We are pleased to present below the first place winner of our 2014 “Your Maine Home” essay contest. This year we asked to hear about defining moments in the history of your Maine home or neighborhood. The contest ran in the summer and the winners were announced in the fall print newsletter, which was mailed to MHS members last week. The second and third place winners will appear on this blog on Tuesday, September 9 and Wednesday, September 10–so come back soon! Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all the entrants. We received many wonderful stories.
Pine View Farm
By Barbara A. Desmarais
Pine View Farm in the New Meadows section of Brunswick had been in my family since the late 1700s.
My mother and her seven siblings often reminisced about visiting and working at the 78-acre homestead. They remembered their grandmother, Mary, as a hard-working woman who rarely smiled. Aunt Grace was cheerful and musical, playing organ both at home and at church. Uncle Charlie, they all agreed, was dour and quiet, most comfortable when caring for his beloved dairy cows. The children were never allowed in Charlie’s domain – the cow barn. They remembered pumping water from the well and using a two-holer outhouse, too.
The farm abutted the thousand-acre Town Commons, which encompassed a managed white pine and red oak forest, as well as a blueberry barren planted on the sandy plain. Grampa’s own father had helped plant the white pines that gave their farm its name. In 1930, the town voted to establish the Brunswick Municipal Airport, replacing the sandy plain with aeroplanes.
During World War Two the Town Commons, which had belonged to the citizens of Brunswick since 1719, became the Naval Air Station Brunswick. Aunt Grace saw opportunity in the sudden stream of people traveling past the farm. She baked breads and fruit pies in the wood cook-stove, churned butter and ice cream by hand with milk fresh from the cow, then sold them all at her farm stand just outside the back gate of the Navy base.
In 1956 and ’57, the Federal government bought up the farms surrounding the base, including the roads that had connected New Meadows to parts of Brunswick and Harpswell. The family sold Pine View Farm and it was scheduled to be demolished. My family always ended their round of remembrances by recalling that Uncle Charlie neglected to tell Grampa the exact date when the farmhouse was to be burned to the ground, so Grampa never had the opportunity to gather up the family papers. Generations of documents went up in flame because, the family said, Charlie didn’t care about the family records. My family’s only relics are Mary’s 1888 wedding quilt sewn and signed by the women of New Meadows, Aunt Grace’s 1890s bisque doll, the 1908 46-star American flag that once flew at Pine View Farm, and the 1918 china pitcher used to serve fresh milk to eight rambunctious nieces and nephews.
And so, one building after another was demolished, effectively erasing not just Pine View Farm, but the very fabric of New Meadows where generations of neighbors had lived, loved and married, where they had worked and worshipped. My own family and all of New Meadows had lost a vital connection to our past. The base closed in 2011. The community has regained access to some of the natural areas, but an empty munitions bunker still stands in place of our homestead.