Tag Archives: Maine

Transition to Maine~Part 6

14 Sep


Judy Wills



 Our youngest daughter, Janet, was born in Maine – our little Maineiac.


It was early morning, and we had arranged for Karen to stay with a neighbor several doors down. After Fred took her there, he called the base hospital to see if he should go to work or come stay through the labor and delivery with me. (The hospital in Germany, where Karen was born, was very progressive for that time – they allowed the husbands in the delivery room. We had anticipated cajoling the delivery doctor at Loring into letting Fred be in the delivery room with Janet’s delivery, since he had already participated in one, and not passed out!) The answer he received really shocked him – Sir, your baby is already delivered! But they didn’t tell him whether it was a boy or girl – they left it up to me. But neither they nor he told me that, until after he had been there about 30 minutes. He looked at me and asked – so what do we have? So I got to inform him he had another daughter, Janet Lynn.

While Janet and I were still in the hospital (remember – back in those days the average stay for a new baby and mother was three-to-four days!), Fred came to visit every day.

The day after Janet was born, he came to visit, plopped down in the chair, grinned at me and said, “You didn’t really want to spend another winter here, did you?” I nearly jumped out of the bed as I exclaimed….”YOU GOT ORDERS?” Since neither of us had been terribly thrilled being in northern Maine, Fred had been inquiring about being reassigned. The answer he usually received was, “Sir, you have three more years here before we’ll even consider transferring you.” But, apparently the AF needed instructors for their officer’s school in San Antonio, Texas more than they needed meteorologists at Loring AFB, and he had been given his walking orders. We were beyond excited!

Months later, as we were getting ready to depart for warmer climes, I attended an Officers Wives Club luncheon, where the Base Commander’s wife was issuing goodbyes to those leaving. It was amusing to hear her say, “….is heading to….AFB, south from here. And …..is heading to AFB,…. south from here. Well! I just realized that ANYwhere is south from here!”

Our church had a picnic in August before we left. It was great fun, and a great way to say goodbye to those we had come to love in Christ. There was the usual picnic stuff going on – softball, hot dogs, horseshoes, etc.


And there was this really…REALLY…tall slide that Karen absolutely LOVED going down. My heart was in my throat every time she climbed up and slid down, but she had a blast!


And so, we left northern Maine and Loring AFB in late August, heading south. We were wearing sweaters at the time, as it was getting cold already. We arrived in Pennsylvania, to spend some time with Fred’s parents, and were back to wearing shorts. What a difference!


And so ends our Transition to Maine. Thank goodness it was only 13 months long!



Transition to Maine~Part 5

8 Sep


Judy Wills



Winter humidity in Maine is so dry/non-existent, that we had to have a humidifier running inside the house all winter.  Otherwise, the furniture would come apart, and the glue in the picture frames would dry up and the frames would fall apart.  We purchased a new one when we arrived, and sold it when we left.

It was so cold and dry during the winter, that I wrote to family and friends that “when you go outside, and the moisture in your nose freezes, you KNOW it’s cold!”

Fred was able to get off time at Christmas, so we drove to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania to spend it with his parents.




It was a long drive, but it was nice to get back to “civilization.”  While it was still cold in PA, it was almost a relief to have “normal” cold rather than the bitter cold of Maine.

We held a going-away party at our house for the departing Commander of the Weather Detachment.  Most of the unit attended, including spouses.  While in Germany we had some reel-to-reel tapes of instrumental music made, and since they were long-playing, we just let them play during the party.  The Commander got up and gave his goodbye speech.  There was a pause – in the music as well as in his speech.  When he started up again, he started with “I just want to thank you all….”  At the same instant, the music began again, and it happened to be Bob Hope’s theme song Thanks for the Memories.  I couldn’t have timed it better if I had planned it!  One of the other officers there was also a musician, and we looked at each other and grinned – we both caught the significance of it.

After the departure of the Commander, Fred became the unit Commander, serving in that capacity for the remainder of our time there.

Our little church was without a pastor when we arrived.  Several of the men in the church would take turns preaching – including Fred.  There was a small choir.  In spite of it all, the spirit of the congregation was good, and we had a good fellowship, and were able to worship our Lord and Savior.  While we were there, the church called a pastor.  Turns out, his wife was a Maine native, and they were eager to return to the state.  God used him greatly in that place – and he stayed as pastor for 20 years, until his retirement.  We have since learned that the government has closed Loring AFB, and that impacted the church as well.  We knew they had been reaching out to the local communities, in hopes of having a lasting congregation if….when….the base closed.  We don’t know, currently, how it is faring.

~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~

Transition to Maine~Part 4

31 Aug


Judy Wills


Winter arrived with a vengeance in northern Maine!  Early in October it started snowing, and we didn’t think it would ever stop.  Actually, that year (1970-1971) we had 156″ of snow.  It was piled up to the bottom of the windows for seven – yes I said SEVEN (7) – months.  We had a blizzard on April 1st.  As it happened, I was pregnant at the time and was outside going from the car to the house, when I slipped and fell.  I furiously told Fred that “anywhere else we would be it would be RAINING!  But here it is SNOWING!”  I was NOT a happy camper


One fun thing is that Karen’s memory of living in base housing is that we were completely snowed in!  Fortunately, that wasn’t the case – it’s just that her bedroom window overlooked the back stoop, and IT was covered in deep snow.


We had so much snow that the housing members (that was us) had to dig a “tunnel” to walk through – especially in the back of the row house.


The base had to keep the runway clear for emergencies, so that was the first thing plowed.  Second were the roads on the base.  Third was the housing areas, and fourth were the garage areas within the housing area.  That didn’t get done very often, so we usually just parked on the street.  Of course, then you ran the risk of getting your car covered in plowed snow.


The garage areas were also in a “row,” and had the capability of hooking up the engine block to a heater, so the vehicle would be more apt to start on a cold morning.  Unfortunately, they were in such sad shape that, while we were there, one of those garage units caught fire – and the entire garage row was completely burned to the ground in five minutes!  The fire department didn’t even arrive in time to salvage any of the building.


A few interesting facts:

1.  All the farmers in the area had snow plows that they attached to their tractors, and helped to keep the roads clear.

2.  Fred purchased studded snow tires, had them mounted on wheels, and just changed out the entire wheel when the snow began to fall in earnest.  He was able to sell them when we were ready to move.

3.  In January, the high for the month was 4̊ below zero!  When in February it got to 25̊ above zero, we thought it was a heat wave and people were running around in shirt sleeves!

4.  While it was still cold, some of the tenants of the row houses would flood the area between the row houses and make a skating rink.  Some would even run their snowmobiles there.


There were a lot of complaints about Maine.  We knew a lot of pilots who volunteered for a second or third tour in Vietnam just to get away from Loring.  Unfortunately, the AF usually sent them right back to Loring after those assignments.  The AF lost a lot of good pilots that way, as they left the military.

There was one man in Fred’s unit who was a Maine native and really loved his assignment there.  He kept requesting to stay, but they kept sending him places like Turkey and Italy and such like.  We kept saying why didn’t the AF just let him stay there, and let us go somewhere warm??!!

~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~

Transition to Maine~Part 1

3 Aug


Judy Wills




In previous musings, I’ve mentioned how we were assigned to Loring AFB, Maine (Do you think if we ask for New Mexico, they’ll send us to Maine??). And they did.

Our Karen was born in Wiesbaden, West Germany, and was not quite three-years-old when we rotated stateside. That was an eight-hour flight back to the States, so I had purchased a few “new” toys that I hadn’t let her play with, just to keep her occupied on the plane trip. As we took off and began the long flight, I glanced at her and saw her eyes closing. And I exclaimed – “Oh no you don’t!” – and brought out some of the toys. Those eyes instantly popped open. We had a set of little books – about 3½” by 4″ – just kid-hand-sized, with about six books in there. Wish I had kept them. We had a blow-up doggie that we deflated before landing. You get the picture. We played/read for a while, then they brought lunch. After we ate, Fred and I put up the arm rests between our seats, and Karen stretched out across our laps for her nap. Fred and I slept for a couple of hours each before Karen woke up. Perfect timing.

Fred’s parents were living in King of Prussia, PA at the time, and picked us up from the airport at McGuire AFB, NJ and took us to their house. We stayed a few days with them, then flew to New Mexico for a visit with my mom, grandmother and Aunt Jessie.

Karen and "Oma" - her grandmother

Karen and “Oma” – her grandmother



Four Generations

Four Generations











Then we flew to Detroit, MI to pick up the new car we had ordered, then off to Fred’s sister’s house for a few days. She and her husband had a little boy, just one year younger than our Karen. They had a grand time together.

From there we drove up to Loring AFB, Maine. It was July, and we caught the “two weeks of summer” right away. We learned about the black flies that make their appearance in Maine during that time. They were really pesky! We stayed in a furnished guest house while awaiting assignment of quarters. While there we ordered some furniture from a local store, since we had been living in furnished government quarters for the three years in Germany.We learned that we were living in Aroostock County, which is a Native American word for Beautiful River.




What surprised us the most was that Aroostock County is one of the largest potato producing areas in the country (Idaho and Wyoming being in that mix). It is also the largest county – land area – east of the Mississippi River. We were nearly on the upper tip of the state, only three miles from the Canadian border, and the nearest town was Limestone, with Caribou being the closest “large” town. We were four hours driving time north of Bangor, and that was on the interstate – which was a two-lane road! The County Seat is Houlton. You might remember that from all the weather reports in winter that pronounce it to be the coldest spot in the U.S.

%d bloggers like this: