What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 29 weeks ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 32 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 32 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 41 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 42 weeks ago
- This activity is such a
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Okay Great we got a sign!
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Hate Crime a Sad Moment Indeed
3 years 2 hours ago
More in Community
Rector remembers 100 years of Norway family history
AT HOME -- Tim Parsons, rector of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Rumford, enjoys spring weather on a windowed porch at his home in Norway – a home built by his great-grandfather.
NORWAY — Timothy Parsons, of Norway, did not become a banker, though he certainly has the lineage for it.
His great-grandfather, Howard D. Smith, was president of Norway National Bank, which was housed where Key Bank is now. Parsons' grandfather, Fred E. Smith, was vice president of Norway National for many years. His mother, June Smith Parsons, had a good head for figures and worked as a secretary in an advertising agency.
Her son, Tim, however, went a different direction.
"I don't have the mentality for banking. I'm not good with numbers," Parsons said.
What he did instead, was become an Episcopal priest, and today serves as rector of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Rumford.
Parsons, 70, is a lean man with a white beard and a warm smile. His speech is precise with a consistent use of correct grammar, but has an easy-going pattern that makes it pleasant to listen to. He lived most of his life in New Jersey and New York. When he retired in 2006, he and his wife, Sue, moved to Norway to live in the house where his mother grew up. It's a white, two-story house at the end of Oak Street, which is a one-block street off the Creative Media side of Main Street.
He was here but a few months when the Episcopal Church contacted him and asked if he'd be willing to discuss serving one-third time at a church in Rumford. After some meetings, he and the St. Barnabas congregation found each to be a good fit and he was offered and accepted the position.
So the Reverend Parsons lives in Norway and serves a congregation in Rumford.
On a pleasant day in May, Parsons, from a windowed porch at his home, has a view of the well-groomed back yard of the house next door. Looking further west, he can see the property where the C. B. Cummings wood mill once stood.
To the rear of Parsons' home is a small back yard, and beyond that, a swampy area that leads to the Pennesseewassee Stream.
It's hard to see the stream yet because the area is flooded and swampy. Parsons says that though the property is only a block from Main Street, deer come through, and sometimes, ducks. Occasionally there is a loon.
"This house was built by my great-grandfather, Howard Daniel Smith, after the fire of 1884 when half of Norway burned down. In fact, these three houses," he continued pointing to two neighboring homes, "were all built following the fire.
"My great-grandparents lived here. My grandparents lived here. My parents, as my grandparents aged, moved up [to Maine] and stayed in an apartment upstairs to look after them.
"When my grandparents died, my parents had the house.
"And then, when my parents died, my sister, who's four years older, really had first crack, whether she wanted to live here or not. She decided after a lot of soul-searching that she didn't. She lives in Hollis, New Hampshire, which is 10 miles from the Massachusetts line and more convenient for her to see her children.
"So my wife and I bought out my sister's share."
Though he had lived most of his life elsewhere, coming to Norway was very much like coming home. When Parsons was young, his family used to come here for summer vacations, usually in August.
"Back then, the whole back yard was a garden. My grandfather grew fruits and vegetables, and my grandmother canned. Down in the basement there was a canning room. And that's what they ate during the winter, those vegetables."
Parsons has a particular memory of that backyard garden, from when he was in the third grade.
"My grandfather would walk home for lunch in warm weather. He had bankers hours, so he had time to spend in his garden.
"One day he was working in the garden. All of a sudden he wheeled around, ran into the house, and came charging out with a 12-gauge shotgun, loading it as he ran. He went down into the garden and bam, bam! Groundhogs. Back then, I guess, you could discharge weapons in town. You can't do it now," he laughed, "but you could then. And he would shoot them, or try to."
Parsons remembers Fred Smith as being a very predictable man who stuck tightly to a schedule. People could look at their watches and know pretty much where he was and what he was doing at any particular time.
When Parsons was in the fourth grade, his family moved to a different city in New Jersey – his father was in advertising – and so he and his sister and mother came to live in Norway for six months while the move was sorted out. The children went to three different schools that year. The second of the schools was in Norway, where he and his sister attended for six months. It was a yellow school house that was located behind what today is the Guy E. Rowe School.
"The thing that I remember the most is the first day of school, we were out for recess. Most other places where I've lived, kids are a little suspicious of new kids. But the kids in Norway all gathered around and wanted to know about me. They were friendly. They were so friendly.
"It was really nice. The transition, coming up here, was very easy. Neither my sister nor I wanted to leave. We wanted to stay here."
During that six-month stay, Parsons was able to enjoy associating with and really getting to know his grandparents.
His grandfather was good at growing fruits and vegetables. His grandmother, Blanche Penley Smith, was good at cooking. She, like her husband, was a very organized person.
"My grandmother had a menu that was the same every week. Every Monday supper was the same, every Tuesday was the same, and so on. Every Saturday was baked beans and salt pork and brown bread. But it was all good. I mean it was all really good.
"You talk about Down East cooking. My grandmother had it. I never got tired of anything she cooked. I never had the experience of, 'oh no, not that again.' It was more like, 'wow, we're having this again'."
"My grandmother was very methodical about cleaning house. Back when Cummings Mill was there, sawdust would drift over and fill in all the cracks and crevasses around on the outside. You'd get sawdust coming in the house at times, especially if you opened a window.
"There was a time when they had three shifts, so you'd hear the machinery going all the time. But there was something soothing about it. I liked it. And I liked the smell of the lumber."
Charles Cummings, who owned the mill, lived in the next house toward Main Street and there were advantages to being his neighbor.
One advantage was that Cummings had underground duct work from the mill that fed warm air to his house. The duct work branched off and heated the Parson's house and one other. The ducts came into the basement and a blower would help circulate the air up through registers in the floors. Parsons says that in the basement you can still see where the hot-air ducts came in.
Another advantage concerned snow removal.
"Now, the town of Norway plows down Oak Street and pushes the snow onto the property here. Sometimes it gets really high. I cleaned up some of the sand this morning [near the end of May].
"Back in the '40s and '50s when it snowed, Charles would have his crew come plow the snow out into Main Street, scoop it into trucks, and haul it away."
The Parson family is not all about the past. It is also about the future.
Sue and Tim Parsons have a daughter, Frances Elizabeth, who graduated from college in 2006.
"She was born the same year as my grandfather, only 100 years later. And she graduated from college the same year he did, only 100 years later," Parsons said.
Though Frances has those dates in common with Fred Smith, she probably won't become a banker like he was.
"Frances is living in Los Angles and working to become an actor and a writer. She is doing well and feels she's close to getting some good breaks."
So is Frances Parsons a name we should look for in movie credits and on marquees soon?
Tim Parsons smiles.
"I think so," he says with confidence. "I think so."