1940 - 1960
The organization of the Kiwanis Club and the advent of J. R. Cianchette as an influential
figure in local and state affairs combined to make the next two decades colorful and exciting.
It is impossible to deal with the events of that period without dealing with Joe Cianchette.
He not only dominated the industrial life of Pittsfield, but he made his influence felt
throughout the state as he extended his vast financial interests into every county. His
boundless energy, his daring to try the seemingly impossible, and his dogged perseverance to
see a project through were some of the characteristics that brought him to the top of the
construction business in New England. No citizen was ever more proud of his home town than
Joe. He was continually singing its praises, searching for new industries, and inviting
outside business interests to investigate its potentialities. He was Pittsfield's greatest
salesman, and the Kiwanis was ideally suited to assist him in his efforts to revitalize our
economy. It was a great combination and it worked!
PITTSFIELD MUNICIPAL AIRPORT
For example, the 40's had hardly gotten underway when the Federal Government began to take
an interest in building airports. We were not at war, but we were on the brink. Already plans
were on the drawing boards for air bases scattered over our strategically located state, and
in those plans Pittsfield came under consideration, not so much because it could be used as an
auxiliary field, but rather because it was already on the official air map of Maine from the
days of the 30s when it was started as a WPA project. Cianchette, who at this time was very
close to this phase of the construction business, had discussed our location with Mr. Crowell,
head of the WPA in Maine, and also brought the matter to the attention of the Kiwanis Club. A
committee was appointed consisting of Albert McMichael, J. R. Cianchette, S. M.Cook, Charles
Peterson and W. W. Lehr, Sr.
The McMichael brothers surveyed the old airport and land adjacent to it and in October of
1940, final plans were submitted to Washington through the Portland office of the WPA. The
approved, providing the town would raise $6,000 for the project. Looking back, it
is difficult to understand why there was any hesitancy on the part of the town since the
government had allocated $140,000 as its initial grant, yet there was considerable opposition.
It was at this point that the Kiwanis did a splendid job of pointing out the benefits to be
derived from the development of a municipal airport, and at a special town meeting in February
1941, a favorable vote was obtained. By the end of May, work on the runways had started with a
crew of between 40 and 80 local men under the supervision of William L. Myers of Brunswick. As
work progressed, another $100,000 was allotted and the runways extended from 3500 to 4500.
Before the work was completed, war had been declared and nearly $500,000 had been appropriated
to give Pittsfield one of the finest small landing fields in the state.
As a result of this farsightedness, the navy took over the field in 1943 under a CAA war
training service. For the duration of the war hundreds of cadets received their initial flight
training in Pittsfield, billeting on the M. C. I. campus. This program was operated for the
navy by the Portland Flying School, Portland Junior College, and Maine Central Institute. It
not only was a factor in our economy, but it offered a splendid opportunity for the town and
M. C. I. to make an important contribution to the war effort.
Following Pearl Harbor, Pittsfield, along with other communities, plunged into the serious
business of winning the war. The first efforts were in the direction of preparing for the
eventuality of an air attack. A Civil Defense unit was organized. Fire Chief Herbert Davis
issued instructions to be followed in event of fires; first aid classes were begun under the
direction of Kilborn Merrill and William Griffin; Mrs. Ted Cunningham, Clerk of the Rationing
Board, published regularly pertinent procedural information; blackout regulations were
announced; and a Home Guard was established under the direction of Lyle McCrillis and trained
by Captain Mike Broderick and 1st Lieut. James York. The Platoon was drilled on the M. C. I.
campus. William Springer was appointed Coordinator.
In January 1943, The Advertiser published the following list of ladies who had
offered their services to the Rationing Board:
Florence Ames, Abbie Bussell, Vera Brown,
Barbara Call, Floraine Cornforth, Ina Fuller, Victoria Hamilton, Dorothy Haseltine, Gertrude
Humphrey, Caro Jones, Lena Marsh, Ella Murch, Mildred Nickerson, Margaret Purinton, Dorothy
Pushor, Minnie Porter, Helen Shorey, Esther Smiley, Doris Springer, and Marion Stewart.
The nearness of Pittsfield to the huge Dow Airbase in Bangor placed us within a danger
zone, according to war officials, and a call was issued by Horace Buxton, Chief Observer, for
volunteers for an observation post, which at first was in the tower of the Lancey House and
later in an observation tower at the airport. Fiftyfour citizens responded and served for
the duration of the emergency.
The Advertiser did an excellent job of keeping the home folks informed. Each week
letters from men and women in the armed forces were published, promotions and interesting
incidents of army life were featured, and an Honor Roll was printed and kept current.
As in all wars fought on foreign soil, the home front suffered least. Each wanted to do his
part, sharing in the rationing, Red Cross activities, bond drives, and other related
activities, but it all seemed such a meager contribution. Underlying it all was a tension that
fluctuated with the tone of the war news. However, it all evaporated in a joyous and
spontaneous celebration in August of 45 when the news of the Japanese surrender flashed over
the air. Headed by the fire fighting equipment, cars, bicycles, and every other means of
conveyance appeared to join in an impromptu parade. Amid mill whistles, screaming sirens, and
honking horns, a crowd of shouting, dancing, uninhibited citizens of all ages followed the
firemen to the mall on Railroad Street where a huge bonfire climaxed the celebration. The next
day Roy Wright was studying the ashes of that fire and came to the conclusion that his dump
truck had contributed to the blaze.Oh, well, I guess it was worth it! muttered Roy, a true
SHOE MANUFACTURING COMES TO PITTSFIELD
In April of 1941, Clyde Martin wrote a letter to The Advertiser asking, Why don't we
do something about the Waverley Mill? This was by no means a new problem. The mill, as we have
seen, had lain in idleness for more than twelve years. It was then
owned by Willard Cummings
who was using it for storage. In one area the roof was about ready to go, and in the main mill
some of the floor timbers were weakening. It had reached the point where it was deteriorating
One evening in August following a Kiwanis meeting, five men remained to chat about things
in general and the question of the Waverley Mill came up. Joe Cianchette suggested that the
five men buy it, if the price was not too high, and then he would try to find a tenant. It was
done. The water rights were sold to the town and the mill repaired for occupancy. Cianchette
was as good as his word, and in September of 1943 he was able to bring the good news that the
plant had been sold to Pinchos Medwed of Bangor, a shoe manufacturer. Mr. Medwed did not move
to Pittsfield until late 1945, but then he immediately started a training program and by 1948
around three hundred workers were on the payroll. It was a real lift to the economy of the
town and most gratifying to J. R. Cianchette, Earle E. Friend, W. W. Lehr, Sr., H. L.
Goodrich, and S. M. Cook who had met in the Lancey House one August evening following a
Mr. Medwed did not remain in Pittsfield very long. In 1950, he sold out to the Northeast
Shoe Company which has operated the plant most successfully ever since. To quote from an
article in The Advertiser of June 24, 1965, the following paragraph pretty much tells
the story: "From a modest start, an employment complement of less than 150 people who
produced about 1200 pair of shoes per day, Northeast has grown in the past 15 years to be the
largest single employer in this community. Its current working force exceeds 450 people and it
is anticipated that the annual payroll for 1965 will exceed one million five hundred thousand
PITTSFIELD WOOLEN YARNS CO., INC.
The Pittsfield Woolen Yarns Co., Inc., which today is an important factor in our economy,
had its beginning in the early 40s. Perley A. Wright came to Pittsfield from Detroit where he
had operated a general store and during his first years here was engaged in several
businesses. At one time he ran a restaurant and bakery in the Elias block and at another time
he was in the coal business. Finally, he set
up a hand knitting mill in what is now the Howard
Fernald building on Park Street. He was in this business when in February of 1945 the Earl
Hodgkins's mill on Sebasticook Street was destroyed in a tragic fire that took the lives of
Arlene Emery, Blanche Hunter, and Florence Small. Mr. Wright, who now owned mill property on
Central Street, arranged for Mr. Hodgkins to set up a factory and manufacture woolens for the
Pittsfield Hand Knitting Company. This arrangement lasted until 1947 when Mr. Wright bought
out the Hodgkins's interest and the Pittsfield Woolen Yarns Co., Inc., was organized and has
operated successfully for nearly twenty years. Today the ownership of the company is in the
hands of three sons, Clifford Wright, President and Treasurer; Neil Wright, Vice President;
and Carl Wright, Clerk. In addition to providing a welcome payroll, the company has been able
to offer employment to many who once were with the American Woolen Company but were laid off
when the Pioneer was closed down. It has been a fine industry and much appreciated by the
Guy Huff, a skilled machinist, for a number of years operated a small machine shop at his
home on Manson Street. During World War II he was called upon to do work for some of the
larger shops, particularly Fay and Scott of Dexter, and as business increased the Manson
Street location became inadequate. In the mid40s he designed and built a goodsized
shop on Stinson Avenue which he operated until he retired in 1959 and sold the plant to
Cianbro Manufacturing Corporation, a subsidiary of Cianchette Bros., Inc. Cianbro soon outgrew
the building and moved into a larger shop on Hunnewell Avenue to become a part of the
Cianchette Bros., Inc., complex. The original Huff building on Stinson Avenue was sold to M.
C. I. and is now used as a music center.
Another machine shop to come into being during this period was that of Delbert E. Knowles
on upper North Main Street. In 1951, in addition to the routine jobs, Knowles became
distributor and manufacturer of the Bunnell Pulpwood Loaders and was kept busy supplying the
Maine and Eastern Canada markets. In 1955, Richard Cole joined the firm and remained a partner
until Delbert's death in 1965. In October of '65 Cole acquired full ownership.
CIANCHETTE BUYS LANCEY HOUSE
In January of 1945, J. R. Cianchette purchased The Lancey House from W. W. Lehr, Sr., who
had owned and successfully operated the famous old hotel since 1929. With characteristic
enthusiasm, Cianchette immediately began making plans to renovate the establishment from
cellar to roof. Many improvements were made, but the most startling changes occurred on the
first floor under the supervision of hotel architects from Massachusetts. The lobby, dining
area, and bar were completely modernized. The dining room, with its murals depicting Maine
seascapes and inland beauty spots, was most attractive and in a very short time its reputation
for fine food and delightful atmosphere spread throughout New England. Norrnan Wright, a
former resident of Pittsfield, was the first manager under the new ownership. Later Darrell
Dunton was promoted to Manager, then came George Pratt, James Murphy, Al Marsano and Lloyd
THE ADVERTISER CHANGES HANDS
Four months after Cianchette purchased the Lancey House he acquired control of The
Pittsfield Advertiser from George Huff of Dexter and later that year bought the building
that housed the paper. This building, as we have pointed out before, has an interesting
history in that it was once part of the Going Hathorn home that was located on what is now
Hathorn Park. A study of the pictures indicates that it was once the stable of the Hathorn
Almost immediately, as could be expected, a complete overhauling of the building was
underway. A onestory addition was built on the rear, the old wooden floor was taken out
and replaced with concrete for the heavy machines, the heating plant was revamped, and a front
Under the Cianchette regime there were a number of editors, all of whom contributed
importantly to improving the paper. The first editor was Marshall Hammond and he was followed
by Richard Kendall, Ralph Long, Rev. William Willoughby, Rev. Donald Hinckley, Edward Stanley,
and Gerald Hackett. Norval Lewis served briefly as interim editor. Rev. Willoughby, Rev.
Donald Hinckley and Mr. Stanley served as part time members of the staff.
Other officers of the paper were listed as J. R. Cianchette, President; Roy U. Sinclair,
Treasurer and Editor; and Irving Whitman, Production Manager.
After nearly two decades of ownership, Mr. Cianchette sold the paper to David Olson who
published it for less than a year. Today it is owned by The Pittsfield Publishers, Inc., with
Gerald F. Mitchell, Managing Editor.
In 1947, Norman Wright resigned as manager of The Lancey House to take over a dry cleaning
establishment that L. Q. Wright, Norman's brother, had set up on Peltoma Avenue at the
entrance to the airport. There seemed to be a need for such a business. The White Star Laundry
on Park Street had for years ably serviced the area under the management of the Hansons, but
the dry cleaning work was intensively solicited by out of town plants. Wrights Dry Cleaning
competed for this business and when Tommy Wright resigned to represent a wholesale packing
house, Mrs. Grace Wright took over the proprietorship and operated the plant successfully for
ten years until it was sold to the McGowan brothers, the present owners.
As in other businesses, the character of the cleaning industry has changed in recent years
and today there are three coin or doityourself cleaning establishments: on Park
Street, Pittsfield Laundricoin; on Main Street, Norge Laundry and Cleaning Village; and the
Bowl Rite Lanes Laundrymat on South Main Street.
In 1950, L. G. Milliken, who had for a number of years operated a shoddy mill, first at the
old Bryant mill on Hunnewell Avenue and then at the Riverside mill, decided to retire and sold
the business to J. R. Cianchette, Roy U. Sinclair, and Joseph S. Buker. Mr. Buker, who had
been with Milliken, managed the mill for the new company. After a short time Cianchette and
Sinclair sold their interests to Lewis Rosenthal of Waterville, and Buker continued to act as
part owner and manager. In 1965 Mr. Buker retired and Rosenthal took over the property.
One of the most ambitious residential building projects ever undertaken in Pittsfield was
begun in 1946 and completed in a little more than a year. J. R. Cianchette, who had been
instrumental in bringing the Medwed Shoe to Pittsfield, had been approached several times on
the matter of housing by Medwed and others who might be interested in locating manufacturing
plants in the area. Where can we find homes for our employees, particularly the executive
staff, if we come? was a common inquiry. With characteristic earnestness and forcefulness, Joe
had responded, You come; you need homes; Ill build em! Well, Medwed came and one day,
according to Joe, he mentioned that one of his key men was having difficulty finding a place
to live and he reminded Joe of his promise that housing would be no problem. OK, well get busy
on it, and that day plans were started to build Peltoma Acres.
It was no simple task. In those days building materials were hard to get, so Joe built a
mill on lower Peltoma Avenue where he sawed out most of his lumber. Carpenters were scarce
locally and many had to be recruited from long distances. There were dozens of problems to
solve and decisions to be made before the job was done, but in May of 1947 open house was held
and 48 new homes were put on the market.
Since then much has been done by the owners in the way of additions and landscaping. What
was once a hayfield, today is a well laid out community of attractive residences.
THE EDWARDS COMPANY
The story of how the Edwards Company happened to come to Pittsfield is one of the most
interesting in our entire industrial history. Possibly in making this statement the writers
perspective is a bit warped since he was somewhat involved in the negotiations. No doubt, if
we could have the details of Going Hathorns efforts to get Robert Dobson to locate in
Pittsfield, or the conversations and correspondence that must have gone on at the time the
Dobsons sold out to the American Woolen, we would find emotion, even drama, mixed into those
transactions; but since we do not have the records and we do know something of
what went on between the time the Pioneer
closed and Edwards arrived, we repeat that it is the
most interesting story of local industry of which we have any knowledge. It was a dramatic
story, filled with discouragement, hope, frustrations, split second timing, and final success.
It was a story in which at one point our representatives became involved in a struggle between
two giants of American industry for control of a multimillion dollar corporation.
It all started in 1953 when the American Woolen Company announced that on September 19th
the old Pioneer mill would be closed. The warning signals had been hoisted the year previous
when the president of American Woolen in a speech at a wool convention described the
predicament of the industry as grim. In February of 53 feelings were aroused over union
contracts. Two local representatives of the TWUACIO were invited to New York to take part
in negotiations with management. Although the closing was not unexpected, the final
realization of it came as a hard blow to many families that had for years depended upon this
particular plant for their livelihood. For a while no one seemed to know what to do.
The first positive action came from the Kiwanis Club. The suggestion was made that a
development committee be formed to explore the possibilities of replacing the mill. The Legal
Affairs Committee, consisting of Lloyd Stitham, John Furbush, and Harry Coolidge, was asked to
form a corporation with authority to raise funds for the purpose of seeking and helping to
finance, if necessary, new industry in Pittsfield. On February 1st, 1954 Clair L. Cianchette,
who had joined the legal staff of J. R. Cianchette and Sons, prepared the necessary papers for
such a corporation and The Pittsfield Development Associates was born. The directors were J.
R. Cianchette, Chairman, H. R. Coolidge, George A. Moore, L. A. Dysart, John McMann, Robert
Hubbard, and Clair L. Cianchette. An Industrial Committee was appointed with S. M. Cook and W.
W. Lehr, Jr., CoChairmen; and R. U. Sinclair, Donald Fendler, and Harry H. Friend.
The first act of the new Corporation was to sell stock to the amount of $50,000. This was
no easy task. A committee was chosen to head up the drive, consisting of Roy U. Sinclair,
Chairman; Roosevelt T. Susi; Ford Grant; Harry Anderson; and Harry Friend. They did a splendid
job and had marvelous cooperation from all members of the
Kiwanis Club. In January of 1954,
Chairman Sinclair announced that $53,570 had been subscribed by 477 persons.
Now came the work of the corporation. At first the results were most encouraging. Officers
of the American Woolen had been appraised of the efforts of the local citizenry and on March
2nd the Associated Press quoted Gordon V. Lyons, Chairman of the Stockholders Fact Finding
Committee, as saying the American Woolen management is working out details of a plan to
participate with the community in streamlining and modernizing the Pioneer Mills and putting
the plant back in operation on a profitable basis. This was wonderful news and was confirmed a
day or two later by ExGovernor Joseph B. Ely, General Counsel for the American Woolen,
who stated that a plan for establishing a socalled pilot mill of 60 looms was under
This story went over the country and both the American Woolen and Pittsfield came in for
much favorable comment. Pittsfield in particular was praised for acting so promptly and so
constructively when faced with the loss of its oldest industry. Much credit was given the
socalled ElyDumaine faction of the American Woolen who believed in New England and
that the North could compete with the South if given proper tools, i. e. modern plants and
modern machinery. The Pittsfield Plan was commended throughout New England. Everything looked
good; hopes were high.
The first inkling that perhaps things were not what they seemed came in August of 54. Five
months had gone by and there had been no apparent attempt to activate the plans for a pilot
mill. W. Bartlett Cram of the Maine Development Commission met with the local directors and
although he was optimistic as to the final outcome, he indicated that there might be some
delay because of friction within the official family of the American Woolen. There were hints
of a proxy fight for control of the company. This was disturbing but not too serious and would
probably be ironed out shortly. We must be patient, was the word.
The proxy fight was serious, however; more serious than anyone believed at the time.
Textron was a fast growing holding company under aggressive leadership and was making a deadly
serious attempt to gain control of the $26 million textile corporation. Although some of our
directors had discussed with representatives of Textron the
future of Pittsfield if control of
the American Woolen changed hands and had been given assurance that Textron would be
sympathetic to the textile problems of New England, there was a distinct feeling that perhaps
their interests were more with the South as a locale for manufacturing. The picture began to
take on shadows of uncertainty and even gloom. There was little our local directors could do
but await the outcome of this struggle for power between the two gigantic financial
corporations. Our friends were in the ElyDumaine group, we felt, and our hopes were on
their ability to survive the proxy battle.
The climax came the day before Christmas. Cianchette was in Aroostook involved in a legal
dispute over an airbase contract. Word came to him to be at ExGovernor Elys office as
soon as possible for an important meeting. He got the court to recess, sent his witnesses
home, and flew to Boston, accompanied by Harry R. Coolidge, Attorney for the local development
The meeting was important to Pittsfield. It turned out to be the key that opened the way
for eventual success. Mr. Ely had become convinced that they could not stop the Textron drive
for control, and feeling that more concrete assurance should be given to carry out the
Pittsfield project as promised, he had drawn up an agreement with the Pittsfield Improvement
Association (formerly the Pittsfield Development Associates) committing the American Woolen to
spend $250,000 to replace the Pioneer mill with a modern manufacturing plant. Cianchette and
Coolidge came home from that meeting on Christmas Eve and it was quite a Christmas package for
our town. Within a week following this meeting, Textron had won its battle for control of the
American Woolen and in the months to follow most of its properties were sold and its emphasis
on textiles was centered in the South.
Although the Ely agreement was honored by Textron interests, it was not until October 25,
1955 that the final papers were signed. Throughout most of that year the project was in a
state of unrest. Excerpts from the Waterville Sentinel, October 25, 1955, give some idea of
what went on that spring and summer: The validity of the Ely agreement remained intact after
the transfer of the textile reins to TextronAmerican, so the project underwent various
stages of planning from a 48,000 to a 125,000 square foot building, and from a
plant to a spinning mill, to a half million dollar 96 loom integrated woolen mill to be under
Textron management. Although Textron appeared anxious to help justify Pittsfields faith in its
reincarnation, the town was left to simmer under the heat of uncertainty and trepidation.
Directors of the Pittsfield Improvement Association were called into session time after time
when company heads appeared to discuss new problems that cropped up.
The final bottleneck came when Textron signified thumbs down on company operation of any
type here because of its new policy of diversification.
However, apparently aware of a moral obligation, Textron did not sell the town short.
It agreed to release the mill properties, including the mill proper, outbuildings, mill
residences, and water rights in Pittsfield and Hartland for $16,000; to loan PIA sufficient
funds for the construction of a 48,000 square foot building for manufacturing purposes; and to
assist in the location of a tenant.
Cost of the projectis expected to hover around the $300,000 mark.
Textron gave the green light for the construction before cold weather of the mills outside
wall foundations, which were started two weeks ago under the supervision of Alonzo Harriman,
Auburn Architect.Waterville Sentinel, October 25, 1955.
The next move was to find a tenant. The Industrial Committee contacted W. Bartlett Cram,
who had been most helpful throughout the long period of negotiations, and now he went to work
in earnest. In an unbelievably short time he uncovered a lead that took him to the Edwards
Company, in Norwalk, Connecticut. It is interesting how it came about. Mr. Cram relates that
one day at the state capitol he learned from Commissioner Tupper of the Sea and Shore
Fisheries, that a man in Boothbay had invented an electronic buzzer and had taken it to the
Edwards Company for examination. They could not use it, but had made the remark that they were
looking for a new plant for expansion and that some day they might be in a better position to
consider new products. Two weeks later Mr. Cram was in Norwalk, caught Mr. Edwards as he was
leaving for an outoftown business trip, was referred to one of the plant officials,
and within days brought several representatives of the company to Pittsfield.
impressed with the town, particularly the schools, the churches, and the spirit of the people.
One thing that we could offer that other towns couldnt, or, at least, didnt, was that we were
in a position to build them a building of their own design. This may offer a lesson to
municipalities looking for industries. Rather than erecting a socalled speculative
building and then trying to interest a prospect, why isnt it better to be able to say to that
prospect, You have been in business a number of years and must have definite ideas for
improving the efficiency of a plant layout. Why not let us build you a factory of your own
design? Well furnish the architect; you tell him what you want within the allotted budget, and
well build it as you want it. Whether this is good salesmanship or not, it seemed to work in
the case of Edwards. Mr. Sharp and other company officials went over the plans many times and
followed the construction through the summer and fall of 56 as avidly as did the local
committee. It was a mutually pleasant experience.
Before the building was completed, additional capital was required and was obtained through
the Maine Development Corporation. By late fall it was ready for occupancy. Ralph Desmond was
the first Manager; DeWolfe Finch, Assistant Manager; and John Russell, Maintenance Supervisor.
The first buzzer came off the assembly line in December, Representing, said Sylvia Lehr in the
Waterville Sentinel, the echo of scores of doorbells rung three years ago by 59 Kiwanians with
Increased payrolls meant activity in the downtown business area. In 1942, J. R. Cianchette
purchased the S. F. Jones block and some adjacent property and erected a twostory
building, housing two stores and a barber shop on the street level and several apartments on
the second floor. In 55, Mr. Cianchette located the Pittsfield Truck and Farm on Hunnewell
Avenue in a large twostory frame building containing a well laid out display room and
service area to represent the International Harvester Company. Harold Crossman was the first
manager, who was succeeded by Norman Wright and later by Maurice Earle. While Mr. Earle was
manager the business was moved to a location on South Main Street. Further out on the Burnham
road, W. W. Lehr had opened a thriving furniture business. In 1947 Burrows and Harris opened a
service station at the corner of Main and Grove Streets. Later Mr. Burrows took over the
business and eventually became an active dealer in antiques. The same year Lester Stone, an
experienced insurance man, purchased an interest in the S. F. Jones Insurance Agency. When Mr.
Jones retired, he sold his interest to Stone. Two other changes occurred in 47The White Star
Laundry on Park Street was sold, and Wrights Dairy opened a pasteurization plant on Highland
Avenue. In 1948, the Thrifty Store came to Pittsfield and Main Street was improved by two new
store fronts at L. A. Dysarts and the United Stores. In 1950, the Parks Brothers
Insurance Agency, owned by E. N. Vickery, and the Sanger M. Cook Agency, owned by W. W. Lehr,
Jr., merged and operated as Vickery and Lehr, Inc., until 1954 when Mr. Lehr became sole
owner. 1950 was the year the FendlerTilton Motors occupied the P. E. Susi shop on South
Main and took on the Dodge Car Agency; the A & P store moved into the Hanson block at the
corner of Main and Hunnewell; and John McMann bought out the Cox gas and fuel oil business at
the corner of Main and Park, where the old HunterMcMaster store was once located. In
195253, the L & H Chevrolet Agency was established on South Main and Libby Streets,
and in 1955 Adrian Hallee bought out Mr. Lenentine. The company has a body shop on Hunnewell
In 1955, The First National Bank did a major renovation job, incorporating into its
quarters the space occupied by Spear's Clothing store. Guy Susi was the architect and J. R.
Cianchette, the contractor. It was an excellent move and was admired by hundreds of visitors
on opening day. The following year, the New Central from Bangor established a branch store at
Farrar's Furniture on Park Street with Ralph Morton as Manager. In 1957, J. R. Cianchette and
Sons, Inc., erected a tremendous office and repair shop on lower South Main. On the same
property and a part of the Cianchette enterprises was a smaller warehouse, a building housing
the International Harvester agency, and a modern service stationall surrounded by acres of hot
top paving to make it one of the finest establishments of its kind in the state.
This was the year Cianchette took over the Bijou Theatre and did another one of his
imaginative remodeling jobs. A new marquee
opened into a beautifully decorated lobby that led
to a large auditorium with sloping, carpeted floor, cushioned rocking chair seats, a spacious
stage with cinemascope screen. The theatre was air conditioned and equipped with the
finest sound and movie projectors. It was an important addition to Main Street and proved to
be most popular.
In 1959, after Mr. Cianchette had moved his Truck and Farm business to South Main, he
demolished the old frame building on Hunnewell Avenue and erected a very attractive and well
planned onestory brick block to house Buds Supermarket. To make it one of the most
desirable shopping centers in this area, he also provided a large paved parking area.
The schools shared in the prosperity of this era. The buoyant spirit of the times was
contagious and caught hold of our educational leaders. A school lunch program was inaugurated,
and by 48, 25,000 meals were served annually. At this time the Grammar School was becoming
crowded and the School Committee recommended a fourroom addition. The recommendation was
adopted and J. R. Cianchette contracted to do the work.
MANSON PARK SCHOOL
In 1951, the PTA became a factor in school policy. Lester Stone who was a candidate for the
School Board, was active in promoting a survey of the school system which resulted in a report
that declared the Hartland Avenue School hazardous, the Grammar School inadequate, and the
Riverside unfit for school purposes. The report drew applause and criticism. A citizens
committee composed of Rev. Donald Hinckley, Nelson Lane, Harold Crawford, Guy Susi, Walter
Jacobs, Bernard Nichols, Seymour Burch and Clifford Wright in a rebuttal stated that these
school buildings were not as terrible as pictured and without much expense could be repaired
and made suitable. At the town meeting in March, the PTA report was rejected. In May the PTA
again sought funds for a building program. L. A. Dysart was prominent in this movement.
A special meeting was called in June to consider the matter and the proponents were shut off
arbitrarily by a motion to adjourn. This type of procedure backfired on the opponents for
there was considerable resentment afterwards and increased sympathy for the proposed school
program. At the next annual meeting in 1952, $75,000 was recommended for a new elementary
school and in December of that year the Manson Park School was ready for occupancy.
In 1955 and 56 there was considerable agitation for a new Grammar School. In the eight
years since the addition to the old Grammar School, school population had increased rapidly
and again teachers were faced with overcrowded classrooms. Clair Cianchette took the lead in
advocating a new $200,000 building, located north of Somerset Avenue. As in the past,
opposition quickly developed, first, to the idea of spending so much money, and, second, to
the location. Strange to say, not many questioned the need for more classroom space. After
several meetings, some of which were rather emotional, the voters approved an appropriation of
$200,000 and a onestory cloverleaf style of building was designed by architect Maurice E.
Witmer and the contract let to H & K Foster of Wilton, the same firm that built the
Edwards plant. The school was named in honor of Earl N. Vickery, who had served faithfully on
the local school board for years and had taken an important role in shaping educational policy
in the state. Open house was held in October 1958.
The Vickery School relieved the pressure on other elementary schools and made it possible
to dispose of Riverside School in 1959. The building was sold to C. Almy and Sons,
manufacturers of church goods.
MAINE CENTRAL INSTITUTE
M. C. I. had a remarkable growth during these years. Some of the highlights of the period
included the acquisition of the Manson House, which served as the Headmaster's home; the
Industrial Arts building, which was obtained from Quoddy; the Nye property, temporarily used
for a music center; the Cianchette Hall of Science, made possible through the generosity of J.
R. Cianchette and a $50,000 appropriation by the town of Pittsfield; and the Powell Library, a
bequest of Mrs. William H. Powell in memory of her husband, Judge Powell, of the class of
The Cianchette Hall of Science and the Powell Library combined to give M. C. I. one of the
finest educational facilities in New England preparatory school circles. The first floor of
the science building provided space for the Biology and Home Economics departments; the second
floor contained spacious chemistry and physics classrooms with adjacent laboratories and an
The Powell gift proved to be the most generous in the history of the school. It provided
funds not only for a well built, well equipped, and beautifully appointed library, but it also
allowed space for several much needed classrooms. In addition, there were funds for a modest
There were three Principals and one Acting Principal between 1940 and 1960. After a most
successful administration, Mr. Purinton resigned to accept a position as head of the State
School for Boys at South Portland. Until a replacement was chosen, Howard Washburn acted as
Principal. In 1946 Howard Niblock, a Bowdoin graduate, who had been a member of the faculty at
Mt. Hermon School, was elected Principal. Mr. Niblock proved to be a popular administrator
during his tenure of ten years. In 1956 he resigned and Edward Stanley was elected. The choice
of Mr. Stanley was unique in that his entire teaching experience had been in the service of M.
C. I. He came to the school in 1939, a young graduate of Bates College, and until he was
called into the service in World War II, he was an instructor in the history department. After
the war, he returned to the campus, taught history and English, coached debate, and then was
named Alumni Secretary. With this background, he was able to accept the principalship with a
better understanding of its responsibilities than most of his predecessors. He has fulfilled
the confidence the Trustees placed in him and under his leadership the school has prospered
and grown in prestige.
Early in Mr. Stanleys administration he made two important appointments. John Shields, an
Amherst graduate, came to M. C. I. with Mr. Stanley in 1939 and later taught outside the
state. He returned to M. C. I. in 1956 to become Dean of Boys and Guidance Director. He has
been an able assistant in handling administrative details of the school. Mrs. Roy Sinclair, a
graduate of the University
of Maine and a former member of the faculty, was asked to return as
Dean of Girls. It was a fine choice as she has proved to be an understanding counselor in
addition to serving as head of the Home Economics department.
In a private school the director of alumni activities is an important post and when Mr.
Stanley became Principal, his position of Alumni Secretary was filled by Mr. Dana Sweet, who
has carried on the work of that office expeditiously.
Throughout the two decades M. C. I. offered an active and stimulating undergraduate
program. There were curricular changes that broadened the elective studies and at the same
time placed greater emphasis on basic coursesparticularly in the English and science
Extracurricular activities included music, drama, public speaking, literary club work
and athletics. In competitive athletics M. C. I. was continually making the headlines. Under
Legge, Corey and Wiggin in football; Smith in baseball and later soccer; Earle and Young in
crews country and track; and Pratt and Dana in basketball, state championships became a habit.
Several times the basketball teams went to Massachusetts to compete for the New England title
and in 1958 under Mr. Dana the team came back to Pittsfield with the coveted trophy. In recent
years there has been a wider participation in athletics as a result of a policy of
diversification. In most of the boys' sports there are now both undergraduate and post
graduate schedules, while new activities have been added such as soccer, tennis, golf, skiing,
rifle, and outing club projects. The girls under the coaching of Mrs. Russell take part in
field hockey, basketball, track and Softball. In addition to all this, a physical education
program and a schedule of intramural sports make it possible for all students to take part in
some form of exercise, competitive or otherwise, unless excused for medical
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
The religious denominations shared in the resurgent spirit of these years. The dynamic Rev.
Henry Osgood was serving as pastor of the First Baptist Church as the 40s opened. He was
Rev. Sterling Helmer (19431948), Rev. Stephen Johnston
(19481954), and Rev. Bruce Cummings (19541959). During Mr. Cummings' pastorate the
100th anniversary of the church was celebrated in 1955 and a Sunday School annex was built and
dedicated in 1958 in honor of Mrs. Ralph L. Cianchette who had served for 25 years as
Superintendent of the Sunday School.
The deaths of Rev. Milo G. Folsom in 39 and the Rev. Josephine Folsom in 46 were sad
occasions for the Universalists. The Folsoms had made a very great contribution to the church
and the community. Following Mrs. Folsoms passing, Rev. Donald Hinckley, a young personable
minister, was called to serve the parish for the next ten years. Rev. Hinckley resigned in
1956 and Rev. Robert Fiske, a Seminary student, occupied the pulpit until 1958. It was during
Rev. Fiskes tenure that the property of the church underwent a major change. During the
Folsoms ministry the old Lancey Homestead had been purchased by an anonymous benefactor and
given the parish for a parsonage. It was now sold to a major oil company for a service station
and a new parsonage was acquired on the corner of North Lancey and Easy streets adjacent to
the Grammar School. It had previously been the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Younger. This
transfer provided funds for repairing and redecorating the church building. The project was
under the supervision of J. R. Cianchette and once again the property was restored to its
original beauty. At the 91st anniversary of the church it was observed that there had been
three milestones in its historyit was organized in 1867, rebuilt in 1899, and renovated in
Rev. Fiske resigned in February of 58 and in June Rev. Scott Kitteredge, who had just
graduated from the Bangor Theological Seminary, accepted the pastorate. Rev. Kittredges
ministry proved to be a hectic one. In one sense he was a victim of circumstances. He arrived
at the moment in church history when the Unitarian and Universalist denominations were about
to merge. The move had been under serious consideration for a number of years and, although
the final vote on the national level was fairly conclusive, a number of local parishes
hesitated to join the movement. The Pittsfield church was in this category.
When the question came before the Parish for declaring its position, the vote was not to
merge. A committee was then chosen to study what action should next be taken. After nearly a
year of earnest consideration, during which the heads of leading denominations appeared before
the committee, it was voted to recommend that the Parish affiliate with the Congregational
organization. The Parish accepted the committees recommendation and for a few months carried
on within the Congregational community.
As one would expect in a situation of this kind, there were disappointments and from those
disappointments frictions developed. A second meeting of the parish was called and it was
voted to rescind its former vote and to return to the Universalist faith. The result of this
decision was unfortunate since there were those who could not be reconciled to giving up their
Congregational affiliations and resigned from the parish to organize a church of their own.
The record of that effort will be recalled in the following chapter.
ST. AGNES CHURCH
These twenty years were kind to St. Agnes Parish. The beloved Rev. Leo Carey, who had
replaced Fr. Ballou in 1928, was the local priest when the era opened. At that time there were
less than 40 families. Father Girardin recalls in his excellent resume of Parish history that
1928 was the year that the Dr. Blanchard house at No. 1 North Main Street was purchased and
served as the rectory until 1962 when the church was blessed with a new rectory. It is also
stated in 1947 that some land has been purchased, a part of which one day will be used for a
rectory next to the Church and the rest will be made into a much needed parking space.
Quoting further from Father Girardins historical sketch:
Fr. Leo Carey, beloved by all, was transferred to DoverFoxcroft where he died a
short time later. Fr. Edward Lynch came from Damariscotta and took possession of St. Agnes
Parish, on September 28, 1948. For ten years, Fr. Lynch, now pastor of St. Athanasius Church
in Rumford, labored in the parish and organized societies. He put the parish on a sound
In 1958 Fr. Samuel Dougan came from Mars Hill in February, and became the third pastor of
Pittsfield. In a very short time he gained the love and respect of everyone. A parish hall was
the property during his stewardship; the Knights of Columbus were organized and much
work done on the parish properties.
On May 1, 1960 Fr. Dougan was transferred to Hallowell and Fr. Antonio M. Girardin was
appointed pastor or St. Agnes in Pittsfield.
Father Girardins stewardship will be described in the following chapter. When he took over
the parish, it had grown to nearly 200 families.
CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE
I am indebted to Mrs. Carl Emery for the following facts relating to the Church of the
Nazarene, which in its comparatively brief years of ministry has established itself as one of
our most valuable denominations. In 1949 these dedicated people purchased the Leon Moody
property at the corner of Somerset Avenue and Forest Street and for ten years worshipped
within the walls of this home which had undergone considerable renovation. In 1959 a church
edifice was erected on the property, most of the labor being furnished by members of the
congregation. It was dedicated in 1960. Carl Emery served as Chairman of the parish and Mrs.
Emery acted as Treasurer.
The first pastor was Rev. Ransford Webb who was followed by Rev. Paul Neal. Rev. Ray
Blachly and then Rev. Harley E. Bye are remembered as two very able pastors who were succeeded
by the present minister, Rev. Zaven Donhanian.
CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH
The Calvary Baptist church was organized February 11, 1952 and affiliated with the
Conservative Baptist in 1955. In 1954 they purchased the building which they now occupy on
Park Street and converted the first floor into a very serviceable place of worship. Under the
leadership of Rev. John Boone from 1952 to 1958, the denomination experienced a vigorous
growth which has continued during the pastorate of Rev. Charles Mason. During 1958 and 59 the
church provided a home for the newly organized Christian School, Inc., which later moved to a
spacious campus on the outskirts of Rockland. The Rev. Harold Duff, with the cooperation of
state leaders in the denomination, was an inspirational leader in this movement.
Today further expansion is planned for the local church on property that has recently been
purchased on Grove Hillproperty that the Episcopal group once planned to use for church
Many special events occurred between the years 1940 and 1960 that should be dealt with in
some detail, but within the limits of this brief sketch, it is impossible to do more than to
mention a few of the highlights. In the early 40s, George Roundy, a colorful proprietor
of a barber shop, a racing fan, and an ardent Legionnaire, headed a movement to improve the
Legion Hall on Manson Street. As a result of his enthusiasm, a new heating plant was installed
and the hall and dining area were redecorated. J. R. Cianchette contributed substantially to
this project. In 42 a sensational bank embezzlement involving more than a $100,000 made the
headlines. In 1952 another headline shocker went over the country when five members of the
local clergy charged immorality in our fair town. One news release quoted one of the Reverend
gentlemen as stating that the only difference between Pittsfield and Hell was that in
Pittsfield there was no river Styx! However, the accusations were not taken too seriously and
were soon forgotten. In 1951 the Waverley Bridge was rebuilt and dedicated to the memory of
the Pittsfield men and women who gave their lives in the Korean Conflict. The names of Capt.
Edward Buckley, J. Gerald McMann, and Merlon L. Killam are inscribed on a plaque placed on the
The realization that Pittsfield was getting old was brought home by three anniversary
ceremonies. 1942 marked the 75th year of the Universalist Church; in 1950 the Grange held its
75th celebration; and 1955 was the 100th anniversary year for the Baptist Church. Mr. and Mrs.
Maynard Dolloff were guests at the Grange anniversary party. Roland Wiles was Worthy Master
and Elizabeth Sobey had charge of the program. Charles R. Ames was the only 50year member
present. Others represented by proxy were Etta Libby, Porter Soule, Mrs. Annie Frost, Mrs.
Mary Willis, and Mrs. Myra Dyer. Four past masters were present: Harry Dunton, Stanley
Goodrich, Leigh Shorey, and Hartlow McLeod.
In 1947 construction of Manson Park was begun. Six years had elapsed since the death of J.
W. Manson who had bequeathed the bulk of his estate to the town of Pittsfield for a park to be
named the Mary Ann Lancey Manson Park in memory of his mother. The reason for the delay was to
allow five years of interest to accumulate sufficient funds for an architect to draw plans for
a long range program and a contractor to do the basic work in grading and outlining the thirty
acres that bordered the west banks of the Sebasticook. The committee elected to supervise the
initial steps in this project consisted of Florence Buxton, Sanger Cook, Clyde Martin, Sadie
McCrillis, and Roy Sinclair. The preliminary work was completed in the spring of 48 and the
first program was under the direction of Maurice Earle. 282 young people participated in a
schedule of games and exercises at the park and a supplemental swimming program at Sebasticook
Lake under the supervision of the Red Cross. Gradual development of the park continued.
Driveways, walks, athletic fields, picnic areas, and pools were constructed and complemented
by carefully planned landscaping to give Pittsfield a useful and attractive outdoor
recreational center. Earl Gordon was hired as Superintendent of Grounds.
In 1952, while John L. Baxter, Jr., was president of Kiwanis, the need of a swimming pool
was brought before the club. The idea grew and a committee was appointed to push the project
forward, made up of Francis Saunders, Chairman; Engineer, Guy Susi; Construction, J. R.
Cianchette, P. E. Susi; Finances, George Moore, Earle Friend, Herbert Newhouse, John McMann,
Sanger Cook; Operation, Kilborn Merrill, William Springer, Harry Coolidge, Hugh Hersey; Public
Relations, W. W. Lehr, Jr., Harry Anderson, Roy Sinclair.
In July 1953 the pool was ready for use and was dedicated. Past President Baxter presided
at these ceremonies. President Roosevelt Susi, on behalf of the Kiwanis Club, presented the
pool to the Trustees of Manson Park, and Florence Buxton, on behalf of the Trustees, accepted.
Lloyd H. Stitham, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, accepted the pool on behalf of the town.
A great deal of credit was given the contractors who contributed generously of their time and
equipment in the construction.
THE EISENHOWER VISIT
One of the outstanding events of this period was the brief visit of President Eisenhower in
1955. Probably never was so much emotion generated in so short a time. The event itself was
over in fifteen minutes, but the impact of that friendly gesture on the part of the President
will be long remembered by those who witnessed it. The background of the visit may be of some
Several months went into the planning of it. Word had gone out at the beginning of the year
that the President might spend a few days in Maine to enjoy a little fishing and relaxation.
The writer, who happened to be in Washington that winter, obtained an interview with Sherman
Adams, the Presidents Assistant, through the courtesy of Senator Smith. It was verified that
such a vacation was being discussed and that there was a possibility that, if it did
materialize, the President would at some point be in the vicinity of Pittsfield.
It wasnt until sometime in May that word was received through the office of Senator Smith
that the Chief Executive planned a vacation in Maine in the Rangeley area and that he would
visit the Senator at her home in Skowhegan on his way to the Dow Airbase where he would leave
for Washington. Knowing of our desire to welcome the President in Pittsfield, the Senator
prevailed upon the White House to arrange a detour from Route 2 at Ell Hill through our town
via Hartland Avenue, Forest Street, Central Street, Main Street, north to Grove Hill and on to
Newport and Bangor. It sounds simple, but altering plans in the Presidents itinerary is no
easy matter and without Senator Smiths wholehearted cooperation, it would have been
At this point I will turn the reader over to Sylvia Lehr's description in the Waterville
Sentinel of what followed:
Immediately, Secret Service men made an undisclosed visit here to interview Cook and Town
Manager Allen Marks.
After the route was approved by the White House, representatives from the Kiwanis Club,
Merchants' Association, municipal office and service organizations were appointed with Cook
and Lehr, who was President of Kiwanis, at its head.
The first thought was given to decorating the town. Harold Fish of Bath was hired to take
care of this detail. Merchants cooperated
by furnishing flags for their own stores. Thirty
dozen flags were purchased by Kiwanis for Brownie, Girl, Boy, and Cub Scouts to wave as the
President went by. Two huge pictures of Ike were framed under glass and displayed from the
porch of the Lancey House by J. R. Cianchette. Town maintenance crews were busy all week
cleaning streets over which President Eisenhower would pass, and home owners on the route
dressed their residences appropriately. Frank Jacob's fire department scoured their trucks to
The response of the service organizations was terrific. At the request of James Doyle of
Watcrville, Department of Maine Legion Adjutant, about a dozen units converged on Pittsfield
with their color guards.
The committee had been told that because of the tight schedule, the best we could hope for
was the Presidents car might slow down, but could not stop.
There were those, knowing Ikes inherent friendliness, who thought he might anyway. No one
knew. Dulles last minute arrival in Bangor caused concern that the President might be in too
much of a hurry to detour into Pittsfield at all.
An amplifying system kept the crowd of several thousand informed as to the progress of the
President. A twoway radio contact by State Police was established to notify the officials
when the entourage left Route 2 at Ell Hill.
The atmosphere crackled with expectation. Suddenly someone heard a siren. Cook frantically
signalled to Bill Griffin who brought the band to an abrupt halt in the middle of a rousing
march. False alarmperhaps a police siren. We waited, and the band struck up again.
Suddenly all sirens in town broke loosethe big fire department siren, the police cars and
fire trucks. The crowds cheered madly. Secret Service and State police cars bowled around the
Here they come! Cook shouted on the mike. It was only the advance patrol going through to
stop traffic at the towns north approach!
We were standing in front of the Lancey House. Suddenly a vast roar mushroomed up from
Central Street. Cook shouted, Remember, this is President Eisenhower. He doesnt come here
And there he was!
The band immediately struck up Hail To The Chief.
We had heard about his bullet proof limousine; we expected to catch a glimpse of him
sitting in his glass enclosure; that he would be wearing a conservative black or gray suit,
hatted, dignified, perhaps carrying the aloofness of his office.
But in a flash, we learned that Ikes exuberant informality and obvious delight at the
reception were his lovable badge of dignity, not his wearing apparel. Hatless, wearing a
natty, brown suit to complement his sportsmans tan, he stood up and waved vigorously, his
infectious grin captivating the hearts of everyone. He gave a military salute as he passed the
color guards, and suddenly signalled the driver to stop.
He spoke a few words to Senator Smith, who sat beside him like a princess and started to
fumble with the latch.
How do you get out of this thing, anyway? he asked.
Two S. S. men, walking beside the car, sprang to his assistance, and Ike stepped out onto
the street, completely at ease as the crowd surged forward.
Everyone was dumbfounded. Even his guards were visibly upset. Their eyes like steel, were
constantly roving back and forth over the crowd, alert for any suspicious move.
Cook boomed to the crowd, The President of the United States! and tremendous cheers and
applause vaulted back and forth through the canyon of Main Street. Tears coursed down cheeks
and someone said later, It made the back hairs stand right up on my neck!
Cook approached the President and held out the mike to one of the guards, hoping he would
hold it for the President to say a few words. The guard shook his head.
Cook didn't have long to be plagued by indecision, for Ike grabbed the mike from his hand
and with a hearty laugh, said, Are there always so many people on the streets of
Elbowed on each side by the guards, the President extended brief greetings and appreciation
for the tremendous ovation, and wished all the people Good Luck.
I haven't heard anyone who could repeat, word for word, the Presidents greeting, it all
happened so fast. He was practically pushed
into the car by the S. S. men, and, as he was
driven away, he stood up, cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted, Thanks for the gifts!
The gifts were a package of Maine streamer flies tied by Wallace Cunningham, and three
pairs of specially designed loafers from Northeast Shoe for his grandchildren. They were
attractively giftwrapped by Rose Coldwell and placed on the bureau of his dressing room
at Senator Smiths home.
After it was over, everyone felt that Ike had waved personally to him. He shouted, Hi
Father! as he passed Rev. Lynch standing near the Catholic Rectory.
Ed Stanley stood near Hathorn Park with his young daughter in his arms to catch a glimpse
of the President, admittedly impassive about the whole thing. I got so excited, I was jouncing
Marcia up and down and almost threw her into Ikes car! he said.
Others said they got a lump in their throats; some almost cried; others were choked up; and
the universal opinion was that it was a thrill of a life time.
It was indeed a thrill and a historic moment in the life of Pittsfield.
Local politics during this period, outside of school matters, did not produce any great
excitement. One or two issues aroused the interest of the voters and in one instance resulted
in constructive action. There was mild interest in a zoning ordinance, but the proposal for
doing something about our water supply brought on considerable discussion, and after careful
study, a $75,000 bond issue was authorized to replace the old wells and pumping station at
Waverley Dam. A Massachusetts firm was hired to make tests for a new water supply and after
several attempts along the esker bordering the Sebasticook, a location was discovered on lower
Peltoma Avenue about a mile out of town that would produce sufficient and satisfactory water.
A well was drilled and a pumping station constructed. It has been the consensus of the
citizens that we now have as fine a supply of good quality water as can be found anywhere.
There were several changes in the town office during these twenty years. In 1941, C. R.
Ames, who had served the town in many
capacities, was Town Manager. He resigned in 1946 and
Ray Badger was appointed in his place. Mr. Badger occupied the position for 3½ years
when he resigned to be replaced by Frank Keezer in December of 1949. Mr. Keezer, who had been
associated with Ames Baldwin Company in Palmyra, proved to be a popular and efficient Manager.
He died suddenly in 1953 and Allen M. Marks became Town Manager. In 1956, Mr. Marks moved to
another position and O. Lionel Pomroy was appointed to the office. Although Mr. Pomroy had had
no previous experience as a town manager, he was popular and capable. As the decade ended, he
resigned to accept a more lucrative position with the city of Brewer.
As an indication of how smoothly town affairs were carried on during this period, we read
that at the 1947 meeting 54 articles in the town warrant were taken care of in 55 minutes! It
seems to be the rule that when times are good, politics are dull.
There were many interesting personal items in the news during this period. Lloyd Stitham
was elected County Attorney, but was unable to serve because of being called into the armed
services. Later, he was reelected several times and ably served the county. Dr. M. A.
Webber, first president of Kiwanis and the only president to hold the office for two terms,
was honored by being chosen Lieutenant Governor of the Ninth District. Earl Banks in 1942 was
elected Grand Patriarch of the Grand Encampment of Maine, and the same year Phillip Young,
according to The Pittsfield Advertiser, became engaged to movie actress Dorothy
McGuire. In 1945, Joe Shuman was honored by the War Production Board by being named a most
cooperative dealer in scrap metal. Also in 1945, Aubrey B. Call resigned as caretaker of the
cemeteries, thereby bringing to a close 77 years of consecutive service for the Call
In the professional field, there were several changes. Karl V. Anderson, M.D. came to
Pittsfield in 1946, but shortly left to join the staff at the Veterans Administration at
Togus; Ernest Stein, M. D. moved here from Stockton Springs in 1952, purchased the former S.
R. Haines residence on Main Street, and has carried on an active practice. Warren G. Strout,
M. D. opened an office for a short time and
then moved to Bangor to become a member of the
Eastern Maine General staff. Stanley H. Short, D. D. S. practiced for a brief time and Elias
R. Nawfel, D. D. S. opened his offices in the bank block. Robert Parker, Doctor of Optometry,
opened an office at his home on Main Street in 1947. Marshall Gerrie, Doctor of Osteopathy,
had his office at his home on Railroad Street and after a few years of successful practice
moved to Waterville to become associated with the Osteopathic Hospital of that city. He served
as president of Kiwanis in 1948. John Woodcock, D. V. M. located on Somerset Avenue in 1949
and served most of the area throughout Sebasticook Valley. Recently, he gave up his private
practice to accept a position with the state.
Among the farmers, Halle Grant and Harry Dunton were in the news quite often because of
their fine herds of dairy cows. Herbert Newhouse, after graduating from M.C.I., in 1923,
joined his father in farming and in a very few years became one of the outstanding poultry
producers of Maine. Twice in his farming career he has sold his poultry interests, but each
time returned to build a larger and more modern plant. Following a spectacular fire in 1961
that destroyed his poultry house, he erected one of the largest and finest plants in the
industry. After several years of successful operation, he sold the business to his son,
George, who today is carrying on in the tradition of his father.
Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Vigue made a success of raising turkeys. They built a wholesale and
retail business that became well known throughout the state. For awhile, they operated on the
Halle Grant farm and then, following a fire, they built a modern establishment on Route 2.
Since Mrs. Vigue's death, Mr. Vigue has carried on the business alone.
During the 40s, Ralph Cianchette was appointed deputy sheriff, W. C. Francis was pitching
the Pittsfield ball team to tricounty championships, Sally Friend became Miss Pittsfield
and went on to become runnerup for Miss Maine. Roy Sinclair was elected president of the
Maine Good Roads Association, Kilborn Merrill was getting his Boy Scouts ready for a big
jamboree at Gettysburg, and Father Leo Carey, in 1948, was given a farewell testimonial at the
Grange Hall as he left Pittsfield for DoverFoxcroft.
Probably Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Brooks have received more personal publicity than any other
family in Pittsfield. Their remarkable
all girl family got nation wide attention as their
twelfth and thirteenth child came along. Sponsored trips to New York, Life Magazine feature
stories, and newspaper publicity made them nationally famous. The arrival of Leslie Benjamin
in 1954 took the spotlight off their Snake Root Road home and allowed them to live a more
normal life. Occasionally, however, as one of their pretty daughters becomes a bride,
reminiscences are in order.
Many well known faces passed from the scene during these two decades. Among those were, in
1940, Frank Fairbanks, J. E. McMichael, Mrs. William Hunnewell, and Harry Condon. In
1941, E. D. Call, Russell Craig, J. W. Manson, E. N. Shaw, and J. N. Tarbell. 1942, Andrew
Younger and Perley J. Whitten. 1943, Dr. F. H. Freeman, L. M. Knight, and David Manock. 1944,
Earl Tucker, William McGilvery, Dorothy Drake Haseltine, and Charles H. Bussell. 1947, James
Lagorio. 1948, Dr. William Cargill and Professor Landman, former Principal of M. C. I. 1954,
Clayton Courser, Thomas A. Anderson, Royal Grover. 1956, Clarence Emery, former outstanding M.
C. I. athlete, who died at his home in Dixfield. 1957, Charles R. Ames and Bernard Conroy.
Thus concludes a chapter which tells a story of unusual progressresurgence in industry, in
education, in spiritual life and in youth activities. Nearly every phase of our community life
seemed to move ahead as a result of new thinking and new strength that characterized the early
40s. The momentum of that drive continued as we entered the 60s and a new generation accepted
the responsibilities of leadership.