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  • Published
    May 16, 2013

    Essay by a Camden native’s daughter

    Dad always said he wanted to write his own “swan song,” but, sadly, the recent fatigue and discomfort of pancreatic cancer has kept him from doing so. With Dad’s blessing I am stepping in to help. What follows are my thoughts and memories about a man I call Dad, but who you know as Paul Putnam, a local writer and historian. When anyone calls him a historian he claims he is a writer of memories, always deferring …

  • Published
    March 30, 2013

    Learning the motion picture operator ropes

    In December of 1946 I was a sophomore at Camden High School and it seemed that most everything that was important to me revolved around downtown Camden. My Dad had worked in the Camden shipyard during the war, and had prospered enough to build a new home on Megunticook Street, so it was only a five-minute walk to town, or the library, Poland’s Pool Parlor by the bridge on Main Street, or to Libby’s Drug Store for …

  • Published
    March 16, 2013

    A true family farm

    When my great-grandfather, George L. Putnam, mustered out of the 26th Maine Regiment in August 1863, he returned to South Thomaston. He was 22, single and wanted to be a farmer as his father had been before him up in Monroe. In 1866 he bought the Barzillai Pierce farm out on the marsh road for $500, a farm of about 100 acres. That road would later be called Buttermilk Lane because nearly all who farmed there were …

  • Published
    March 2, 2013

    After high school

    The Maine Maritime Academy was an option for many of us who wanted to go on to college after high school, but tuition and books could run $400 a semester plus another $1,200 to $1,500 for room and board, whereas the Maritime Academy would actually pay one to go there if you qualified. I have told of going to a year of music school in Bangor at the Northern Conservatory of Music but not returning the second year …

  • Published
    February 16, 2013

    Brewster's snowsuits

    The recent snowstorm — blizzard — and another predicted for next week reminded me of the era of the Brewster snowsuit, which I have written about before. It seems that nearly everyone who grew up here during the 1930s and 40s had one, even well into the 1950s. Choosing what you were going to wear was not an option. If you were going out to play, you put on your Brewster snowsuit. They came in several colors, …

  • Published
    February 2, 2013

    Teachers are memorable people

    In the background of the years at the Knowlton Street School was one dominant figure of whom we all became more aware of as we grew older. That was Miss Mary E. Taylor. She took on the job as principal of the junior high school in 1916 and also taught mathematics. I remember her presence in all school events from my earliest years there (1935). I especially remember how at Christmas each class would have something…

  • Published
    January 19, 2013

    Jar rubbers, essential for backyard skiing

    It seems like we never threw anything away when I was a kid. I suppose we really did, but trips to the dump were not common. We had a burn barrel down in the gully out back where I would periodically take burnable trash and burn it, and we had a garbage can where we dumped really smelly stuff that would eventually be taken to the dump, but its interesting how much stuff we saved, just because it was too good to …

  • Published
    January 5, 2013

    Winter cold, bring on the stories

    When I was a kid, before TV, folks would sit around the old pot-bellied stove and tell stories. The recent cold snap got me to reminiscing about the cold, and the stories about Maine winters I have known, or have heard. For instance, my grandfather Putnam used to tell about going out with shovel crews in the winter to open up roads that had drifted shut, in particular Buttermilk Lane where he grew up, that was …

  • Published
    December 22, 2012

    Christmas controversy throughout history

    I remember my mother telling of Christmas in the early 20th century when she was a child on Little Deer Isle. They had no tree at home, but the children looked forward to getting a present on the tree at church. She and her brothers hung their stockings for Santa, but all he left was popcorn, nuts, and fruit, which they enjoyed in the morning while waiting for the older folks to get up. It seems that the Puritan …

  • Published
    December 8, 2012

    Seven degrees of separation…maybe

    Anyone whose family roots date back a couple of generations or more, as mine do, will find a lot of familiar local family names showing up in their family tree. Almost immediately I find Crockett, Bartlett, Heard, Fales, Mathews and Millay, and that is only the children or the spouses of one Rice Rowell. When I was a kid, a Rowell family reunion in South Thomaston (The Keag) was a major affair and included what …

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