Friday, July 23, 2021

Festival helps unite St. Anthony of Padua parishioners

With a dedication Mass, a procession with a statue of St. Anthony of Padua, and an outdoor festival, parishioners came together in Windham on July 16 and 17 to celebrate the formation of the new St. Anthony of Padua Parish.

“Today, we celebrate our officially formed blended family as the new St. Anthony Parish, knowing that we have a powerful parish intercessor in St. Anthony of Padua,” the Rev. Louis Phillips, pastor of the new parish, told parishioners.

Priests from the new St. Anthony of Padua Parish lead a
procession helping to dedicate the recently merged
parish  at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Windham
on July 16. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
The new St. Anthony of Padua Parish was formed July 1 by the canonical merger of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Windham, St. Anne Parish in Gorham, and St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Westbrook. Parishioners voted on a name for the new parish, and chose St. Anthony of Padua, which Bishop Robert Deeley approved.

The new parish features four worship sites including Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Windham, the summer chapel of Our Lady of Sebago in Sebago, St. Anne in Gorham, and St. Hyacinth in Westbrook.

Prior to the merger, the parishes already shared the same priests and pastoral staff, but the move will further strengthen their ties and, at the same time, reduce some administrative work and costs.

“I think it’s going to be good. I think there are some financial savings that will accrue to all the parishes, and I hope that, in the spirit of ecumenism, we will support each other, as we’re doing today,” said Paul Concannon of Knights of Columbus Council 2219 in Westbrook.

While the merger is, in some ways, an administrative move, Fr. Phillips said it is also about bringing parishioners together as one family, and that is why he wanted to have a celebration. Although the first St. Anthony Festival was held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, folks from the churches in Gorham and Westbrook also volunteered and attended.

“It’s the first time that we have come together as three churches under one parish. It’s the first time that we’ve had to work together for one goal,” said Carol Kennie, one of the festival organizers. “It’s been wonderful meeting everybody from the other parishes on a more personal, casual level. It’s amazing the talent, the interest, and the enthusiasm that we’ve had from everyone.”

Parishioners agreed.

“I’m hoping we’re all going to get to know each other. That’s the reason we’re having this,” said Christine Lynch, who attends Our Lady of Perpetual Help. “It’s been a good team, a good working team.”

The festival began with a dedication Mass, during which Rev. Phillips blessed St. Anthony medals and prayer cards, which were then distributed to parishioners. Following the Mass, Deacon Dean Lachance carried a statue of St. Anthony, leading a procession of priests and parishioners to an outdoor St. Anthony Shrine, where people placed devotional candles.

The Friday evening festivities concluded with a light reception of appetizers, sangria, beer, and other beverages.

On Saturday, the St. Anthony Festival featured live music; booths with handmade items, jewelry, and books; a silent auction with items such as bicycles, kayaks, and a homemade quilt; a yard sale; raffles; and lots of food, including homemade meatball sandwiches, clam cakes, fried dough, hamburgers and hotdogs, and pizza. You could also buy a s’mores kit and roast them over a fire pit, and after a break for 4 p.m. Mass, members of Knights of Columbus Council 10020 in Windham put on a chicken barbecue dinner.

“We’re working the whole day. We’re working the yard sale. We’re helping with the other concessions, and we’re doing the chicken barbecue dinner,” said Charlie Bougie, Grand Knight of the Windham council. “We’re a pretty active council, and we do whatever we can, but this is the first opportunity for us to be a faith community that includes the other churches, and we’re up for that anytime.”

Bougie and the other volunteers said they are excited about the newly formed parish.

“I think it’s wonderful, and with the fact that St. Anthony is in charge, we’ll help all the lost souls,” said Bougie.

Some parishioners said they liked meeting new people.

“I think it’s fabulous,” said Rita Smith, who normally attends St. Hyacinth Church in Westbrook. “We need to unify our church and get new ideas from different corners and just celebrate together.”

Although the merger took place July 1, it has been in the works for months. The process included informational sessions with parishioners, which resulted in a proposal being presented to the bishop, whose approval was needed.

The bishop consulted with the Presbyteral Council and received the consent of both the College of Consultors and the Diocese of Portland’s Finance Council before agreeing to let the merger proceed. There was then a two-week window in which people could appeal the decision.

To reach the new St. Anthony of Padua Parish, call 207-857-0490. <        

Friday, July 16, 2021

A matter of historical record: Origins of the Cumberland & Oxford Canal – part two of a series

By Walter Lunt

Traveling back roads in the late 18th century was an extremely unpleasant and sometimes dangerous activity. Transporting cargo on the unimproved trails north of Falmouth (Portland), including the Sebago Pond (Lake) area, was nearly impossible. As discussed in part one of this series (The Windham Eagle – July 2, 2021), economic development was stymied by the inaccessibility of inland resources like timber and wood products. 

Influential traders and retailers like Woodbury Storer, Peleg Wadsworth and Enoch Freeman foresaw the potential for a lucrative trade in manufactured goods and farm produce, just out of reach in isolated woodlands to the north.


In his book, Canals and Inland Waterways of Maine (1982, Maine Historical Society Research Series, No. 2), historian Hayden L.V. Anderson notes, “By 1790 Portland was recovering from the effects of (the Revolutionary) war and feeling the influence of the new national spirit. A period of vigorous growth began. The town had…been surrounded by forests of towering pine, with ridges of oak, red and white ash, birch and other hardwoods, and settlers along the Presumpscot and Stroudwater rivers had for some time been cutting this easily reached timber…Portland’s splendid harbor and bustling inland settlements provided the setting and opportunity for the rise of an industrious and versatile merchant class.”

However, as Anderson observed, “…roads of the time provided poor freightways.”

Likewise, the Presumpscot River was an equally undesirable alternative with its shallow stretches, rocky obstacles and numerous waterfalls.

The chosen option, born of the trade route dilemma, was a hand-dug canal from Sebago Pond to the falls at Saccarappa (Westbrook), to be known as the Cumberland Canal. Because the Presumpscot did not directly connect to Portland, a second canal group was organized to construct the Falmouth Canal from the head of Saccarappa Falls to the Fore River in Portland. The prime mover of the joint venture was Woodbury Storer, who immediately spearheaded a committee charged with studying the feasibility of creating a “Big Ditch” from “Sebago to the sea.” The panel reported back promptly and enthusiastically, saying that such a canal system would be wise and warranted, as it would extend the region’s economic reach some 60 miles inland.

The Massachusetts General Court incorporated Storer and others as proprietors of the Cumberland Canal. Loammi Baldwin, designer and engineer of the Middlesex Canal at Boston was hired to come and “view the ground” and advise the group. Planning and preparation proceeded slowly; it wasn’t until 1803 that Governor Samuel Adams signed a charter authorizing $20,000 for the purchase of land and allowing up to ten years to dig the canal and bring it up to full use. The following year it became obvious that the initial $20,000 outlay was not enough, and it was increased to $120,000 for each canal company.

In the years leading up to what would have been the Cumberland & Falmouth Canal, it was estimated that Portland’s prosperity nearly quadrupled due to vigorous trade with Great Britain and the West Indies.

In 1806 and 1807, due to international events, the boom times collapsed. Nationwide trade embargos, instituted by Congress, and later by President Thomas Jefferson over issues related to the impressment of American sailors and American sovereignty shut down ports up and down the eastern seaboard.

Gloomy economic times fell on the port of Portland. Commercial shipping and related business interests valued at over a million and a half dollars were halted. One observer quipped, “Great distress prevailed…grass literally grew upon the wharves…”

The disastrous times also brought failure to progress on the Cumberland and the Falmouth canals. Recovery would not be realized for another 20 years, well after Maine statehood.

Next time, the story of the second attempt to construct “water communication” between Portland and Sebago. <

Friday, July 2, 2021

A matter of historical record: The Cumberland and Oxford Canal – first of a multi-part series

An illustration is
shown accompanying
an article about the
Cumberland and Oxford
Canal from the Portland
Advertiser newspaper
on Sept. 3, 1899.
SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Walter Lunt

Before he was the first vice-president under George Washington, and before he became the second president of the United States, John Adams traveled the back trails of Southern Maine as a circuit judge.

In his journals, he revealed how he despised the journey, describing the steep hills and the mud and ruts as “vastly disagreeable.” He even stated that he “hated the trees” because they often blocked his path.

At the time, in the 1770s, certain spotted trails (many, old Indian trails) were all that connected the inner tier of townships like Gorham, Windham and Gray. An enterprising farmer might walk miles over unkept trails carrying a bag corn for milling.

Lumbermen of the time used rivers and streams to transport their stock-in-trade, however hundreds of acres remained untapped due to lack of suitable waterways.

Blocking the way were shallow stretches, waterfalls or rock-filled rapids. The Presumpscot, for example, sported seventeen waterfalls and turned north at Cumberland Mills, away from the wharves at Portland.

Nature and geography had endowed Maine with an abundance of two valuable commodities: fish and timber. The latter, however, remained ensconced and inaccessible north of Portland. Stands of tall pine and groves of hardwood trees stood since time immemorial in forests along the north and east shores of Sebago Pond (Lake), sheltered and untapped by early entrepreneurs.

Road improvement was an unlikely prospect, given certain stretches of watery lowland, steep grades and spring washouts, not to mention the distance of over 20 miles.

The easiest and most efficient mode of travel by the early settlers was by water. Gorhamtown and New Marblehead (Windham) were planned by following a river (Presumpscot), so it was natural for the founders to consider waterways as the best form of connecting settlements. Although turnpikes and toll bridges were favored early on, widespread interest in canal building surged after the Revolution - spurred by George Washington’s interest in internal improvements. Hand-dug canals, though costly to build and maintain, seemed like the only suitable option for “communication” between shipping interests in Portland and the inland towns.

Inland travel in America, even into the 1800s, was easiest by water. By 1793, over 30 canal companies had been incorporated in the original 13 colonies. Portland businessmen, including merchant Woodbury Storer, were eager to tap inland resources for domestic use and for shipping to foreign ports.

The use of canals was considered a public service but was carried out by private corporations which required authorization by the state legislature. The earliest overture for the construction of a canal between Sebago Pond and the port of Portland was advanced by Storer and others in 1791.

We’ll discuss that ill-fated attempt and detail the full story of the Cumberland and Oxford Canal (which never really reached Oxford County) next time.  <

Friday, June 18, 2021

Yard sale, bottle drive, raffles to help Windham Youth Bowlers

Camden Gendron, Lucas Littlefield, and
Zach Bernier get lessons from local
bowling coach Jimmy Clark last year. 
The Windham Youth Bowling fundraiser
will include a yard sale, bottle drive and 
raffles on Saturday, June 19.
SUBMITTED PHOTO  
By Daniel Gray

On Saturday June 19, the public can give a boost to Windham Youth Bowlers by participating in a combined yard sale, bottle drive, and even a raffle all merged into one.

The Windham Youth Bowling fundraiser will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Percy Hawkes Road in Windham and will be a multi-family yard sale, although it will be centralized on one property to make it easier for people to browse. There will also be yellow signs directing people the right way once turning onto Percy Hawkes Road.

While items are scattered, the yard sale aspect will contain books, plus-sized women's clothing items, furniture, craft supplies, and children's toys. And that’s not to mention the amazing raffle prizes that are being offered, one being a “bowling basket” and another being a “beauty basket” featuring gift certificates and assorted items.

The “bowling basket” contains a gift certificate for bowling shoes from Dexter Bowling, a gift card to Bayside Bowl, some bowling T-shirts, and a bag for the bowling shoes that can be attached to a regular bowling bag.

In the “beauty basket” there is a gift certificate for a facial from Samantha Hale at Hands and Soul, some Color Street Nail sets donated by Rachel Lagere at Simply Sparkle with Rachel, and several other makeup and beauty products.

Along with the bottle drive that will be taking place, organizer April Moras Littlefield hopes it will be one interesting yard sale. All of the proceeds go toward a Youth Bowlers' trip to Indianapolis, which is where the Junior Gold Bowling Tournament will be held from July 9 to July 18.

Littlefield, a second-grade teacher in Lewiston and a bowling fan, wanted to help deflect some of the cost in any way she could for the families of Windham Youth Bowlers going to Indianapolis. This is a big opportunity for everyone, especially after canceled tournaments in 2020.

"We had a big event like this being planned last year when everything was shut down." She said, "As a parent of a bowler who wanted to compete, I knew that 10 days of practice and tournaments was going to be expensive. I decided to help the seven bowlers from our association, and their families, with such a long trip in the same way."

Her son Lucas Littlefield, a bowler in the league for nine years, said that he is very appreciative of his mom's efforts to help with the team’s costs.

"I really enjoy and appreciate her help and active participation in a hobby and sport I enjoy,” he said. “Her help with the fundraisers has drastically impacted the sport's opportunities and has also helped my friends grow with me as bowlers.”

With the tournament coming up in July and costly expenses per family to participate, April Littlefield said she is optimistic that the fundraiser, whether it be through the yard sale, raffles, or bottle drive, will help everyone. Even if someone cannot attend the event, their bottle drive at Patman's Redemption for the Windham Youth Bowlers is available for folks who want to lend a helping hand.

"I'm excited to have this event. I think it’s a great opportunity to share our love of the sport,” she said. “A lot of people think of bowling as only something you do with friends for a fun night out or during a rainy day, which it is. But few people realize there is a competitive side to it as well. So while the main focus of this event is to raise money for the families going to the Junior Gold Tournament, it is also a great way to help grow our sport. I’m excited for both."

Disappointed by 2020's missed opportunities, Lucas Littlefield thinks that 2021 will be a better year, especially with help from our community.

"This yard sale will be items from our own homes and items from people within the community,” he said. “The community is coming together to support us and I thank and appreciate all the help that people are pouring in to help make our experience and opportunities come to fruition."

Windham Youth Bowlers competed in the Saturday Morning Youth League and some high school participants bowled in the Juniors League on Saturdays from September to April.  The upcoming Junior Gold Bowling Tournament in Indianapolis is a national event with young bowlers qualifying from ac ross America. 

For more information about the yard sale, bottle drive or raffles, visit April Moras Littlefield’s Facebook page. <

Friday, June 11, 2021

WHS alumnus embarks upon dream job with U.S. Navy

Adam Maley of Windham, despite
facing many challenges as a young
person that would have prevented
some from following their dreams,
is living his career of choice. On
Sunday, he left Maine and is now
in Yokosuka, Japan to serve on
board the USS Benfold, a destroyer
built at Bath Iron Works in Maine.
SUBMITTED PHOTO
 
By Lorraine Glowczak

Adam Maley of Windham has held a lifelong dream of making a career in the U.S. Armed Forces and that desire is about to become a reality.

“Since about the age of 10, I've always had this itch…this monkey on my back trying to pull me in the direction of military service,” said Maley, a 2016 graduate of Windham High School.

However, as a teenager, Maley didn’t expect to see his dream come to fruition. While growing up and in school, he was often restless, easily distracted and had trouble focusing on assignments and classwork. He was identified as having ADHD and placed in special education classes. Although he didn’t expect much of himself once separated from the traditional education path, he states there was no official diagnosis to explain his inattentiveness. He said it was just a part of his teenage experience and was not an indication of his intelligence.

“I showed no real clear signs of ADHD,” Maley said. “I just felt the educational material and the way it was being presented to me was dry and hard to engage in. It was a time when I was going through that teenage nervous wreck phase – and like all teenagers – I was self-conscious about how I looked and what people thought of me. Being in those special education classes made me feel less than my peers. I felt labeled and believed others looked down on me. I didn't think I would be much of anything after high school.”

Believing that the military was now out of his reach, Maley decided during his junior year of high school to learn a technical trade to prepare for his future. But what Maley didn’t know - it was this choice that would shift a belief in himself and set the course for his future.

“The one thing that helped me find myself in the midst of high school was going to Westbrook Regional Vocational Center,” Maley said. “I was training as a heavy equipment operator in the field of construction and our instructors aimed to give us the tools and knowledge to land high paying jobs and be successful doing the trades we loved. It was here that my confidence grew. I no longer felt as if I was failing.”

Maley decided to move forward on his longtime dream of joining the military, but he couldn't decide which branch he wanted to enlist.

“It wasn’t until one day, a recruiter for the Navy called and asked if I would like to visit them and see what they had to offer,” Maley said “And the rest is history.”

Seamen Recruit Maley’s career in the Navy is now in full swing. After a brief visit with his family, SR Maley left Windham this past Sunday, June 6 and is now in Yokosuka, Japan to board the USS Benfold (DDG-65), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (which, ironically, was built at Bath Iron Works in Brunswick).

“This ship will be my home for the next four years, and I would not change the experience – my dream - for anything in the world.”

SR Maley said the Navy has completely changed him in terms of confidence and physical health and in the process has instilled the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment. “I feel forever changed in the way I see day to day life - always looking with a positive attitude no matter what the situation brings.”

His goal is to achieve the rank of Petty Officer Second Class and work as an RP (Religious Program) Specialist with the Navy’s chaplains.

SR Maley’s parents, George Maley and Melissa Harmon who have encouraged and supported their son to beat the odds, are very happy that he is accomplishing his dream.

“Adam was four years old and his brother, Andrew, was three when I became a single dad 24/7,” Adam’s father George Maley said. “It wasn’t easy to be both mom and dad, but I am honored to have witnessed my sons grow into the people they are today. It is true that Adam had always wanted to be in the military. When we would go shopping for school, Adam immediately ran to the camouflage clothes. This is all he wanted to wear. What I admire the most about Adam is that he never would give in or give up. He was a determined person who never used the words, ‘I can’t.’ I could not be prouder of Adam and the choice he has made to serve his country and protect our freedom.”

Melissa Harmon-Maley also feels honored to have been a part of SR Maley’s life. “As his stepmom I always had the confidence in Adam’s capabilities, but to see him grow over the years and watch him gain confidence in HIMSELF is incredible to see,” she said. “I’m BEYOND proud of him!”

For the 2021 WHS students who will be graduating this Sunday, SR Maley offers the following guidance; “My advice for current graduates and high school students is just because you find yourself in a specific class or given a label by your peers or others - or even if you are told you won’t be able to accomplish something – their opinion about you doesn't have to be your reality,” he said. <

Friday, June 4, 2021

Summer fun for residents a goal for Windham Parks and Recreation

By Elizabeth Richards

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift, the Windham Parks and Recreation Department is planning an exciting lineup of events and activities this summer.  “We are moving and shaking here for the summer months,” said Linda Brooks, Windham Director of Parks and Recreation.

Dundee Park opened for the season last weekend and things are almost how they were pre-pandemic, Brooks said, with one key exception.  There will not be lifeguards on duty at Dundee Park this year, mainly because lifeguards are in short supply.

Paris Knight practices the long jump last 
summer during the Windham Summer
Track Program at Windham High School.
This year's Summer Track Program starts
June 21 and is part of an extensive number
of summer events and activities planned
by Windham Parks and Recreation for
area residents. COURTESY PHOTO 
REBECCA VERSLUIS

“There was already a lifeguard shortage before the pandemic, and the inability of people to get trained and certified during the pandemic added to that shortage,” Brooks said.

Another exciting thing, Brooks said, is the return of the summer concert series at Dundee Park after a one-year hiatus because of the pandemic.  The series will run four Wednesday nights, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., with the first concert set for July 7.  Admission to Dundee Park is free after 5 p.m. on concert evenings.

Facilities can once again be reserved to host family gatherings or parties at Dundee Park. New this year is the ability to reserve picnic space at Donnabeth Lippman park as well, which includes access to yard games stored there at the park.

Also on the lineup is a modified – but not strictly virtual - version of Summerfest.

“We are celebrating Summerfest here in Windham, albeit different than it used to be,” Brooks said.  “We have a few different ways that businesses and organizations are able to still do what they normally do and spotlight their organizations.”

A town wide scavenger hunt will take place during the week leading up to June 19, the traditional Summerfest date.  Businesses and organizations will provide challenges through a free app, EVENTZEE, and prizes will be awarded for participation. 

“Families may want to do it together, but it can be an individual participation thing as well,” Brooks said.

In lieu of the traditional parade, Summerfest will include “Yardi Gras” where residents or businesses will create floats to display in their front yards using the theme “Summertime in the Lakes Region.”  

Windham Parks & Recreation will publish a map of all the floats so that people can drive by and see them in person and $100 prizes will be awarded to the best entries in each of five categories.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Sebago Lake Rotary Club and Modern Woodmen are sponsoring a golf ball drop, with a potential top prize of $1,000, depending on how many of the 1,000 available balls are sold.

Proceeds of the fundraiser will support both Summerfest and the Windham Food Pantry.  Balls can be purchased through the Chamber website. The Windham Fire Department will drop the balls from a ladder truck at 1 p.m. on June 19.  People can watch the drop in person or live on Facebook. 

Although it’s different than traditional Summerfest, the committee really wanted to do something fun and great and promote what Windham’s Parks and Recreation is all about, Brooks said.

Windham Parks and Recreation is also offering “Summer Kids Club,” again this year.  More than 200 children are registered already, an increase of about 100 participants over last year, Brooks said. 

Though they’ll have to adhere to some camp-specific guidelines around COVID-19, they’re a little less restrictive than last year at this time, Brooks said. While staffing for camp programs has been a struggle in some communities, Brooks said they’re fortunate to have both strong returning staff and some new staff.

The summer track program will begin on June 21 and currently, Brooks said that they’re uncertain as to whether they’ll work under USATF and compete against other programs, since they received an update only last week, and many other communities are opting out this year.  Even if they decide not to go that route, she said, they would like to offer some type of competition. 

“Last year competition was not allowed at all. This year it could be, so we may be just trying to pull something together with neighboring communities to still give the participants that experience,” she said.

The department has been hosting Playdates in the Park for preschoolers this spring, and may continue through the summer months, depending on interest, Brooks said.

A range of opportunities for seniors are also available.

For more information, or to register for Windham Parks and Recreation summer programs, visit https://windhamrecreation.com. <

Friday, May 28, 2021

Before the memory fades: Field and Allen, Windham’s sons of sacrifice and honor

Sgt. James Franklin Allen
(1919-1945)
COURTESY PHOTO
By Walter Lunt

Last week, this column discussed the character and combat legacy of Charles W.W. Field, Windham’s first casualty of World War 1. Part 2 is about the first loss of a native son during World War II, James Allen.

L. Wayne Allen retrieved the contents of his mailbox and immediately recognized the handwriting on one of the envelopes. It was from his older brother, James Allen, who was serving in the United States Marine Corps overseas – World War II had been raging for several years and the Allen family, like all war families of the early 1940s, was anxious about the status of their sons and daughters in uniform.

The letter from James indicated that should anything happen to him, L. Wayne should take possession of his dairy cows. A grim communication.

James had established a substantial herd of livestock before going off to the war in the fall of 1941. He loved the farm, which had been in the family for generations. It is located on Cartland Road in the Popeville (Friends) neighborhood of Windham, and is now being maintained by James’ nephew, Lee Allen (L. Wayne and Monica Allen’s son).

James saw his first action at Roi-Namur in the Kwajalein Atoll, then in Saipan and the invasions of the Marshall Islands, engagements described as fierce and bloody. Each battle victory moved the U.S. closer to the Japanese mainland and would facilitate long-range bombing attacks.

Then came Iwo Jima, a 2-by-4 square mile island less than 700 miles from the Japanese homeland. A bomber base there would enable B-29s to fly only half the distance to Japan and back. Some 22,000 Japanese stood ready to defend the island.

In February 1945, Sgt. Allen was among three infantry divisions put ashore there to engage in one of the most violent and deadly operations of the war. He would die in battle two weeks later, along with 5,930 other Marines.

 A posthumous citation, awarded after his death and presented to his mother, Flora Allen, detailed Sgt. James Allen’s valor in combat. It read: “For excellent service as squad leader in a reconnaissance company during operations against the enemy on March 6, 1945 on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands. Sergeant Allen maintained control of his men while under heavy machine gun and mortar fire. He succeeded in withdrawing his squad from an enemy machine gun lane to commanding ground. Without regard for his personal safety, he exposed himself on numerous occasions to severe enemy fire to direct the evacuation of the wounded. His courage and conduct throughout were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” (Signed) C.B. Cates, Major General, USMC, Commanding 4th Marine Division.

James was the first Windham native to die in World War II, just as his cousin, Lt. Charles W.W. Field had been the first from Windham to perish in World War I (The Windham Eagle – May 21, 2021).

News of James’ death hit the Windham community hard. The family fielded letters, cards and phone calls for weeks. There were newspaper articles and, for a while, he was the only news in town.

His high school yearbook noted he was an “outstanding basketball player;” and participated in the school newspaper, swimming, drama club, speaking (contest), orchestra, chorus, Future Farmers of America, class treasurer, and president of the student council.

While distinguishing himself as a Marine at war, James wrote many letters home to family and friends. Many are kept at the Windham Historical Society. They display a remarkable sense of selflessness and devotion. In them, he spoke little of himself, instead inquiring extensively about every detail of the lives of his seven brothers and sisters, his friends and relatives, even his cows. He thanked his father for selling his automobile, saying he hoped to buy a new car when he got home. He had left behind a fiancée, so marriage was also to be part of a homecoming.

Among the many memories and tributes in the months and years following James’ death was one written by his nephew, Lee Allen. In “A tribute to my Uncle James Franklin Allen,” he quotes a close friend of his uncle’s, who described the fallen soldier this way, “(Jim) always impressed me with his physique and his honest, calm, straightforward manner. One could feel the strength of character in his personality.”

To memorialize its two native sons, Windham would name a school and a local American Legion Post in their honor.

Lee Allen would go on to teach at the Field-Allen School, named in part for his uncle. At least once every year, he would speak to the classes about the honor and sacrifice of Charles W.W. Field and James Franklin Allen so that the students would know and understand the significance of their school’s namesakes.

Field and Allen were alike in many ways. Both grew up on a Windham farm and seemed pledged to stay there; both were men of high personal character; both responded early-on to the call of their country; both left their fiancée behind, never realizing a married life; and, they were cousins.

Finally, it would seem those famous words spoken by a Navy admiral of Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue,” could easily be applied to both Field and Allen. <