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REAL PEOPLE: Barbara (Chaplin) Dalgaard
HARRISON – Barbara (Chaplin) Dalgaard has lived in the area all of her life. She has a heart of gold and the voice on an angel.
She recently took time to tell us about her life.
Q: When were you born and where were you brought up?
A: I was born in Bridgton at the hospital on Sept 13, 1929…Yes! I’m 81.
I was born to Lawrence and Edna Lord and was brought up in Bosters Mills.
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: I had two sisters and I’m the oldest of the three.
Diana lives in Norway and my sister Laurene lived in Bath, but she passed away.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: Well, I would call it one of the best childhoods a kid could have. It was a small town and we knew everyone. Back then, everyone was Mr. and Mrs. except the close neighbors that we were allowed to call auntie or uncle. I did actually have aunts and uncles that were neighbors too. I was very fortunate to be around a lot of family.
It was a large home. I used to say it was a farmhouse and I guess it was because my father had cows, pigs and hens.
We pretty much lived off the land. It was such a simple life. We enjoyed it and never thought we were deprived. My father lived on $50 a month. To this day, I can still say that we had the most priceless youth. We never knew we were poor. We always had a birthday cake and at Christmas we had plenty of gifts that were wrapped in red tissue paper.
We had an ice house and I can remember seeing the team of horses bringing the cakes of ice to supply the ice box. The ice house was probably 8- x 10-feet and the ice was packed in sawdust. The cakes seemed to be quite large when they were delivered, but when they came into the house they were smaller, so my father must have broken them up.
We did everything on Crooked River. We would skate or swim. When we were skating we would have a huge bone fire.
I can remember the temps being so much colder than they are today and it seemed as if we had much more snow. I also remember the caterpillar snow plow, we could hear it from way above to make a path.
It could be 40 degrees below and school was never called off.
Back then we would have such crust and we would sled everywhere and we made forts in the snow drifts and it was right beside the road. We would play in those forever.
My sisters were both book smart and my love was with music. When I was 12 my father bought a piano and after that no one could keep me away from it. In fact, when I was 14, I sang my first solo in a variety show at the Norway Opera House.
My parents were pretty strict. I wasn’t allowed to go out on a date until my senior year in high school. The boys knew to not bother to go the Lord’s to ask the girls out because we had to be home before dark.
And Sunday was always family day. We went to church in the morning, then it was cards or board games with my parents.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My father was a caretaker of a neighboring estate and my mother was a school teacher. He passed away in 1988 and my mom is still pert at 103. They call her the Mayor of Bosters Mills and she takes absolutely no medications.
Q: What did you dream to grow up to be?
A: I dreamed of growing up, getting married and having babies.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: I was actually a very shy girl and that stuff never crossed my mind.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: Bolsters Mills Elementary and Bridgton Academy. I graduated in 1948. We have a very close group and we still meet twice a year.
I was going to go to Auburn Maine School of Commerce, but then I met my boyfriend and there was no way I was going to school. I was going to get married.
Q: What have you had for jobs?
A: I never worked at all until after I was married.
My father did raise factory beans and us girls would go up with pails and bags and pick. It would take us two days to get from one end of the garden to the other and then it was time to start over again. We would pack them into his car and ride on the top of the beans to the bean factory. Our reward was that we could get a honey-dipped donut at Twin Bridges. There was a house there and the lady made them.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: Gene Chaplin was a member of the Lakeside Grange and I joined the Crooked River Grange and I knew him from that. Then he went into the air force and when he came out I was a senior. We started dating and were married the following summer. He passed away in 1988.
I met Jim about three years later.
I was going to meet some friends at Maple Ridge Restaurant and I was quite a bit late and they had left. I got there and there he sat. I was talking with the waitress and I heard ‘have breakfast with me.’ I turned around to see who he was talking to, it was me and so I did! He was from Andover and was supposed to meet someone at the restaurant, but he had mixed up the day. He asked me how to get to Portland and I told him he had to take 35. I told him to follow me and when I wave, take the left. Then he asked me if there was a phone around, so he came to my house and used mine.
He asked me how long it took to get to Portland and I told him about an hour. The hour went by and he was still sitting on my deck.
I didn’t see him again right away, but some girls had invited me to a singles group. I got there and he was there. He asked me if I wanted to go to a dance and I said no, I had to get up early to go to work. All of a sudden a woman beside me said she would go with him. On the way out, she went to the bathroom and he came to me and asked if he got tickets to Dick Curless, would I go. I said yes. I figured he would call me early in the morning and he didn’t. I though ahhh…that woman! But I got to work and he called me there. We married 18 months later.
Q: Anyone said you look like someone famous?
A: Absolutely. I have heard this over and over again. Not so much now, but years ago people would always tell me I look like Betty White. I never saw it and I certainly don’t now, but they always did.
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: We took a wonderful trip once, taking the northern route through all the way to California and took the southern route home.
I broke my leg in Yellowstone. It was windy and there were elk all around us. Jim took the camera, told me to stay in the car and got out. Of course, a few minutes later I got out. I had on sneakers and moved my foot just right on some gravel. I heard two snaps. Jim was a ways away and an oriental couple came and helped me. I pointed to Jim and said that that was my husband. He was so cute, the man walked towards Jim and hollered: Jim, wife break leg.
We’ve been to Denmark on our honeymoon to meet Jim’s relatives.
We go to Florida now for the winter and it takes us at least a week to get there. We zigzag all around and see the sites.
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A: Music. I go all around and play at nursing homes. I have sung for funerals, weddings, and all kinds of occasions. I don’t do special occasions any more, per say.
I used to do skits too. I did a Jimmy Durante, Second-hand Rose, and In the Little Red School House. I would put on costumes and sing and be funny. I also did a navy one and it was called Row, Row Your Boat. I have done Aba Daba Honeymoon and Jim would do Isle of Capri with me and our costumes were monkeys.
I sung with Bess Klaim. She was very prominent figure in Norway.
I love square dancing and ballroom dancing lessons.
I am the organist for the Eastern Star in Bosters Mills.
I have been a Grange member for 65 years. I am also a Pamona, State and National Grange member.
Wherever I go, I take knitting with me.
I also belong to a knit and sew group that we started years and years ago. It’s funny, we meet once a month. And way back when, we would grab sewing machines, sew, share patterns, knit and cook up a storm. Come 10 o’clock at night, we would put on the coffee and gab until midnight. Now we get together and knit or whatever and it takes us through supper. We talk about our aches and pains, refuse coffee so we can get to sleep and we are all home at nine!
Q: What is the one thing you would happily do over again?
A: The birth of my children. I have been very blessed. I gave birth to two children.
My son, Glen, lives right down the street and he works at Sabre and I lost Gloria Gene to a car accident in 1973. That was a shock and a half. Her father never got over it.
We also took in a boy named Steve. Our minister had asked us to take him in so that he could finish out the school year. He was 12 and we were blessed to keep him until he went into the service. He married a Maine girl and lives in Florida, so we get to see him when we go down there.
Glen and his wife Amy have three children and one of them has given us a great-grand daughter.
Jim has four daughters. Barbara, Caroline, Debra and Evelyn. When we were married, he told everyone that he had a BCD and E, and now he completed his family with an A (Amy).
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: That I am a people person and that I’ve enjoyed singing and dancing my life away. I have probably owned 190 pairs of dancing shoes and I wonder how many miles I’ve danced!
Q: Any regrets?
A: I regret that I never went to school to further my education. I should have been a school teacher or at least taught music.
Q: Last day on earth; what would you do and who with?
A: It would be with Allura, my great-grand daughter. I call her Allura Tallura. We would hang out at the piano and just sing songs.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: Gloria Gene. Oh, what I would want to tell her! We used to do duets on the organ and piano, so I guess I would ask her to play a duet with me. Just to hear her play again! Music was such a big part of her life as it is mine.