September 19, 2019

Civilian Conservation Corps veterans to reunite

It will be a bittersweet gathering of veterans of the Civilian Conservation Corps this weekend in Greenville.

“I have a score of letters from widows telling me they are sorry to write that the men are gone,” said Paul McKeon of Shirley, who is chairman of “CCC Boy Day,” sponsored by the Moosehead Historical Society in association with Volunteer Chapter 111 of the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni of Portland.

Highlighting weekend activities will be the 1:30 p.m. rededication of the CCC commemorative plaque on Indian Hill, gracing the site where the corps first encamped 62 summers ago.

First dedicated in 1993 as part of a statewide effort by NACCCA Chapter 111 to recognize the young men who toiled in Maine from approximately 1933 to 1940, the stone plaque was relocated to an area with an unobstructed view of Moosehead Lake by local CCC alumni McKeon, Bob Fahey and Kenneth Young, and community members.

The original location, McKeon said, “was rather obscure. You really couldn’t see it from the road. Now you can.”

MHS is raising funds to plant shrubbery and trees on the Indian Hill mound where the plaque is now located and to purchase frames for photos of CCC life in Greenville which were donated to the society by Ed and Nancy Coyne of South Portland.

McKeon, 78, is particularly looking forward to this gathering because some very special people are planning to attend.

“My commanding officer is coming after serving all over the world,” he said of Col. Franklin Johnson of Northfield, N.H. “He was just a young lieutenant when I first met him in 1937.” Johnson was the last commander of the Greenville camp.

Johnson and his party of six will be joined at the rededication by 95-year-old Austin Wilkins, who is driving up from Augusta by himself to participate. Wilkins is the former head of the Maine Forestry Service, which worked with the CCC.

The public is invited to attend the dedication and the CCC dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Masonic Hall, McKeon said.

On Sunday, CCC alumni, family members and friends will climb aboard the steamship Katahdin as it takes its last cruise of the season on Moosehead Lake.

On a weekened when Moosehead adorns itself in its regal fall majesty, Paul McKeon and those whose lives were forever enriched by the CCC will pause to remember campfires on Indian Hill, and the boys who sat around them.

Members of the Maine Education Association can be proud that scholarship dollars from a trust established by, and in memory of, former MEA leaders are making a difference this fall to worthy individuals.

The Clyde Russell Scholarship program was established by the late Audrey Lewis, 1958 MEA president, in memory of the MEA executive direcor who served from 1945 to 1966.

Michelle Thibodeau of Presque Isle; Andrew Miner, Augusta; and Marie Wendt, Gardiner, are this year’s recipients, chosen from a field of 400 applicants.

The scholarships are awarded in three categories: full- or part-time college students, high school seniors, and residents of Maine pursuing further educational-cultural opportunities.

Thibodeau, a Dartmouth College junior, received the college award. She is pursuing a medical degree specializing in child psychiatry.

Miner is a former Presidential Scholar from Cony of Augusta who spent four summers in biological research at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. He received the high school senior award and has just begun his pursuit of a combined medical and doctoral degree at Duke University.

Wendt received the award for a Maine resident pursuing further educational and cultural opportunties. She earned a master’s degree at Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine. Her scholarship will fund a folklore research trip to Bulgaria and an internship with the Folk Arts Center of New England in Cambridge, Mass. She plans to develop artist-in-residence and community programs for schoolchildren, adults, families and community groups.

The Thomas Hill Standpipe will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, reports Kim Marchegiana of the Bangor Water District.

Before the Bangor Band concert on Labor Day, 444 people visited the water tower that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is an American Water Landmark.

Wednesday’s opening of the standpipe, free to the public, is presented in conjunction with the Bangor Historical Society’s annual fall foliage tour.

On that day, society members will be accepting donations from the public as part of its fund-raiser to provide panoramic photographic murals which will be mounted permanently on the promenade deck to help visitors spot area landmarks.

The Standpipe, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; 990-8288.

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