Friday, March 26, 2021

Before the memory fades: The creation of Windham’s town seal, and the story behind it

By Walter Lunt

During the first week of June 1987, Windham was in the midst of a four-day birthday bash. The celebration commemorated the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the community’s first established resident, Thomas Chute, in 1737. There were parades, a giant festival, concerts, historical events and a giant birthday cake.

From the planning process came a suggestion that the town adopt an official seal, or logo; a committee was appointed by the town council to consider the idea. The group, including Windham resident Marcia Blanchard, turned to a story found in Frederick Dole’s History of Windham which, curiously, was written in conjunction with the town’s bi-centennial celebration, 50 years earlier.

Dole describes the arrival of surveyor Rowland Houghton and two assistants from Massachusetts in 1935. They were commissioned the task of laying out the boundaries and land grant lots of a new settlement to be known as New Marblehead (later incorporated as the town of Windham in 1762). 

The group arrived during the time of spring rains and were carrying heavy equipment through what was then a vast wilderness. 

When they reached a stream, today located at the boundary of Windham and Westbrook, the cold, rushing water made for a rough crossing. Houghton dropped his ink horn, a hollowed-out animal horn, into the stream.

History is silent regarding whether the powder was lost or damaged, and, if so, how the surveyor was able to record his work. Hence, the stream became known as Inkhorn Brook – the settlement’s first place name.

Committee member Blanchard says local artists Erla Davis and Dana Plummer collaborated on a design for the seal, which produced an image featuring a pine tree, a winding stream, an inkhorn and a quill pen with a sky blue and grass green background.

Blanchard says the imagery shows the history of the town’s creation, “It was a group decision. I was pleased with it and it was appropriate (because) that’s what the town was built around.” 

She recalls not all citizens favored the image, but it prevailed by a vote of the committee, and ultimately the town council.

The seal is reproduced in a hallway at town hall and appears on official town stationery. <

Friday, March 19, 2021

As Windham Community Garden grows, committee seeks new board with fresh ideas

There are many incentives to being a Windham
Community Garden board member and there are
discussions to ass a few more perks for those with
fresh ideas who want to join in.
By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Community Garden will soon be celebrating 11 years of bringing health and wellbeing to the community in more ways than one. Established in early summer 2010, the public garden has been promoting sustainable agriculture, reducing neighborhood waste through composting, and increasing access to fresh produce not only for the gardeners themselves, but through donations to the local food pantry.

Centrally located on Route 202 near the Public Safety Building, the new Skate Park and the impending family community park, the public garden initiative was the vision of a few forward-thinking individuals who thought that a public garden in Windham was needed and would be well received. Well received, it turns out it has been.

“The first year, we had four families who joined us, but by the next year in 2011, we had 37 gardeners,” said one of the founding members, Pricilla Payne, who currently serves as the secretary to the board. “Now there are over 50 gardeners with 75 beds, and we continue to grow.”

As the growth continues and expands, the community garden committee invites those who are looking for ways to cultivate their own food, seek a community of like-minded individuals or have the passion to learn about environmental sustainability to be a part of the ‘grow local, eat well’ movement.

“It is our goal to not only provide food sustainability, but to sustain the continued growth of the community garden,” said Marge Govoni, another founding member. “To do so, we are welcoming new individuals with new and fresh ideas – not just for the garden beds but as a garden committee member too.”

With only a fee of $30 per bed, per year with no plans to increase those fees in the near-future, there are many benefits to being a member of the community garden board. This includes supplying the gardeners with compost, tools and on-site water sources.

“Besides the fresh air, knowing where your food comes from and being among fun, like-minded people, there are many other perks the committee is considering,” Govoni said.

Payne added that other incentives are currently being established for those who want to try their hand at being a part of the board. “We are having a board meeting soon and will be discussing the additional advantages for those who want to be a part of the board.”

Gardening or horticulture experience is not necessary, “just a passion for the environment, gardening, and a willingness to learn,” Govoni said. The only expectations to be a board member is to attend meetings and workdays as needed. 

Additionally, the Windham Community Garden acts as a public neighborhood cooperative in a variety of ways. They work in conjunction with The Boys and Girls Scouts for project badges, provide garden plots for scouts to give away food to area non-profits like the MSSPA (Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals), as well as having a long-standing relationship with The Katahdin Program.

“The students at Katahdin use the greenhouse and garden plots as part of their experiential learning,” Govoni said. “This gives them the opportunity for hands-on education that can be easily transformed into a career.”

Also, it is important to note that in the past 11 years, the Windham Community Garden has donated more than 11,000 pounds of fresh organic food to the Windham Food Pantry.

“The intertwining community effort and support is among the community garden’s greatest strengths,” Payne said. “This garden is a huge asset to the community and to the folks that garden here.”

There are only a few garden plots left, so hurry to grab your spot in the sun, meet fun and interesting people and provide fresh vegetables and fruits for yourself, family members and the community.

“Whatever you invest in this community garden, you get back threefold,” Govoni said regarding the many advantages of the communal garden experience, both personally and for the greater good of society and the environment.

To be a part of the ‘grow local, eat well’ movement and for more information about the Windham Community Garden, visit, send an email through the website, or contact Priscilla Payne at 207-894-8237 or Marge Govoni at 207-892-7192. <

Friday, March 12, 2021

Windham’s American Legion post obtains digital bugle

American Legion Field Allen Post 148 in Windham
has purchased a digital bugle that can be used to
play 'Taps' and other music during ceremonies and
other patriotic events involving veterans.
By Daniel Gray

In Maine and, especially in Windham, there is a deep love for those who have served in the military. We honor those who have fought for our country in various ways including holidays, special ceremonies and even discounts at some stores. There are even community centers and posts created to help service local veterans in various aspects and these veteran centers are a great addition to any community, but our own local post has some exciting news.

The American Legion Field-Allen Post 148, located behind Hannaford in Windham, has been chartered since the 1930s and it's goal has been to provide to local veterans, whether that be a hot meal, activities or simple social gatherings. The post also performs funeral and other ceremonies for veterans, with the Color Guard and Honor Guard teams. 

After each ceremony, the final song that is played is “Taps,” a song created by Union General Daniel Butterfield in July 1862. The story is that Butterfield asked his bugle player, Oliver Norton, to help compose a piece. The somber and longer notes of “Taps” are said to reflect on Butterfield's mood after over 600 of his men were killed after the Battle of Gaines Mill. 

“Taps” is a very important song to play, the piece being a tradition for any form of military. To this day, it is performed throughout the country during ceremonies to honor our veterans with its beautiful, striking notes. It is also tradition to have this song played specifically on a bugle, which can lead to a small problem.

American Legion Field Allen Post 148 in Windham has purchased a digital bugle that can be used to play ‘Taps’ and other music during ceremonies and other patriotic events involving veterans.  

Bugle players are very hard to come by these days, so the post always had to have someone from the community play the instrument for them. David Tanguay, a member of the Post for 26 years and currently the post's adjutant, said a number of players have worked with them over the years.

"Over the period, the post has relied on a few outside sources to provide this honor including the Boy Scouts, Windham High School Band members, an organization called Bugles Across Maine (America) and the respective military service personnel when they are available."

Due to a lack of bugle players among post members, the organization has always had to outsource. Sometimes schedules do not always align, making gaps in where they needed a bugle player for events. To combat this, the post had been using a recording of “Taps” at the end of ceremonies. 

However, the recording was less than ideal for the post.

"At the May 2020 small Memorial Day ceremony at the WVC there was not a bugler available," Tanguay said. "Likewise, during the November Veterans Day Ceremony held at the WVC, the plan for the Veterans Day event was to use a tape recording of ‘Taps’ at the ceremony’s conclusion after the rifle salute. Unfortunately, the equipment used for the sound system faltered and the ceremony ended on a sour note, so to speak. "

Tanguay said that many people could not hear the final song used to end the ceremony, which was something the post did not want to repeat for upcoming events. Ditching the recording and the sound systems that malfunctioned, they instead took a modern solution to their problem, which was a digital bugle.

A digital bugle is similar to a regular, classic bugle. The only difference is that in the bell-end part of the instrument, there is a digital device with a speaker that can play certain songs without the player having to blow into it. 

With a click of a button, the instrument will sound as if the person is playing it themselves. It's an easy solution and, this way, anyone can pick the bugle up and play it like a pro.

From there on, the post raised funds to support the cost of the digital bugle. The choice that the Post went with was “The American Ceremonial Bugle” which is made of nickel and silver, 17 inches, and of course includes the device that plays “Taps” and several other selections. The bugle with the device was $565 and was purchased online. 

Tanguay said the importance of the post's digital bugle purchase is how it reflects a sense of independence.

"It is important for the HG to be able to provide a complete service for our fallen vets when the traditional service Honor Guard is not available. The Post Honor Guard can fold and present the American flag, conduct rifle salute and now play ‘Taps.’ The bugle adds to the Honor Guard’s capabilities." <

Before the memory fades: If you could salvage one thing from your burning home, what would it be?

Windham Historical Society vice-president Sam
Simonson examines the anvil 'rescued' from the
1940 Haskell House on River Road.
By Walter Lunt

In the summer of 1940, a long-standing and well-known farmhouse on River Road in Windham burned to the ground, destroying virtually everything within. Friends and neighbors rushed to the scene, filled buckets from several dug wells on the property and tossed the water into the ever-growing flames – to no avail.

At one point, when the home was fully engulfed, owner Herman Haskell broke from the assembled firefighters and, despite loud warnings against the move, dashed into the burning building. There were no people or pets left inside the home; apparently, there was an item he wanted to save.

The Haskell house, a post and beam structure located on the east side of an uphill slope near today’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints, was built in the late 1700s, according to Steve Libby, who lives next door to the site of the fire and is related to the Haskell family. He says, at some point in the 1800s, the house was moved from the opposite side of the road.

In the 1930s, it was occupied by Herman and Kemis Haskell; Herman operated a dairy farm and sold butter; Kemis was a longtime and highly respected Windham school teacher.

As they stood and watched the fruit of their toil and all their possessions go up in flames, Herman bolted and ran toward the door of the burning house, ignoring cries for restraint from the crowd.

Moments later, a heavy object was thrown from a second- floor window of the carriage house. It would leave a deep and distinctive indentation in the ground. Seconds later, in what must have seemed like long minutes, Herman emerged safely- breathless but seemingly satisfied with what he had done.

What had Herman tossed from his burning shed? A 145-pound anvil!

If Herman had shared his reason for choosing this particular commodity for rescue, or, moreover, why such an implement was kept on the second floor, the explanation never got passed down through the generations. Family members still don’t know but have never tired of telling the story.

Libby, son of the late, well known Windham resident Glenn S. Libby, speculates that the anvil was an invaluable tool for maintaining operations on the farm. It was used to repair machinery and horse-drawn equipment parts. Starting over would be difficult without it.
A few years ago, the Windham Historical Society got a call from Glenn Libby, who was aware of the organization’s plans to include a blacksmith shop in its Village Green history park at Windham Center.

He told Sam Simonson, a blacksmith who helped establish the shop, that he wanted to donate the old anvil for use in the operation of the living history park.

Simonson confirmed that fire would have damaged the anvil, “it could have lost all its temper,” and added that it was not uncommon for farmers in those days to have a fire forge, since it would have been inconvenient to visit a commercial shop for small jobs. Still, the reason for the anvil’s location on a second story remains a mystery.

In 1940, an anvil was important enough to be granted a second life. Apparently, in the 2020s it will have a third.

If your house were on fire, what object would you save? From which floor? <