Laurence Bagley

 

THE HAPPY JOURNEY….

The Life Story of Laurence Bagley

BEGINNINGS

My Parents

They were married before they went to the normal school. That wasn’t very common in those days. They went to Farmington.   He had taught in grade schools two or three years before he went there. You see they used to take them right out of high school, sometimes before they got out of school and have them teach the grades.   He was acting superintendent of schools and hired the other teachers and then taught himself. Then they went up to Farmington for a two year course and they were married before they went up. They both planned to teach and I came along too soon ‑ they got married in June and I came along in October. So she never did get a chance to teach.

My father taught.   He taught right here in Winthrop f or a year. I didn’t know it until came here and going through the old books I found his name in 1903 and 1904[showing that] he taught in the Winthrop Grammar School. He ran RFD mail routes f or quite a while and farmed on the side. Then the farming finally got big enough so he gave up the RFD route and farmed. I guess that he was moderately interested in church because of my mother. She was always connected with the church and I don’t think the Bagleys were too much until after they started going together. He was selectman and on the school board. Moderated town meetings and so forth. He was sort of a leader. I’ve been surprised that since I’ve gotten older how my pictures look like his pictures of years ago.

 

Early Memories

One thing I remember actually, and I couldn’t have been three years old.   I guess my next sibling came along when I was about three. We were living with my mother’s family, and when my mother had the baby she was in the bedroom on the ground floor and they let me in once in a while under supervision and then they would take me out again into the kitchen and they kept the kitchen door closed. I remember this telephone right upside of the door, and there is no connection but I remember it being there.   I would slide the chair over when no one was looking and climb up to reach the door knob and just about the time I got the door turned, someone would grab me and drag me away. I can remember it. I don It remember the expression but my grandmother used to tell about it afterwards about it that this new baby was a girl and I would get up there and say,” baby must see that little boy.” I’d call myself baby.   She said that was one of the things I’d say. I don’t remember that but I do remember climbing up in that chair and trying to get the door knob and being frustrated. I can remember once when I was four or five years old and my grandmother was taking me up across the field through some rocks and things and she said careful you don’t lose your balance and I said where is this balance thing. She told me that but I don’t remember that.

 

Siblings

 

I think a lot of people that I grew up with didn’t have as nice a family as we did. There were six of us [four boys, two girls] and I was the oldest. Never do I remember and instance as we grew up that there was any arguing about who was going to do what.   We seemed to instinctively take some particular job and do it. Even when I was in college I still worked summers and by that time the others were coming along and never was there any arguing about who was supposed to do what. It was a funny thing. One of our jobs, we had cattle, and crops, one of our jobs was to go out to the cattle and chase them back to the barn at night. They would almost never come back. They would go out and settle down for the night somewhere and we would run out and stir them up and stay behind them and they would go into the barn. one of my sisters, the one next to me, and I used to do that perhaps when I was seven or eight years old, very young, and she was three years younger. She would go along with me and we’d imagine all kinds of things and talk in terms of magic really. Things that wouldn’t be possible. We never thought anything about it but we always did it right up until we got to big for that kind of stuff.

My youngest brother was in the service and he married an English girl. He was in the Air Force based in England. She came over after he did and they were married in this country. They live in Florida. He has been having prostate trouble. I had prostate cancer about six years ago and I had to go in and have an x‑ray five times a week for seven or eight weeks. I wrote him and told him about the whole thing.   I don’t ever remember writing him before. We get together and they come up once in a while and so forth. But I’m not one to write letters. His wife said it was a complete relief to get the letter saying I had been through it. His wasn’t cancer as it turned out. She said he felt much better about going to the hospital when he knew what I’d had done.

One of my sisters died at about fifty ‑ she was a school teacher ‑ and I don’t know what she had. I guess perhaps she might have had Alzheimers. At that time they called it hardening of the arteries. They didn’t know what it was at all. She was teaching and she’d go to school and ask the kids what the assignment was. She’d give them the assignment the day before and she’d have to ask them what it was. And they’d tell her where they were in the book and then she’d teach the class. It lasted oh, six or eight weeks after she stopped teaching and then she died. The rest of us were all rugged.

 

FAMILY TRADITIONS AND VALUES

Reading

One thing that we did that people have wondered about: at meals except breakfast, we’d sit around this fairly large table and eventually there would be eight of us there. Everyone who could read would have a newspaper or magazine propped up in front of them. We talked at breakfast time but often times someone would read something and then one would comment on it and tell the others about it. Generally, we simply sat there and ate and read.

Not too many families do that I guess. We got away from it more or less as I grew up. All the time I was home I can remember we had a lot of magazines.   We didn’t have too much time since we worked long after dark and didn’t have much time to read in the evening.   I think that is the reason we got into the habit at mealtime. We never thought about it as being odd. A lot of other people have spoken about it since being peculiar but we just took it for granted. The Saturday Evening Post, the Country Gentlemen, Youth’s Companion, the American Magazine and every magazine available were the ones we had. We had enough different ones so that everybody had one.

 

Hard Work

 

From the time I was ten years old I worked and never thought anything about it. I remember one particular year potatoes got up about so big and in the evening the plants started to curl up. When they do you can go through them with a machine that throws dirt over them to cover them up without bending too much.   We covered them in order to make them grow bigger and so forth. One day I was working a pair of horses and this cultivator and there was a good moon and it was 8, 9 or 10 o’clock and I was still going because by the moon I could see which row to start in on and then the horses would go right through it and didn’t have to do any guiding. I just had to guide them around the end of the row to get them started into the next row.     When the boys who were in high school with me drove into the field where I was they asked “Does your father make you work this late?” and I never thought about it. I said what do you mean does my father make me work, it needs to be done and I’m doing it!

 

Church

We always went to church from the time I was big enough for him to carry me in and keep me quiet. My sister played the organ as soon as she was able to get her feet down to the pedals and her hands on the keys and we’ve all gone regularly. It was expected, we never thought anything about it. Sunday morning or afternoon ‑ we were in an area where the minister had two churches and had the service in the forenoon and the other church in the afternoon. Sunday afternoon we would go to church. There wasn’t any question about it.

 

Fun Times

I think we went to the movies, oh, four or five times. Somebody would bring the machine and set it up in the grange hall. We would go there and watch them. When I went to school in Pittsfield, they had a regular movie theater. They always had a continuing one where the heroine was put on the railroad track and tied and the train was coming. I went to that once a week most of the time. In high school itself I can’t see too much difference in things from when I was teaching high school. In grammar school we went to Unity Fair one day in the fall and we went to a celebration at the Unity Pond which was Veteran’s Day on August 13th (for Civil War Veteran Is) . All everyone would say was are you going on the 13th? Never the 13th of August. Everyone knew what you meant. Oh, we did a few things, we went to school, went to church and worked on the farm and that was about it.

We didn’t have many cousins.   My father was one of six children. Five boys and a girl. But between them, except for my father, they had two children each and three didn’t have any. So I didn’t have a lot of cousins. My mother had a sister who never married so I didn’t have any cousins on that side.   Two of my cousins’ father ran a grocery store in Bangor and had a cottage

down on the lake and they would come down there summers and we would go down to visit them quite often. I had two uncles that lived on the lake and I’d go fishing with one or the other quite often. Often times we’d go together.

 

An Influential Aunt

 

My mother’s sister was a teacher, she was never married and never had a family.   She had a big influence on all of us. She taught in Berlin, New Hampshire for years and we used to go up there and see her or she would come down here and see us. When I was in college she was teaching there and she would come on the grand trunk to Lewiston and I would meet her there and usually I would have one or two of the students with me.   We’d go to a chinese restaurant and we’d have a meal and we’d all order something different and divide it up. She probably was one of the reasons that I became a teacher instead of a minister.   She probably wouldn’t hardly appreciate having that said that way I don’t think. But she would think I should be honest. She was a real help and a real influence. This particular thing in 1911 when Roosevelt was running as a third‑party president. They were all Progressives. He ran against Taft and whoever the Democrats put up. He was touring Maine along with other states in the campaign and my aunt took me up to Pittsfield to see him when he spoke there. That was the first president I ever saw. I’ve seen most of them since one way or another.

 

SCHOOL YEARS

Grade School And High School

I didn’t start school until I was in the fifth grade.   My mother had planned to be a teacher and I was quite a ways from the nearest school ‑ all we had was a one room school house ‑ and we didn’t have regular transportation.   She taught my first four years. I can’t remember and neither can my wife ‑ learning to read.   The first that I can remember was when I was reading the Saturday Evening Post and things like that.   I can’t remember anyone ever telling me a thing about how to read and she can’t. Anyway, she did teach me arithmetic and a little grammar. I missed spelling, I never spelled and I still don’t. I started in the fifth grade in a one room school with about twenty students.   I went through four grades. They had nine grades at that time and just as I got into the eighth grade they decided to drop the ninth grade. They had a   graduation with the eighth grade and ninth grade together to go to high school. My folks thought I was too young and we didn’t have a high school in town so I had to stay home one year after grammar school. I carried the scholars and I had two or three of my neighbors and students to take. I had this wagon and I carried the scholars through the winter term. When there wasn’t much f arming to do I went to school too. The teacher taught me algebra and various things which I know helped me when I started high school. I stayed out that extra year.

After I got done I went to MCI High School. We were twelve miles from Pittsfield where the high school was and I got a bicycle and in the fall and spring I would ride my bicycle down on Sunday night and then back on Friday night but stayed over the rest of the time in the dorm. In the winter I couldn’t go that way because we didn’t have any cars and they didn’t plow the roads in the winter. So I had to go on the stage from Troy to Unity and catch the train into Burnham.     Then the Maine Line Train from Burnham to Pittsfield. I had to wait three hours in Burnham so I would always take my books with me and study so I was prepared. I missed my forenoon classes. I missed Monday forenoon. I studied so I could make it up pretty easy. We got a car the last two years and they took me back in the car. The way my father picked this car, we had a fairly steep long hill near us and the salesman came out and gave us a ride, he always suggested they take that road.   When they finally found a car that would go over the hill without shifting gears, that was the one he bought. That would have been about 1919.

It happened that I graduated in 1921 and World War I ended in the fall of 1918 and a lot of the high school boys had been in the service and they came back so my class included oh eight or ten that were quite a lot older since they had been in the service two or three years. So we had quite a diverse group in my junior and senior years.

After I got out of high school they still thought I was a little young to go so I stayed out another year. I was seventeen or eighteen.

I worked hard all the way through high school and came back from vacations from school to help my father.

 

College

I went to Bates primarily because of the teachers I had. I had planned to go the University of Maine to take an agricultural course and go home and f arm but I made the debating team at MCI and we went to Bates for the finals. I decided to go to Bates because of my experience debating and the fact that the people who took me down there talked me into it. I was glad that I did go. My life since has been altogether different of course, than it would have been if I had gone back to the farm. I enjoy debating, and I coached debating in several different schools. The manager of the Bates League, the league for high school debaters, used to say that he could tell when Laurence Bagley moved because one school dropped debating and another one started it.   I had nine different high school teams that I coached.

[My father] gave me, at the end of each year while I was in college, a check for one hundred dollars.   That was his contribution to my higher education. Fortunately, a former Troy native had left a fund to assist Troy students with higher education. This paid my tuition. So that was really a break. When I went to Bates College I babysat, shoveled snow and raked leaves and things like that. The only regular job I had was sweeping the halls and corridors of the dormitory in which I lived. I got my room for less.

I did work a lot and that kept me out of some sports.   I skied. I could do that at anytime.   We had an eight mile cross country ski race every year for the state championship and I took that my junior and senior years.   My senior year I went to Lake Placid and took part in what was called the fastest field of cross country runners that ever started to race in the United States. They had four medals and I finished fifth. I did beat two of the people who made the Olympic Team two years later. That is the only sport that I ever really starred in.

When I got to college, I was torn between teaching and preaching actually. My freshman and sophomore years I took such courses that I could go either way. Biblical literature and new testament literature and so forth were part of the courses I had my first two years. Then at the end of the second year I decided I wanted to be a teacher. My roommate at the end of his senior year, which was the end of my junior year, was preaching every Sunday in a church nearby.   One week he had to be away and asked me if I would take his place. So I went out and preached a sermon and ran the whole service. I enjoyed it. One of my hobbies ever since   has been supplying for many different denominations. Since we got here about thirty‑two years ago, I have been Lay Leader for thirteen years and taught Sunday school and substituted when the minister was sick or away. So, I have really been active in the church all my life. One interesting thing is that I was a Methodist all the way through but the school of MCI in Pittsfield is a Baptist school and there is a Baptist church around the corner on the campus and most of us went to that. Toward the end of my senior year there were two boys hesitating about actually joining. Of course, in the Baptist Church you have to be immersed so they were arguing among themselves whether they should be immersed. I said if you will I will go with you. So I was immersed in the Baptist Church and I transferred back from that.   I think I was the first in the family to actually join the church at that time. I have been connected with the church ever since.

 

Post‑Graduate Education

[I earned my master’s degree] at Bates. I went five summers at Bates to finish. Then I had done graduate work at Boston University one summer and the University of Maine two summers. One course during the year at the University of New Hampshire. So I have had courses in three colleges besides Bates.

 

I am honorary doctorate. I got that about the time I was ready to finish at the Maine Teacher’s Association. The University of Maine at Machias gave me that honor. The only people who call me doctor are the church people in town. Every time I get a letter from them.

 

 

WORK

 

Overview

I have taught practically everything.I had eighteen years of being high school principal in six different schools. One of them I stayed ten years, the others I moved frequently. Not because I wasn’t rehired but because I got a little more money. For instance, I left one school where I was getting $1,400 to take a job as principal at $1,200 but I got $300 for being the janitor. So that gave me a total of $1,500. After I got through eighteen years, I became superintendent of schools in the Island Falls/Aroostook area for ten years. Then I worked for the Maine Teachers Association for fifteen. I suppose the reason I got that job was because I was Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Maine Teachers Association, so a lot of the people knew me. When they decided to hire another man, my name was at the top of the list. After that, I started working with the elderly and that has been most of my life really for the past twenty‑three years.

 

Educator

My first school was in Hodgdon, Maine and that is where I met my wife incidently, as many school people do. I had a new school, I had only freshman and sophomores, I was the only teacher and I taught freshman and sophomore english, algebra and geometry, french and latin, general science and biology. The next year, they hired a latin and english teacher, so I had one year of that. I had one girl that was a sophomore who had french and she had been sick and had to drop out of school the year before. She had some French background. She was is my class and whenever I got stuck, which was quite frequently, I said” Helen”, and she gave an answer and I said” That is fine,” and we went on to the next paragraph. The teacher that we had the next year told me that the students were pretty well prepared for second year french so I figure Helen must have been pretty good.

One of the things that I like to talk about is that I taught home economics. I learned to cane chairs and the home economics teacher wanted the girls to learn so she said she would teach my freshman algebra class for one semester if I would teach her girls to cane chairs and I did.       So I am actually a retired home economics teacher.

I started in Maine for three years and then I spent ten years in New Hampshire at one school during the depression. We got married in 1929 in August and the depression started in November of 1929. We didn’t claim any credit for it but it happened. Things were so bad that I did’nt try to move for ten years. I had the job and I stayed right there. We didn’t get much of a raise but we got a little.

After ten years in New Hampshire, we had two school board members, one of them had a kid that I had quite a bit of trouble with, he persuaded one of the other members to vote with him to get me out. Well then they sent a petition around town and every town officer and selectman, town clerk and so forth signed it and oh they got hundreds of names on it. Practically every parent on it. Three years later the same thing happened to the next man and somebody remembered that there was a law in New Hampshire that the school board can consist of three or five members.

 

When we got back to Maine jobs were kind of scarce and I went to talk to the superintendent in Old Town among others, I tried all over, and he had a job in the junior high. He knew the situation since I had explained the whole thing to him and he said I could teach for him and that if, I got another job as a principal to take it and then notify him. Most people wouldn’t have done that so at Christmas time I got a job and went back to my job to stay for three or four days to help break in the new teacher.

Then we went to Vinalhaven and we had lessons on the island then.   We had the garage of a person my father had known. My father told me to hunt him up and he had a garage that he wasn’t using. So we parked our car in that garage in Rockland. So after school was over in Vinalhaven I came back and left her at a hotel and went to get my car and parked it down back and went up front to pick her up and on the way the principal from North Haven was going in the opposite direction and we met. He asked me if I would like a move, and I said I might if I could get more money. He said well I’ve signed up to go to Sherman and now I have another job that is way better and the superintendent is going to summer school at the University of Maine.     I’ll write a letter of recommendation and give it to you and you can give it to the superintendent. I did and got hired in Sherman. And from that I got the superintendency. If I hadn’t met him I don’t know what I would have done but it would have been different.

One thing I didn’t mention that was interesting is that four of my towns when I was superintendent of schools were about the same size and to some extent more or less of a unit. I had seven towns altogether. The four of them worked together quite a lot and they all had buses and just about enough eighth graders each year to fill a school bus. Three or four teachers and I as driver would go to Quebec and take them on a trip. So I drove bus to Quebec five or six years and we would spend three or four days up there and frequently come back through Maine and plan to stop at Lakewood in Skowhegan. It would be about the time of the first plays and

we’d take in the play and drive home from there. I always enjoyed those and I think the kids did.

I have a lot of stories about those trips that would be interesting. One particular one ‑ in the center of Quebec there is a wax works with wax figures. One of the teachers had been there before and knew about it and said we ought to try to stop there. We had time before we were supposed to get into a motel so we drove into a square sort of and there were cars everywhere except one little space that said no parking.     I looked at that and wonder what we were going to do. Most of them spoke French and one cop came along in a few minutes and he could see that I was perturbed and I told him what was going on that we wanted to go to the wax works and the only space I could see was the one that said no parking.   He said oh, park over there, not bother nobody, not bother nobody. We parked there and sure enough nobody was bothered when we came out and we didn’t get a ticket.

 

Maine Teacher’s Association

I worked for the Maine Teachers Association. My job was primarily working with teachers and their local clubs and with the students who were planning to teach. We had an organization that was originally called the Future Teachers of America which included high school and college students.   I spoke with a lot of high school students. The college groups name was changed to Student NEA ‑ the Student National Education Association.   They had national conventions which I attended. That working with the students and teachers was an important and interesting part.

 

I guess I gave them some inspiration, I planned to and a lot of facts. of course, I had been through it all. They called me to speak to the groups a lot. I went to the same college year after year to talk to seniors. I could tell them a whole lot of things to do and not to do from experience.

[They gave me] friendship and the fact that working with younger people makes you feel younger anyway.

 

Legislative Activist

I guess the first time we were going to the osteopaths in Sherman when I was principal there and the MDs would both be paid by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Somebody put a bill into the legislature that only MDs should be paid by the Blue Cross/Blue Shield and cutting the ODs right off. This OD came to me ‑ we had been his patient anyway ‑ and said why don’t you go down to the legislature and speak for us on that question. I said sure so I went down and waited until the discussion was about over ‑ I could tell that they weren’t going to say very much ‑ and they had no one speaking against the osteopaths and MDs. Not a person.   So I finally got up and said now I am speaking for the ultimate consumer. I would like to have my dollars go to either the osteopath or MD if I know which one I wanted for the particular time. And that the osteopaths told me that that was the particular thing that convinced the committee to mow down the bill.

Then I was chairman of the Maine Teachers’ Association Legislative Committee for several years. That wouldn’t happen now because only classroom teachers belong to the MTA. Administrators have their own organization. At that time we all worked as one team. I think that was one reason I was chosen to work for the MTA.

 

Legislator

After I retired I ran for the Legislator when the previous member did not run. I served two terms, and have lobbied since.

I believe it was 1972 and 1974. I was on the Education Committee both times. We had a problem with school funding similar to what is going on now. We revised the school funding quite a lot so that it was a lot better.   We had an interesting thing then. The House was controlled by Democrats and the House Chairman was a man by the name of Lynch. The Senate Chairman was a man by the name of Katz who was a Republican. So when we got this bill all polished up it looked pretty good and some said we should have a name for it. So I suggested that they name it the Lynch Katz Bill. That didn’t go over well at all.

I didn’t run for the third term. Before I ran at all there was a man in Monmouth that I got well acquainted with ‑ an insurance man ‑ and I tried to get him to run for the legislature. He said he was too busy ‑ he couldn’t do it. After four years he saw me again and he said you know anytime you get tired of being a legislator, I’d like to run.   I said well you’d better run this year.   I’ve had four years and I’m still president of an organization, I was superintendent of schools in three different unions after I retired. I had plenty to do and I decided four years was enough.

 

Lobbyist

 

One of the years right after the Methodists, the Congregationalists and the Episcopalians raised some money and wanted a lobbyist. Someone knew me and knew that I’d been in the legislature and I guess the Methodists knew most about me and asked me if I would be their lobbyist. I registered and was paid a little, not much, but I made out a letter once a week while the legislature was in the midst of things to mail to every minister in the state in those denominations. The most of them didn’t pay any attention to me but some did. They only did that one year. Then I lobbied for the Christian Civic League ‑ I think two years. There again they paid for my registration and expenses back and forth to Augusta. That’s about all ‑ it didn’t make any particular difference on income. Those are the only times I’ve lobbied for money really. I’ve lobbied for senior citizens and any education bill that comes up that I am interested in I go in up there. As long as I’m not paid for it I don’t have to register anyway. I’ve been a registered lobbyist for four years and the rest of the time I’ve just lobbied incidentally. I still go. This year the Appropriations Committee divided itself into three groups and went out over the State and asked people to come in and talk about things. I went to Farmington and spoke to the group up there. I

still will be in this year on some things. I still get questionnaires from different organizations asking my opinion about various things.

 

Advocate For The Elderly

One of the things that is interesting about that is, soon after I retired I got a telephone call from Washington wanting to know if I would like to head up a late start project, the reference being to head start for the young people, this was late start for the older people. They were setting up four areas financed by the AARP and the Retired Teacher’s Association.     There was one in Texas, one in North Carolina, one in Toledo, Ohio and one in Augusta, Maine. I never knew why they called, me and never knew who suggested my name. The Late Start Project was set up in such a way that we had thirty‑eight people for ten weeks, five days a week and we were supposed to furnish them a noon meal and teach them anything we could.   We had speakers, the chief of police, legislators, chief of the fire department. We took them to mills, museums. We hired a bus. We had six different groups for ten week periods.

When we had the late start groups for six weeks we had a formal graduation. We got governors and legislators to come in and present the diplomas. Any number of people told me at the time that that was the first diploma that they had ever gotten. A member of the group was an instructor at the University of Maine. He told me that her at least twice a week, and she was always at the phone. After she had been in the group a few weeks, he sometimes had to try two or three times to get her, and that toward the end of the period she was seldom at home. So it affected people, they got so that they got out. That is one of the things that the whole system aims to do and is doing. Is getting people out and to live a life instead of sitting and wasting a life.

 

We had a secretary who took voluminous notes and sent them to Washington, where the whole thing was being directed. A lot of the older American’s Act passed by Congress resulted from those groups. That means that I was in on helping the elderly right from the beginning. The Older American’s Act, I believe, was passed in 1968. It was revised quite a lot when our reports came in in 1972. We had the White House Conference on Aging in 1971 and 1981 and they really were important meetings about what we could do for the elderly. We met with the legislators in Washington and we talked about what we had done and so forth. Then Maine was divided into the five area agencies about 1970, I think, when it started, but they were not called area agencies, they were just called divisions. Then when we got going they were renamed as agencies. The governor first set them up and then since then they have been revised somewhat, but not a lot. In 1972 we were incorporated but the agency activities had been going on before that so we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the incorporation of the agency. They were set up before. When we had the 1971 White House Conference, we had a book that had been made up by the different groups called”Steps for Maine’s Elderly”. We took enough copies to give to others at the conference.   It was the hit at the conference.   No other state had done anywhere near as much in summarizing what could be done and should be done as Maine has. We feel that we had an important part in starting to whole thing.

 

Central Senior Citizen’s Association(now Senior Spectrum, The Area Agency for Central Maine)

The goal primarily was to help older people to realize that they could do things for themselves and to help them do things for themselves. Primarily, I guess, to help so that people wouldn’t have to go into nursing homes so quick. I think that HBC was aimed at that specifically and I think that was more of the aim than any one thing. People didn’t know that older people could learn.   We didn’t have anything to do with these summer courses that older people take, but we worked with the older people doing that. We were making people realize that they could learn more and that their last years didn’t have to be useless.

I think the most important thing that the organization has done has been to give older people the realization that they can do things. A lot of people didn’t know that ‑ didn’t think that they could. We have convinced them that they can do things. The volunteer system we have   people coming in to help with the meals on wheels and so forth a lot of these people were people who didn’t even know they could do things that would help other people. As soon as they found out they could they were delighted to do it. It has made their lives better and it has helped other people. I think that is one of the important things.

 

[How has the organization changed over the years? What wisdom have you gained?]

Oh, they’ve grown up. It’s was a young organization and you know we keep changing members. The unity of the whole thing has developed tremendously. We think better. We have more of an idea of what we want to do and how to do it. I guess we are more conscious of money than we were a few years ago. We got into a mess on that.   That was because of someone trying to do too much ‑ trying to stretch things too thin.   I think that episode has conditioned us. I think now that if we get too far behind or too far ahead. We had too much money on one or two items and people kick up and ask what’s wrong how come we don’t spend more of that. If it gets behind, someone wants to know about that. They are watching the figures more closely than they did years ago. We’ve got pretty good support, we are taking quite a bit of money in now from sources other than the state and the nation.

 

My Role Over The Years

I guess at first I was an optimist in a place where there weren’t too many. I convinced other people that they could carry out various things. I had an executive situation, I was president for eight years out of the first twelve in the organization. of course, now I am more or less a has been and still on the board as an honorary member and chair of the legislative committee. I still go to the meetings and have my say but I am considered by the group to be more of an elder statesman so to speak rather than somebody who is originating ideas. I think I did originate some ideas when I started, and haven’t done very much in that line since. I think that may be the biggest difference.

 

As president and an officer, particularly as president, I thought that I should take a more active part. On the Meals on Wheels delivery. I volunteered for that and I enjoyed it, but I got some gripes, some of which I was able to take to headquarters and suggest ways to do things a little better. Some of which were strictly gripes that were ‑ well we would say the people would kick if they were in swimming.   These people were not satisfied with anything. We had some people like that.

As recipients we, my wife and I, felt that the organization was very valuable for us. When we were in need. Of course, the cost was on a basis of the income of the recipient. A sliding scale so that we paid more than a lot of people would. We got the help and didn’t have to worry about where it was coming from we just called and the help was there. That was an altogether different feeling than the feeling when we were running the organization.

At the time Mrs. Bagley was ‑ well ‑ for a good deal of time she was right in bed, when she got around she was weak and so forth.   Having someone come in and do things for us was a lifesaver. Of course, a lot of neighbors furnished food and supplies and so forth too.     Having someone come in on a regular basis and do certain things was a tremendous help.

[Now] When I talk [about Home Based Care] to the Legislature, the Appropriations Committee in particular, I tell them what is what from a personal standpoint.

 

Church Work

When I became superintendent the congregational minister was missing first and I supplied there for twelve or fifteen weeks in a row.   About two weeks after they got a minister, the baptist minister left and then I supplied for that. I was supplying in the congregational church in Sherman where I had been principal. one day I woke up sick and Mrs. Bagley went and preached the sermon.

Generally, now, I could come up with something [interesting for the sermons]. Usually there was something fairly current, something that people were discussing. I could work it in and find scripture that went with it. I have a stack ‑ I always spoke from notes and two or three cards to a sermon ‑ I have a stack of them that thick at my desk and they are so dated that the last f ew times I supplied I had to use the last ones I used.

 

Grange

I joined the grange right off and we were officers in the grange most of the time we were there. The grange was set up ‑ it was a local grange ‑ called a subordinate grange. The next highest has several granges combined ‑ it was called a pomona grange. I was master of the pomona grange as well as the subordinate during the last few years that I was a member. When we got back here and joined the grange in Winthrop and almost forty years to the day after I was installed as the master of the grange in Raymond, I was master of the grange here. A few years later I was master of the pomona grange in Southern Kennebec County.

 

About Meeting Mrs. Bagley And Getting Married

Well, I went to Hodgdon to teach.  She had just finished high school and went to teaching right from high school. They did in those days. She took what they called the normal course at Ricker Technical Institute which is right near the Town of Hodgdon.

 

Hodgdon is the town just south of that. At that time I think that there might have been six hundred people in all. I know in my home town there was six hundred all told.     There was a road that ran right down beside the school house and I was standing at the end of the school house where I could see the road. The road came down and there was a sudden drop off and then the road leveled out again. I saw this car come tearing down over there and the front wheels didn’t touch for a little while. Finally the front end struck. I said who was that and somebody said that was one of the Skofield girls and it was her. So that was the first time I saw her. I made up my mind I was going to find out who she was. She came to basketball games and I coached basketball. She lived about a mile from us. There was a haunted house in between and I would walk home with her. We would get by that haunted house as fast as we could. I was there two years and then I went to Brooksville for less money at the place I told you about where I got $300 for being the janitor. Then after that we were married and I had already got my job in New Hampshire. We were in plays together and she and I went to the same church.     That is how it happened.

She’s been president of three different women’s clubs. She started the credit union in one town we were in. In Raymond where we lived ten years they had a carnival and she practically ran that the last ten years.

She should have been president of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs but we were so far from the center of the state. A woman friend of her’s was president of the state federation and I’m sure that she could have gotten the job if she’d wanted. But she never tried for it.

[We have been married 63 years.] We had our sixtieth anniversary here and I did a little figuring and I found that we had lived in seventeen houses in the first thirty years. And we have lived here the last thirty and now near thirty‑three.

We lived in four houses in the first town we got in. We would rent a house and fix it up and then someone would want to buy it. Then we would fix another one up and they’d want to buy that. We didn’t move because we didn’t pay our rent.

[Our two sons] were both born in New Hampshire.

 

On Being A Parent

Oh Lord, she did most of the parenting. That was one trouble that was the whole thing ‑ I was doing so much for everyone else’s kids I didn’t do as much as I should have for my own. They both followed me around with skis and we had a miniature ski jump at one place in Raymond. How old was John at that time? Three or four? He had a set of skis about so long and we had all we could do to keep him from going over the ski jump. (laughter)   I’d be at conventions and come back and f ind one of the kids in the hospital.

 

LOOKING BACK…

SOME REFLECTIONS

 

On The Value Of My Work

The friendship ‑ people I have worked with. I think that has been the most valuable single thing that I know people now in six counties that I wouldn’t have know before and a lot of them aren’t really well personally. It has been a good feeling. That is the type of thing I have had all of my life. In school the situation was that I always got along well with the kids and through them I got acquainted with parents and through them I got acquainted with the community.

 

I think working with the children all the way through has been an important part, I know it has, an important part of my life and one of the good things that happens even now is having someone who is a former student come up and tell me how much they benefitted from their schooling. You can’t get that in a lot of professions. I remember coming back to Raymond years after I had left, I had taught trigonometry to seven boys and I thought it was kind of dull and they thought it was but it was in the curriculum. I got back there twenty years later and a boy came up to me, a man at that time of course, and he said that one of the most valuable things that he got out of high school was trigonometry because he had been a builder and he could form angles and cut rafters and everything better because of trigonometry.

 

On Spirituality

It is important, it has always been important. It upsets me when I see so many things going on. The trend on the part of the media seems to be to oppose everything that is connected with religion and the cartoons that they are using about Vice‑President Quayle and the argument about the family and so forth. They picture all that stuff just as despicable as they can. It upsets me to see anything of that sort.

 

[ Have you ever had what you would consider a religious experience?]

Oh I can’t say that I am born again or anything like that. Several times something has come up and I have felt that it affected me. some ministers have had an influence particularly. In college I went to a Baptist church almost exclusively because of the minister. We had mid‑week services. There was a feeling ‑[Oh yes, more spiritual!]‑ there that I didn’t have before I had been to those services.

 

Advice For A Successful Marriage

[Mrs. Bagley ‑ Well, one thing is to have patience.]

Yes, I think that’s one problem nowadays ‑ these people get divorced after two or three years and they just don’t have patience settle things.

 

Advice For Living

This too will pass away. (laughter) You live from day to day and think what looks bad now may look better the next day.

 

Summing It All Up

 

(What title would you give to the story of your life?]

THE HAPPY JOURNEY, I guess. It pretty much has been. I have had a pretty good life.

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