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Apples, working, and kayaking
SOUTH PARIS – 42-year-old Bart Hutchinson grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts and the Oxford Hills area. He doesn’t care what he is doing as long as it is outside.
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 March 24, 1968 and it was in Lowell, Massachusetts. My mom was originally from there. My dad was from the Bethel area. We lived in Lowell when I was really little then when I was around five we moved to Bethel. We made our way back to Lowell when I was in third or fourth grade, but we moved back to Maine and South Paris to stay when I was in the sixth grade.
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: I did. A younger brother Gavin, and he is 15 months younger and now lives in Utah. My sister, Lori is three years younger and she lives in South Paris; she is a teacher at Paris Elementary. And there is Brad, my youngest brother, who is eight years younger, and he lives in South Paris as well.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: I had fun. It was always about family.
We went through periods of good income and periods where money was tight. We learned real quickly that if we wanted something we had to get it ourselves. We had to earn it ourselves, because the handout wasn’t always there, but it was not that they wouldn’t have given if they could. It’s just that it was always tight.
Life was different as a child in Lowell. You didn’t ring on anyone’s doorbell. You went up to the door step and yelled their name. If it was to get a bunch to play, they would all come out of their houses. It was weird when we came up here and people would knock on the door.
We didn’t have yards in Lowell, and the road was the playground. Someone would holler: car! And we would move out of the way and when the car was gone, go back to wherever we were. We had to use wiffle balls and tennis balls because baseballs took out way too many windows.
You also picked up your toys down there. You left the bike in the yard and it was gone.
In Maine it was all fields and woods with all kinds of places to explore.
We used to hunt and fish. If it wasn’t that, it was something outside.
I always enjoyed woodworking. I remember making a water wheel with my grandfather in the brook behind his house. A few years ago the house went up for sale and I went to look and it was gone, but I remembered that waterwheel.
We did some cross-country skiing, but it was mainly playing outside after school.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My dad was in army intelligence when he was young. He ran computers in Japan that broke code. Then he got training to be a funeral director, and that’s how he met my mom.
Her uncle had died and my father noticed her and looked at the guest book and called her that night. She told him that she was engaged, but dad told her it was just for a cup of coffee. She agreed, and nine months later they were married.
Dad also dabbled in electrical work and did commodity sales in Boston. He also sold some insurance. He was a pretty smart guy.
When we moved to Bethel, he owned the funeral home on the corner of Broadway and Paradise.
My dad passed away in 2004.
My mother always worked in daycare, and still does. She lives in South Paris.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: Yes. When I was eight, my grandfather and I got talking about the outdoors and he would explain to me what a game warden did. He explained it was a cop for the woods, and how they worked for the forest to protect wildlife. After that, I always wanted to be one. Then I saw one of the trucks and I was in love.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: Well, ya. My grandfather taught us how to throw green apples from the end of a stick and regretted it every day after. Behind his house was a grocery store and we were throwing apples at cars. We had no idea that the store owner knew my grandfather’s phone number.
There was the removal of a stop sign one time in South Paris one night. The local officer had a buddy that was a neighbor, so he came to our house and said he had just driven through that intersection and that sign better be back there before he drives through it again.
Q: Did you work as a child?
A: When I was in the seventh or eighth grade I worked for the Birch's on Moosehead Lake. They also owned Outward Bound and Wilderness Rafting so they would put me wherever they needed me.
I was a cabin boy and I ran the marina. On my days off I was able to raft the rivers for free. I traveled with Folsom’s Flight Service, a sea plane company. My first flight was off the lake. I met awesome people; real people that went up there for the pure enjoyment of sport.
I also worked at Bald Mountain and Aquasic and there I did more of the traditional cabin boy, starting fires and supplying firewood. They harvested their own ice and kept it in a cooler, so I would also have to chip away to get campers ice water.
I also worked at Western Auto in Norway.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I went to schools in Lowell, and I went to Agnes Gray School in West Paris, and then I went to Oxford Hills middle school and high school.
Q: Did you ever become a game warden?
I ended up being a deputy game warden for four years at about the age of 30.
Everyone at the time was going to Unity College to become a warden, but I wanted a back-up plan and went to SMVTI for law enforcement. A month before graduation there was a hiring freeze for wardens and it paid to not go to Unity.
During the summer I worked as a harbor master at Keysar Lake.
While I was in college, I started working for Oxford County under Sherriff Elton Howe and he hired me to be the contract deputy for the town of Lovell. I also worked as a corrections officer.
I graduated and was doing prisoner transport to Rumford and ran into Dewey Robertson, who I knew, having gone to school with his daughter. He asked me to come take a test. The next week I was working in Rumford.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: Lisa moved to Maine from Dracut Massachusetts at the start of her sophomore year. She was working in McDonald’s. I saw this good-looking girl, started talking and found out we lived quite close in Mass., and a quarter of a mile apart here.
We dated all through college and got married in 1991.
We owned a house in Oxford for a number of years and went to South Berwick for a time. We wanted to move back here when my dad got sick.
Q: Any children?
A: In 1993 we had a son, Ryan, and in 1996 we had Jenna. Ryan is a senior and he wants to go to college and own an excavation company. He is going to night school to get his Class A license. Jenna is in eighth grade and is a cheerleader. She is a good student, and the sky is the limit with her.
Q: Did you continue in Rumford?
A: I was hired to work for the Paris PD. Skip Herrick hired me and sent me to the police academy where I was certified. I worked there for three years.
Q: Where did you go at that point?
I left law enforcement and went into manufacturing at Bridgton Knitting. My father in-law was in charge of technology and research and development. Ultimately I worked under him as a tech supervisor and then worked directly for him in research and development. I have to say that he was a mentor and a great guy who took me under his wing and taught me the business and textiles.
During that time I still worked part time as a deputy game warden.
Bridgton Knitting shut down and we moved to South Berwick in 2000. I was offered a job in Lowell to set up a circular knit floor for the automotive upholstery industry.
We made seat and door panel fabrics for cars. It was a full-finishing plant, so it came as raw yarn and left as a finished fabric in rolls and was shipped to New Mexico to be foam backed and cut.
After two years, I found out it was being sold, so I went to Salisbury and worked for Andover Coated Products, and they made self-cohesive bandages for the medical field.
I commuted to Mass. each day.
We sold the house and moved back to Norway in 2003, and I ended up working for Irving Forest Products in Dixfield. I was the planer mill supervisor up there and moved from there to Hancock Lumber doing the same thing.
I also worked at Wells Woodturning in Buckfield.
I left there due to the economy and started working for the state of Maine.
I currently work for DHHS, and I am an eligibility specialist. Basically what I do is determine eligibility and continuing eligibility for state and fed benefits.
I work with a group of people that are so caring. These are tough times. We are seeing people that would never even glance at the building driving by and now they are forced to get help. It can be even tougher for those who are used to higher incomes, as they have larger bills and payments. They can drop pretty hard and pretty fast.
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: I am a New England guy and eastern coast Canada guy. I have no desire to leave.
Q: Did anyone influence you to the point of changing your direction in life?
A: Probably my grandfather and explaining career options that I didn’t know existed.
Also my father in law, Ed Dionne, who mentored me and gave me the basis for the skills I needed. Even though a divorce took place years ago I still feel he played a strong influence in my life and remains family. Looking back on my career, he was definitely the kingpin to where I would go.
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A: I love to kayak and being outside, and I don’t care what it is. Summer camping at Keoka Beach is the best.
I spend a lot of time with my best friend, Cloe. She is a golden retriever and she is almost as near to my heart as my kids.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: The Shack, by William Young. It was a weird little book about a father and his wife and the daughter is kidnapped. The father learns humanity. It was a weird book, but it got you thinking. You just have to hand it off.
Q: What was the best memory that this interview brought back?
A: Definitely the apples. We were having such a good time until my grandfather came over to that field. He would be proud to know I passed off my skills.
Q: Last day on earth; what would you do and who with?
A: I would definitely be kayaking with my three kids at Keoka. If it’s going to happen it might as well be a fun day leading up to it.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: I would have to say Ronald Regan and I would say thank you for his involvement with global relations. Maybe it’s because he was the first president I recall having an influence. I was at the right age to be able to look back….Russia is not what it was – the dynamics of the world and economic growth have changed because of him.