Our New House
Pics I Bought
Pics Not Owned
Weld Village: where Route 142 from Dixfield and Route 156 from Wilton meet. Masterman's Store, Hathaway's, the Post Office, Dot Mason's beauty shop, the Weld phone company office, and Perry Rhodenheiser's Mobil station were the hub of the village which seemed to never change. Jimmy Chute's team of work horses and hay wagon could be seen hitched outside of Hathaway's general store on any given day while logging trucks rolled through the village on their way to the Oxford mill in Rumford.
A Memory Book
The sleepy village came to life on Friday nights when everyone went to the town hall to dance to the calls of Rod Linnell. The hall would fill to overflowing with Kawanhee and Kinneowatha counselors, the girls from the Weld Inn, and summer and local residents where everyone would grab a partner and dance. From polkas to waltzes and square to contra dances, one rarely had a chance to sit and catch ones breath. The hall would literally shake from all the "stomping".
Linnell would end each Friday night with his signature call of "Rod's Reel" and for those who remember the dances but not the call, it began like this: "Gents to the center and now you stand back. Ladies to the center; stand back to back. Now you balance to your partner, swing toe and heel...that's the way you do Rod's Reel".
Having worked in the corporate office of Merck & Co in the early 1960's, coming to Kawanhee's office in June of 1965 was quite an experience. Crank telephones, a bullhorn to page people, an old Underwood typewriter, a mimeograph machine that made your hands purple from the ink, basketballs falling from above when a door was slammed, a wood stove that you stoked on cold mornings and the occasional chipmunk that ran across your desk were only some of the adventures of that office.
Raymond and George were quite a unique pair. They each had a wooden roll top desk in that tiny office and most often they would not be there at the same time. But, on those days which they both were at their desks, things could get a bit "testy". And when they were quite angry at each other, I would be drawn into the middle of their squabble by George asking me to ask Raymond a question and then Raymond asking me to tell George his answer. Of course, both could hear each other tell me what the other said.
The phone was a challenge. Weld, until sometime in the mid 1970s, had "crank" phones. Local numbers would be something like "10 ring 2" or "60 ring 1-3". Two short rings might be you or one long ring followed by two short rings. To alert the operator in the village, one cranked the phone for one LONG ring. To reach the dining hall from the office, one had to crank two short rings and their were still more "cranks" to reach Raymond and Frannie's cottage on the Point or George and Florence at the Inn. We "cranked" a lot!
In the late 1970's and early 1980's I returned to camp to assist in the office with Walter and Jane Estabrook in charge. Dial phones replaced crank phones and modern office equipment made updating lodge lists much easier. The occasional chipmunk still came to visit. One morning the phone rang and it was the bank in Dixfield calling. Seems that the teller calling had a young fellow in front of her wanting to cash a check. He was from out-of-state and had no picture ID but said he was a counselor at Kawanhee and thought I might be able to identify him. She told me his name and I immediately said that I new him. She asked me to describe him and I replied that "he has an earring in his ear". That did it...and she cashed his check!
Born and raised in Westfield, NJ, our family vacationed in Weld for years. In the early 1960s, while working at the Weld Inn, John and I met and eventually married in 1965. Forty years later, we still summer in Weld as we now own a cottage across the lake from Kawanhee. John is presently the Commercial Product Manager, Northeast Region, for Continental Tire North America. I'm a former member of the Board of Trustees, Maine Medical Center and the Maine Hospital Association and currently a Corporator of MaineHealth.