Veteran's Park

Creation of the Bowdoinham Veterans’ Park

by Lara Ashouwak

 

As the 250th Birthday of Bowdoinham approached, people gathered together with grand ideas of what to do to celebrate this milestone. People went off on all sorts of tangents with suggestions to celebrate, educate, create and improve various aspects of our Town.  One thing led to another and I found myself staring at the old cannon in the Town center, so I volunteered to “spruce things up”.  Then research, measurements, consultations and meetings upon meetings, lead to complete upheaval of a landmark that had been left alone for over 100 years.

Driving by the day after Tourtelotte Excavation got in there, I knew there was no going back.  The cannon weighed four tons, the gun carriage was about that and they both were going to sit on another 4 tons of granite.  A substantial foundation was required and an eight foot deep concrete base was poured. Doug Tourtelotte helped met get everything back together and straight. I have such a great appreciation for the nimble work that can be done with really big equipment now.

With the critical pieces back together and the weather warming up, Phase 2 began - time to make things beautiful! First there was the mud and ruts, then the rust and all those blasted rocks. Week after week, we raked, planted grass.  Chad Mayo and the guys from Public Works brought in the recycled asphalt material and made the path. Sarah Stapler designed the inspired layout and, if you squinted, a park was taking shape. The cannon was rusty and the flag pole crumbled when we tried to move it.  Eventually, all those ducks were put in a row.  A new light was installed for the new flag pole and the lovely gentlemen of the Knights of Pythias installed an outside water faucet. Life was good and the grass grew. 

The annual Plant Sale came around and with their helpful advice we planted the garden and chose the new trees. We have a Crabapple to honor our local history with them and a Magnolia, because they’re pretty. With the old horses’ watering trough returned (almost) to its original spot on Main Street, Sam Stetson made it her pet project to keep it ablaze with patriotic colors through the summer. As things took hold and filled out, our Veterans’ Park truly became a beautiful and serene place to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our local veterans.

The Stetson Family donated a lovely bench and we have educational signs which speak to the history of the area and theme. Wonderful people like Kathy Montejo who donated the small flags, Lynn Spiro from the Town Landing who brought out ice water to thirsty groundskeepers and the great (invisible) person who mows the lawn, continue this Town’s legacy of community spirit. To all the well-wishers who shared complements as they drove by - even the fellow who wanted to see my small dog shot out of the cannon, you inspired us to finish this project. Here’s to Bowdoinham and to all who shared in this amazing birthday celebration.