When ‘becoming one with the environment’ is key

Mark Bartholomew demonstrates the crossbow he now favors for hunting.

Mark Bartholomew demonstrates the crossbow he now favors for hunting.

The first time Tenants Harbor resident Mark Bartholomew went bow hunting was in New Jersey in 1954. “My dad was stationed at Fort Dix—he was an army chaplain. I only hunted one season and got off one shot.”

The following year Bartholomew’s father was transferred to Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. It was the family’s 29th move. “Alaska was still a territory at the time. It was fun up there. When we got to Alaska there was—and still is—a one year residency requirement to hunt big game like moose and bear so the first year my brother and I hunted only partridge, ducks, ptarmigan and hares.  On the first day we were eligible for big game, we harvested my brother’s first moose.  Later in the year, I harvested my first moose on the way home from school. The next year I shot a moose and a Dall Sheep [white mountain sheep].  During college in Fairbanks we hunted weekends and vacations and fed several families on moose and caribou and ducks too.”

For Bartholomew, bow hunting had gone by the wayside in favor of the rifle he bought in 1956. “Bows were pretty primitive at that time. I tried for a caribou at 15 or 20 yards with a bow and the arrow bounced off of it. Needless to say, the next shot was with my rifle.”

It wasn’t until Bartholomew and his wife, Betsy, moved to Maine about 12 years ago to help care for Betsy’s elderly parents in Cushing that Bartholomew’s interest in bow hunting was rekindled. One reason, he says, was opportunity.

“Maine has some of the best bow hunting opportunities in the country, especially for hunters over 70—or with certain physical limitations—in that we are allowed to use a crossbow for most game in most seasons. Conventional bow hunters also have wonderful opportunities in the expanded archery areas.”

‘Expanded archery areas’ are zones in populated areas with an overabundance of deer where the state encourages bow hunting—the nearest zone to St. George extends from Owls Head to Lincolnville. “Because of the limited range of both compound bows and crossbows, they are less of a danger in populated areas where deer can be a major nuisance—they make topiaries of a lot of expensive landscaping—and where they present a danger of lyme disease as well.  As is true with firearms, specific permission is required to discharge a bow within 100 yards of a dwelling. In the designated areas hunters with the required permits can take multiple deer and help control the population. Many of these deer are donated to charity, so many benefit.”

Bartholomew switched from using a compound bow to using a crossbow a couple of years ago when problems with his right eye developed. He was able to convert to shooting his rifle left handed, but found it difficult to do that with a long bow. “The technology has advanced a great deal for both types of bows, but the crossbow shoots farther and much harder than compound bows.”

Bartholomew enjoys the skill involved with bow hunting. “The thing is, with a rifle, if a deer is in my sight my probability of killing that deer is about 99 percent because the bullet shoots flat and I’ve been shooting the same rifle since I bought it in 1956—it takes all the sport out of it. But the most critical thing in bow hunting, whether crossbow or compound bow, is knowing exactly how far it is to your target. A crossbow shoots 350 feet per second, but it drops at 33 feet per second squared so that every 10 yards it drops about 6 inches. So if you have a target you think is 20 yards and it’s really 40 yards you shoot under it. I missed one last year because it was a chance encounter so I hadn’t had a chance to range it and I thought it was 30 yards away. I was walking pretty quietly, and there was just enough breeze to cover the sound. I shot several inches over her because I didn’t think I could walk any closer than 30 yards. But it was like 18 yards away.”

Bartholomew says that experiences like this makes the range finder a very critical piece of equipment. “The new ones are especially handy because they can give you the effective range depending on if you are shooting downward, say out of a tree, or upward. So if you are looking down it may be 40 yards to the target but the effective range might be 25 yards because of gravity.”

Although the crossbow is pretty deadly out to 60 yards, Bartholomew says he prefers shooting closer. “That’s because you have maximum power and your errors are smaller. At 20 yards I try for a neck shot because the crossbow is so powerful that it breaks the spine and the animal is done, it goes right down. Farther than that I shoot for a vital area, the heart and lungs. It’s not quite as clean, but it’s still almost as humane as a high-powered rife.”

Hunting that involves firearms (which this year begins October 31 and ends November 26), Bartholomew points out, requires lots of flash orange clothing because at the distance from which many hunters are shooting it would be easy to mistake a person for a deer. But with bow hunting (the season began September 29 and runs through October 28, although in expanded archery areas the season runs from September 10 through December 10), the idea is just to totally disappear so camouflage clothing, gloves and masks are in order.

“The thing about archery hunting is that, because you are shooting at such close range, you have to become one with the environment,” Bartholomew emphasizes. “You have to be so still that if a deer is within sight you hardly can even breathe.”

To illustrate, he tells the story of a time he and a friend had permission to hunt with bows out on Benner Island.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA “I was sitting on the north end of the island. There was a pond there and some green grass. It was a good feeding area, fairly open, but I was hunkered down in nice tall grass with a rock at my back so I wasn’t silhouetted. I had shot my ranges and there were birds that were migrating—about four different types of warblers and three different kinds of sparrows and some others. This doe came out, a very nice animal and there were no kids with her or anything. She came out of the woods and was looking right at me so I couldn’t blink. There was a big scrape where a buck had been polishing his horns and pawing the ground and leaving a marker to attract does. She went up and tore at that and then she came to within about 10 yards and was looking right at me. About that time a bird came and lit on my bow and another one lit on my head. On my bow was a yellow-rumped warbler. I don’t know what was on my head. The doe must have thought, ‘That must be a rock.’ So she ignored me and walked off.”

The surprising outcome of this story was that, despite his pains, Bartholomew didn’t get the doe.  Although he got the opportunity to raise his bow and get her neck in his sights he also had the sun in his eye. When he touched the arrow off he heard a “whack” which he thought was the sound of a good hit, but instead it was his arrow lodging itself into a small spruce standing in front of the doe that the sun made impossible to see. “It wasn’t her time,” Bartholomew says with a rueful laugh.

Bartholomew admits that, despite the pleasures of bow hunting, it is still a sport that is far more dangerous for the hunter than hunting with a firearm. “There are so many things that can go wrong. Equipment checks are incredibly important. Luckily, before you can bow hunt in Maine you first have to take an archery course, which is basically a safety class. And then there is a special crossbow endorsement that is required. It teaches you nothing about hunting but everything about the crossbow.”

Bartholomew says he loved living in Alaska. After more than 15 years in the Army he finished out his military career in the reserves there and also, among other things, spent about 20 years as the captain of a 95-foot ship that took passengers to see glaciers and wildlife on tours of the Kenai Fjords National Park near Seward, an occupation he still misses. But he says he doesn’t regret the move to Maine and, in particular, St. George, even though his wife has deep roots in Cushing.

“We settled on this side of the river and we’re glad we did. It’s much more vibrant and we’ve made good friends here, good associations. The whole atmosphere in St. George is just great. I enjoy volunteering at the Marshall Point Light House Museum and being a member of the Odd Fellows.”

But perhaps most of all, it is the chance he’s found here to learn and excel at a sport that keeps him in touch with the wild. “I’m not the best bow hunter, but I enjoy bow hunting very much and have been lucky to be successful with it.”—JW

PHOTOS: Julie Wortman

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Looking for signs of fall

By Ahlivia Morris and Cassi Evans

forestfri2-wEvery Friday, Mrs. Thompson’s first grade class goes on the nature trail in the woods behind the school. Every week, they look for something different. This week, we big kids went with them as they looked for signs of fall. They were all very excited because they got to release the butterfly that had hatched in the classroom.  First, they talked about what to look for in the woods. Miles says, “A sign of fall is colorful leaves.” When they get into the woods, they find a place to sit and have two minutes of quiet observation time. Then they can get up and explore. Many kids were climbing broken trees and on stumps. Miles and Ryker found a covered stump with small trees and bushes growing out of it.  Liam and Tucker found a tree with blue inside of it. When we were walking out of the woods, Ahlivia showed all the kids her loon call.  They were very fascinated. When we got back they talked about what they saw, heard, and felt. They make a book for every week about what they saw. Here’s what they reported for this day.

Molly: I heard a bird tweeting like a stuffed animal that talks.

Miles: I saw colored leaves falling on the ground.

Bradley: I heard a woodpecker.

Eva: I saw leaves that were red and orange.

Kaleb: I saw acorns and pinecones.

BJ: I saw butterflies flying away.

Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for letting us come with your class on Forest Friday. We think the kids are learning a lot from being outside!

(Morris and Evans are in Grade 7 at the St. George School.)

PHOTO: Ahlivia Morris

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Several readers raised concerns about identifying the Neighbor to Neighbor Ride Assistance Program as “the brainchild” of Dianne Oelberger in the October 6 issue of The Dragon. Here’s a note from Darlene Cocke which clarifies the matter: “The article about Jean Hewitt was great but it had wrong information about Neighbor to Neighbor. Stan Levy and Charme Blaisdell started this program. [My husband] David and I went to the initial meeting at their home.  Charme and Stan had researched communities across the state and country that had started programs such as Neighbor to Neighbor. We were given a lot of information that they had printed out for this meeting. I wanted to make you aware of this.” Hewitt also contacted us about the error, apologizing for it and noting that “all credit for initiating discussions which led to Neighbor to Neighbor’s becoming a reality goes to Charmarie Blaisdell and Stan Levy.” Blaisdell and Levy are now working on a Council on Aging/Aging in Place Committee that they hope the Select Board will support. The idea is to create a central place for information and resources in St. George.

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Happy retirement, Mrs. Kanicki

By Sophia Vigue and Allison Gill

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn October 6, the St. George School hosted a community meeting for newly-retired band teacher Carolyn Kanicki. The meeting included music by the middle-level band and their new band teacher, Kristin O’Neal. The community meeting was a good time for Mrs. Kanicki to lead the band one last time and be thanked for all she has done for the school and the community.

At the meeting, Audrey Leavitt played a solo, “You Raised Me Up” on the French horn. Mila Mathiau, Sophie Vigue, and Laura Olds played selections from “Phantom of the Opera.” Gavin Young, Liam O’Neal and Mrs. Kanicki performed a percussion trio. Mrs. Jennifer Garrett from the School Board presented a painting to her. Special guest Eben Wight, a St. George School alumnus, came from the University of Maine where he is studying music education, and joined in the band, as well. All of us were moved by his appearance. Our new director Ms. O’Neal played too, when Mrs. Kanicki conducted one last time as the band performed “Pirates” and “Colonel Bogey.”

After the meeting, students got to talk to Mrs. Kanicki and wish her a happy retirement. One student, Noelle, summed it up beautifully when she said, “When you directed us on your last song, the music didn’t seem to come from our instruments, it came from our hearts.” It was quite emotional for all of us.

As a tribute to her, the school has started a fund called the Carolyn Kanicki Fund. This fund has been established by the staff at St. George School in honor of our former instrumental teacher for over 25 years. Mrs. Kanicki went out of her way to make sure that all students could learn an instrument and pursue their passion for music. Donations will be used to promote the teaching and learning of instrumental music for St. George Students, which may include providing instruments for 5th graders free of charge in their first exploratory year of band, repairing and purchasing instruments, and for scholarships to music camps. Anyone wishing to contribute should call the office for instructions.

We wish Mrs. Kanicki well and will miss her greatly.

(Vigue and Gill are in Grade 7 at the St. George School.)

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

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Always looking for ‘the good you could do’


For Jean Hewitt, her recent work helping St. George’s Neighbor to Neighbor Ride Assistance Program move forward into its next phase of operation has been a return visit to the world of public health, a field to which she was passionately committed for most of her working life. “Everything I was involved with during those years, whether it was education, housing, cleaning up the water—things that were good for communities—was public health. And now, with Neighbor to Neighbor, it’s about providing rides for people who need them.” It’s a need, the members of Neighbor to Neighbor’s new board of directors noted during their September 21 meeting, that goes beyond getting people unable to drive to medical appointments and includes such quality-of-life necessities as helping them attend social engagements, get to the hair dresser and make trips to the grocery store.

Hewitt, who is now chair of Neighbor to Neighbor’s board of directors, says she first understood she was meant to pursue a profession in public health during a college semester in Mexico with the American Friends Service Committee.

“I thought I wanted to be an anthropologist—to this day I love meeting different people and getting a sense of their different values, of what makes them tick, and of how they’ve gotten the attitudes they have. But during that five months spent in rural Mexico we came upon a little compound where there was a woman who was clearly glad to see us, but kept covering the lower part of her face. One of the doctors forced her to show her face. Her nose was completely eaten away. The doctor flew into a rage and scolded her. I couldn’t understand why he was being so unkind. It turned out the woman had yaws, something that one shot of penicillin could have cured if she had known to seek medical help. So the doctor was frustrated. I realized then that anthropology does a whole lot of finding out, but I couldn’t see the application of it, the good you could do. So I thought if people knew one shot could fix a problem, that maybe public health was what I wanted.”

To that end, Hewitt left college and enrolled in nursing school. “During the three years I spent getting that degree I had only one day of public health, but I learned how to do everything in running a hospital.” Still, she says, that one day of exposure to the public health side of nursing made an impact. “We visited the home of a woman who was confined to bed with idiopathic fractures of the spine. She was clearly dying. But she invited me to tea the following week. She died before I could come back. The whole idea that you could die at home thinking it would be nice to invite someone to tea and not spend your last days in a hospital attached to all sorts of tubes struck me.”

After nursing school Hewitt attended Western Reserve University [now Case Western Reserve] in Ohio and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health. After a brief stint working in San Mateo, California, she applied to join the newly created Peace Corps.

“I had been accepted into the Peace Corps and thought I’d be going to Central America. But I got a call from a pediatrician who was putting together a group of Peace Corps people to respond to a request for aid from Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of Togo. He asked if I’d like to be part of the group and I agreed.”

The Peace Corps group’s time in Togo—specifically in the central city of Sokode—was dogged by a variety of miscommunications exacerbated by language barriers and local politics, Hewitt recalls. But against some pretty steep odds—one notable case involved a young man who had been bitten by an echis, a very venomous snake whose bite is nearly always fatal—the medical team began saving lives, which gained them enough badly needed traction with the local community to allow them to begin working more effectively to improve health outcomes.

At the end of her tour of service in Togo, researchers at the Center for Disease Control offered Hewitt the chance to help with a research project involving the immunization of infants. Following this she joined the new International Geographic Epidemiology Unit at Johns Hopkins University, earning a Masters of Science degree in Public Health while working on projects designed to gather data on diseases and their causes in locations in Peru and Chad.

By this time, Hewitt says, she wanted an urban experience. So she took a job at the New York Medical College working in Manhattan on a community development project and in a drug treatment program for pregnant addicts with a follow-up child development component. “Eventually, the college realized there was a big need in the city for family physicians,” Hewitt says. “I was responsible for developing the curriculum for family care which was the basis for the first residency in Family Medicine available in Manhattan.”

After 18 years of working for the college Hewitt decided it was time to move on. For about 10 years she worked as a real estate broker in Greenwich Village. Then, around 1990, she decided she was ready to leave urban life and move to St. George full time. “This is the only place in the world where I have any roots,” she explains.

Hewitt’s ties to St. George date from the mid-1940s, when her parents bought about 100 acres of land on the St. George River and built a log cabin for summer living near the site of an old landing used by a ferry that ran between St. George and Cushing. Hewitt and her sister inherited their parents’ property and divided the land, with Hewitt taking the parcel that had the cabin. In 1992 she began building a year-round house. A few years ago she moved away from the river to Tenants Harbor, into a house she renovated that sits opposite the old library (currently Stonefish).

Hewitt says that despite her sense that St. George is the only place where she has any roots, she can’t claim to know the community well. “It was only when I joined the Conservation Commission that I found out there were people here opposed to conservation,” she says, with a wry smile. “Who knew?” But what she does know after her career working in public health is that a simple program like Neighbor to Neighbor can nonetheless do a great deal to improve lives. “The program was the brainchild of Dianne Oelberger, who continues to be our dispatcher extraordinaire,” Hewitt says. “We’re at a point now where our new working board of directors can move us forward with a budget, the legal structure to raise funds to cover our expenses and an improved system of communication so people know how they can be part of this useful service.”

Clearly, looking for “the good you could do” is still a very big part of what motivates Hewitt’s life.—JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

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Neighbor to Neighbor holds first annual meeting, elects board of directors

Newly installed board members of Neighbor to Neighbor from left, Judy Smith, Jean Hewitt, Margaret Boyajian, Deanna Smith and Del Welch.

Newly installed board members of Neighbor to Neighbor from left, Judy Smith, Jean Hewitt, Margaret Boyajian, Deanna Smith and Del Welch.

On September 21, St. George’s Neighbor to Neighbor Ride Assistance Program held its first annual meeting at which it elected its first Board of Directors. The meeting was the fruition of the work of a transition team consisting of Deanna Smith, Del Welch and Judy Smith, with Jean Hewitt acting as informal chair, and Anita Siegenthaler providing assistance as needed. The group had met every week since June to build, as Hewitt says, “a matrix for Neighbor to Neighbor to work within.” The team worked to clearly describe volunteer opportunities; develop a budget to cover insurance, phone, advertising and recruitment costs; and put details of address, bylaws, procedures, email and website in place. “All this was so that a working Board of Directors could pick up the reins and move us forward,” Hewitt explains, noting that up until this point Neighbor to Neighbor had operated informally, without the legal means to raise funds to cover expenses or the organizational structure to ensure operational continuity.

The new board hopes to cultivate a strong Neighbor to Neighbor membership, Hewitt says. “Members who drive, members who ride, and members who simply want to show their good will.” Donations are not a condition of membership, but are welcome. The transition team estimated that the organization’s annual operating expenses will amount to about $2,000.

Hewitt is chair of the new board, Deanna Smith is the secretary and Del Welch is treasurer. The other board members are Margaret Boyajian, Candy Davis, Stephen Maxwell, Dianne Oelberger, Ken Payment and Judy Smith. Others interested in joining the board should contact Hewitt at  hewittjj@gmail.com or 691-4494. —JW

PHOTO: Betsy Welch

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Retired car lover now depends on neighbors for rides

Don Miller, seated, with Neighbor to Neigbor volunteers who helped him celebrate his 90th birthday. Back row, Hugh Blackmer, Jean Hewitt, Rosemary and Jan Limmen. Seated, Dianne Oelberger.

Don Miller, seated, with Neighbor to Neigbor volunteers who helped him celebrate his 90th birthday. Back row, Hugh Blackmer, Jean Hewitt, Rosemary and Jan Limmen. Seated, Dianne Oelberger.

By Rosemary Limmen
He’s up early, ready and waiting for each scheduled ride and driver. Looking out his front window, he watches for a car he recognizes to pull into his driveway. Before the driver can even say, “good morning,” he’s out his door, walking to the car with the help of a cane, clean-shaven and dressed in jeans, t-shirt, jacket, black sneakers, and a baseball cap on his head.

At age 90, Don Miller no longer has a car or driver’s license. He lives by himself, does his own laundry, cuts his own grass and cooks his own meals in a trailer home on property he’s owned for decades. He needs rides to see his doctors, pick up prescriptions and buy groceries in Rockland. Though Don’s son and daughter-in-law live next door and check on him regularly, they both work and usually cannot drive him during the day.

“The Neighbor to Neighbor Ride Program is really a blessing,” says Don. “My hands bother me, my legs are bad, and I don’t know how I’d get around or what I’d do without these people. I call Dianne [Dianne Oelberger, the Neighbor to Neighbor dispatcher], tell her I’d like a ride, and one of the volunteers takes me where I need to go. Everyone is very friendly. They listen to my stories and even help me carry in my groceries. I haven’t met a driver I didn’t like.”

Even so, Don still wishes he had a car and could do his own driving. “They took my license away when I was in the hospital a few years ago.” And, he adds sadly, “I had to sell my Chevy Impala. The doctors were afraid I might have a heart attack. I have high blood pressure, a leaky heart valve and weakness on my left side, probably caused by polio I had as a young child.”

Born in Portland in 1926, the third of four children born to Verona Watt, a Port Clyde native, and Clayton Miller, a Canadian, Don has lived most of his long life in St. George or Rockland. When his father was killed in an automobile accident in 1930, his young mother moved the family back to Port Clyde to live with her parents on the Ridge Road.

Don attended grade school in Martinsville and Port Clyde, but never went to high school. “I had trouble with my eyes,” he remembers, “and reading and writing were hard for me. So I quit school after the 8th grade and went to work at the Ocean View Hotel. I helped with the laundry, swept the store and cleaned the ice cream containers.” Big for his age, he also lugged wood to keep fires going at the school.

don-miller-smLike his father, a mechanic, Don grew up tinkering with cars and engines. By age 14, he had his driver’s license and was driving trucks and hauling lobster bait for Crow Morris in Rockland. (He chuckles, remembering that he took his driving test in one of Crow’s trucks!) In his late teens, he took a job at Stanley’s Garage, pumping gas, greasing engines and putting on chains. Before long, he was a licensed Ford mechanic, rebuilding engines and putting in new clutches.

“I was completely self-taught,” he says proudly.

Don met his first wife, Caroline, while working at Stanley’s Garage. They married and had two children, a son and a daughter. The family lived in a house Don bought on Old County Road, then moved to Port Clyde after he purchased 50 acres along Ridge Road, near the Ridge Church. “We built a house and I opened a small business there, selling used cars,” notes Don. “By then, I was working on engines at Maine Sea Products, but needed the extra money to support the family.” The couple eventually sold that house, bought a trailer home and moved down the road.

“When I stopped working,” he adds, “we also bought a motor home and began spending our winters in Florida. “Life was good … until I lost both my wife and my daughter to cancer.”
“It’s terrible losing a mate after almost 50 years,” says Don. “I took care of her during her illness and she died right in that chair where you’re sitting. You get to a point where you don’t know which way to turn.”

Don eventually remarried, but his second wife, Deloris, was nervous living alone in the trailer when he was in and out of the hospital. She moved back to West Virginia to be closer to her daughters and he’s been alone again for the last few years.

“There was a time when I knew everyone here,” he says, “but most have died off now, moved away or sold their homes.” He still calls his old friend Sally Long, likes to have visitors and go for a ride, but admits that he doesn’t get out much any more, not even to St. George’s monthly Senior Luncheons. He cannot eat many prepared foods, so he cooks for himself and makes enough at one time to last a few days.

“I’m happy and I enjoy my home,” he says. “I don’t need much. My TV is good company and I spend a lot of time looking through old photos of family and friends. And my new Neighbor to Neighbor friends take good care of me.”

Considering that Don’s mother lived to be 104, Don’s new friends may be looking after him and providing rides for several more years. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all here to help him celebrate his 100th birthday in 2026!

(Limmen, co-owner of Blue Tulip, is a Neighbor to Neighbor volunteer.)

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