For the past several weeks there has been a sign at the town ball field on Route 131 advertising an “old timers” softball game to be held at 1pm on the Sunday of the St. George Days weekend (July 17-20). Traditionally a baseball game, Parks and Recreation Director Ben Vail says the switch to slow pitch softball makes the event accessible to more people. “So everyone can have fun.”
Baseball used to be an all-consuming passion in St. George, Vail points out. “There are still some in town who remember the St. George Torpedoes. Years ago every town had their own town team and the games drew big crowds. Baseball was really important.”
This year a $5 dollar entry fee for the players, who must be at least 25 years old, will go to the St. George Firefighters and Ambulance Association in memory of Tim Holmes, who was a devoted fan of baseball. “He played baseball every Sunday and even traveled to Florida to play in the winter,” notes Vail.
The game is also a fitting emblem of the town’s commitment to providing opportunities for people of all ages in St. George to be active. In addition to the various youth baseball programs (T-ball, Farm League, Little League) there is also adult softball on Sundays at 3pm. Youth soccer begins at the end of August. And then there is football, with St. George’s kids playing in the Rockland youth football program before middle school and high school at Oceanside. “The interest in football down here is astounding,” Vail notes.
In November the town offers basketball clinics for children in kindergarten through sixth grades. And then, when the snow flies, Vail says, the town sends 30 to 40 people of all ages to the Snow Bowl to go skiing. “This community is really into skiing. Each week the Snow Bowl provides the town with discounted lift tickets, lessons and equipment rentals. We’ll have Mom, Grandmother and three kids skiing every Wednesday from 4-8pm. It’s great. This winter I’m going to schedule youth basketball around skiing because the skiing is so popular.”
From October through March, Vail says, there is also an adult basketball group, with 8 to 15 men and women playing each week. This past year 50 people also signed up to attend a Celtics game in Boston, taking advantage of the town’s ability to buy tickets at a discount.
A highlight of the basketball season is the Mussel Ridge basketball tournament for third- and fourth-grade boys and girls held the third weekend in March. “This coming year’s tournament will be the 20th tournament the town has hosted,” Vail notes. “It is a huge fundraiser for the town’s Parks and Recreation boosters. We’ll get teams from Thomaston, Waldoboro, Rockland and sometimes from as far away as Boothbay. What’s amazing is how so many people here step up to give their time to make the tournament happen. There’s great food and the games are a lot of fun to watch.”
And just as the name “old timers” suggests, St. George also has a strong commitment to offering seniors special recreational opportunities. “The second Tuesday of every month except August we have a senior luncheon and program which draws anywhere from 20 to 30 people,” Vail explains. “We also team up with Thomaston’s recreation department to provide senior trips. We recently went to the botanical gardens in Boothbay and we’re scheduled to take a trip to see the elephants in Hope. We’re also going to visit the two wineries in Union.”
But the big trip each year, Vail says, takes place on Veteran’s Day. “That’s when we take the gala shopping trip to Portland. In addition to going to Mardens, we also stop at the Maine Mall, Target and the Christmas Tree Shop.”
Vail notes that the town’s seniors are really appreciative of these trips. “They not only have fun, but they also don’t have to worry about driving.”
Reflecting on the scope of activities his job directing Parks and Recreation Department involves, he adds, “I’ve been blessed to inherit such a great program.”. —JW
TOP PHOTO: St. George Historical Society
OTHER PHOTOS: Julie Wortman
The annual celebration has several new events this year, promising something for everyone. An amateur flower-arranging competion offers opportunities in several categories, even for kids. Local crafters will be set up at the Town Office, and Maine Coast Heritage Trust is sponsoring boat rides to High Island. Be sure to save room for the lobster dinner!
THURSDAY, JULY 17
5-7 pm – Eastern Star Potluck Dinner & Raffle at Masonic Hall, Watts Avenue $7-adults, $4-children
FRIDAY, JULY 18
5-8 pm Opening Reception for Artists of St. George: The Don McLain Memorial Art Show
Odd Fellows Hall. Show open daily through July 27, 10 am – 5 pm.
6:30-8:30 pm – Street Dance and Summer Games Extravaganza with DJ Dan Miller, The Dancing Lobsterman “Maine – Hop2iT”
St. George Elementary School Parking Lot. A wonderful family event!
SATURDAY, JULY 19
8-11 am Amateur Flower Arranging Competition
Arrangements may be dropped off at Hedgerow between 8-11 am. For more info email email@example.com, Entry forms are at martinsvillemaine.com. No entry fee.
8:15 am – Half Mile Fun Run For Kids at Drift Inn Beach – Port Clyde
8:30 am – Marshall Point 5K Lighthouse Loop at Drift Inn Beach – Port Clyde
9 am-5 pm – Meet Your Local Fisherman – Sponsored by Heritage Alliance, a non-profit educational foundation created by St. George residents. Midcoast Maine Fisherman will have their boats at Cod End Wharf all day to meet the public & explain their business to interested residents & visitors.
9 am-4 pm – Jackson Memorial Library Book Fair – 71 Main Street. Books, treasures, silent auction to benefit the library
10 am Local Crafters at the Town Office
11 am – Main Street Parade and float contest.
1st place: $100 2nd place: $50. Maine St. Andrews Pipes & Drums Band will be in the parade and perform a mini-concert after parade.
11 am-7 pm – Annual Firemen’s Association Lobster Dinner Fundraiser at Town Office
After Parade – Children’s Activities Sponsored by Harmony Bible Church at Town Office
After Parade – Visit The Historical Society School House Museum
11:45 am-3pm Dunk Tank sponsored by St. George Parks and Recreation Department
12-3pm High Island Boat Tours Free boat rides from Public Landing to High Island. Dress appropriately with wind breaker, hat and foot gear for beach landing. Sponsored by Maine Coast Heritage Trust
1pm Midcoast Community Band Concert Odd Fellows Hall parking lot
3-5pm Flower Arranging Reception and Awards at Hedgerow, Martinsville
At Dusk – Spectacular Fireworks Over Tenants Harbor!
SUNDAY, JULY 20
1pm Old Timers Slow Pitch Softball Game
Ages 25 and older, $5 per person. Proceeds to the St. George Fire & Ambulance in memory of Tim Holmes. Players register at Town Office or Harborside Market.
PHOTOS: Betsy Welch
A light station was established on Whitehead Island in 1804 as a key aid to navigation for shipping entering Penobscot Bay from the west, en route to ports in Rockland, Camden, Belfast and Searsport. That first light was replaced by the current structure in 1852, a design thought to be by Alexander Parris because of its similarity to the 1851 tower he designed at Monhegan. Parris also designed light stations at Mount Desert and Saddleback Ledge. The Whitehead light keeper’s house was built in 1891, on the foundation of an original stone dwelling. The station was automated in 1982.
In 1874 a lifesaving station was added to the Whitehead light complex. The building was a boathouse below and a dormitory for the lifesaving crew above. A separate dormitory building was constructed in 1922. Between the two lifesaving station buildings is a drill field, originally equipped with a pole that served to represent a ship’s mast. Lifesaving drills were a significant part of the crew’s daily routine.
The Whitehead lifesaving station was one of the first five lifesaving stations built in Maine in 1873 and 1874. While the United States Lifesaving Service was not established until June 18, 1878, Congress had began appropriating funds for stations in 1848, first along the New Jersey coast and then over the next several decades for both manned and unmanned stations from Texas to Maine. In the era when the Whitehead lifesaving station was built, Maine’s westernmost coastline was served by the Fletcher’s Neck Lifesaving Station and the easternmost coastline by the Quoddy Head Station in Lubec. Between these two stations, both located on the mainland, were three island outposts—Whitehead‚ Browney’s Island, and Cross Island. Between 1873 and 1929 a total of 12 stations were established in Maine. The United States Lifesaving Service is credited with saving more than 175,000 lives. In 1915 the Service merged with the Revenue Cutter Service to become the Coast Guard. The Whitehead station was still in use as late as 1944.
Information taken from National Register of Historic Places Nominations prepared in 1987 and 1988 by Kirk F. Mohney of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
PHOTOS: St. George Historical Society
Around here our stewartia tree usually honors Bastille Day with peak bloom. And what a show it puts on. It is Stewartia pseudocamellia, and the blooms are probably as close to camellias as those of us in northern states are likely to get; indeed, it is in the same family as camellias. Here’s a small tree—destined not to get taller than 30 feet around here, and probably nowhere near that—blooming in the middle of July, after pretty much all of the other trees have put on their show. The flowers are at least an inch in diameter, sometimes more than two, with clear white petals and yellow-orange anthers. And my tree tends to be covered, which in and of itself is a show. But the show continues as the flowers fall: the ground looks covered with miniature fried eggs.
The next remarkable thing about the stewartia is the nifty pointed seed capsules that persist throughout the winter.
Then there is the bark, which flakes off in big patches, and starts to look mottled, like camouflage, somewhat like the sycamore tree. Interesting bark is always a bonus in the winter, particularly against a snowy background. The bark on my oldest tree (okay, I now have three) has started to look quite lovely; the younger trees have not started flaking yet, but I know they will.
The next lovely thing about the stewartia is its foliage in the fall. It tends to be an orangey-red headed toward burgundy. Very nice.
I also like the spring buds, and the way the leaves emerge on the tree.
When I first encountered the stewartia growing happily in the Boston area I knew I needed the tree near me. Everything I read told me that it was marginal in our climate, but I decided to try it in a protected spot, out of harsh winds. It can handle some shade, and would like to avoid harsh afternoon sun. And would like moist, well-drained soil. (Moist I can usually accommodate, well-drained is a challenge.) During my initial lust for the stewartia I was at a nursery and saw one with a damaged rootball. Since I was already buying quite a few plants at the nursery I was able to wrangle a deal on this marginal tree—it was also quite spindly.
I’ve had that first stewartia for about 10 years. It is still an oddly shaped tree, made even more odd by a rogue wind one winter that tipped it a bit. So it’s a dancing tree, reaching first in one direction and then in another. But I like it. I’ve planted two other, more neatly shaped trees nearby. My hope is that in time they will create a stewartia mini-grove. We’ll see.
Unless one wants to pile on words and call the tree a False Camellia, there is no common name for stewartia, though in Japan it is known as natsutsubaki.
—Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)
PHOTOS: Anne Cox
This Christmas Nautica’s holiday ad campaign will be capitalizing on the picturesque good looks of the Marshall Point Lighthouse to sell the company’s products according to location scout Billy Brehn. The ads will appear on television, in magazines and on the Internet. The photographic “shoot” took place at the lighthouse in June and involved decorating the historic 1832 structure with Christmas lights and wreaths and garlands.
“I showed Nautica’s creative team about 12 lighthouses in Maine,” Brehn said. “They ended up choosing Marshall Point for a variety of practical reasons. For one thing the Marshall Point Lighthouse isn’t on an island. And Port Clyde was located near another of the team’s shoot locations. A big factor, too, was the willingness of the lighthouse museum folks to work with them.” —JW
PHOTO: David Percival
Do you know where this is? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first correct answer wins a free business card-sized ad in The Dragon. At press time, nobody had identified the small grave marker in the Clark Hill Cemetery that ran in the July 3 issue.
PHOTO: Sara Holbrook
It began four years ago in a corner of the above-ground basement office of True Hall Real Estate on Mechanic Street in Tenants Harbor. Realtor Diane Hall had assembled a small collection of “used stuff” from a variety of sources—things people might want or need for furnishing their rental properties. Then a family property sold and the contents needed to be moved out, much of it ending up in other corners of the office. Then a friend started downsizing and asked Hall to try to sell the things she no longer needed or wanted.
“We’ve now got about 10 consigners,” says Hall, who has enlisted the aid of her sister, Port Clyde postmistress Sandra Hall, in the enterprise they have dubbed Real Finds Consignment. She’s moved her real estate office, which in this online age needs much less space than in the past, upstairs. “This seasonal consignment shop has turned out to be the best use of this space,” she says with satisfaction.
Influenced, in part, by their consciousness of the Hall family’s deep generational roots in St. George, the two sisters definitely share a passion for history and vintage pieces of all types, which makes this kind of shop a natural fit for them. “I don’t own any new furniture,” Sandra laughs. “I love browsing in antique stores and junk shops.”
But Sandra credits Diane with the appealing look of the shop. “She’s good at visualizing where everything should go. The real key to how the shop works is the way it is arranged. If things are too crowded together a customer passes them by.”
Unlike with shops where the owners choose the merchandise they want, the Halls are never sure what a consigner might bring in, so the potential for ending up with an incoherent hodge podge of inventory is very real. “I like the puzzle,” says Diane with clear enthusiasm. “I really like arranging stuff. I like the active quality of it. And I like the fun of interacting with people.”
Another key to success with a shop like this is research, the sisters say. “It’s important to know what you have,” Diane notes, “so we do a lot of research online.” That’s how they came to appreciate that they had things like a special line of Royal Dalton dolls, which are very collectible. Putting them on eBay has led to valuable sales. “If the item in question is small, collectible and easy to ship, eBay can work well,” Diane says.
Then there is the serendipity that gives the enterprise extra spice. Sandra gestures to a piece of artwork on the wall. “Someone can randomly walk in the door and spot something like that framed scissor-cut image and be completely struck by it because it turns out they are a passionate collector of the medium—you just never know,” she says.
What the sisters especially like, too, are the occasions when a consigner is wrongly pessimistic about their chances of finding a buyer for an item. “We had one man bring us an old fly fishing rod who said, ‘Oh you’ll never sell this,’” recalls Diane. “But we put it against the wall with an old book on fly fishing from L.L.Bean and the next thing we knew it was gone.”
The items that sell best, the Hall sisters agree, are small stands, small tables and small chairs. “And everybody wants wicker!” says Diane.
If what started as a sideline interest in a corner of True Hall Real Estate’s office four years ago is, in financial terms at least, still a sideline enterprise for Sandra and Diane, it is also true that consignment furniture and other items can now also be found upstairs in the rooms where Diane now meets with real estate clients and keeps track of vacation rentals. “I am a collector,” Diane acknowledges. “But I can’t use it all.” —JW
Real Finds Consignment is open on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays, other days by chance or appointment. For more information on Real Finds Consignment go to www.facebook.com/RealFindsConsignment
By George Carey
Just off the main route south of Tenants Harbor, there’s a left turn which leads down Hart’s Neck road. Nearly every summer of my life, I’ve made that turn, following as the road winds along through dark woods dotted here and there with a few sturdy little cottages. A bit further on it passes a simple frame structure, shingles grayed by weather and age, its two windows, enormous and many paned, looking blankly out onto the road. Once upon a time, this was Uncle Daniel Holbrook’s store in the tiny town of Elmore. But, like the farmers who mowed the meadows which have now grown up to spruce and the fishermen who once traded here, Elmore no longer exists. The building where Uncle Daniel once held court may retain the earmarks of a retail business, with its wooden counter and heavy glass candy jars, but the last sale here occurred in 1918.
Relatives of mine who frequented the store near the end of its existence remember a large potbellied stove and, in the back, barrels of rice and sugar, salt and fish. Behind the counter was Uncle Daniel, a tall, angular man well into his seventies.
In the latter part of the 19th century, when Holbrook’s store was in its heyday, [the locality that became] Elmore was an active sea-faring community of more than 200 people. It had a school, a dance hall, a ship’s chandlery, and two general stores. Uncle Daniel had competition. A local newspaper, Town Talk, published across the way in Tenants Harbor, reported the doings in Elmore:
“November 17, 1886: Mrs. Melvina Wall was taken seriously ill Thursday evening. She is under the care of Dr. Woodside.”
“December 29, 1886: Mr. E.T. Hart is finishing up the story entitled ‘Clam Digger’s Revenge,’ which he intends to have published soon.”
By 1901, Elmore rated a post office of its own, which is how the town got its name. When the postal authorities in Washington decided this seaside community had enough people to deserve a mail outlet, they sent along three possible names for the residents to choose from. Elmore, I’m told, was the least offensive.
Some of the villagers who made that choice lived in a cluster of houses in and around this narrow, dead-end dirt lane. I grew up hearing stories about their lives, although by my time they, too, were mostly gone. The Murphy family, who dwelt in a small red Cape with a connecting barn near the end of the line, provided the community with 17 children, nearly a tenth of its entire population. Up the road from that brood lived Uncle Daniel’s son, Orris. Another son, Charles, visited from time to time and entertained the villagers with his yarn of the sinking of the Hattie Dunn. He’d been master of the schooner in World War I when the Germans torpedoed her. The German commander ordered everyone ashore before the scuttling, so Charles lived to tell the tale.
Nearby, Kate Bickmore shared a house with her son. In my day the story ran that young Bickmore had been institutionalized at an early age after he threatened his mother with a carving knife. He had partially recovered in the asylum, people said, and returned to Elmore, where he was deemed harmless. Still, he retained a strange habit common to certain mental disorders: As he walked down the road he would occasionally stop and pause, and then he would take a step or two backwards. Local children were fascinated to watch him, especially when he got into a rowboat and proceeded to row three strokes forward and one backward.
These were some of the people who shopped at Uncle Daniel’s store. But in the 1890s the face of Elmore began to change. The hamlet was discovered by summer rusticators.
First on the scene to beat the steamy heat of Boston was William Richardson, known to his intimates as “Will Dear.” Will Dear had made a small fortune when he invented the clothing snap, the popular forerunner of the zipper, and with some of his money he built Seawoods, a 13-room house that faced the ocean. Richardson’s sister-in-law married Thomas Bailey Aldrich, the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, and soon his large rambling cottage, The Crags just to the north of Seawoods, was drawing to Elmore such literary luminaries as Mark Twain and Sarah Orne Jewett. Richardson also lured my great-grandfather to this corner of the coast and he in turn built a summer home called Munasca, an American Indian term meaning “place that we love.”
It was my grandfather, Philip Lees (P.L.) Smith, however, who engineered the greatest changes in Elmore. P.L. inherited Munasca in 1912 and began to buy up all the surrounding fishermen’s homes and saltwater farms until he held a family summer compound of 14 dwellings ranging along more than a mile of coastline. The deal my grandfather offered local residents—the sale price of the house plus a lifetime residency —must have seemed manna from heaven for people like Kate Bickmore and Orris Holbrook, who lived on marginal incomes. The year-round population of Elmore gradually shrank to less than 100, and by 1918 Uncle Daniel’s store had become more of a hobby than a going enterprise.
The 20th century had caught up with Elmore. On November 15, 1923 the Elmore post office closed.
This is an edited version of a piece titled “Afternoons in Elmore,” that ran in the March 1994 issue of Down East Magazine. George Carey, a folklorist and professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, lived full time in Tenants Harbor after his retirement. He provided clients with tree work and bush hogging services all over St. George until his death in 2013.
I planted a new perennial border last fall. It is different from the other perennial beds at our place. With this one I chose plants that are quite floriferous and known to attract bees and butterflies. The other borders certainly attract these pollinators, but I am primarily interested in color and texture in these.
The new pollinator’s border is about to pop into bloom and when it does I expect it to be a riot of color and activity. Even with the hard winter we had, these perennials fared well under their cover of snow (actually much of the new bed was under the huge pile the snow plow pushed up). I’ve filled in the few holes there are with annuals that should give the whole bed a long season of lively color.
So hold on. We are about to be inundated with bees and butterflies drinking the nectar and collecting the pollen of several types of coreopsis, shasta daisies, different echinaceas, bee balm (of course), a particularly prickly sea holly, acanthus, Japanese nepeta, butterfly weed (naturally), betony, agastache and chrysanthemum. And helenium, don’t forget the orange helenium. I am hoping the red hot poker and the crocosmia I planted will come on this year with hot flecks of reds and oranges dancing through the border. I do have a small butterfly bush waiting in the wings to go in the spot where some of the red hot pokers are if they don’t work. And I did get one salvia uglinosa (thank you Angie) for a tall blue accent all summer long.
The explosion of color as a border reaches peak season is always fun, but equally entertaining is the anticipation. First, there is the early spring discovery of who made it through the winter and how well. Those little low butterfly weeds took forever to emerge, but they are there now, with only one slightly weak straggler. Of course, there is weeding to do throughout the season. Then deciding where the holes are and how to fill them. More perennials? Some annuals just for kicks? Through much of June I have been watching the plants grow more robust and the flower buds first appear and then start to swell. Watering well and deeply during dry spells helps a lot. And then when July hits, a trumpet fanfare!
—Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)
PHOTO: Anne Cox
For many years the Ocean View Grange on Route 131 in Martinsville has sought to be of service to St. George by raising funds for the town’s Fuel Assistance Program, but more recently the organization has been reconnecting with its historic focus on promoting local agriculture. In addition to lining up guest speakers to address such topics as beekeeping, the Grange has begun hosting a weekly farmers’ market on Thursday mornings.
“We’ve got a great location, so we decided to let food vendors use our space out front,” explains Debbie Rogers, the Grange member who is coordinating the venture. “The market belongs to the vendors,” she stresses, but people who want to participate need to contact Rogers ahead so she can plan for any special needs.
The first market on June 12 started with two vendors, but that number has increased each week since then. “I’m anticipating we’ll have about 12 vendors at the height of the season,” Rogers says. Most are located in St. George, although Weskeag Farm in South Thomaston and Head Acre Farm in Owl’s head are also participating. Herring Gut’s summer program students will begin bringing their hydroponic lettuce and tilapia July 8. Other vendors include Blue Tulip (vegetables), Sugar Tree (confections), Village Ice Cream (baked goods), and Bittersweet Farm (goat cheese).
In addition to providing vendors with an additional way to reach customers, Rogers believes the market is strengthening the sense of community in St. George. “The Grange wants to provide as many opportunities to bring people together as possible,” she says. “This is about people helping people.”—JW
For more information contact Debbie Rogers at 372-1465 or email@example.com.