paper mill

Fear! The Rock

 

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The boys and I were skiing like Jean Claude Killy, maneuvering the knolls of Spruce Mt Ski Slope. We all had conglomerated at the top of the slope. One of the boys took charge at the moment. Ok I’m going first, everyone follow me, ok? We are going to hit the “Rock”. Being only a ten year old at the time the Rock seemed like a very scary thing to do. I can remember the bigger kids hitting the Rock and flying the distance of Lucien’s Field. Some boys tried to do tricks in the air but the skis back in those days had the cable that went around the backside of the ski boot and snap down binding on the front above your toe. The problem was the attachment point on the back of your heel. Sometimes the spring would wear out and the boot was not secure enough on the ski. When a lad would jump the spring would let go and you would either eat snow or have a yard sale. The Yard Sale, is when you lose everything on you. You lose skis, boots, hat, goggles, poles and your dignity. You might as well sell everything.

Here we go, Ron starting at the front of the pack of boys. Yahoo is heard from all the skiers, I’m still thinking I am Jean Claude Killy, or Billy the Kid. We get down into a tuck, lowering our resistance. More speed! someone hollers out. We are cruising now and the Rock is getting close. Fooosh! One skier makes it across the top of the “Rock”. The other boys ahead of me are mid air when Warren, The manager of the hill hollers out my name. Hey You! Pointing a finger at me, I’m watching him as I was in mid air. Being the wise arse I was back in the day, I try to do a Daffy Duck. My ski pops off and I said my first swear word ever. Oh CRAP! I really think I shit my pants at this moment. The ground I hit was frozen ice, my body just kept tumbling down to the Flats of the Orchard Trail. I lie there, still for a moment, lungs only partially functioning. Standing above me holler my name was Warren. I thought I was seeing a beautiful Movie Star, Marilyn Monroe above me, kissing life back to me. Things were not so foggy now, I coughed, standing upright above me was Warren. “You are coming down to the Barn right now,” he stated sternly. “In an emergency sled,” like it was a threat of some kind. I was wrapped up real cozy in a felt blanket, donated from the local paper mill. Warren put his finger in my face and told me sternly. “YOU ARE BANNED FOR THE SEASON,”. I was so devastated, my friends were all going to be able to ski, I was to be stuck watching,” I LOVE LUCY,” or “GILLIGANS ISLAND,” all day.

The “Rock” was destroyed or pushed into the bushes after these adventures. Just remember that taking chances do have consequences. Sometimes an exciting result can happen if things go your way. Warren was a real person and the kids and I skied the small mountain day and night during the winter month. I’m sure most children of these local communities have stories just like I depicted in this story. Memories are etched forever. Here is a link to the slope that still does exist. Rope tows. http://sprucemountain.org   D.H.Bilodeau 2016

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The Pepere’ I Never Knew

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Growing up in rural Maine was not an easy life for a young man back in the 20’s. My grandfather Valmore Duguay, one of twelve siblings ,was told by his mother to get out of the house. She replied to the older children, You, You, and You! Get out and find a job I cannot support you kids anymore. Pepere’ one of those children was pushed out to survive on his own. He was living in Canada, Three River region of Quebec. At the time the United States was employing men to work on the railroad so my grandfather chased this chance. In his travels he ended up in Arizona working hard days laying rail. Word was spreading that a man named Hugh Chisholm was building paper mills back in Maine. One of these mills was in his home town of Jay. My grandfather moved back for a chance at working in the mill. He did get employed and worked there for over 40 years also raising his family in this small town.

My mother and her siblings were raised in this small town of Chisholm which was filled with lots of Canadian family’s which migrated from Canada. Hugh Chisholm died in 1912 but the paper mill thrived until 2009, the Otis Mill which was owned by Wausau Paper. I have some small memories of my grandfather, the only grandparent left alive when I was born. Most of the people in this region worked at the mill, myself included, following the legacy of my grandfather and father. I only remember my pepere’ from the Sunday lunches at the house which he would come all dress in his Sunday’s best, after returning from Church. He was a lonely man after my grandmother passed. He spent many day’s  watching the television is his kitchen. He was struck with cancer and had his leg removed and spent the rest of his life in a wheel chair.

I wish I knew more of him. I do know that he was a hard working man and  provided very well for his family. He also was into real estate and was known to own lots of land. There was also a story that he owned land in Arizona, this was never found to be true and no record was ever kept of this. I know that during the depression he helped others in trying to keep their homes from being taking away.

He died when I was around ten years old.  The only other times I remember of him was in a nursing home. The cancer was still in him and they wanted to take away his other leg. I believe in his mind that he didn’t want to live like this and he passed shortly after. The only thing I do know is he loved to work and watch Mutual Omaha. He also would smoke cigarettes and stop about halfway through, taking scissors cutting the end to save the butt for later .

I really missed out on having a grandfather around in my life. I do limited memory of him. I just wish I was born ten years earlier to be of witness to a wonderful man.

Here is a bio of Hugh Chisholm, this guy was very interesting – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_J._Chisholm

 

Maine As I Know It

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Born and raised in the State of Maine. Most people often associate this State with Downeast Maine and the coastal region. Everyone know’s the fact we are quite famous for our lobsters and clams. There is some really great places away from the coast that people do not hear about. This State is beautiful with the country area’s as well. The northern part of the State is where a lot of crops are grown, especially Northern Maine, in the County they say. Towns like Van Buren, Houlton, Caribou, New Sweden. The central part of the State is more populated with local farmers growing crops and tending to their milking cows. pic 2

Some of the jobs that I encounter growing up include working in these farms. I picked chickens out of the barns and put them in cages to be shipped out for processing. I also worked for a big company which most of the eggs this part of the country come from. Decoster’s Egg farms. The company has been bought out since. Many of young kids in this area worked these egg farms. I also could be seen working in the local cemetery’s digging graves. We would get two dollars an hour, not bad pay for a young kid.

Maine has a huge history of papermaking. Big companies like Verso, IP, Wausau, Sappi, New Page, Boise Cascade, Champion, Bucksport, Otis Mill, Georgia Pacific. These mills employed many of people throughout history. Loggers, and many of businesses that support these companies.

Shoe shops, woolen mills also were a larger part of the community. Lewiston and its Bates Mill employed thousands. You should do a search on Bates Mill. It was amazing the size of this cooperation during the day. Many of the buildings stand today in Lewiston and are a site to witness. pic 5

Maine has many of beautiful rivers and Lakes that pass through the State. You can see many of fisherman along the banks or out in powerboats trying to catch a salmon, brook trout, browns, bass, and many other species of fish. Fly fishing is very big here. LLBean company in Freeport, Maine is one company that has supplied the outdoor enthusiast for many years. Hunting is also very big in this State. Whitetail deer are plentiful also Maine Black bear, and Moose. You have to have a permit for moose. Turkey’s are plentiful also and many of hunters take advantage of this season. pic 4

Maine also is a great place in the winter. There is many ski area’s that are very popular. Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and Saddleback Mountain are some . You really can find just about anything to do in this State if you have the time. I have lived here just about all my life and at this moment I couldn’t think of any other place I would rather live. I have traveled to my workplace many times without even meeting one car. I like the easy life and the country. Maine the way life should be. Enjoy your day everyone. pic 3

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

My Little Stretch of Country

liverThe area where I live is such a nice quaint place that everyone should get a taste of the country living I have enjoyed. The area is surrounded by three lakes so fishing, snowmobiling, and hunting are real big in this region. The town consist of one Library, two convenient stores, Fire station, and  a few churches. There is not a lot of excitement in this region but this is what I have been accustomed to. The local landfill is a place for local’s to gather and chat. Hey how is so and so? I’m glad your brother is doing better. Small talk, but this is a place to bump into maybe some old co-workers from the paper mills.

There is one major road that passes through our community which is Route 4. The road is better than any other in our region so that tourist can make it to their Northern destinations on their weekend getaways. I am just plain happy to live where I do. I can grab a fishing pole and go down to the local boat landing, or find a stream that enters her. Life here is simple. The way life should be right? I could not stand living in a city in this stage in my life, not to say that I haven’t lived the city life. I lived in Phoenix, Arizona as a young man. One would give up their current life in their hectic lives if only giving a chance. I remember when I graduated tech school. The companies I interviewed with were in the tech triangle in California and one guy stated this to me. Sir, Are you prepared to drive two hours to work everyday in bumper to bumper traffic and to have an apartment which cost you 1000 a month? I came home from that interviewed and re-evaluated. I could move back to the East Coast and have more for the money and wouldn’t have to travel in bumper to bumper traffic. I moved back to the East Coast and have enjoyed every minute.

Sometimes you have to re-evaluate. Is this stressful life worth it or not. I’m glad I was wise enough at a young age to think out of the bottle sort of speak.

I can hear the loons this morning down at the lake, the barred owl made his appearance last night. The eagles are nesting in the tall pines near the lake.  The best part today around here is free fishing for anyone that doesn’t have a license. Life really is important- I’m going to the landfill this morning to go see my neighbors. See ya, Enjoy the day.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

Standing On The Edge Of Life

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I wanted to be a police officer but ended up a firefighter. I am on a volunteer department and only get paid when on a call. The money is not important because I only get about 400 dollars a year. Why would anyone decided to get involved in something that could end your life very quickly anyways? I can only respond to this question as it pertains to myself, others will have different opinions for sure.

First of all, there is no other adrenaline rush like when your pager goes off and you never know what the nature of the call on the other end is going to be. Really think about this for a moment. You are sitting, watching television, and the tone goes off. You rush to the garage and gather your turnout gear and try to get it on quickly. Someone needs your help and needs it now. Firefighters! A plane has just crashed into the lake with possible survivors. Or a call comes out with a house is on fire and people are trapped on the second floor. How about a victim is trapped in motor vehicle. So you never know what to expect but to always expect for the unexpected. It is kind of like fishing. You never know what the next one is going to be.

I have often thought about why I chose to be in public service in the first place. What was the trigger. I remember as a young man in in primary school when the kids and I were playing red rover red rover. Two teams with all the kids holding hands. The object of the game is to crash through their line of interlocking hands. If you get through the line someone is eliminated. This one particular day a kid ran over as fast as he could and got clobbered in the face. His face started to bleed and all the kids just stood there. I ran over to this kid and helped him get to his feet and brought him to the teacher. Was this the trigger? I am kind of thinking that it could be the first. Helping someone in need and not just sitting there watching.

I remember when my wife and I was traveling years ago when the car in front of us hit a pedestrian and the victim went flying through the air. I immediately stopped our vehicle and tried to administer help. The victim died but I was right there on his last agonal  breaths. I decided at this point that I wanted to learn first aid. I took an EMT-B class just to have more knowledge of first aid and maybe I could help someone or my family if needed. I passed the class and proceeded to work on an ambulance for a few years. It became hard for me raising a family and working in a paper industry, doing shift work. I raised my family, one year our son decided to become a firefighter and wanted to know if I would do it with him. I decided to take the class for firefighter- one and passed the class. I started working on the local fire department and I was back into the emergency field. Again money was never the reason it was the fact that I could help someone out if needed.

The years are moving and there will come a time when I will have to pass the towel in, but I have been so happy doing what I always wanted to do even though it was on a volunteer basis. I know it takes certain types of people to do this kind of business. I wonder if we were chosen for this type of business by what we saw as young children. I’m sure there is a connection. Good Day Everyone.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

 

Otis Mill

78670I could go on into the history of this paper mill but wanted to talk about the history of my forefathers and thereafter. Both my grandparents worked in the Otis Paper Mill or the old International Paper Mill in Jay, Maine. One of my grandfathers worked there for almost 50 years and my own father worked in this mill for 43 years. I worked in this mill as an electrical and instrument tech for 20 years until it closed in 2008. millcrew1903

The community was built upon this industry. The Northern territory or Northern Division was started because of the abundance of tree’s in this state. The paper mills owned and controlled the woodland division and this was what brought people from all over the world to work here. The Italians were the masons and built all the structures around here. They also built building’s for the woolen mills too. This part of the country was an industrial giant back in the day.  Some of the paper mills in this area are still in operation but not running like the booming days from like from the 40’s to 80’s. All industrial facilities are struggling with today’s market prices. Fuel cost has increased and the good ole dollar just doesn’t have much strength anymore in the USA.across-river1885sm

My forefathers worked hard for a living to build this community. I have seen good days and bad times in this region. The local shoe shops have all gone away and everyone is struggling to find jobs just like any other part of this country. Small stores have closed shops because of larger compaines. I can understand why because only the bigger companies can survive in today’s industry. We are becoming a poor country- I will not get into any political debate why, but think our country has been sold out to  foreign industries with a better dollar value.images39S5IG3Q

It was sad to see the the Otis Mill close when it did, I have a lot of memories and visions of my forefathers walking the same steps I took. It is only a place of historic events for some writers to talk about. I am the history of this paper mill and will always remember that place. $T2eC16FHJGoE9nuQeWioBQUMTCM(!w~~60_35