Notes about Whitefield by Janet Lister McBride
I was Janet Lister when I lived on Rooney Road. My parents bought the
farm in 1942. We lived there until New Years Eve/New Years Day 1946.
My two brothers Dan and Don and my sister Joan made up my siblings. We all attended Church School that was beside the Catholic Church on Church
Hill in Whitefield.
My husband John Ingram and I went down Rooney Road in 1998 and found the
house. It is the one that is now painted faded red. It is actually the Old Will Rooney House. I stopped and talked to the lady who
lives there now. I think at first she thought I was some kind of nut until I told her where every room in the house was located plus
the fireplaces etc. She took us in. I told her where there was a
spring across the road, where it ran under the culvert, and so many things. I had gone there in 1997 but didn't realize that that
was the house. Even the Lilac is there in the front just like it was when we left in 1946.
The road used to go through when we lived there. The Twist family lived past us then and they were the last house on the road. Annie
Kelly and her sister Catherine lived in the first house. They had a male hand who helped them. The next house was kind of a
shed that the Carter family moved into during the winter sometimes but they lived in the house past there.
There was no electricity, and the road was more like two ruts once you got past Annie Kelly's House. She let us kids wait in her house
when it was cold. We waited for the school bus there. We could
see the road from her kitchen window. The bus would wait. It was a panel truck like we call a van today. It had seats on the sides.
Francis Mooney and her sister were our teachers. She married Jerome
Hickey I think. Didn't the sisters marry brothers or something like that.
I loved the woods, flowers etc. I would love to still live there today but
alas, I am in Texas where it was 101 today, yesterday and tomorrow. I was born in California and this is something I have learned to live with.
I think my love for Rooney Road just gets stronger as time goes on.
I am not sure of the year but it could have been the winter of 1944 when there was a really bad
snowstorm. I remember the snowplow only cleared the road as far as Annie Kelley's garage and did not
come any further. My father had left his car somewhere up by the main road on the night of the storm, maybe in Annie's driveway but for nearly 30 days they did not plow Rooney Road.
In that time my father would walk daily to the car to go to work in the shoe factory in Gardiner,
Hallowell or Augusta ( I am not sure because he had worked in them all) and
of course, carry in whatever groceries we needed.You can imagine how 'old' that got.
I remember my dad and my brother Don finally started shoveling from our house toward the main road.
I don't remember how many days they shoveled but I do remember they were really close to Annie's
house when they heard the snowplow coming towards them. They thought they had died and gone to heaven
to see them. It was a celebration for sure.
Things were really rough on Rooney Road in those days. I have made a few trips back since then but when I went back in 1998 and drove down Rooney Road. I
stopped at the Old Rooney House and could still see that 11 year old girl (that I was when I left on
New Years Eve) sitting on that same cellar door and smelling those Lillacs so sweet. I would have given big bucks to be able to walk in those woods again to
search for the first 'Lady Slippers' (and to see how many colors we could find) or to see the Jack In The Pulpits and Pussy Willows everywhere.
Us kids were in school with the Tibbits kids, Carter kids, and Twists
but I really don't remember any other names. I would love a photo of the school as it was then. We have none. I remember them
taking a photo during the war when we had collected some steel and I would love a copy of that with us kids in it.
I am attaching the lyrics to the Ballad of North Whitefield.
I hope you can understand what I was trying to say on this song.
It was the toughest time I can remember in our life but it was the best also. It was very very cold in winter. Wood only of course. Cook
stove was in the kitchen that had new cardboard on the walls in winter to keep the snow from blowing in. It was added to the main house and
had no real protection. When the real cold would come we moved into the small main part of the house, shut off the living room and one bedroom, with heating
only by a small pot bellied stove, my parents moved their bed into the dining
room area and that put us all in the three small center rooms. Mama cooked food on the top of that stove or cooked on the regular stove and then brought it into the small area for us to eat. We would live like that until spring.
I guess spring would explain why I loved the flowers so much. We could get back into the rest of the house in spring. Daddy would take us
on long woods walks where we would see how many different kinds of flowers we could find. The Lady Slippers were my favorites. (I refer
to them as lilies in the song) (couldn't rhyme Lady Slipper)
Anyway, I loved North Whitefield and Maine. I have cousins all over the
place in Gardiner, Augusta etc. No Lister relatives there though.
I do mean it when I say it was some of my best and most favorite memories.
I knew Annie Kelly was the 'lady' of the area. I had heard that from my
cousins in Gardiner. Word had spread about her. I have a 1979 photo of
her and the hired hand. I will have to dig it up. John and I went there to
visit Rooney Road and it thrilled her to no end. She hugged me so hard.
She hadn't heard from us since early 1946. She didn't answer our letters
so us kids didn't write anymore I guess. Don't really remember.
She is the one who remembered the night we left Rooney Road. I had long
forgotten it. After she told me then I did remember. She said you 'honked'
when you went by for the last time. She was right. Us kids had daddy honk
so that she would know we were gone. She was a dear lady and so good to
excerpts from e-mails from Janet McBride