Hope Historical Society

Meeting of April 15th 2014


At the Hope Corner fire station President Donovan Bowley called the first 2014 meeting to order at about 7:00 PM. Also present were: Joe Berry, Bradley & Lorinda Boyd, Dick & Gwen Brodis, Bob & Linda Hillgrove, Mary Ireland, Bill & Judith Jones, Ann Leadbetter, Elliot & Jane Mitchell, Brian & Marie Powers, Ron Smith, and Diane Sprowl.

Minutes of the September and November 2013 meetings were summarized. Copies of the meeting and of the draft minutes of the October 2014 annual meeting were available. Minutes of the September, November and December meetings (the last, prospectively) were unanimously approved. Minutes of the annual meeting will be considered at the next annual meeting.

Treasurer Gwen Brodis presented the Treasurer\u2019s report for the past four months. It was unanimously received. Receipts were $300. from dues and $85.54 from returnables ($415.54). Expenditures were $105.70 for electricity and $8.94 for mouse control ($114.64). Balances are $17,078.53 in our savings account and $896.01 in our checking account.

Pre-buying of oil was discussed. We paid $359 last year and bought under a pre-paid agreement with PenBay as we have for several years; earlier, we bought from Maritime. The Treasurer asked for guidance. She said we don\u2019t get a quote from our supplier until the last minute. It was agreed that we should keep an eye on it and try to get an earlier quote.

Donovan reported little activity in archives and collections as the building had been closed for the winter. He reminded members of Montville Historical\u2019s historical-calendar project and urged members in having us do something similar to see him. In the mean time, the Secretary reminded people to get the Hope Community Calendar, which Hope Library and Hope School put out.

For his committee to install the wheelchair ramp given to us by the William Pearses, Chairman Dick Brodis said we would be called together when he finished burning blueberries. The members were reminded who they are.

On the Faith Hart Room, the first-floor, handicapped-accessible bathroom, and associated electrical work, Gwen, Dick & Donovan will soon be meeting with Tom Ford and Paul Hart about getting it done.

On our behalf, Gwen Brodis sent a birthday card to William Pearse, Hope\u2019s Boston Cane holder, on our behalf for his recent 94th birthday. All are urged to send their own cards and/or to visit him at Windward Gardens.

Hope Chase is in Woodlands in Rockland. Visits would be appreciated. Her daughter, Cynthia Dellapenna, has published An Array of Hope, Social News of Hope, Maine \u2013 1888-1907, a 700-page book with a 70+-page table of contents. We welcome this interesting and valuable research tool, now available at Lulu.com. Cynthia will speak about it at our August meeting.

Florance Merrifield has made a new quilt for a twin bed to benefit Hope Historical. Chances can be bought until the drawing at our fall election.

Papers were circulated to sign up for refreshment responsibility for future meetings.

For the Program Committee, Ann Leadbetter announced future programs: July 15th \u2013 Mr. Battie on the Civil War; August 19th \u2013 Cynthia Dellapena on her forthcoming book + Hope memories conversation; September 16th \u2013 Elliot Mitchell on his 1966 Olympics trip; November 18th \u2013 Jane Hart Mitchell & Marie Hart Powers on Hart\u2019s Mill; and December 9th \u2013 Christmas brunch. Plans for May 20th and June 17\u2019s meetings are under way but not yet finalized.

Jane Mitchell introduced speaker Brian Powers Sr. who spoke on the history of the wild blueberry industry and specifically on the Hart family\u2019s involvement therein. Lowbush blueberries are not planted; fields are slowly developed by favoring naturally-growing blueberries over their competition.

Halver Hart, Brian\u2019s grandfather-in-law, developed a lot of Hope\u2019s and Union\u2019s blueberries, especially on Philbrick Mountain and Clary & Sheep Hills. He processed berries in the field, trucked fresh-pack berries to Long Island NY, also selling to Coastal in Union and Black & Gay, Waldoboro canner. Frank Grassow and Thermon Fogg were prominent among the people he worked with. He died prematurely of a heart attack in 1945 under the truck he was fixing in his barn on Rte. 17.

His sons Elmer and Arthur took over the family\u2019s two sawmills and the blueberries. When Elmer bought the mill in Warren, Arthur took over the blueberries. Some of the Hart blueberries on Clary Hill were passed to Elmer\u2019s daughter, and Brian\u2019s wife, Marie.

Brian described how blueberry culture has changed over the years. As a completely natural crop, native blueberries face strong competition from the other plants growing in the fields. Until about 1970, control of competition was by burning every other year and cutting brush. Harvest was exclusively by hand; harvest costs were a higher percentage of total costs than for any other crop. Around 1970, Velpar, an herbicide developed for another crop, turned out to be suitable for low-bush blueberry weed control. It was the first blueberry-specific pesticide developed. Happily, it turned out to be non-toxic, except to most of blueberries\u2019 plant competitors. (The biggest single problem - blueberry fruit fly \u2013 has to be controlled by a general insecticide; eggs in the berries hatch to tiny white maggots.) Increasingly, blueberry farmers are removing rocks from their fields and smoothing them, making it possible to mow instead of burn, and also making machine harvest possible. Where it isn\u2019t possible, local hand-rakers have largely been replaced by migrants. Farmers have learned that alternate-year burning controlled a lot of diseases that now have to be controlled by other means. Monolinea leaf blight is a problem. The newest terror is spotted-wing Drosophila, a fruit fly from northwest China that got to California in 2008 and to Maine in 2011.

Native, low-bush blueberries are 1 of only 4 native North American fruits and 1 of 3 native North American berries. The rest are invasive foreigners. US Department of Agriculture has found native blueberries to be the highest food in anthocyanins, in addition to other notable health properties. Virtually all of the world\u2019s native blueberry crop comes from Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. The low-bush crop is virtually all processed, usually by freezing. By contrast, 2/3 of the high-bush blueberries (originally derived from low-bush natives in south New Jersey) are sold fresh. High-bush berries are somewhat lower in anthocyanins and other desirable health characteristics than our berries, but they have thicker skins and are waterier. Consequently, fresh-pack sale of our more-perishable, native blueberries is difficult. In Hope, Nate Pease Jr. & Charlotte, Tom & Nancy Ford and Dick & Gwen Brodis once did fresh-pack but no longer do so. Hart\u2019s Blueberries on Maine Street is successfully culling and sorting their berries from Clary Hill for fresh-pack sales.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Jones, Secretary