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Fried clams, stingrays and hot dogs with mayo
MINOT – Sixty-four-year-old Larry Hawley was born in Montreal and moved to Lewiston when he was four. When he married, he moved to the Oxford Hills area and he currently sells vehicles at Bessey Motor Sales.
He recently took time to tell us about his life.
Q: When were you born and where were you brought up?
A: I was born on October 15, 1946 and I was actually born in Montreal and moved to the Lewiston area when I was four years old and naturalized at 17. I was brought up mostly in the Auburn area, specifically New Auburn.
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: I have a brother Don, who is six years older and a sister Debbie, who is 11 years younger. Don lives in Mechanic Falls and Debbie lives in Auburn.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My father worked on construction and in the mills of Lewiston and that's how he happened to come down here to Maine for work. He had a stroke at the age of 39 and was disabled until he died at the age of 62.
My mother really was the one, from the time Dad had a stroke, brought us up and worked. We had very little money as kids but didn’t realize it. There was always plenty of food in the house and she always took care of us. She did a great job and we now appreciate things a lot more.
She worked part-time in the school system at Sherwood Heights and then worked at the cafeteria at CMVTI and retired from there.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: Oh Boy! Our mother left us a lot of leeway, but that was back when you didn’t have to worry about things like you do today.
I pretty much knew all my way around and all the kids hung out at my house.
Kids would come for cartoons on Saturday morning and she always had hot dogs and soda for all of us. I taught all my friends to eat red hot dogs, steamed and with the bun and mayonnaise. I just love it and been doing that since I was five-years old.
There were so many places to play – there was a path that went right to Walton Field. Part of the field was filled with water in the winter and we skated and Father Patenaude, from St. Louis would come with his speed skates and he would race with us.
We played baseball right behind the school and played football too.
Neighborhood kids would all hang out and as long as the street lights were on we could play outside; things like kick the can. If we had to go home for supper, Mom would holler: Supper! We’d go running home, eat and head back out.
My first real bike was a Schwinn. My mother and father took me way out to Lewiston to get it. They followed me home, but when I got to the Pepperell Mill Hill, I was going 40 mph and did I ever catch H-E-double-hockey-sticks when I slowed down and they caught up to me.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be a veterinarian, but biology was not one of the things I was strong in, so that took care of that.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: All through Auburn School system and I graduated in ‘65 from Edward Little.
I played sports in junior high, but where it was difficult for my mom, I got a job and gave her half my money. I worked at Sim’s in New Auburn. It was a car hop and the hot rods would line up and the carhop girls would wear roller skates. The Roller Dome was across the street and they would come over and hang out too.
I was a short order cook. I used to precook the fried clams...one guy came in and he was traveling up the coast from Florida and said they were the best he’d ever had. This was 1961 and he gave me a $5 tip which was lot of money then.
It was the Fonzie age. We wore jeans rolled up and t-shirt rolled up with smokes on the sleeve. I had a DA, which was having your hair pointed in the back like a ‘Duck's Ass’ and a huge wave in the front. I was about as cool as you could get ... leather jacket and all.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: Not till I got a car ... I ended up working at Maine Oxy my junior year and I worked there 40 hours a week to help out; nights and weekends. The owner told me I had to deliver some welding rod. He had a ‘56 Olds and I went down the Old Portland Road with it going 90 mph. I lost my license.
Q: Go in service?
A: I went out with my cousin and two friends one night and the next morning we all went to the Marine Corp recruiter and enlisted. Only after that did I tell my mother what I had done. She was not a happy camper.
I went to boot camp at Paris Island for 13 weeks. In the Corp, you did things the way they wanted you to, not the way you wanted and they were a lot tougher then because it was war time.
I was on the confidence field and you do a lot of exercise things, swinging on ropes and down cables; a lot of agility-type things. I finished very fast and had time to kill, so this other guy and I decided to go back and do a few of our favorite obstacles. I went to salute an officer and I didn’t have a hat on, which is a no-no. He told me to go see Sergeant Michaud , who we all thought he was a little touched in the head; he was one of the meanest guys I ever saw in uniform.
He made me do the slide for Life and told me to holler when I got to the top. I slid down and he asked me why I wasn’t at the top so I went back up and he told me to stop half way down. Then asked me if I was going to salute him without cover (hat) and I said: No Sir!' Then he asked how I could talk to him without being at attention ... so I put my feet together and my thumbs on my trouser seams and ended up rolling off the cable and hanging from one hand. I fell and started to swim to shore and got so tired I told him I couldn’t swim anymore. He said ‘Stand up you dummy.’ I was in waist-high water.
In '66 I went to Viet Nam after finishing airplane mechanic school. I was there for 13 months, had a one-month leave, was stationed in Brunswick and got discharged in 1968.
Q: Did you go to work?
A: My first year, I had nine different jobs and I applied to the telephone company. I knew that’s where I wanted to work, so I called every Friday to update my application. It got so the receptionist knew my voice and told me I didn’t have to call every week. I told her I wanted a job there and I will continue to call until I get one.
I worked there for 25 years and ended up as a central office tech/analyst.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: I had one unfortunate one and then met Lucille in 1976. She was an office manager at Shawnee Steps. I had gotten laid off at the phone company and went over there to apply for a job. She had my name on the application and said 'my gosh, don’t you recognize me? I am Lucille Wing.'
Our parents had both come down from Canada and they were friends ... they chummed around together and we even played together back when we were five, but I hadn’t seen her since I was around 14. Of course I got the job and we ended up going out together. I went back to the telephone company and we got married three months later; I didn’t need time to think about it.
Q: Where did you live?
A: We didn’t live in Auburn very long and built a house next to her parents in Mechanic Falls. We lived there for 30 years and moved to Minot about the same time that my son got the town manager's job in Mechanic Falls. When he found out I was moving, he joked ‘What’s up with that?’ and I told him he didn’t need any conflict of interest. We really wanted a place up on a hill and more in the country.
Q: Anyone said you look like someone famous?
A: Everyone just says that any male in my family looks like me, even the grandsons. If it looks like a Hawley; it’s a Hawley.
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: Since Lucille and I got married, we've gone to the Cayman Islands, and we've gone to Canada. For work I traveled to places like Boston and Chicago.
Q: Which place was the most fascinating and why?
A: I would have to say the island and Stingray City. It was a sandbar and you can walk in the water with the stingrays. They would eat out of your hand and were pretty tame. Sunset cruise on the Spirit of Cayman ... that is gorgeous. It was a 50-foot catamaran and all you could hear was the water and sails; you can’t imagine the beauty of the sunset.
Q: What do you do now?
A: I have been a car salesman at Bessey Motor Sales for the last 15 years.
When I retired from the phone company Lucille asked me what I was going to do ... kind of like: you aren’t going to sit around the house right?
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A: I love animals and we are going to start a new hobby of camping. I used to camp with the kids and now my wife wants to go. I can’t wait for the Hobo pies!
Our favorite hobby is trying out new restaurants ... We'll travel 50 miles to try a new place.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: Tom Clancy’s, Dead or Alive.
Q: What is the one thing you could not give up?
A: It would be the love of my whole family. My wife, sons, grandchildren, sisters and brothers. They don't have to be in any special order ... we are a close family and spend a lot of time together.
Q: What is the one thing you would happily do over again?
A: Swimming with the dolphins in the Caymans.
Q: What was the best memory that this interview brought back?
A: The good-old Fonzie Days; the '50s and '60s ... they were the most fun times ever.
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: That I am honest to a fault, if that can be possible. It was just the way I was brought up and I've always tried to teach my kids to tell the truth and that you may be punished, but it won't be as bad.
The best thing anyone can do is be persistent. Don’t ever give up; it can be as important as a college degree.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: Norman Schwarzkopf ... and I'd love to sit down and just listen to him for about two hours. I have read many biographies of famous people and he is the one I would like to hear from the most. I was just very impressed by him and would have loved to have seen him run for president.