Millinocket Historical Society

Preserving Millinocket’s heritage, one story at a time.

Month: September 2017

Lamplighter, Pt. 3

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Here continues the story of the adventures of young John Galvin, substitute lamplighter. He finally got Old Bill saddled and made ready to climb aboard. With left foot in the left stirrup, left hand on the saddle horn and reins in his right hand, Galvin tried to get his right leg over Old Bill’s back. Old Bill decided to dance around in a circle. Galvin then made the decision to walk the route leading Old Bill and using the sawed off pool cue with wire hook to turn the valves. After tending to a few lights, they were at the light by the Congo Church on Katahdin Avenue. Galvin decided to out-fox Old Bill. “I gave him some sugar cubes and backed him over to the church sidewalk steps. My plan was to mount at the highest step and catch Old Bill unaware and be on his back before he knew what happened. It almost worked. I got my left foot in the stirrup and my left hand on the horn. As I threw my right leg over, Old Bill jumped sideways and I found myself clinging to the horn and the reins, one leg in the stirrup, the other under Bill’s belly.” Galvin states he got out of the predicament when Bill stopped moving.
They continued walking and tending the lights until arriving at Oxford Street School (today site of VFW). Another high set of steps, but these had a “big flat railing that anyone could stand on and drop on an unsuspecting horse’s back.” Galvin got ready and just as he jumped “Old Bill moved gracefully aside and I found myself flat on the ground.” Back to walking! Eventually they were at a spot opposite the Baptist Church where there was a vegetable garden and gooseberry patch with a flat-topped fence. Again Galvin tried to get from the fence to Old Bill’s back and as you’ve guessed, he landed in the gooseberries! Gooseberry bushes have thorns. That was the last try. They finished the walk and finally Old Bill was back in his stall.
Later, Mr. Crommett, the lamplighter, came to the house to pay Galvin his fifty cents and thank him for helping. When asked how he liked riding, Galvin replied that he had decided to walk. Crommett replied that “he was glad, because he had forgotten to tell me that Old Bill would never let anyone mount him from the left-hand side!”

*** Stearns and Schenck yearbooks for sale, $10.00 each, good condition!
*** The 2018 calendars at the museum, Levasseurs, Save-a-Lot, Katahdin General Store, Rideout’s Market. Just $10.00 each. Add $4.00 SH each for mail orders.
*** Orders for the next group of pavers now being taken. Contact MHS for specifics. The pavers are $100.00 each (tax deductible) and may be in honor or in memory, for a school or team, business, organization, family, your own name or other wording.
*** Visit the museum store for local books, calendars, DVD (legends of Mt. Katahdin) and more or contact us for details including prices and shipping information.
*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Lamplighter, Part 2

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
The museum will have a table with calendars, books, DVD’s and more at the Trails End Festival on Saturday, 9/16! Hope to see you there!
Several months ago, I wrote about the Millinocket Gas Company and the lamplighter who had the task of lighting and extinguishing the town lamps. Now the story continues! Ann Catherine Bonis, a 5th or 6th grade student at Maine Avenue School here in Millinocket (1970’s) wrote a family newsletter as a school project. Included is an editorial written by her grandfather John Galvin. In that, Galvin recollects his interaction with the lamplighter, his horse “Old Bill” and what happened the night twelve year old Galvin substituted as the lamplighter. The following is a brief look at Galvin’s four-page story and a few quotes from it.
The gashouse was located near the railroad tracks behind Katahdin Avenue. The superintendent (and lamplighter) was Orville Crommett. Instead of walking around to light the lamps carrying a short ladder and a sawed-off pool cue with a hook on the end to turn the valve, Crommett chose to ride Old Bill, leaving his hands free to turn the valve on and off. Old Bill was kept in an old woodshed near the gas company.
One day Crommett asked young John Galvin to tend the lamps so he could go fishing. It would earn Galvin fifty cents, a great sum for a young boy of that era. Dusk came, Galvin walked the route to light the lamps, but later when he went to get Old Bill for the extinguishing the lamps, things happened. “There was just room for Old Bill to squeeze through (the door), and in order to do that, he had to duck his head.” Galvin saddled the horse, turned Bill around and waited while Bill ducked his head and started through the door. “There was a loud crash and there stood Old Bill, half in and half out. The saddle horn had caught on the top of the door and the saddle had ‘slidden’ all the way to the back of Bill’s hind legs holding him fast.” And Galvin was still inside and unable to get out of the shed! The story continues, “I managed to slip the saddle down so Bill could step out. I then realized Mr. Crommett must put the saddle on outside the stable.” Thus begins the next chapter of this story…to be continued!

*** Stearns and Schenck yearbooks for sale, $10.00 each, good condition!
*** The 2018 calendars available at the museum, Levasseurs, Save-a-Lot, Katahdin General Store, Rideout’s Market. Just $10.00 each. Add $4.00 SH each for mail orders.
*** Orders for the next group of pavers now being taken. Contact MHS for specifics. The pavers are $100.00 each (tax deductible) and may be in honor or in memory, for a school or team, business, organization, family, your own name or other wording.
*** Visit the museum store for local books, calendars, DVD (legends of Mt. Katahdin) and more or contact us for details including prices and shipping information. We have copies of the 2010 alumni book, some Fernwood items, dishcloths and more.
*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. To arrange for groups or appointments. Contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Roughing It, 1905 Style!

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Going camping in 1905? How do you prepare? The answer is found in a a letter donated to the museum recently. A young man named Thomas Clark who was staying at the Great Northern Hotel wrote a letter to a lady named Lydia. It gives specific directions on which train to take from Boston to Norcross, what to pack and what to expect upon arrival. The following are excerpts from that letter with spelling and punctuation etc. as written.
“For clothes every girl will want bloomers not to full to be worn under a woolen skirt at least twelve inches clear off the ground and golf stockings. Two pair of shoes one heavy pair for rough walking and one pair of sneakers for hunting for surely you will bring a camera.” (The sneakers probably were not the 2017 version.) “Rubber soled shoes will not do at all unless they so old you don’t care to bring them back and also they must be large enough to wear over your golf or other woolen stockings as you can’t walk anywhere without getting your feet wet sooner or later and with woolen stockings your feet will be warm when wet and prevent you catching cold. If you think all this woolen will kill you in summer” (letter written in July and mentions 90 degree temps) “just make up your mind to be a martyr to the cause then you will die happy.”
The letter continues saying to pack woolen shirtwaists and sweaters and an old felt hat. As to doing laundry after arrival “there is a steam laundry here in town that will guarantee to ruin almost anything you send them and you may send them work one day and they will return more or less of it the next day.”
There is much more in this one letter. A large number of letters written by and to Thomas Welcome Clark during the period 1903-1925 were compiled by Catherine Clark into book form and donated by Tom Shafer. She wished for the museum to have a copy as Thomas Clark was living and working in Millinocket at the time.

*** Good selection of Stearns and Schenck yearbooks for sale, $10.00 each, good condition!
*** The 2018 calendars are available at the museum, Levasseurs, Save-a-Lot, Katahdin General Store and Rideout’s Market. Still just $10.00 each. Add $4.00 SH each for mail orders.
*** Orders for the next group of pavers are now being taken for fall placement. Contact MHS for the specifics. The pavers are $100.00 each (tax deductible) and may be in honor or in memory, for a school or team, business, organization, family, your own name or other wording.
*** Visit the museum store for local books, calendars, DVD (legends of Mt. Katahdin) and more or contact us for details including prices and shipping information. We have copies of the 2010 alumni book, some Fernwood items, dishcloths and more.
*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. To arrange for groups or appointments. Contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

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