Life Story of Clara Crosby Goggin
I was born on May 28th, 1924 in Benton, Maine into a family of nine children. The earliest memory
I have is of my younger brother Eddie being born and I liked to get his malted milk formula that they
gave him. I can’t remember much about the house that I first lived in although I know now because
I’ve been back recently. We were all born in different houses. My mother and father were very jolly
people and we had a happy childhood. My Grandmother’s name was Fannie and my Grandfathers
name was Lankford. They were very close to us and we used to go visit them a lot. They always came
to see us and the whole family would go for weeks at a time to visit them especially when my father
was out of work. We loved going with them on the farm as they had a lot of animals and we helped
ride the horses. When they cultivated and harrowed the garden, we would have a lot of fun helping.
I liked my grandmothers graham bread, graham rolls and I remember her as very loving. We were just
a happy family when we went there even though we clearly knew that we all had to do our own
work. We had to pitch in and do whatever had to be done. Grampy was real nice and I remember we
used to go into the garden with him and weed. He used to play games with us and we enjoyed him
even though he wasn’t very well. He had asthma and at times was quite bad off. He couldn’t breathe
well. They came from Canada. They played a very important part in my life and so did my uncle as
he took a liking to me. His name was John Barton and he used to come take us for rides on Sundays.
He gave me my first doll. He and his wife wanted to adopt me. That was when we were on the state.
The state wouldn’t let him adopt me because they lived in a two room house and they didn’t have the
right facilities for adoption.
My mother’s name was Orpha Barton Crosby and my fathers name was Rethal. Her ancestors
were from England. My mothers sister had a farm, we used to go to her place at haying time. We
all lived on farms. My mother was very jolly and an easy person to get along with and always helping
others. I can’t remember ever being spanked or having my hand slapped to tell you the truth. Only
once, my father gave my sister a licking because she threw a spoon and broke a plate at the supper
We used to have one place we lived where there was nine of us, no eight as my older brother
lived with my grandmother. All of us girls slept in the attic and that was our playroom. My mother
and father would sleep downstairs. I remember one time Eddie came up the stairs and Mary threw
a shoe down, hit him on the head and split his head open. We always had fun together. My father used
to make brew. It was in the barn across the road from us. I can remember that he was always making
beer and he drank a lot. He was never ugly when he drank. In later years, he worked for the WPA
which was the state. My mother just kept on having children and the state took us. In remembering
my father, I thought he was really jolly and my parents thought a lot of each other. My mother
catered to my father and he always came first which is natural. I can remember we had to keep our
room clean and we always had to watch out for the younger children. We knew we had to mind and
that’s why we didn’t get a licking.
My Aunt Tina had children our age and we always had a good time together at family picnics.
My grandmother, grandfather, aunts and uncles would be there and it was a normal family gathering.
I can remember one year, we went to school during mud season in a covered wagon. This was in
Albun. I went to the Winslow school. In the sub-primary I can remember the teacher took me home
cause she liked me. I never went to the same school twice. In the nine years that I was home, we went
to six different places that I can remember and maybe there was more. î My brothers and sisters and I got along pretty good. My older sisters Bernie then Mary, Me
and Abby. My brothers are Eddie and Toot. Then there was Annie and Betty. Bernie was real quiet
and reserved and Mary was more outgoing. I was reserved and Abby was outgoing. Eddie was a devil
as he was a tow head. Toot was more reserved, Annie was so young, I don’t remember well. We
always had fun with the neighbors kids. Some were fairly close and they lived across the road. One
girlfriend was Vera Purrington. My older sisters went with her older sisters and we all went together.
The neighbors and us was one big happy family. I went with my aunt, (my fathers mothers sister). We
used to go there a lot and play with their kids. We were close to them when we was young. They
lived just down the road from us. In fact, on that road we lived, there was about five or six places
where the whole street was relations and it still is today.
Helping other people was something I can remember of my mother. She was always helping
other people and would take them in no matter who it was. I would remember if we wanted kids
to come home with us, they could always come. She would make room for them. My father went
along with what my mother said. He did work hard but he drank his money but he did work hard. We
didn’t seem to be hungry at all but we went on the state. I don’t remember how I was when we went
on the state. He ‘d get his money and drink it up. But, we always had cows, chickens and gardens that
he always had to take care of besides his other work. So we always had plenty to eat. I don’t know
why the state took us. We had plenty to eat. My mother stopped having children cause she had an
operation. I guess we didn’t have the clothes that we should have. We were just plain poor but to us
that didn’t mean anything cause we was happy. I think maybe cause he drank and maybe they thought
my parents weren’t taking care of us right. We was all happy at home. One of the neighbors took a
liking to Abby. Lord, she was down there and they were older. She was down there and they used
to dress her and things. Like I say, we were happy while we were home. We always went to church
even if we had to walk and lots of times we had walk. The Church was right side of the school and
sometimes we’d ride with the neighbors in a horse and buggy. Lots of times in the Fall, they’d have
husking bees and quilting parties and a dance in the barn. All of us kids and every one of the
neighbors would go. We were always ready to go anywhere someone asked us to go when we were
kids. A guy that lived next door to us had three or four kids. He had a ß½ß ton tractor and we were
riding in it and he always smoked, I can’t remember if it was cigarettes but sparks would come back
and burn me and I used to want to go so bad but I hated to get burned with his cigarettes and smoke
or cigars or tobacco. I remember that! I can see him now! His kids would always pile in but you’d
always get those sparks from his smoking. We had a good life right up until they took us.
I was shy and Abby was always outgoing more than I was. I was sort of shy. It was just my
nature. Toot was always shy and quiet. I was scared to death of school. I was awful shy in school
because we didn’t have the clothes the other kids had. That didn’t bother me so much as I was just
shy. In later years when we were taken from the state, I was real resentful toward my mother and
father and I figured it was their fault.
I liked my teacher when I was in subprimary. I can’t remember too much cause we had all
eight grades in one school. I liked them all they was all good but like I say I was awful shy. I wasn’t
shy around home, I was bossy so they told me. I bossed other kids around because we always had
to take care of the younger ones. One day I was going to be in a play. I started to and then I wouldn’t
be in it. I learned my lines and then there was this song that we had to sing and I wouldn’t get up and
do it. You know how kids are at that age. I remember once we went to a church in the evening. They
called it the Holy Rollers, I don’t know what it was. It was some kind of church and people would
go down the alter and they would get shaking and hollering all over and I remember Eddie, Eddie was
real small. That was when we were home and he got down under the seat and he parted the people’s
feet and went right out the door. I will always remember that. We always went to Sunday School and
Church. I never did good in school. I was shy and I wouldn’t ask questions. In my later years, when
I went through High, I’d say I didn’t have my lessons when I really had it. I wouldn’t get up in front
of class and talk, I just couldn’t. I had a hard time learning but I didn’t know at the time what it was.
I thought I read backwards. I didn’t understand and no one bothered with me anyways. They just
thought I had trouble with school. They didn’t realize and I didn’t realize either that I was doing that
until I was told.
I guess my father was drinking so much that the State took us. People came around to check
on us to see if we were being taken care right. We was all young. Mary must have been twelve. I
really don’t know why except that when you are on the state, they come checking and they just
weren’t taking care of us right or something, we weren’t getting the right education and maybe they
figured that with my father not being able to read and write, hold a job or anything that we would be
better off with someone else. I really don’t know. We didn’t really know what was going on and they
took us to South Gardiner to Mrs. Pettigrows. After the state took us, we went down to Pettigrows
and we was all crying. We all went to the same place and she looked at us and said, “What are you
crying for, there is nothing to cry about.” I looked at her and thought “You old battle⌐ax.” But she
turned out to be one of the nicest persons you ever saw. We resented her because they took us there.
I felt resentful about everything and I don’t know how the rest felt. I missed my parents and that was
why we was crying. It turned out she made you fight. She made you want to do right but she was
extremely good to us. I was nine going on ten when I went there and I was awfully sick. It was during
the flood and they had a hard time getting a doctor. They had to carry us out of the house cause the
water had come up all around us. Her son had come down to get us out. I remember he lugged me
out and the others probably walked with boots on. We lived with her for a year or two. First Bernice
left and she went over to Gardiner and then Mary went and she went to Augusta. I think I was there
a year or year and a half. Then Abby went with Bernice and I went with Mary up in Augusta and
Eddie and the Toot stayed there. Oh, they took the other two girls, they took the baby first. That’s
what was hard for us when they took the baby away from us. She went to Augusta and Annie went
to the same place. Then Eddie and Toot stayed there, with Nannie. Oh they lived there quite a few
years. They went through grammar school there. Then Eddie finally went to South Gardiner with
another family, both of the boys did. Mrs. Pettigrow gave us all chores to do. We had to do work and
I know she used to churn butter and we had to help her do that. She’d have a great big butter
churning and she sold butter at the stores. They had a farm. I can’t remember Mr. Pettigrow’s name,
I can’t remember what his name was. We always called him Mr. Pettigrow. They had a farm and we
worked on that, a lot of boys stayed and helped him. He died before I left. It was shortly after that
I left. The boys went somewhere else. But, like I say she wasn’t harsh. It was the best thing to say
“What are you all crying for. You’re all right.” After I was married, I went down to see her, Bob and
I would stop and see her.
We went to church and we had to go to school. You don’t get much help in school from
people that you live with. I just never did good in school cause no one cared and no one bothered.
I didn’t care myself. I remember you get the state to take you and you get three dresses and that had
to last you until the spring. That was the way we were brought up and you didn’t want to get
embarrassed. I didn’t have any hopes or dreams, I just existed. I can remember the school building.
What was that ladies name who was the minister? She was a teacher. She was awful nice. She
preached at the church. I can’t remember. She used to teach Sunday School or church. Other than that
we knew we had to mind or we wouldn’t get any supper. We had to have respect.
You kept thinking that they’re (my parents) going to come and get me but they never did.
Then when they did come they said they was going to get us back but they never did. You live for
the hope. That’s all you live for. No, they didn’t come often as they didn’t have any way to get there
or they didn’t bother. I’m sure they could have cause my uncles had cars. They never sent Christmas
cards, birthday cards or Christmas presents. The State always gave us a gift and Mrs. Pettigrow
always gave us a gift. She used to give us a little money. We was happy in our own way. I must of
been. Betty and Anne went first, I felt terrible! It was just terrible. Leaving home was the saddest
time of my life.
Well, I went to Augusta after leaving Mrs. Pettigrows, to Mrs. Fowlers. They were nice. They
were older people. Her daughter and her husband lived with them. I know we would have our dinner
and we weren’t allowed in the living room. We had to stay in the kitchen. Lots of times her husband
would stay in the kitchen with us cause he smoked. It didn’t bother me to stay in the kitchen. You got
used to it. You ignored it. On Sundays, they always went for rides and they were nice to us. That was
their way of life. They were nice.
From there I went to Alice and Cecil. I didn’t see my brothers and sisters very often. I was
with Mary until I went with Alice and Cecil. I went with them in the 7th or 8th grade. I still didn’t like
school. I had to give speeches, ask questions and give answers. I couldn’t remember, I blocked
everything out. I had lots of friends. This lady that came down to Florida to see me with Abby, I went
to her house one time. She was a little older than us. I was surprised when we got talking. I went
with Alice and Cecil and my whole life changed. Some kids go to homes and get treated awful. I
wondered where I belonged. You just figure… I don’t know what you figure. I just blocked
everything out. I try to think but I don’t remember.
Alice and Cecil had two children and one of them was nine months. She was a little girl. It
really turned my life around. They had a little girl, which I could love. I was fourteen at the time and
stayed back one year in school. That made me feel terrible but you really didn’t care. Alice and Cecil
had two kids and the boy was 2-1/2. 1 was happy when I was with the kids and Alice and Cecil was
awful good to me. When you are taken away, you don’t care if you live or die. You don’t care what
happens to you. I resented my parents and figured it was their fault and they didn’t do what they were
supposed to do. I think we all did resent them. It wasn’t the state, it was them that we turned our
Alice and Cecil were like my mother and father. She talked to me a lot about life. They just
were happy people and they always made a good Christmas and brought me a lot of things. It was
good there. We had regular holidays and when they could afford it, they would buy me special things.
The treated me just like one of their kids. That’s what turned me around. When Cecil got paid, he
always brought me something special like cake or pie and then he was only getting $25.00 per week.
I couldn’t believe it one day when she told me they had saved a piece of cake because I couldn’t
imagine anyone doing that for me. I never saw my brothers or sisters. Alice was Catholic and she
went to Catholic Church but there was a Baptist Church right down the road and she made sure I
went to that. Every Sunday and in the evening I went to Church. I was going to be baptized but we
didn’t. I was in girl scouts and I played basketball. I remember I played one game down to
Waldoboro. I substituted. It was really nice living at Alice and Cecil’s. I still had a hard time learning.
I liked the teachers and all the teachers were very, very nice. It’s like if you are slow, they just try the
best they can.
I think we had separate rooms in Winthrop, Alice was a really outgoing person and real nice.
She was just like a real mother. They taught me to be kind and considerate to other people, to treat
them like you would like to be treated. That’s where I got it. Up there, (Winthrop), I had friends and
that was the first place that I really had any friends that could stay over night with me. I had a friend
that I would go to her house overnight from 9 or 10 until I was fifteen, we used to have a lot of
friends to go skating. One teacher, in Winthrop, had a party where we would go skating and on
treasure hunts. I didn’t have any boyfriends, but I did like this girlfriend’s brother. It was just kid’s
stuff. We used to go over to their house. They used to have a lot of kids over on the weekends. It was
like having a family.
I remember I never liked getting up in front of the class. I can do for people but I never liked
being up front. I was just shy and maybe because I wasn’t dressed real well and people would laugh
at me or something. I wasn’t as smart as the others. Going to people’s houses and playing basketball,
I loved it. In the 7th and 8th grade, I played basketball with Nannie’s brother’s daughter. We did real
well playing together.
Alice was good at talking things out. My parents did come an see me but I still resented them
and didn’t want to see them. I still am not comfortable around them. Oh we played baseball a lot.
Alice and Cecil would come out with us. I took care of the kids a lot and the kids loved me. I just
loved them to pieces, Alice’s whole family was just like my own family. Alice would talk to me in
terms of how to treat people. Alice didn’t understand my past. She talked to me about what I wanted
to do but I just really didn’t know about the past. She was more interested in my school work so I
tried harder. Bob helped me a lot. I became a happier person and I had more confidence. I went to
work when I was fifteen. I did cabin work, served breakfast and was busgirl in the summer time. I
was making my own money. After I moved to Gardiner I worked out there in the summer. I boarded
with a family for the summer.
Working teaches you a lot about other people. Nannie’s sister-in-law worked at the
Lighthouse Inn. Then Alice moved down across the road from Nannie and that’s when I got to know
Bob and he used to come over and help me study especially Algebra. I don’t think I would have got
through it without Bob. Then I used to go over and iron for Nannie. Bob and I would go to the
movies once a week and he would come up to Alice’s to see me. Bob’s mother was real nice. She was
like a mother to me, Bob’s father was nice. Nannie was always helping someone else. I wanted to
have a family so we were just happy doing what we wanted to do. Alice taught me how to do
things with my hands and make me feel good about myself. Nannie was always helping people and
I would always go to church with her. We would go to suppers and I would wait tables. The next fall,
we got married and we lived with Bob’s mother for about a year. Grampy was good but he was sick
when we got married. Bob was only making $15.00 a week and we gave it all to Bob’s mother except
$5.00 cause we had to pay insurances and saved $.25 for the movies. Bob went into the service
and when he came home we got an apartment. We always had Christmas and all the holidays were
a big deal and of course Marilyn was there all of the time and we loved her. We used to play with her
a lot. I would take care of her some. It was just one big family.
At Christmas we would get together and on Thanksgiving Bob and I had our friends like
Marge and Ken and we would go up hunting and we would play cards once a week. Us girls was
always together during the day, after we got our work done. We didn’t have no car cause we didn’t
have much money. I owe a lot to Bob. He has been a friend. The saddest part of my life is that I
couldn’t have children but I’ve gotten through it. I didn’t know if I was being punished. Bob helped
me through it as he said it didn’t matter. I always figured, in my mind that it wouldn’t be right cause
he loved children so much. I used to cry when I saw someone with a baby. It’s hard to explain your
feelings but I got through it. Bob didn’t want to adopt any cause he wanted one of our own and then
we decided I was too old. We had all you kids and that’s why I am so sensitive to children today.
Bob is quiet, reserved, does things when he wants to. I can understand that. He was working
and he was tired. We always went to camp and I enjoyed that. He is a caring person and he never
went to his mothers without me with him. He still does want me with him after all these years. He
wanted me to go down to the store with him to get the paper this morning. He doesn’t mind if I go.
He would just as soon stay home as long as he knows where I’m going. If he didn’t want me to go,
he’d say so. My home is the most important thing in my life. My home and my husband.
I waited on tables and I’m still doing it, ha! ha! I worked over to Grants, I worked over to the
shoe shop. I worked at Stanley Romper and Healthtex. I had to keep busy. I like helping people a lot
as long as I’m not in the conversation, I love hunting and fishing and we’ve had some good times.
We’ve often talked about it.
Age never bothered me until I hit 60 and then it dawned on me that I was getting old. I
depended on Bob for everything I did and after he retired I realized that we were two separate people
and he had to have his time alone and I had to have mine. That is when I became an adult. We still
are together all of the time, but I realized that I had to get out with the girls and he had to have time
to do what he wanted to do and its like he said, he’d rather stay home and do some work around the
house or just stay home and do what he wants to. He does the same thing down in Florida. We’re
really enjoying life. We got over the financial problems and other problems and you know what each
others likes are. We was building our house after the war, we worked on that and of course Marilyn
had you kids and we could take you anytime we wanted you. We used to take Davey and Ronnie and
now we take your kids. Well, the kids and having family come, like doing things for them and I think
I cling to it don’t you? We dug the cellar together. He could do all the carpentry work and he had
some help. Later we had camp and had all you kids up there while you were growing up.
My mother taught me right from wrong. They all taught me that If I do something that I think
I shouldn’t, it would bother me terribly. Bob is the most special person in my life. Children in the
family have been my children and I’ve tried to teach them right from wrong and kindness. If you love
them, they’re bound to love you back. I just enjoy them Bob has shaped and influenced my life
because everything had to be equal. If he bought something he had to make sure I got something. If
he wanted a gun I wouldn’t mind but he’d want me to have something I wanted. It’s always been
50-50 in the marriage but we never went to bed angry. We’d always talk it over.
You have been special! Eddie my brother and Nannie and Grampy was very special. She was
always good and helpful and she was like a mother or more so and Bob’s father would go pick me
flowers. He’d pick me mayflowers and lilacs. He would go to camp with us and say “whoever caught
the biggest fish wouldn’t have to get the supper.”
Having a hysterectomy was a difficult decision because I knew I wouldn’t have any children.
I feel I should have tried harder in school and not going after things that I wanted was a problem. I
wish I had a better education I still haven’t overcome some things.
Now, if I have trouble I will work all night on it and never give up I am just a caring person.
I am more outgoing than I used to be. I have to know people a long time. Now down in Florida, there
is this couple that it has taken a long time to really feel comfortable with. It is just getting to learn
to trust people. I think a lot of that has to do with traveling. Until Bob retired, we was together all
of the time. That was the turning point. Now, I say I want to do this or I want to go there but it has
taken me all of these years to say what “I” wanted. Bob wouldn’t have minded. It was me not Bob.
I don’t know if I felt he was superior or the boss. I don’t know what I felt. The happiest time is when
Bob and I got married and what we’ve accomplished through the years. The trust and faith we have
in each other is strong. This is a happy time because we can enjoy all of the hard work. Usually one
goes after you retire and you don’t get a chance to enjoy it.
Religion is there all of the time. We always give to the church. We don’t always go to the
church. It’s with the both us. If you believe in religion, you don’t have to go to church. I went all
through the growing up years to church. The first deer I ever shot, Bob came up to me and said “did
you thank God that you shot that deer?” I always do! I think that’s why I’ve always been so lucky
cause I’ve shot ten deer.
Just getting through life without doing things to hurt others. Staying on the right track. Even
though you didn’t care, you still did what you were supposed to do. You have some inner strength
which is there when you need it. It is a spiritual strength. Its there for the taking they say. To a
certain extent, I’ve been in control of my life but my life has been mixed cause I didn’t have control
in my younger years. I felt as if I had more control when I went with Alice and Cecil. If I didn’t want
to do something, I would say “Gee Alice, I don’t want to do that” and she would talk it over. She was
one that would ask you and not tell you. “Would you help me on this?” She had rules but anything
else she asked me. I really haven’t been a part of the community until I got older. There’s a lot of
turning points in my life. when I got a sense of myself I put myself into the community.
I hope I always understand and look at both sides of things before I criticize. I like to support
them as best as I can. I’m pretty certain of Bob and that we will always be together until its time to
part. My love for you kids and your whole family you’re certain of.
When I was going to kindergarten her husband and I touched his hand it was very cold. I’m
not afraid to die, I’m at peace. I can’t ever remember being scared of death. I remember when Ronnie’s
baby died and I went over to see him and I said, “I’d like to see him” and I just kissed him.
I feel good about myself. I feel good and am comfortable about myself but I do want to learn
more. I want to read more and spelling has been really difficult for me. Other than that I feel good
about myself and I’ve got so much to do and not enough time to do it in. I could stay up half the night
doing my crafts and I’m just happy that’s all. “A struggle through adolescence or a struggle through
my younger years” would be my theme.
The first time I came from South Gardiner and I saw those buoys in the river, and I thought
it was my mother and father coming to get me. I used to think they would get to shore but they never
did. They just keep bobbing up and down. My advice to younger people is to do the best that they
can do, trust in God and pray for the right way to go. God would get me through in that I would pray
I would want to continue to do just what I’m doing now going to Florida, and helping people. What
else is there? Helping people and enjoying it I value a good home, being a good person and not taking
people for granted. I believe you should accept people as they are and not think what they should be.
There is a trust in the Lord and that’s what gets you through anything. There’s something out there
besides you that’s pushing you along and making you do it.