By Barbara Dyer | Oct 12, 2017
This photograph shows the Camden Post Office on Chestnut Street, completed in 1915, while it was under construction.

CAMDEN — Maybe some of my readers think I write about detritus, but all of it has meaning to our local history. This article will be about various collectible pieces of history, over a span of time, and though it may seem like a little of history in various years, it should be remembered.

Did you know about the strike in February of 1930 at Camden Woolen Mill? It was located on upper Washington Street, where later a tannery stood. Forty weavers (20 men and 20 women) decided to go on strike, because the owners wanted them to run two looms at the same time. The owners wanted it because an order had to be completed in eight days, and an agreement was reached. During a strike 20 years before, there was violence. The eight Syrians who were taking the place of the strikers were quartered at the boarding house across the road from the mill. They were attacked with shotguns and a dynamite bomb. One side of the building was wrecked. Fourteen more Syrians arrived in Camden the next morning, but after hearing of the attack, they left before night.

In January of 1905, a new high school was dedicated. There was a snowstorm that day, but Superintendent Ogier presided with a program of singing by the sixth grade, and prayer by the Rev. L. D. Evans of the First Congregational Church. Some ladies of the high school sang. Before this building was built on Knowlton Street, the graduating classes were educated at the Elm Street School. The state superintendent, W. W. Stetson, was present and said what a fine school it was. It was supposed to last many years, but slate began to fall off the roof in the 1970s. It did serve many students well.

Did you know that the Welcoming Arch on Union Street was built in July 1926? The Camden Board of Trade felt people should know they had been or were entering the ”Prettiest Spot in Maine.” As Union Street was the main route at that time, they placed the lovely archway there. It was made of solid concrete and painted white. The only lettering was ”Entering Camden” and on the other side ”Leaving Camden.” It has been replaced several times when necessary.

In 1915 Boston and San Francisco were directly connected to each other by telephone. Major Henry L. O'Higgins, one of the early directors of AT&T, inaugurated the service from the Boston end and talked with Thomas A. Watson in San Francisco, 3,505 miles away. The call was very clear, like you were in the next room. The time it took, they figured, to trace was only one fifteenth of a second.

In July of 1970, Al Eaton and Harry Goodridge were told there was a killer whale in Rockport Harbor. People were yelling “Kill him!” But Goodridge said there was no need to kill him because he was only 22 feet long and was called “killer” because he ate so much.

The Camden girls basketball team won the 1934 State Championship. They were Mary Feltis, Bertha Cunningham, Barbara Dwinal, Louise Dickens, Frieda Burkett, Marjorie Taylor, Thelma Daucette, Elsie Light, Jennie Yates, Olivia Chandler, and their coach was Helen McCobb.

In August 1926, Cyrus H. K. Curtis made a wonderful gift to Camden. An unexpected and agreeable surprise was handed to the members of the Camden Yacht Club, assembled at the Club House for their annual meeting. At the end of their business meeting, Commodore Curtis declared in a few simple words that he had felt for a long time that the yacht club property could be used by the people of Camden as a Community House and place for recreation.

He decided to deed the property to the town for that purpose. The Camden Yacht Club, situated as it is, opposite the entrance to Camden's beautiful harbor with such a view of Penobscot Bay and surrounding mountains, is considered the finest establishment of its kind on the coast of Maine. It is a wonderful asset to the town of Camden. Mr. Curtis built it in 1909, at an estimated cost of $100,000.

Camden's new Post Office opened in May of 1915. Postmaster Josiah Hobbs made the Saturday before a reception day with the Camden Band playing. Ladies were given pinks, and all 800 people visiting thought the building was a great addition to Camden. Several years ago, the government said it was no longer efficient and wanted to build one out of the business district. But Camden people still loved the “hub” of Camden and fought against losing it, and won.

Camden Fish Hatchery in November of 1925 had 3,744 visitors during a six-month period. People visited from all over the world to see this hatchery. It was located by the twin dams at Megunticook Lake, then Megunticook River flows for three miles to empty into Camden Harbor by the Public Landing. They raised fish to stock the ponds and lakes in the vicinity. The hatchery is no longer there and I believe it is now a private residence.

In July of 1880 there was the West Camden Gold & Silver Mining Co. and shares were sold. When Camden and Rockport separated, it became West Rockport. I have seen several of these certificates, but never heard that anyone made money. It was incorporated under the laws of the state of Maine May 1, 1880.

On Feb. 1, 1926, I read what the average American spent: $2.58 on diamonds per person, $1.10 on books, and $4.15 for beer. Only one in three people in the U.S. brushed their teeth, but enough tobacco was consumed each year to pay off the interest on the entire public debt. They spent 51 cents for firearms and shells, and 18 cents for fountain pens and steel pens. They spent $3.00 for ice cream and 8 cents for professors' salaries; $45.00 for luxury foods and $10.00 on public schools; $9 for cosmetics and $3.75 for toilet soap; 90 cents on eggs and 6 cents for coffins. They spent $2.10 on patent medicines, 32 cents for watches, and 45 cents for toys;  $8.15 for theater admission and $1.85 for shirts. And finally, Americans spent $30.73 for government expenses. So, that is where the hard-earned money went.

Comments (1)
Posted by: wende newton walsh | Oct 13, 2017 09:56

Such a fun read.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge and research.  Love it !!!



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