Saturday, July 9, 2011


M*A*S*H fan Hollie at the blood drive
  It was obvious that to support Hollie's needs we should move.  There was a school district closer to work that had a great reputation for working with autistic children.  That district serves three towns so that's where we looked. 
  Linda and Hollie found "the perfect place" in Newburgh, it was on a dirt road, but we had been living on a dirt road anyway - so it wasn't different.  We made an offer that was accepted and set the wheels in motion.
  In the are that contains Medford, it can take months to sell a house, even when the market was really good.  The house in Medford was grabbed the day it went on the market, someone had been waiting for it to go on sale.  The closings and that sort of stuff took about a month.
  Jon came home for the weekend to help us, we just used a rental truck, no appliances where transported, so it wasn't too, too bad.  I had used a neighbors pickup to move some of the junk in the few days before.  Truck loaded, move made, stuff put away and Hollie was off and running.
  She was, at the time, a huge fan of the M*A*S*H show on TV, her room was "The Swamp" and she carried around a photo at all times. (She still carries a laminated picture of someone at all times).  I became a blood donor because the Red Cross held an annual M*A*S*H blood drive in Brewer every July, Hollie used to come with me to tour the National Guard show and the military veterans that would show up, she always had a good time.
  The new school district was great, living up to their reputation.  Hollie only quit school once after the move.  The teachers and staff at those schools are very well trained (they even have Masters Degrees - that don't make them above everybody else :)).
  Work was still moving along, I had a new boss, a man this time; he had been the Finance Director of Bar Harbor before coming to Brewer.  Great personality and openness made working for him pretty good, of course the public doesn't see that part.
Our new house in Newburgh right after a snowy night.
On the back deck in May 1996 to meet the new "neighbors".
Our Newburgh backyard in the Spring, Linda stretched this lupine field to about 1 acre.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Grade 4
  1995 is an easy year to remember, with sadness on one hand and joy on the other.  We finally got a diagnosis for Hollie: Autism.  Once we learned just a little about autism it was obvious.  Now it was time to plan to appropriate steps in the school system.
  Keep in mind that Medford didn't have a physical school.  In Maine towns group together to form School Administration Units (or any of several other names).  Larger cities have their own schools, but smaller towns and cities may have one central school, or grades K-5 in each town with a central middle and high school, Maine is, after all, a very rural state.  The primary unit Medford deals with is number 31.  Each department/unit/district has a Special Education Department or function.  Special Ed is designed to help students who are usually physically or developmentally challenged.  Unit 31 has such a department.
  Let's keep in mind that this school unit, 31, is huge; taking students from about a dozen towns.  The distance between Medford and the other most distant town is about 35 miles, there are a number, at any given time, of Special Ed students.  When we discovered Hollies' diagnosis we were eager to share that with the school, and with the Special Ed teachers.  After a couple of meetings we weren't close to getting for our daughter, what we thought she needed.  We weren't going in "blind", we were getting excellent advice from the Autism Society of Maine and several professionals.  At the next to last meeting I handed the teacher a brochure about Autism, she responded that "she didn't need that, she had a Masters Degree"; to which my answer was "then you should know how to read".  The meeting ended; but even now 15 years later it gets my dander up!  We started making plans to move.
In summer school with friend Sarah
A peaceful Piscataquis River in Medford.
The geezer on a trip to Marshall Point Lighthouse at age 55 (just a kid)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


It may be spring, but the snow's still here..
  There are a couple of things that stand out about '94; Hollie quit school while in the fourth grade and Jeff got married in the summer, and let's not forget the winter that started the year, there was plenty of all these things.
  Hollie just couldn't go any further, and we struggled along with her.  Because she's autistic (derived from the Greek word for alone), she didn't join in group activities and the other kids did what kids do, they teased and made fun of "that girl over there".  She continued to have her one-on-one teacher aide but she wasn't always on the playground.  So, in the end, Hollie just wouldn't go, and people from the school came to see her but that didn't make a difference.  We'll see where 1995 leads.
  Jeff got married in July.  The wedding was held at Two Lights State Park, up on the ledges where the waves break on the rocks some ten to twenty feet below.  His new wife, Cheri and our two new grandchildren (I don't like the word step-) Prahlad and Lita, and all of us too and my parents and the brides mother were there.  The reception at the South Portland VFW was with a large group of friends of Jeff and Cheri.  Soon you'll see the only photo we have of all of us together.
  Things at work were humming along, but at the management level above me things were started to fray at the edges.  There were some hints of discourse now and again, and it was hard to keep a finger on the pulse of my own business; because some of my directions were frayed too.  But, the two ladies and I hung on, we weren't really involved in what was going on.
  I had surgery on my shoulder during either this year or the one after, or the one before.  They just peeled some of the bone off to make it easier to raise my arm.  Maybe that was the start of being a geezer.  You have to start somewhere, but maybe that was later.

The family in 1994

The bride and groom
Decorating the "Easter Tree" in the snow.
NOTE:  We had an addition to our family yesterday Great grand daughter Elizabeth Lynn Langley.  She is the daughter of Nick, Rhonda's oldest.  So Rhonda is a Grammy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Rhonda and Matt graduate
  This is the year that had quite and end, we'll see that in a while.  This was also the year that my clerk at work, Linda, was discovered to have breast cancer.  She is now a long-time survivor, so some stories have a happy ending, but not enough of them - remember there is a button to click on and there are two new places to click, one for homeless veterans and one for autism research; I am forever hopeful that you are keeping up the good work.
  Anyway, 1993, was a decent year what with the graduation, both Jeff and Jon were working and on their own.  Hollie was still have a struggle with school, and even with the benefit of a one-on-one "helper" was just kind of treading water.  The day was getting closer when we would really know the answer - 1994!
  We bid "goodbye" or is it good buy to the Subaru after 243,000 miles of service to the family.  We filled the tank and gave it to our neighbor in exchange for some work he did on our house.  My second new car was a Dodge Shadow.  The reason for the change in cars was precipitated by me having surgery on my shoulder, and trying to shift a manual transmission.  I still miss the old thing, but by now it wouldn't be running anyway.
  The winter that began in '93 was a bad one if you shovel, or a good one if you ski.  I don't ski.  Thankfully we had a neighbor who plowed the driveway, but there was still a lot to shovel.  To be honest my lovely wife did a lot of the shoveling, and still does.
Me with a shovel during one of the storms.
...while some people, like Hollie, played in the stuff.
Article in the Bangor Daily News this week: "Foreclosures up in Piscataquis and Penobscot counties".

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Enfield Station School, Maine
  The year started with Hollie attending classes in a brand new school, that was very badly needed; the name coming from a former depot on that spot.  Hollie was not enjoying too much of her school day, the reasons as yet unknown but becoming more obvious.
  Valentines Day may have been a special treat but something, or somethings, went wrong.  Linda, who by this time had a lot of gray hair, dyed her hair red because she knew I like redheads.  After she was done her hair was pink!  Reading the instructions on the box you could find the sentence "do not use on gray hair", or words to that effect.  Oh, well! No harm done I guess; but after the phone rang and we were told that Rhonda was in labor at the Lincoln hospital - well then, maybe going with pink hair could go awry.
  Rhonda was in labor for three days!  Finally Nicholas Wayne Langley was born.  Well, that took long enough!  Mom and baby were fine and more than ready to go home the next day, the family was growing.
  Lindas' hair regained it's natural color in a few weeks, but it made the events memorable and I still like redheads, just to look at!
  At work things were moving right along; the new computer system was working nicely, it was a very real time saver for "my girls" out front, things that used to be typed were now being printed, there was no big pile of "auto registration" forms to pull apart each month, just a disc from the state; things like that add up to a whole lot of time savings.  There were additional benefits the public will never see, things like easier audits because printouts is easier to follow than a bunch of forms on card stock, or people not having to file a copy of each registration - it's all automatic.  Of course, that stuff has changed again, more than once, since I retired from that job in 2001.

By the time Nick was 10 months old Hollie was showing him the ropes.
Turn your monitor sideways to see this the way I should have presented it, no don't do that! :)

Penobscot Valley High School (right), gym (middle) and Hichborn Middle School (left)
Jon and Rhonda attended school at PVHS.

This could be a true story if someones owns waterfront property.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Giving up the dance.  Wedding of Rhonda and Matt.
    A lot can happen during the twelve months of a year, and 1991 was no exception.  It started with a shovel full of snow and come to think of it; it ended the same way.  It was the days in between where the action was.  Jeff and Jon were in Portland, Hollie was in the first grade and the big sister got married, at age 18.  That doesn't sound like much but ask the Mother-of-the-Bride.
  Meanwhile back in the office the fun continued.  We had purchased a new computer system and new software about a year ago - what a huge improvement, and what a time saver too.  It cost a lot of money, mostly for the workstation PC's and kind of wiring the City together, City Departments that is; most were in City Hall but Public Works, Recreation and Public Safety had their own buildings.  As I write this two of those Public Works and Public Safety (fire and police) each have new buildings since I retired.
  Now the wedding.  Rhonda and Matthew, who both looked like middle school kids decided to get married so they found a way of setting that up.  It was a busy couple of months getting all of it together and everybody in the act.  Living quarters where to be a small apartment in Matts' parents house, over in Passadumkeag (pass a dumb keg), which wasn't too far, just about 8 miles. 
  The wedding dress was purchased second hand (this was a low budget affair) and taken to the cleaners, the Church was the one attended by Matt's family, and the reception was taken care of by some of the ladies at the Passadumkeag Grange.  At least the whole thing was carried out very well, everyone did what they were supposed to, except that Hollie didn't sit with the family - she sat with the mother of Rhonda's friend.  It was short and sweet, as weddings go and the whole thing was over right on time.  The real fun came in the months that followed, the bride and groom had high school to finish.
Rhonda and her brother, Jeff.
Christmas is for cows!
A sense of humor never hurt.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

1990 continued

The view made the ride worthwhile, my usual route home to Medford.
  Some years just have more things to talk about, 1990 for example.  I need to correct an error from yesterday, Jon left home in 1990, he went back to Portland.  He did find a job quickly at Maine Medical Center; he's still there.
  The Town of Medford has a small population, how else would I have been elected on a 17 to 3 vote?  But I was more than happy to take part in local stuff too; I learned a lot from it.  Ninety-three percent of the land in town is owned by paper or timber companies, that's okay what hurt the town is that the tax rate on "Tree Growth" is less than other land in town.  Everything worked out, but only because the annual budget was so small.  Like most other town and cities in Maine the three largest outlay of money was for schools, roads and trash removal - in that order, after those three things Medfords' spending was in the hundreds or very low thousands of dollars.  Medford, for reasons of geography and history had it's own school department.  There had been no schools in town for maybe fifty years but there was a bus and bus driver.  Families that lived on the eastern side of the river sent their children to Howland and Enfield; on the other side of the river they went to Milo.  Tuition was paid to both of those school districts (the State sets the amount) and that's where most of the money was spent.  This is not an unusual thing in Maine.
  When the "trestle bridge" opened people didn't have to leave town to cross the river.  To go from where we lived to a neighbors home on the other side of the river would have meant a drive to Milo, or Howland, and back into Medford.  When the railroad pulled up the tracks they gave the town the trestle, it was turned into a bridge for cars. 
  Back in the "old days" there was a Ferry across the river, powered by horses pulling ropes on each side, there remains an archway under the trestle from that wagon road.  Linda and I took Hollie under the arch to the river one day; we were throwing rocks into the water.  Hollie ran out of rocks so she just took the binoculars and threw them! 
The "trestle" with its' wooden surface.  The planks are replaced from time to time.
The arch from the old wagon road.  Young people here buy spray paint too.
It's them damned people from away that do this stuff!
Cold Stream winds through a bog.  This is one of my favorite spots, still.