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Overalls, flying chickens and The Last Supper
WOODSTOCK – There has been much tragedy in the life of 72-year-old Elizabeth Blazier, but has made it through with the help of her faith and her Lord.
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 on December 12, 1939 in Portland. I was born at Maine General Hospital; it's Maine Med now. My family lived in Portland, but shortly after I was born we moved to South Portland.
I grew up in South Portland.
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: There were 10 of us, but two of them were nieces of my mom’s that she raised. There were seven girls and three boys. I was the fifth child.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My father worked for the city. He was a disable veteran and later on went to the post office to work. He did mail handling.
And my mom; what didn't she do? She was the housekeeper and keeper of all the children.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: We were fortunate to have all the conveniences. They had been renting an apartment, but it was tough to find one that would take so many kids. Once Dad told them there were only four of us ... and six more moved in.
They had bought a home in South Portland and it was away from downtown, because with all the kids, they didn’t want trouble with all of us.
We had 4 acres of land, so it was plenty to run around in.
I shared a room with my six other sisters. We had two double beds, a crib and a playpen.
We didn't have a whole lot of toys so we made our own fun. We'd go to the dump and find parts to make our own bikes and toys. We made a lot from different things people threw away.
One year we did get rubber dolls and we made bathing suits for them and we would take them to a little stream by the house and have them dive in. The dolls ended when one of my brothers bit all the fingers off.
We were poorer than Joe's turkey, but we were better off than a lot of people. It was a little bit during the Depression, but Dad had a pretty good job.
We always had different animals; rabbits, dogs, chickens and cats and ducks. We would play with them and try to dress them up and make them our babies and they didn’t like that. We'd make a carriage out of a box and wheels.
I was raised in the Catholic faith and we went to church every Sunday. The church was a ways away and we would walk two to three miles to get there; all in a long row, Dad in the front, Mom in the back. I always wondered if that was our quiet time.
Mom was a great cook, but always managed to burn the potatoes.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: At that time being little and life being sheltered, I wanted to be a nun. As I got friends in the neighborhood, I found there was more in life.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I went to Holy Cross for grammar school, then to South Portland for high school.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: Just girl stuff and the foolish things girls do. We could get into some dandy fights as kids. I was always the trouble one. If someone did something, I'd always try it, but I thank my mother for the faith I had and have today.
Grandparents would come to visit on a bus and we would wait for them in the apple tree. We could see the bus and we'd jump down to meet them. One time my brother and I were waiting in the tree; we saw them coming and his overalls got caught on a branch. I knew he was caught up but I was more interested in the candy and bolted. We finally found him hours later, sound asleep, still caught up on the branch.
Q: What have you had for jobs?
A: When I was a teenager, I did a lot of babysitting. Chores at home were pretty much all of our jobs though.
When you graduated from high school and were old enough you were out of the house!
That’s when I did get a job at Caroline's dress shop in Portland and I used to dress the mannequins in the window. I also had an apartment in Portland.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: A friend introduced me to my first husband and the birth father of my children. It was in Portland and my apartment was on the first floor and he had an apartment on the third floor. We dated for about six months and married in 1959.
We moved to South Portland and we had babies right away; four sons. Michael, who passed away from a car accident; Lawrence, who is a detective in Aroostook County; James, who I just buried a month ago from a heart attack in his sleep; and William, who lives in Rumford and works at the mill.
We were divorced in 1971 and I remarried Murrill Blazier in 1978. I was just introduced to him when I was working in surgical supplies at the hospital.
Q: Did you work?
A: After I married Murrill I worked at the lunch programs at South Portland and Cape Elizabeth and at night I worked at SMTC and worked nights in the canteen.
Murrill was a truck driver on the road and worked for Americana. He had a bad accident and about four operations in his back and had to retire early.
Q: Is that when you moved here?
A: Yes. I always liked this area and always said, since I was young that I wanted to live in the country, but I couldn’t do that as a single mother.
Murrill and I had bought a camper and we would come up this way to go to Roxbury Pond and I saw this house being built. We watched it for years and it came up for sale. I said let’s move. Little did I know that I would bury my husband and two sons, but maybe the Lord wanted me here because he has given me the best friends here to get through it all.
We moved up here in May of ‘99 and my first son died on Father's Day that same summer. It was the same day as Stephen King's accident; then Murrill three years ago and James just last month. But I do have eight wonderful grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Q: What do you do now?
A: I am retired. I joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church and prayed that the Lord would give me great friends to get me through all my tragedies. He sent me the right people. My whole being is thankful to the Lord.
Q: Anyone said you look like someone famous?
A: When I was younger people would always tell me that I look like Sally Field. At 72 I certainly don’t look like her any more.
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: Murrill and I went to Florida in the winter for a few years until it was just too much for him.
We took a cruise to Mexico and Puerto Viarta and we also went through the Midwest and to Michigan to see family.
We also took bus tours and I miss that. We went to Branson, Nashville and West Virginia; those were the good years.
I need to find a buddy and go on more tours, they were so much fun.
We went to Branson, Nashville, West Virginia. Those were the good years.
Q: Which place was the most fascinating and why?
A: It was in the Virginias. There were these caves to take tours in. Each cave had different carvings. One had the Last Supper and they were just beautiful.
Branson was just fun to go to the different shows. Even though there was entertainment everywhere, there was always a sign somewhere that told you the Lord came first. It could be a song or a picture or the music was just spiritual; you could feel His presence when they sang.
Q: Did anyone influence you to the point of changing your direction in life?
A: There was a pastor that had a wife about 30 years ago ... . I know I was one of the Lord's chosen to take her Bible class. She was a gifted woman, frail yet giving woman and through her love I came to know Jesus. It was her teaching that made me understand. I went every Tuesday for five years and after that I was a changed person.
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A: No, at this point, I am trying to get rid of things. I go to Curves every morning and I really like that.
My friend Rosalee takes me almost every place she goes. You name it we go, from doctor's appointments to shopping.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: Mark Finley ... . It was a small paperback and it was about getting prepared for the Lord's coming.
Q: What subject do you wish you knew more about?
A: The Lord. That's all I need to know at my age; all the other things I probably learned the hard way and that’s all that's left.
Q: Any regrets?
A: I wish I had been a better mother, but raising children on my own was tough and I did the best I could. I still call them my boys even though they are all grown.
I did take in a foster daughter. She was in the fifth or sixth grade when she asked if I'd take her in. She was the oldest of five or six kids. When she was 16, she went on her own. She came to my son's funeral a month ago and it was nice to see her. She was all grown up, married and has a son.
Q: What is the one thing you would happily do over again?
A: All the births of my boys ... . I felt like a woman. I was so happy to have healthy children and another day is the day I found the Lord.
Q: What was the best memory that this interview brought back?
A: Our bedroom as a kid. One slept in the crib and one in the playpen. There were two other beds and my other four sisters slept in those. I was the oddball and I wanted to sleep with the older sisters, so I would have to give them something to do that. Sometimes I’d sleep in the playpen. I never had a bed of my own until I was divorced.
I remember how I always wanted to live like the Waltons and how everyone should. But I think back now and we probably did live like that; the dog barking, chickens flying when the door opened and Dad yelling to shut the door.
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: I am a good Christian. That I like to talk about Jesus and I'd like to help lead more people to the Lord. It's not something that I push on people. I don't do it on my own; if someone needed help I would help them.
Q: Last day on earth; what would you do and who with?
A: I would like to be with sons and my grandchildren. We would probably gather at home and pray. It's my biggest hope and dream to go with the Lord some day and be together with my other two sons someday.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: I would like to see my parents and my grandparents and of course my two sons. I would tell them how much I loved them and how I am sorry that I never told them more often. My mom! As a kid you take that stuff for granted, but I think of how hard that must have been on her.