What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 28 weeks ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 31 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 31 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 41 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 41 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
2 years 51 weeks ago
More in Community
The Dairy Joy, angel dolls and saving pennies
NORWAY – Alice (Tally) Decato, now 71 years old, was brought up in South Paris and ended up teaching in her own school district.
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 at Central Maine General on April 20, 1940. I was brought up in South Paris on Deering Street and then we moved to Paris Hill.
My mother was very artistic, so she called me Ally for short. Somehow it ended up being Tally.
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: I have one brother who is three years younger. His name is George and he lives in Sydney.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My father was a banker and my mother was an artist.
My dad worked at the South Paris Savings, which came to be Androscoggin Bank. He retired from there.
My mom painted when we were really little. Lajos Matolcsy taught art and my mom and Lee Bean were some of his first students. They, along with a few others founded the Western Maine Art Group.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: Our neighborhood was great. My parents were unconditionally loving parents who supported everything we did. We lived across from the country club and my grandparents lived behind us. We had great neighbors and it was an idyllic life.
We used to go sliding behind Bob Bahre's house and skating on Maple Street.
My parents had come from Waterville, so we would frequently go up there to visit.
I did 4-H and my mother was the leader. I was also involved in Scouts.
I was with the First Congregational Church in South Paris, and at different times my parents would teach Sunday school.
We had electricity and all the comforts of home.
We were actually on the front side of the hill, where it had more year-round residents, so there were quite a few kids to play with.
We used to play golf quite a bit because it was right across the street and my brother caddied at times.
Mom tried to teach us to paint, but I think I was too busy. I did love to go to art galleries with her though.
My class was the first class that went to the new high school, which is now the middle school.
I played basketball in school and back then, girls only played half court, but we were around the cusp of that changing. I was also a softball player and a cheerleader for football.
I took piano lessons from for about three years.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: My mother wanted me to be a physical therapist, so she kind of had that planned out. I wasn't really thinking too much about growing up because I was having too much fun being a child.
From the time we were six, we always had to bank half of the money we were given or earned to keep for college. It made me accept the fact that I was going to college; there were no thoughts otherwise. I sort of thought an architect would have been fun.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: The Fox School for a short time, then the Lincoln Street School on Paris Hill and that was K-6. I had Mrs. Scribner for a teacher and every row was a grade. It was K-3 downstairs and 4-6 upstairs. She was very strict, but a very good teacher. We did get a pat on the hand with a ruler if we didn't use proper speech.
Then I went to the Paris Junior High and then the Paris High School.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: We were cheerleaders and we were acting a little crazy, so the coach thought we had been drinking. He hauled all 10 of us into the principal’s office and he wanted us to confess, but we didn’t because we hadn’t been drinking; we were just giddy and having a fun time.
I would tease my poor brother. We'd go to school and I'd make him walk behind me. I guess I had resented the fact that I had to watch over him. He was such a great kid.
Q: What have you had for jobs?
A: I worked at Ashton’s Drug Store at the fountain and worked at the Dairy Joy.
One summer I worked at the laundry and folded sheets and that was a horrible job. There were windows behind us and if there was a thunderstorm it would hit the presses and scare me. The people that ran it were very nice – but they just all kept working; they probably had no idea how dangerous it was. They used to do a lot of work for the camps all around.
Q: Where did you meet your spouse?
A: I was 16 and working at the Dairy Joy. Lloyd kept coming with his friends who were acquainted with my friends. He eventually asked me out and we started dating. He was great and was always looking out for me.
We married and started a family at a very young age.
Q: Did you go to college?
A: Not right away. I went to work for Dr. Quinn as a dental assistant and after my second child was born I got a job at the Fox School as a secretary.
While I was working for Dr. Quinn, Lloyd went back to school and got a degree in accounting. Then he went to AC Lawrence as a bookkeeper.
Then I went to the University of Southern Maine evenings for the first year and the second year I went full time in Gorham. I studied elementary education and majored in English.
I had still had that money I had tucked away for school!
Q: Was it hard with little ones?
A: Oh ya. It was tough at times, but my parents would help take care of the kids in the afternoon – it was really a family effort, but well worth it.
Q: Where did you teach?
A: My first teaching job was at West Paris Elementary School teaching the sixth grade and I was there for four years; then I took a job in the junior high teaching science and health.
In the late '70s, I went back to get my masters in guidance and counseling.
Q: Did you teach all your life?
A: No. Another teacher at the high school and I decided to open a dress shop. We bought the building where Books N’ Things is now and had a dress shop. Myra’s husband owned a gift shop on the other half of the store. We were quite successful. Then the gas shortage hit and suddenly there were hardy any people on the street.
So we both went back to teaching. And I got a job at the middle school as a guidance counselor and I never had a bored minute!
Q: Any special projects with students?
A: I started the middle school Interact Club and worked with Dollars for Scholars where we started the Walk for ME, which encouraged kids to collect and save money for college. It was eventually changed to Aspire Higher ... and it really does take a community.
Q: Any other ventures?
A: An art teacher and I started a business called Mainely Angels. At first we were making the dolls, but it got to be too much and we were even able to go to China for three weeks to have them made there. We ended up buying 5,000 dolls and were quite successful selling them. We sold over half of them and started having issues with the wings, so we had to remove and replace them. We sold what we had and at the end we donated the rest.
A friend of mine told me about a food-supplement company called Reliv. I studied it for about six months and I even visited the factory ... . I now sell that and have been for about five years and I feel great for my age.
Q: Anyone said you look like someone famous?
A: No, but people mistake me all the time for others that they know. I don't know if it’s the red hair or if I have a common look, but people even show me pictures and I do seem to look a lot like them.
A: Richard graduated from Springfield College and works for Penmore. He lives on Paris Hill and has two children.
Joanie went to the University of Maine at Orono, lives in Bangor and works for Tyler Technology. She has three dogs and travels all around the country and competes in agility contests with them.
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: I went to Russia while in the middle school on an educational trip and we stopped in Ireland on the way.
I’ve been to most of the states, but not all. I’ve also been to Mexico, Quebec and Montreal.
Q: Which place was the most fascinating and why?
A: I was in St Louis and saw the arch and they had like a Louisiana-type, Bourbon Street thing going on with the singers and Cajun-style festivities. It’s the crossways to the west ... . The Mississippi was there and I had to get a ride on that. It was such a totally different culture from New England ... . What an atmosphere that was.
Q: Did anyone influence you to the point of changing your direction in life?
A: When I was working at the Fox School, Bruce Tyner and Mary Lou Burns encouraged me to go into the educational field and I am so glad I did and grateful to them for encouraging me.
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A: I finally enrolled in an art class and now I really enjoy painting.
Along with painting, I became involved in the art group to make sure my mother's legacy continued.
I'm also on the Rotary Aspire Higher Committee.
I help with the working homestead at the fair... . It’s one building with local skills like rug hooking, sewing, basket making, beekeeping and pottery.
I am a member of the Browning Reading Club and we meet at the Norway library or at people’s homes.
I play tennis, golf and enjoy gardening.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell. It's about how little influences in your life can make for one big change.
Q: What is the one thing you could not give up?
A: Golf – I just love games and getting out there and walking to get some exercise is one thing I would never want to give up.
Q: What is the one thing you would happily do over again?
A: A day when my children were very little and playing all together as a family. I get to do that now a little bit with the grandchildren and I love that.
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: I don’t ever look back. I try new things and I’m not afraid to try. It does no use to look back.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: I would like to see the Dali Lama ... . I would probably be listening and asking him questions at the same time ... . I'd like to get his idea of life and how it's changed and what he predicts for the future.