We are pleased to present below the 2nd 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 3rd place winner will appear on this blog on Wednesday, September 10–so come back soon! Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all the entrants. We received many wonderful stories.
By Karyn Lie-Nielsen
I love coming home to the spicy fragrance of late lilacs floating in the June air. I think of Foster Jameson, former owner of this property back in 1930, returning from an infrequent summer outing. The air carried the rural tang of chickens. Prize-winning chickens, to be precise, for Foster Jameson was the proprietor of The Jameson Poultry Farm in Waldoboro, Maine, one of the “best-equipped Barred Rock farms in the entire country,” according to his 1936 brochure. I have a hunch that smell was as welcoming for him as my flowers are to me, because Foster Jameson aspired to breeding top-ranking egg-layers in the peak of health.
Foster Jameson opened his poultry farm in 1920. My husband and I bought the twenty-acre property eight decades later, in 2000. All that remains of his endeavors is one long poultry barn and one small, but substantial outbuilding that still houses two huge electric incubators. They fill the space, standing over six feet tall, and leave just enough room to walk around them. Each is made of wood (not a single piece of plastic in sight) and is equipped with automatic humidifiers, “important in producing quality chicks,” as the vintage brochure assures us.
Photographs taken during Foster Jameson’s tenure show the field dotted with small hen houses, structures with salt-box roofs. Foster (as we fondly call him) attended the University of Maine, studying animal husbandry. Breeding vigorous strains of chickens was his specialty. His ambition, perhaps his most fervent dream, was to run a prize-winning hatchery, building up breeds that topped the charts in egg production.
The house where we live, that Foster Jameson and his family lived in as well, was built a century before Foster himself was born. But my husband and I have not yet discovered the name of the original owner. So far, we never felt motivated to research further. Foster Jameson, a model of industry, has been enough of a guiding light for us. After all, we have his photographs and brochures, where he appears wearing a necktie as he holds a plump chicken in his arms. We have his notes penciled on the old incubators. His business survived the Great Depression and World War II. He was able to provide a good living for his family, evidenced by photographs of the white-painted house and neat lawn, a child smiling in the farmyard.
Everything we know about Foster Jameson deeply compels us to be good stewards of his land. We mention his name with honor, he is the respected godfather of the property.
Nowadays, when haymakers come in June, hurrying modern equipment back and forth over the grassy field where the breeding houses once stood, I imagine Foster watching with me. I’m certain that he would approve of keeping the field open and clean.
And when I planted that row of lilacs, I thought Foster might appreciate how the blossoms tender my thoughts of him, and gently ease the border between past and present.