Harpswell Historical Society

Incorporated 1979

929 Harpswell Neck Road
Harpswell, Maine  04079

The Harpswell Historical Society is dedicated to the discovery, identification, collection, preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of materials relating to the history of Harpswell and its people.

Table of Contents

Historic Park 
and Museum

Links to 
related sites


Life in Harpswell Maine in the Early to Mid 1900's
Daniel Darling

By the Third, Fourth and Fifth Graders at
Harpswell Islands &
West Harpswell Schools

A 1997-98 Harpswell History Project

Gladys Abby Allen
Allen's Seafood
Henry Barnes
Alice Catlin
Donald Coffin
Daniel Darling
The Dead Ship of Harpswell
Clem Dunning
Judith Howard
Harpswell Hotels
Bernard Johnson
Roy Knight & Cliff Moody
Arnold LeMay
Arnold LeMay
Becky Longley
Currier McEwen
Rob Miller
Barbara Munsey
Don Rogers
Alice Swallow
Dick Westcott
Malcolm Whidden
Ken & Marge Wille
Mary Wilson
Mary & Eleanor Wilson
The Witch Of Harpswell
Gerry York

Daniel Darling

Daniel lived in Cundy's Harbor his whole life, and is still living there now. He had four brothers but no sisters. Houses back then were not quite so busy; no TV, no running water until he was 10 or 12 years old, no inside plumbing, outside toilets, it was quite a bit different back then. They got their water by their Dad digging a well with the help of Dan and his other brothers, They had a pump, and pumped water into the house, They didn't think it was hard work at the time, but it was harder than it is today. They had no electricity, and it was long evenings because they just had kerosene lamps. For heat they used a wood stove, and finally an oil stove, and later on, a furnace,

When he was a kid, his chores in the wintertime were keeping the wood supply in the house and lugging water. Normal chores included keeping the room cleaned. He did as little as he could get by with.

They used to put ice in the fridge to keep food cold. His dad had a garden and grew potatoes and some vegetables. Once a week they would go into Brunswick to buy their food. The Harbor had two local stores with milk and eggs, and stuff you might run out of during the week. They ate plenty of fish and lobster. His dad was a fisherman. They had no microwave, and they cooked on top of a cook stove, and had an oven. Their stove had a big tank on the end. They used the woodstove to heat the water. That's where they got hot water before plumbing was installed.

He went to school in Cundy's Harbor, in a one room schoolhouse. He went to school for 13 years, including high school. Not too many people from his area went to college. They had one teacher for all 3 grades, and he got along fine with the teacher. For the eight years in grammar school all the teachers were women. They were good. He walked to school every day,

His dad was a fisherman, and his mom was a housekeeper and took care of the children. Daniel started learning his job with his dad when he was 10 or 12. He remembered going dragging with him. He lobstered by himself in the summers. He got his license at age 12 or 13. Fishing was hard, but he never considered it hard, it was a way of life and he enjoyed it. There was a lot of work involved. His favorite job was being on the water and fishing and dragging. His favorite kind of fish was whiting. It was really enjoyable. He caught lots of fish, and it gave him a sense of accomplishment. There was more fish a long time ago when he grew up. Whiting, which is silver hake, has been depleted. It is not plentiful now. Now we have to go a long way off to get haddock and cod, blackish and flounder. He fished in different places depending on the time of year. Whiting was in June, July and August (summertime).

They had cars back then, because he's not too old. The roads were dirt, and they planned weekly trips to Brunswick. In the spring their car would get stuck in holes until the roads were paved. Once a week they would take a family ride up to Brunswick and go to the five and ten store and get a treat.

They played games in their free time. They were active boys. They would build tree houses and put cables between the trees. You could get by with what you can't today. They kept busy. They didn't play much sports, maybe softball and skiing. The cables were like a tramway, from tree to tree with a pulley and a seat to get in and ride to the next tree. They rode bikes. In the winter they would go skiing and sliding and ice-skating. Back then the winters had more snow because no one would plow and so it stayed longer. Back then the skis were different. They used barrel stays, and waxed them up to go down the hill. The skis are faster now. It was harder with other skis; they did not go as fast. But his favorite was ice-skating. They went ice-skating at Stewarts Pond, or a pond behind the sheep pasture. His favorite special event was Christmas.

Once Daniel was on a ship and it had a shipwreck, and here's the story. It happened around 1958, he was 28 years old. He was out fishing with his brother on their own. It was a 42 foot fishing boat. It was stormy and the boat was overloaded. The boat took on water and went down. They spent 13 hours on a makeshift raft. It was springtime, so it was cold. It was the end of May, or early June. They were out all night. They were lucky to survive. It was very scary. They saw other boats, but the other boats did not see them. There was a guy out looking for a dead whale, but he spotted them. They had to go to the hospital. Their dad was concerned. He thought they had broken down. They were 7 or 8 miles away from their dad, but he never saw them. Their wives were not worried because they would go out fishing for one week at a time out of Portland. Their dad went out on a boat to look for them about the same time they were picked up. Finally their dad found out where they were.