My first memory was at the age of 4 when we lived on Hallowell’s Louden Hill. I was waiting for my mom, who was bringing home my baby sister, Eleanor, the last of us seven kids. She was named after our mom, Eleanor Falconi Routh.

Later on, we moved to 150 Water St. in the Tibbetts Block. Tibbetts Drug Store and Clem’s Shoe Repair Shop were beneath us.

Mr. Tibbetts, our landlord, would bring us ice cream on special holidays.

My first job was working for Clem, taking the bus from Hallowell to Gardiner. I paid my fare with a token. I earned 25 cents to take shoes that Clem couldn’t repair in his shop to be repaired in a shop in Gardiner.

I was 9 years old, and 25 cents was a lot of money.

Back then, we had an ice box, and when we needed a block of ice, we would put a sign in the window for the ice truck.

To use an ice box refrigerator, we put a pan on the bottom to catch the water as the ice melted.

Some times it would run over, and Clem would pound on his ceiling with a broom handle to let me know the water was dripping downstairs and to empty the pan.

My dad, Albert Routh, was the night watchman at what was the Hallowell Shoe Shop; now it’s known as the Cotton Mill Apartments.

At suppertime, I would bring over his supper and then we would get on a rickety old elevator to do the rounds. He had to go from floor to floor and punch a time clock every hour, checking for fire or intruders.

I got to carry his clock and punch it at the different locations. I felt really important.

The only bad memory was when I was 9 and my brother, Leon, was 11. He was a paperboy back then.

One Saturday, he fell into the river while playing with friends near the riverbank. My mother’s uncle, Mike Falconi, the fire chief, recovered his body.

When my son was born in 1961, I named him for his uncle Leon.

When I was 11, we moved from Hallowell to Augusta. That was 60 years ago, but I still think of Hallowell as my hometown.

Mary E. Routh Cobbs wrote this account of growing up in Hallowell during the early 1950s. Cobbs lives in Augusta.


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