This is the story of my maternal grandparents who lived with me, my parents, my two sisters and two brothers and my cousin who my grandparents had adopted. We all lived together for the first nineteen years of my life when I left home to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps on Jan. 10, 1950. I am writing this little tale in hopes that at least one of my four children, eight grand children and eight great grand children will become interested enough in their heritage to pick up where I will have left off on the family trees I have compiled on the computer program “Ancestery.com”. I also hope that someone in my brother’s and sisters families will do the same. The longer one lives, the fewer family and friends one has and information is lost forever.
My grandfather, Willie Lemuel Church, was born Aug. 8, 1889 in the Jonesport/Indian River area of “Down East”, Maine. I know very little about his life growing up there, but his family were fishermen and he became one of the same. He always claimed that he graduated from the third grade at “Snare Creek Academy” school. I do know that sometime in his late teens or early twenties he joined the “U.S. Life Saving Service” before it became part of the “U.S. Coast Guard” in 1915 and it was sometime during these years that he got transferred to the Biddeford Pool, Maine station. On completion of his Coast Guard duties (the year I do not know) he started lobster fishing at the Pool and remained in that profession until he was 75 and then retired.
He met my grandmother, Marguerite Goldthwaite, at Biddeford Pool and they eloped to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to be married and have their honeymoon. Going by horse and buggy to Biddeford and the rest of the way by train. In the coming years they had four daughters (one of which was my mother) and thus came the name of his boat, “The Four Sisters.”
A short while after my mom and dad were married, my grandparents moved in with them in Saco and we all lived together until my dad’s place of employment moved to South Carolina in the early 1950’s. When I say all of us, there were mom, dad, Nanny, Bump, (grandparents) myself and four siblings and a cousin who had been adopted by my grandparents. I and my cousin graduated high school (Thornton Academy) in 1949 and had joined the military before my dad and mom moved and my grandparents moved in with their youngest daughter. These were the best years of the 88 years I have lived. My parents and grandparents were the nicest, most loving people I have ever known; even if I got my share of spankings. I really believe this type of discipline made all of us kids
grow up to be honest, hard-working adults.
Grandfathers are born in a different time, place and a different world. Between the time they and you are born there are a raft of things that change and new things invented that change your thinking, attitude, habits, and just about everything a person does in life.
“Bump” had several stories he told kids and had advice for us when the occasion reminded him of something. When my oldest son was born, and my wife took him to the doctor to have him circumcised, he said to her “why did you do that.? The poor little guy didn’t have much to start with and you had more cut off.” Before I was married I took two weeks leave and my future wife and I went home to Maine so she could meet my family. A few days after we arrived Bump took me aside and asked “do you want me to break her in for you” and we laughed and laughed. I told him “no I think I can handle it”. One of our favorite things to do was play cowboys and Indians. Bump had a dent in the top of his head (since birth) that was about three inches long. He told the kids that when he was a kid he played cowboys and Indians with real Indians. If any kid doubted him he said he could prove it and said he got hit on the head with a tomahawk. If they still doubted him he would say “o.k. feel my head” there’s a dent there. Usually that convinced them. He actually did have a dent on top of his head that ran from front to back 3″ to 4″ long.
My grandparents always helped out by working and buying us kids clothes, school books, etc. My grandfather by lobstering and grandmother worked at a doctor’s home as their maid for a while. This same Dr. took out my appendix when I was seventeen.) She also worked at the Pepperell Mills factory for several years.
During the years all of we kids scattered to end up living in different states. We all became connected with the military and moved away. personally, I have regrets about not staying home after leaving the service, but what’s done is done. One year most of us were home for Nanny and Bumps wedding anniversary (It was No. 60 I think) and all met at a restaurant to celebrate. A Portland reporter asked Bump what he attributed their long marriage to. Bump said that Nanny always gave him the last word…………….YES DEAR.
In their late years, Bump and Nanny lived in a Catholic Home on the Pool Road. Nanny passed away first in 1982 at age 90, Bump lived on to be 96 years young. The world will never see two more loving people.
GOD BLESS YOU