of the Commandery. The following year he was the youngest Eminent Commander in the state of Maine.

Harold Corthell was active in the directorship of Camden National Bank, the Knox Woolen Company and Tibbetts Industries.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Harold was a great promoter of the Camden Motor Boat Regattas. As a child I remember watching the speed boats race and some even flipped over. It was great excitement at that time. Everyone was delighted to know that Maine Gov. Tudor Gardner was one of the racers. Harold Corthell and Eugene Rich were the principal founders of the Camden Outing Club. When so many people volunteered to build the club house and do other work to get that spot ready, Harold opened his cottage on Hosmer Pond to feed the workers.

Before the incorporation of the chamber of commerce, Mr. Corthell seemed to be a one-man promoter. In 1930 he was a vice president of the Board of Trade, which was a group of businessmen who preceded the chamber of commerce. Among other things, they originally built the arch on Union Street when that was Route 1 because they thought travelers should know what town they had gone through.

Gilbert Harmon and Harold Corthell purchased property after property. They owned a large part of the town they served. Some of the property was lower rent for Camden residents.

Mr. Corthell had to retire, due to poor health, two years before he died. His heart and soul were in his business, Main Street and all the people he knew as friends and customers or through organizations.

Camden lost one of the best on Friday, Oct. 2, 1970, when Harold Corthell died at the Camden Community Hospital, of which he had also been a director.

The stores carried on under his son-in-law Kenneth Dickey and family until they closed around 1994, after being one of the oldest businesses in Camden.

The next article will be about a successful Southern belle.

Barbara F. Dyer has lived all her life, so far, in Camden and is referred to as the unofficial official town historian.