Int: Well hello Mr. McLaughlin. Thank you for letting us talk with you.
Bernard: You’ll ask me questions?
Int. What ever works out. Why don’t we just say what can you tell us about yourself to start out with?
Bernard: Well I come from Limestone Maine, in the Northern part of the state, in ’36, and I happened to meet my wife in business college. I took a business course and we met there. We were married in ’36.
Her father’s name was Captain Fredrick C. Tribou and he bought this place (McLaughli n home and grounds) in 1893 and hoth he and Mrs . Tribou lived here until they died. He died in ‘ 28 and she in ‘ 35 . Irena was the only child.
He was captain on the ” Cloud Nine , freight . And he was very deaf due to the seas, like so many of them are and he wanted to settle down away from ‑the sea. He was borned ( sic) in Bucksport.
He had a man in town ‑ you could trust people in those days ‑ buy thi s place for him. He told him what he would ] like and he picked out the place for him and it’ s been kept up very well.
Int: What were the grounds like then, when you first saw i t?
B: That was all a hayfield, when the garden was started. Well I had an asparagus patch out here in the garden (where the flower garden is) and of course a vegetable garden. And then I started raising flowers. I was interested in Irises (sic) and wildflowers and perenniels, and so I had quite a co]lection of iris at one time, but I’ve whittled that down.
And thru the years, there have been thousands through the garden. In the last 3 years ‑ well in ’88 there was over 2 thousand and in ’87 there was over 3 thousand. And in ’86 tjere was 1500. And from then on down. But I’ve had people here for 45 years, coming to see the garden.
It’s a naturalistic garden. And mylane (shady wildflower land) is very nice. I’m very proud of that. So many think so much of it, hou know: nature plants and ferns, siprapediums (sp?).
Int: I imagine you loved it so much that you kept adding to it every year?
B: Yes ‑ I added by degrees. I did gardening work on P~ris Hill for quite a few years. I had quite a few gardens to do, and the cemetary up there and then I worked in a grocery store in Norway ‑ Jacksonls Market ‑ that sold select food. TheY cut their own meat.
Before that I worked at the shipyard three years in South Portland and then when that let up I worked at Burnham ~ Morrills here in Paris. I was foreman there, for 3 or 4 years. I worked summers at Jacksons. Then the last 21 years I worked steadY there. And I retired in l67.
Int: I imagine you were putting a lot of time into your garden before and after You went to work in those days.
B: Yes; we used to leave at 12 o’clock noon, and get back about 1 o’clock
in the morning ‑ on the busses ‑ but I had the garden pretty well under control. After I retired, I straightened out a lot of things that I didn’t have time to before. It’s quite a job doin’ the garden you know w~t T mean? Of course I’ve increased it since I retired.
And workin’ in the shiPYard ‑ we’d qet back at 1 am; I’d be up early in the morning and have my breakfast and I’d go out and work (garden) till 11 and I’d come in and have my lunch. When the weather was good I worked every day. I didn’t mind it. It was a kind of a relaxation.
There’s something about a garden; it’s a great therapy ‑‑‑you know? in so many ways. There’s somethin’ about it. Once I get my hands in the dirt I feel like anotherperson, ha.
Int: I found that the first time in the Spring I get my hands in the dirt it’s just wonderful…
B: There’s something about it. Once I get my hands in the dirt I feel like another person. There was a lady in Norway ‑ Mrs. Pike ‑ she was a great gardener. And she was that way. When she got her hands in the dirt, in the spring, she was all set; ha ha. A lotta people wouldn’t understand that perhaps, but there’s somethin’ about it.
Int: I think it’s connection maybe; a connection with the earth, with the universe.
B: Yeah’ And I never get very tired. I used to work 12 or 14 hours, ha,
after I retired ‑ in the garden ‑ and I didn’t mind it at all. Well’ ‑ I can put in 10 hours now~ or 12 if I have to, you know~ and of course ‑my wife died 8 years ago. Before that I worked in hotels in the South, for 5 or 6 years, and I enjoyed that. I liked to cook and my wife was an excellen‑t cook. But when I’d get a meal she’d appreciate it so you know, and whenever we entertained, she looked after the linnens and the silver and I did the cooking. It was easier for me to do than it was for h~r but she would have done it alright, ’cause she was a very ‑ wonderful person, very thorough. Everything had to be just so which she liked and I liked; I like things to be right.
Int: Well your gardens certainly show that very much; they’re work of art and they’re just right.
B: Of all the compliments that people give, you know, ‑ they don’t have to say anything, but I know they appreciate it. I get cards from people. I’ve had ’em from every state in the union, and abroad and uhh, I know they’re sincere in what they say, you know? they’re not just sayin it. They don’t have to say anything. If they enjoy it ‑‑‑that’s my pleasure.
Last spring ‑ a lot of people get the spiritual effect of the garden. The word “heaven” is used more than any other word. And uh, there was a man out to the north side of the barn here, enjoying the Primulas, I’d say he was about 75. And there was another group close to ‘im, but I was up just about 20 or 25 feet from ‘im with another group, and I heard him say: “This is heaven'”
They use it in so many different ways. And what I mean, I’m just saying that because when a man, expresses himself about floweres, ho, it’s quite unusual. They appreciate ’em but they’re not apt to say too much about ’em…Another word they use is “Paradise
Int This (your gardens) has got to be heaven ’cause what could be better?
B: My cousin, died in the garden August the 8th. He was 74. He loved the garden. And I went out at lunch time to see where he was ‑‑‑I found him dead. ‘Twas an awful shock, but we were talking two, three months before about dyin’ in the garden you know? I said well what
better place could you die, you know what I mean? And he loved that garden, more than I did I guess. He took great interest in it. He was retired from Great Northern Paper.
Int: I talked with him several times. I’d bring friends over and he loved to talk so much.
B: O H ‘ He forgot that people had, ha ha, limited time, ha ha. He met the people very well. Everybody loved him’ They really did. He was a good man, a good Christian man. He didn’t drink, he didn’t swear; he was about perfect as anyone could be. He was kind; he was very compassionate. I still get solicitations from all these charities ‑ the (American) Indians and, well I get two and three a week’ Still get ’em. He was very very qood fellow.
Int: He had a sweetness about him and a real briqhtness.
B: Oh he did‘ People always ‑ when they’d write to me they’d always say, “remember me to Cyrril.” (sp) I was surprised he’d do so well cause he wasn’t too familiar with gardening. He came here after he’d retired and said, “I’ve got to have something to do’ I’ll work for you for nothing.” I says, “no, you won’t work for rothing but of course I can’t pay you the wages you got at Great Northern.”
He came down in the Spring and he was ‑ there was something botherin’ him ‑ I dont know what it was ‑ and he wasn’t himself, and I said, “Cyrill, if you want to stay here you’re welcolm to stay” SO he was tickled to death. So he sold his trailer and moved down. He was with me the past 3 years, Summer’n Winter.
Int: I remember one thing he told me: I wanted a gasplant so bad after seeing
yours; he says, ‘that thing might give you a rash like poison ivy. You have to avoid touching it.
B: Yeah, he couldn’t ‑‑ I can’t work around it. I keep away from it if I’m perspiring…I told him in the beginning to keep away from it but he’d invariably get it ‘cha know? And I haven’t had it, but last year I got it, some way. I must have accidently hit a plant or something, you know, ’cause I was very careful around it.
My garden is a naturalistic garden, it all works; I have something in bloom from the middles of May until the ground freezes.
Int: I noticed that. I try and do that myself now, after seeing it here. You know ‑ obviously you know this: you inspire other people to be artful with their lives and what they do and with their gardens of course.
B: Well so many said ha ha, that I was an inspiration, ha ha ha ha.
Int: Take your Trillium, I can’t imagine how your Trillium grows so well. I wondered if you hybrid them or ‑ I see so many of them like a clump’
B: Well the Trillium Grandiflorum ‑ the white one ‑ I started that with one plant’ Because they seed redily if the soil is favorable you know, and the birds carried ’em all across the land. I have about 5 or 6 kinds of Trillium very interesting. But the white is really, like an orchid to me.
Int: It is; It’s maqnificent.
B: …I can’t get enough of outdoors. I enjoy outdoors. When my wife was living, up to the last, she used to go out there to eat. The last 3 or 4 years she didn’t wanna walk that far so we had our lunch every good day in the summer behind the rock garden.
Int: Oh wonderful
B: Yeah’ She enjoyed it till the last. I told her once I said “I’m goin to have a garden and we’re going to have interesting things in it so that when we get old, we won’t have to travel to see other gardens. Well ha ha, I accomplished it before she died. Oh we had a lotta ‑ she was so proud of the garden.
I belong to the International Lillac Society and I was awarded in ’87 I’ll show it to you.
Int: Oh yes (reading the award): “President’s award is presented to Bernard W. McLaughlin, South Paris Maine for his supurb collection of lillacs whi~h he grows to perfection in a garden of companion plants, including choice elements of North American flora. For opening his garden to the public r for enjoyment and education, for his continuing support of the Society.” That’s wonderful and this plack has a statue on it of three lillacs in a vase.
Bernard: Last year ‑‑‑did you see my lillacs?
Int: Yes, I did.
Bern: Well last year they were the best the best they’ve ever been. They’ve always been good but it was a lillac year last year. I’m very fond of ’em. Of course I like everything but iris and lillacs are two of my specialties…
Int: They give off such a heavenly smell too; the lillacs. I’m using that word again’
B‑ Oh people go by ‑ I’ll meet ’em in the store or somethin’; they say:
“When we went by all we could smell was lillacs'” ha ha ha. Oh yes, it wonderful fragrance.
Int: I guess I remember reading or hearing that the lillacs were one of the first plants that the early colonial settlers brought over here; been here since the 1600’s.
B: And the beauty of it is they love our New England weather..I’m not going to worry Ibout the garden ’cause that will spoil it, you know? If I don’‑t qet ’em’ cut I don’t get ’em cut. ‘Cause I don’t have time to do everything. My son is going to mow the lawns. Maybe I can get him, if he’s not too busy, to cut the florets (?) off that ‘ave gone by.
Vernon McFarlain: Bernard of course is a regular member of our Twin Town Nature Club and he’s already agreed to present a program at our Founders’ Day Annual Meeting, this coming November…
Bernard: …You know Roses are too much work, for what you get: spraying and dusting and pruning. And you have to cut ’em way back in the Spring. On Paris Hill there was a woman who wanted her roses and she’d lose 75 percent of ’em but she’d want to replace ’em, year after year. There’s a lot of different roses. The old fashioned roses are vary loverly…our native wild rose along the seacoast is very nice, for what it is.
Int: The Cushmans at Gingerbread Farm were selling a rose I got; it comes from Canada so it’s got to be hardy ‑ “Betty Prior”. It has a very flat flower petal.
B: Oh I’ve raised that. That’s a Floribunda, yeah. They had a scarlet one ‑ I had two. They were both single; very pretty though…I have the Fairy Rose…It’s a little pink rose but they’re in clusters. Small but it’s very attractive; twas just loaded last summer.
I have a Yellowood tree and it’s bloomed different years, but last year it was a sight to behold’ It’s about 45 ‑ 50 feet high. It has white pendulant flowers like Wysteria. Was that beautifu~’
…I usually send to specialists, you know, for different things: Daylillys, and primulas and Iris. You always get better things from a specialist than you do from the nurserys. There’s a fellow up in Newburgh, his name is P~oger Luce. He has thousands of Primulas. I suppose maybe he has the largest collection of Primulas in New England ‑ Beautiful’ All the kinds and all the colors. He made 2,3 trips to China to get seed~ of Magnolias and rare Azelleas and he planted this yellow magnolia seed and it bloomed last year for the first time. Sixteen years, he had to wait for it. Those that saw it said it’s very lovely…
Int: I have a smoke bush that never seems to bloom.
Bernard: I had the purple leafed smoke bush, which is a beautiful accent plant, but it never.blooms. I have to cut it back two feet every year… One year it had one bloom, that’s the only year. But I don’t care if it don’t (sic) bloom; I don’t care too much for the bloom anyway.
Int: Were you interested in nature when you were a child?
B: Well we had a nice hardwood woods. It was always a pleasure. I enjoyed nature naturally. My cousins lived in Fort Packer (?) that was about 4 or 5 miles from home. And they had a beautifull hardwood ‑idge. And we’d go through that woods. That was the first time I ever saw Hepaticas. There were two big clumps about that far across of the lavender and that stimulated my, interest. And another time when I was in the 7th grade, I think it was, we had a teacher who was a very nice fellow. His name was Brown and he had one arm. And so when I went down to my cousin’s there was a little lake about a half mile from where they lived, called it Mud Lake, and that was full of Pitcher Plants. So we were takin’ Botany so I picked some of ’em and brought ’em to school and he (teacher) was so thrilled with ’em and made such a time over ’em~ well I thought, ha ha ‑‑ that started me off again ‑ ha ha. You’re familiar with the pitcher plant? Did you ever see the blossom? Oh it’s handsome
One of our flower shows was one of our ladies had an arrangement with the blossom of the Pitcher Plant. Beautiful. Well that inspired me, you know? That little attention. I thought how’wonderful when anyone takes notice of things like that, even then. But he was very sincere.
(after describing the overcrowded Saco flower show)
…You know I don’t like crowds. You know I don’t like to be pressed. To me it isn’t worth it. Did you ever go the the Isabella Gardner M1lc~‑lm?
Int: Yes I did
B: That is a ‑ one of the most worthwhile places to see in Boston’ I thought that was wonderful…It’s a living museum. And they have the conservatory…
Int: This makes me want to ask you if you had otherartistic leanings besides plants and horticulture in Your life
B: I would have liked to have taken lessons painting when I was younger, you know. Yes, because I appreciate art. I enjoy it ‑ good art.
Int: Are you a music lover also?
B: Oh yes’ Classical. Good classical music. I like Beethoven. I think he’s tops. Oh I like Rachmaninov and, oh there’ a lot of ’em I like. I like symphonies and I like solos ‑ piano solos and cello solos; I enjoy those too, very much. Yes, I enjoy the better things of life, you know what I mean?
Int: Are you a lover of sunrises and sunsets and beautiful cloud formations as as well and when you’re in the garden can you also the sky and
~: Oh yes’ Yes’ Oh I dont miss anything’ Sometimes the clouds are tinged~ you know, pink. And sunsets, oh I’ve seen some beautifulsunsets’ My father was ill, oh it must be over fifty years ago so I went up in November. Then you had the train. You could go down to Lewiston and get on the flying Yankee at 4 o’clock and you’d be in Cafribou at 11. Which was wonderful service ‑ it’s a long ways up there. You changed at Northern Maine Junction. Then, as you went along Mt. Kathadin was covered with snow. It was a purple, one of those purple sunsets, purple haze. I’ll never forget that. That was one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen. The sun was just setting and you had that light, it was ‑ you’d have to see it to ‑ some things are indescrible they’re so beautiful.
Int: Well I’m wondering if you get a little sad when the gardening season is coming to an end. Does it make you a little sad when the fl~w~s go into their winter slee~?
B: No, I take the seasons as they come, and as they go. I mean I work right up as long as the ground isn’t frozen. You know one year Vernon (Vernon McFarlin) I rototilled my garden the 12th of December.
Vernon: Yea~ I can believe it. I was just wondering too if you have any whtch hazel out there Bernard? That will blossom in the Arboretum in February.
B: No I don’t have any. I do have the May Flower Viburnum. That’s the first thing to bloom. Has the fragrance of the Mayflower. And, oh yes, the February Daphne (?) Daphnee, then the Mayflower Viburnam and then after that it’s a riot of color from then on.
Vernon: Somebody to]d me that you furnish flowers for your church every SundaY, is that so?
B: I’ve done it for about 50 years, in the summer yea. Uh they took up collections this winter, in the church, for the flowers ‑ $25 a vase, each individual in memory of their family or somethin’. Well my gory’ Easter they over did it. They had so many lillys, and other things besides, it was crowded I thought. I did tell one of the persons I said, “what bad taste” I says, “crowdin’ all that stuff in there.” You know, I like a little dignity~I like flowers, like anybody, but I don’t like to see ’em crowded.
Int: Have you done this for one church mainly?
B: Yea. But if a church asked me for arrangements ‑ other churches I mean, I’d give ’em you know. OR If they’re havin’ a supper, some of the other churches, oh yes’ I share my flowers with people.
2nd S E S S I O N with Steffi Butts
STATEMENT ON FAMILY HISTORY
B: …(Capt. Tribou) went to sea when he was 14 years old as most of the young people along the coast did. He was from Bucksport. He finally was made captain in New York. He got his liscense as a Captain and he went on to the Clyde Line ‑ the freight part of it and he did that for several years. And he became very deaf, before he retired and he wanted to move away from the coast… Mrs Tribou was an artist, she painted all these paintings. She did that crane there. Of course it was a cop~ from a calendar.
Their daughter (his wife) Rena was born in May in 1894 and she graduated from the local schools and worked in the Red Cross in World War I. Then she went to business college in Portland and that’s when I happened to meet her. After she got through there she worked at the Registry of Deeds for several vears.
I was brought up on a farm in Limestone, Maine. I worked there until about 1920 and I took a business course at Shaws in Portland, and then I went back. I farmed for quite a few years. I enjoyed the farm in every way. that’s why my interest in growing things. I had quite an experience. I got a job in a bank after I got through at Shaws (college) and I worked there four years…They wanted me to stay but I refused to. I said I wouldn’t take the girl’s place that was ‘head a me. (been there longer) So then I went South and I worked in several of the hotels in the South ‑ in Palm Beach and Saint Augustine and on Miami Beach. Then I came North and I worked in a private hotel in Vermont for 5 or 6 years and then we were married in 1936. And we had a nice life together. It was a very pleasant life. And locally I worked at Jackson’s Market 21 years and I worked at the canning factory as foreman on the corn line (B & M). I worked there three years and then I worked in the ship yard and we rode a hundred miles a day to and from work and it was after that I worked at Jackson’s store in Norway.
And I belong to the American Iris Society ‑ I don’t belong to many societies but I belong to the (Twin Town) nature club; the American Iris Society; and the International Lillac Society and I did at one time belong to the Hosta Society. I have received awards from the iris society in all their divisions for different things…
After I retired in ’67 I’ve gardened exclusively. I have a good assort ment of plants, some are rare and I have a wild garden and I have some interesting trees.
Int: When your last bloom goes in the fall what do you do for stimulation and enioyment ‑ in the winter?
B: Well, when you have a home to keep up there’ always something to do. I’ve had a painter here this spring. He did all the ceilings downstairs~ painted ’em 2 coats and I had the kitchen, bathroom and diningroom all done the same. That keeps you plenty busy, movin’ things around. Then I read a lot. And I have some social activities, you know.
Theere’s four of us play bridge and we take our turns entertaining. We serve a luncheon, or a supper ‑ whatever it is. In the wintertime it’s usually a luncheon so they don’t have to drive after dark. Oh yea, I have quite a few associations which are interesting. Lotta good people.
Int: Do you mind if I ask what you enjoy reading?
Bernard: I don’t read any fiction. I did read Anthony Adverse, and ha ha ha I read a Doctor of the old School. That was in Scotland. That was from the Wolcott reader; beautiful story. Somethin’ you’d never forget to think of what the doctors are today. I had quite a few (doctor) associations. I mean before I was born, mother thought she was expecting so my father went up and got his mother ‑ she just lived about half a mile up the road to come and stay with her.
Then he went on horseback. That was in February ‑ 20 miles, 20 below zero, to get the doctor. No phones then, of course, ha ha. I’m an old timer’ ha ha. And he got out there ‑ he said he wasn’t a bit cold; mother knit his wollen underwear. And he got to the doctor’s and just as he got there‑the doctor drove in a double hitch. So he told him the situation. Well the doctor says, “You start back and I’ll pass you on the way in.
So he did. And when father was about half way home ‑ 10 miles distance the doctor passed him and came home and examined mother and everything was allright for another week. So he started back and when father was about 2 miles from home he met him and told him to come and get him in another week, ha ha. So he went through that process twice. So that’s the kind of doctors (we had) Oh he was a wonderful doctor if there ever was one.
So I associate those things with some of the things I read in bygone days, you know? What they went through.
Int: Do you have other strong memories about your childhood there in Limestone? What was it like being a young 1~ a farm there?
B: Well, we had wonderful parents. They didn’t buy anything they couldn’t afford. That was their rule. They had a small mortgage on the farm they bought, but that was it. And father was a good provider and my mother was a good cook. What I do remember is the good food growing up. No ~unk food you know. Good home food’ And we raised our beef, and our pork and had hens and we had everything’
And preserving fruits in the summer ‑ strawberries, rasberries, plentiful; the fields were full of ’em. Wild, nothing like ’em. You don’t get em today of course. It’s really a royal dish, strawberries and cream.
1 like to eat and I’m quite critical nowadays about some of the food you get.
Steffi: Did y~u do lots of work on the farm?
B: Oh yesi that’s what I was gonna (say) You’ll have to prompt me ’cause I forget ha. Growing up you had your chores to do; lug in the wood, and carry the water. We didn’t have water in the house at that time. Later we had a pump, a windmill and a pump, but before that we hauled the water from the spring brook.
I used to let the cattle out to go down to the spring brook to drink, everyday. ‘Course I didn’t do that when I was goin’ to school…And when we was 12 years old we worked in the potatoe field. Weeding, you know. Take everything out by the roots; all the thistles out by the roots, not (just) cut them off ha ha. And there wasn’t any witch grass. Our potatoe fields were clean, just like a garden. Those that farmed~ that’s the way the fields were. There wasn’t weeds. You took care of ’em before they went to seed.
And then of course there was the cultivating with the horses, and hoeing, with the horses. And then there were cows to milk, night and morning, and seperate the milk and feed the pigs ha ha. There was all those jobs ha ha that you have on the farm.
Int: With all that drudgery in all the work on the farm, some might think you would end up hating gardening and weeding and taking care of plants because you had to do it as a chore in childhood.
B: You had to love ‑‑ You had to love nature’ to do it. Of course lots think that’s drudgery. I never considered it drudgery at any time’ Long days, sometimes 12, 15 hours, in the busy season. I was awful healthy ‑ maybe that was the reason. But I could work all day and come home in the evening and after the chores were done, work in the vegetable garden. I always had a good vegetable garden to home. You’d think anyone would be tired of it but I never was’ I just wanted to grow things
Int: And you felt that way ever since you were a small boy?
B: yeah, yep. I just loved it and I told you about the pitcher plant? You see at that time you had a lot of good friends but they weren’t too knowlegeable about a lot of things and I had cousins that were who took a great interest in nature…’course you had encouragement, you had the knowledge of how to grow potatoes, the chemicals used and everything like that you had to use, and know how to mix ’em and so forth. And it’s really quite an involved operation, if you do it right.
Steffi: Do you think that your love of nature is why you’re so interested in the conservation groups and conserving nature?
B: Well of course. That’s all a part of nature; your fertili~er, your dressing; it’s all a part of nature. You’ve got to do it if your gOing to have anything…Everything is a part of nature when you get right down to it.
INT: I think also what Steffi’s trying to say is that we understand that you’ve been involved with some conservation groups and some nature clubs trying to help the environment survive.
B: I do it right here. Yes; you know the Ginko tree? It’s supposed to be the oldest living tree known to man. They thought it was extinct and they discovered it in an isolated province in China. I have one out here at the corner of the driveway. It has a little fan shape leaf; this is the male tree and in the fall, when the time is right, after a frost every leaf drops in one day.
B: And there was some Harvard scientists ‑ perhaps you’ve read about that ‑ that simulated medicine from the ground nuts and the leaves of the female tree. They have produced a medicine they think there’s quite (good) prospects for. That just happened a year ago next spring
Then I have a rare Sipropedium (?). It’s native to Maine but there’s
only one large habitat, and that’s in North Western Wisconsin which the Nature Conservancy is going to take over and preserve for future generations. And then I have others: some rare ferns…I have quite a few things that are kinda good…
Vernon: I know him as an active member of the Twin Town Nature Club. He’s been on our Grove committee and he’s helped in other ways. You know about Ordway Grove I imaqine?
Int: Yes I do.
Vernon: That belongs to the Nature Club. It’s listed with the State Planning Office as one of the so called ‘critical areas’ because of the old growth white pines there.
Int: That’s a beautiful place. I’ve taken some of my students over there and the’ve come out a different person than they went it’ They really have. If I had known (to expect that) I would have interviewed them (on tape) you know? ha. It’s just so inspiring.
Bernard: The Nature Conservancy in the state of Maine let the nation last year… They bought a lot of rare areas. I belong to the Nature Conservancy and I received a portfolio of what they had done in Maine. It sounds like an exaggeration but it’s true.
Int: They were acquirinq and protectin~ areas?
Vernon We (Twin Town Nature Club) made contributions and support various larger organizations
Steffi: Do you think you should be doing more~?
Vernon: No, not really.
Steffi. Well it sounds like you certainly do that with paying the tuition for kids to go to programs (like the Conservation Camp).
Vernon: Yes that is a very important activity.
Int: What are your feelings about the future of this Planet? What would you say to people who say we’re worried; there and acid rain. What do you feel about it?
Bernard: I think it’s one of the most dangerous things that’s facin’ the country. You take your nuclear wastes ‑ they don’t know what to do with it; don’t take care of it; no place to put it’ That’s one of the worst’ There’s a lot of others. Like the government lettin’ the Yellowstone National Park there, lettin’ those fires rage throuqh there.
Now this isn’t pollution out here (pointing to where street meets his
lawn) but ‑ I kept this lawn along the street although it’s some railroad property that belongs to the town ‑ for fifty four years’‑ it was presentable. Well, they put that curbing in there, and I’m sensitive to those thi~s because I like things right. I’m not criticizing the curbing, but they brought in loam and they brought in a load of weeds hay, you know, and put it on there. They seeded it down but, the grass couldn’t grow. We weeded four days out there last year. I said this year it can go to hell; I’m not going to bother with it. They use it for a sidewalk; there’s sand all over the area. I seeded it down and fertilized it last fall and that’s gonna be it’ I’11 keep it mowed if it comes up but if it don’t, I’m just gonna’ let it go. I’ve done it for 54 years and it looked good and everything.
oh yes, your pollution is a prodigeous question’ The loons are endangered, you know, now ’cause of acid rain. Fish ‑‑affects the fish and they live on fish.
Steffi: What do you think about that Alaska oil spill?
Bernard: Well of course that was dastardly. There’s no excuse for that. You know Exxon, lettin’ a man ~hat had been driving under the influence of licquor; there are two charges against him. Bein’ captain of a ship ??
Steffi: Yeah, you’re right’
B: What are you gonna do? Things like ‑ it’s just like your savings and loan; we’ll go from one thing to the other’ You know, EVERYTHING is wrong’ These people that are ahead of these things’ What are they doin’? Lendin’ money when they shouldn’t.
Steffi: So scurrulous’
Bernard: Those things: My people were always solvent. They raised a big family. There was six of us (kids) and my mother’s mother in the family; there was nine (altogether). All went to school. They all graduated from seminaries or academies.
Yeah that is ‑ I think water is going to be one of our most important things. It _ the most important irrespective, but it’s narrowing down.
Steffi: Do you consider hunger one of our biggest problems?
Bernard: Well that’s another one. It’s here now and it’s gonna be worse. There’s so many problems you almost think anyone’s a pessimist; but there’s no getting away from it.
Steffi: It’s a snowball effect, I guess.
B: Look at that little boy that was killed in Central Park; and all the murders we have in this state. Wh we have our share of ’em’
Int: If you had a change to gather a representative of everyone in the world on your property here…to give them a me~sage on waking up to these things, how would you put it? What would you say?
Bernard: Well, it’s imponderable. You have to be an optimist) or else iqnore it.
Int:We do that, don’t we?
B: Yeah. But I’m sensitive to all those things. I’m not a pessimist. But your common sense tells you: you’re readin’ what you read. I mean my reading of things like that.
Steffi: Was your wife a conservationist?
Bernard: What? She was a Universalist.
Steffi: I mean was she in to conservinq the environment?
Bernard: Oh yes…She did everything right. She ate the right things, cooked the right things (but we used to ~.ave fr~cting on our cake once in a while ha ha.
Steffi: Ohhhh; every once in a while.
Bernard: Oh yes, she was a good person.
Steffi: Did she help you in the garden a lot?
B: No, she enjoyed the garden as much as I did and she often said she ~wished her people could see it you know? See what I had done with it ‑ the hayfield. She would never say a word against anybody. She might say, “Well you wanna watch them” but that’d be it, ha.
Int: Well there’s always the question of asking a great man like yourself who would you say has influenced you the most in life? has inspired you?
Bernard: Abraham Lincoln. There hasn’t been, to me, any speach maker who could say so much in a few words. One I remember was “charity ‑towards all and malice towards none.” And another one I always liked was Shakespere, in the Merchant of Venice; was Thelonius (sp?) advice to his son: “Those friends thou hast and there adopts ~nd tr~f~fl (?~ grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel.”
Yeah, Abraham Lincoln to me was perhaps as great a man as we ever had, if not the greatest. You know in those days, they came out and said what they had to say. And you know (sic) where they stood. You wern’t gussin’ what they meant.
Steffi: You mean today we have to guess what people mean?
Bernard: What, you mean in Politics? ha ha ha.
Steffi: Ohhh ha ha, yeah’ True’
Bernard: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha uhuu ‑ Our leaders, you know.
Steffi: Yeah I guess you can say politicians are sub‑human ha ha ha. Not very, uh, honest. s: …As a child I learned alot. You know, did you ever hear of the paper: The Youth’s Companion?
B: I took that from the time I was ‑ or my people took it for me. That was one of the r~cest papers for young people growing up. I’ll never forget the articles they had. And that was C.A. Stephens’ He wrote about visits to his grandfather’s farm’ I always looked forward to them. oh, ha, here I am right close to it(Old Squire’s Farm)ha ha.
Int: Been hearing quite a bit about that. My friend Dotty White lives very close to where it was, right down the road, and Ruth Greenleaf lives close too. Been hearing about the Laboratory of C.A. Stephens. I guess I read where he had written somethinq like 2500 stories…
B: That’s why I always remembered him’ ‘Twas from the Youth’s Companion. He always had nice articles in there. And I liked the paper all through. It was a wonderful paper’. You know, I saw Halley’s comet, the one 75 years ago, up home. It was a beautiful sight. I was in Arrostic county. And I’ve often thought I could just go out and look and there _ was. And I was thinkin’ this last one; they came from all over the world to see it ha ha; they couldn’t see it ’cause ’twas cloudy ha ha ha.. oh, I’ve seen, I’ve seen eyerything; that is: the railroad coming home; the telephone; Edison and all his improvements; Alexander G. Bell. I’ve been to his museum in Nova Scotia. And uh you perhaps know that when he was in Washington his wife wanted to get away from turmoil. So they went to Nova Scotia and they built a summer home, and that’s where he is burried. Yeah, he was quite a man. There were so many things beside s that he invented.
And then I’ve seen, I read about the first plane flight. I was just readin’ this last flight that went up…it’s costing in the hundreds of millions to go around the back side of Venus and take pictures, ha ha ha ha ha.
Steffi: Just what we need.
B: Yes’ There’s no people on Earth here needs any help ha ha. You know I’m not opposed to progress but I mean some of those hundreds of millions that are spent for that purpose.
Steffi: And on that stupid defense proqram, the “Star Wars”.
Bernard: Oh well ha ha. That’s just far‑out thinking I guess ha ha ha. I don’t think very much of a lot of the things they’re doing. I thought “Star Wars” was just about the limit, you know. With all the money that’s needed on this earth for needy people. They’ve had their heads in the air and they’ve neglected ‑‑ that’s why we have so much crime, and everythinq else…
I was born the year of the Spanish American War and there s been wars ever since ha ha…I had an honorable discharge from World War I.
Int: Did you go overseas?
B: No. I enlisted in July and the war ended in Novermer. But you know if it had come down to it ‑ not that I’m a coward ‑ I’da been a conscien tious Objector. I couldn’t kill anybody. It’s too bad the world don’t get together and you know it’s money that’s causin’ all these wars.
Bernard No. I’da served in the‑medical core or somethin’ like that: I C O U L D N’T kill anybody.
Int: Well your whole life has been devoted out here to helping life and helping create life and nurturing life, and cherishing life and that’s the sotry of Bernard McLaughlin as I see it and I can understand you saying that.
B: I hope we get some rain. We need a good rain ‑ a 24 hour rain. It’s awfully dry. Yeah, we need a lot of rain to get things started.
F I N I S