Summers in Maine

Bernie’s first experienced summer in Maine as a boy when ‘Uncle’ George & ‘Aunt’ Kate took him there. Uncle George was George Studebaker, who worked as a liquor inspector for the government testing distilleries products to ensure that they met the posted alcohol content. Aunt Kate was a relative of Henry Paul’s family in Tennessee. The Studebakers had taken in Mary Dooley from the Catholic orphanage where she, and her sisters, were placed following their father’s death. It was the connection with Tennessee that lead Henry Paul to meet Mary Dooley after he arrived in Baltimore from his childhood home in Tennessee. The Studebakers, who had no children of their own, lived in an apartment near Henry & Mary Paul’s home on Gilmore Street. The Studebakers were sort of semi-related grandparents to Bernard.

Every summer Mr. & Mrs Studebaker went to Maine for an extended vacation. One year they decided to take Bernie with them. The trip began with a train ride from Baltimore to New York City. There they transferred to a Pullman sleeping car, on another railroad, for the overnight trip to Portland Maine. Once they arrived in Portland they took a streetcar down to the harbor where they boarded a Casco Bay Co. steam boat for the ride to Orr’s Island. During their Orr’s Island vacation the stayed in a boarding house, which was probably a private home that rented rooms to ‘Summer people’, and served family-style meals. Orr’s Island is completely surrounded by a rocky coast line, with plenty of interesting spots for a boy to explore. So began Bernie’s love of Maine.

Between the time Edee & Bernie were married in 1930 and Peter was born in 1933 they spent several summers teaching puppetry and probably costume making at the T-Ledge summer camp for girls on Orr’s. T-Ledge was founded in 1927 by Mrs Nell B. Knorr and could accommodate about 100 girls. *( see footnote about T-Ledge ).

Once Peter, then Larry arrived, along with the difficult financial times during the depression, trips to Maine were not possible. Pearl Harbor and WWII, with its gasoline rationing and crowded trains, made any long-distance vacation travel impossible.

Once the war ended, Maine for a couple weeks in the summer once again became possible. This time it included Peter & Larry in the back seat of the the 1941 Plymouth for a 2-day road trip to Orr’s Island. The Paul family stayed at Royal Rest. Actually they stayed in two rooms at a Victorian house owned by Miss Wakeman, but ate their meals in the dining room of Royal Rest which was operated by the Houghtons. Miss Wakeman’s house was rather primitive by todays standards. The toilet was a two-hole seat in a shed at the end of the porch. Water for a bath was pumped from a cistern in the basement, heated on the stove, then carried up to the bath tub on the second floor. But to two young boys who had never been more than a few miles from Linthicum, it was great fun. Except maybe for the toilet experience.

Meals at Royal Rest were all cooked by Mrs Houghton and served by their daughter Pauline. Everyone was assigned a table that was theirs during the entire time they were there. For breakfast there were some choices, how you wanted your eggs, when they were served. Other mornings would be pan cakes. Almost every morning there were fresh from the kitchen donuts. For lunch and dinner there were no choices. Everyone was served the same thing, but everything was delicious.

After the first summer Bernie & Edee began renting the ‘Pinecone’ one of two little cabins owned by the Houghtons. The Pinecone was really basic, but with a real indoor toilet. The toilet had to be shared with Mr. Houghton’s mother who lived in an adjacent cabin. The Pinecone had a raised porch across the front which opened into the living room. The living room consisted of a chair, dresser & combination couch / single bed. Behind the living room was a bedroom which was just large enough for a double bed & dresser. To the right of the living room was the kitchen with a wood stove, the only source of heat on chilly days. The rear corner was a hallway with outside door & door to the toilet compartment. It was here that a bath in a tin wash basin, with water heated on the stove took place. A not everyday event. Meals were served at the Royal Rest dining room.

As vacations got longer during breaks from the TV show. Edee & Bernie spent more time at the Pinecone. Bernie had a local boat builder make him a row boat which he named ‘Punch’. Yes everything had to have a name. He bought an outboard motor and when the tide was in at nearby Beal’s Cove they went exploring in the rowboat.

Thomas Edison’s daughter, Marion Edison Oeser, ( b-1873 d-1965) spent her summers on the Royal Rest property in her own trailer which was pulled from New Jersey behind her impressive automobile driven by her chauffeur and caretaker Wilfred. Mrs Oeser was not able to walk so she spent most of her time in her trailer. Edee would often go over to her trailer and spend time visiting with her.

A few years later several new summer cabins were being built on Great Island so they decided to buy one. Great Island is connected to Orr’s & Bailey’s Islands by a series of bridges on route 24 that begins at Cook’s Corner at route 1 in Brunswick, and ends at Lands End at the far end of Bailey’s Island.

The new cabin was a great step-up in convenience from the former accommodations, with running hot & cold water, flush toilet, a shower, and a real kitchen. The living room had a fireplace. There were two, not very large, bedrooms. Attached to the rear side Bernie built a min-workshop. The new cabin became ‘Cahalot’ because every cabin needs a name. Actually none of the other cabins in development had a name.

Edee really enjoyed her summers at Cacalot because this was ‘their home’, not shared with Mary & Henry.

After the TV show ended they spent the entire summers in Maine. Hand puppets were created because they could be carried in less space in the car and shows were booked in Maine as a source of income during the summer.

When Edee was no longer able to travel and was in the nursing home, Bernie still made his summer trips to Cachalot. During one winter someone broke into the cabin and somehow set it on fire. The fire did lots of damage be did not destroy the cabin. It was very upsetting to Bernie, and difficult to have repairs made by telephone. Things were put back in shape and once again he was able to enjoy summer In Maine. For several years the smell of smoke greeted you every time you opened the front door.

Everything in life keeps changing, and finally Bernie decided it was time to sell Cachlot and say goodby to summers in Maine. His realtor sold the cabin to a couple from Maine who were living on the west coast, but wanted to move back to a job opening in Portland. They bought the cabin after seeing it listed on the internet.

* Article on T-Ledge in Lewiston Evening Journal, August 16, 1958 type in ’T-ledge camp’ to access.

~ Larry Paul