Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 1:30pm

The guest speaker at the Rotary meeting last week was Deborah Gould, a Maine author whose “The Eastern: Early Years” was a 2016 Maine Literary Awards finalist. Deb told the Rotary club how the novel came to be written – and how our own Mike Thompson’s family is involved.

In the 1990s, Deb explained, she purchased a 200-year-old farmhouse in East Pittston, Maine. In due course, she checked the County Courthouse for deeds relating the house’s previous owners; this led her to a better understanding of the small community of farmers along the road throughout the 19th century. At some point she was smitten.

She followed up with more research by reading the local newspaper via microfilm at the library, and by checking out the 19th century agricultural censuses which listed all crops, livestock, and more. And then – in an event that proved remarkably serendipitous – while rummaging through a junk store she found an old pocket diary dating from the early 1960s that had been written by one of the inhabitants in the area.

Eventually she sat down to write a book about the community she had inherited through her purchase of the house and come to think of as her own. She calls her book a novel – and certainly her main characters’ purposes and personality are of her invention – but all of the people and places discussed in the book are real and the events she describes really happened and are backed up by her research. The result is “The Eastern: Early Years,” which takes the reader through the lives of the families who lived in East Pittston in the community along the Eastern River from the 1820s to the Civil War. That book has since been followed by Book II, which brings the families through World War I.

And oh, yes! Deborah lives in the Thompson House in East Pittston, and our own Mike Thompson is related to the Thompsons in question. Deb and Mike think they are illegitimate eighth cousins. Or something.

Deb graciously signed copies of her books for interested Rotarians. But if you missed the book sale and signing, never fear: Copies are available at Sherman’s and online.

Earlier, the evening began with multiple announcements:

This coming Thursday, Sept. 5, there will be a meeting of the International Committee at 5:30 p.m. at the Clubhouse to respond to several requests for funding that have already been received. Please let chair Margi Spratt know that you will be there – and also let her know if you are interested in being on the committee but can’t make next week’s meeting. Later in the month, she plans a potluck to more closely discuss committee thoughts and goals.

And Ingrid Merrill brought us up-to-date on Eat Well, Play Well, our $30,000 grant to build raised beds at Edgecomb Eddy, and which we are working on in partnership with the Y. On Thursday, Sept. 26 our “regular” meeting will be an off-site to build out the beds. There will be jobs for everyone – talented carpenters and thumb-hitters alike, and a barbecue dinner will be available.

Hometown Heroes will take place at Spruce Point Inn on Thursday, Sept. 12. Speaker will be Thomas Judge, the executive director of LifeFlight Maine, who will tell us about this vital service. Hometown Heroes itself is our club’s response to 9/11; it is a way to thank all our First Responders annually, and to raise some money to help out with their organizations’ otherwise unfunded needs.

Our annual Veterans Appreciation Night will be held Thursday, Nov. 7. Our speaker from Wreathes Across America will be sharing with us how one Mainer’s good idea has become a national event. Be there!

Foster Stroup reminded us that club meetings only work when we all “volunteer” for housekeeping assignments, so sign up early and often. If you don’t know what a job really entails, don’t worry: there is a description of each job posted on the bulletin board next to the name tags.

And Jonathan Tindal, serving as 50/50 raffle man, pulled his own winning ticket. Much hilarity ensued, but since Jonathan was doing double-duty as Sergeant-at-arms, he immediately fined himself heavily and much of the winnings returned to the club. Thank you, Jonathan!

Interested in learning more about Rotary and how you can be part of our fellowship and the good work we do in the community? Talk to any Rotarian or drop by our Rotary building any Thursday. The party is well underway by 6 p.m.; dinner is served at 6:30 and we finish up around 8. Join us!