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
Arnold LeMay

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

Arnold LeMay


Mr. Arnold LeMay was born and raised in West Harpswell. He still lives in the house he was born in. He is now 81. His mother was born in Harpswell anal his father in Canada. Mr. LeMay has two brothers and one sister that now live in Florida.

When Arnold was a boy his house was heated with wood because they did not have electricity. They also did not have gas stoves, radios or TV’s, and instead of bathrooms they had outhouses.

Mr. LeMay's family grew a lot of their own food: corn, carrots, peas, and potatoes, etc, The food they grew in the summer and fall was canned and stored for the winter months. Food was stored with ice because there was no refrigeration. They bought their fish because they didn't have a boat, none of the family were fisherman. The family dug their own clams and mussels out in front of their yard that was right on the shore line. There were two or three stores in the village of West Harpswell where they could buy a few things they could not provide themselves. Things were much less expensive. A pack of cigarettes cost about 10 cents, bread was about 2 or 3 cents, and one pound of sugar was also about 10 cents.

Arnold doesn't remember any peddlers coming to his house to trade goods. People were just good friends or neighbors and if somebody needed help then they would just help them and be repaid by getting help on something they needed like painting and fixing things.

Arnold walked two miles every day to get to school because there were no buses like today. Instead of having a different teacher each year Arnold had only one teacher for grades 1-8. He went to elementary school for 9 years and then went on to Brunswick High School for years. Brunswick High School is now Hawthorne Elementary School on Federal Street in Brunswick. A few people had cars back then so 4 or 5 kids would pool in one car and get driven to school. Arnold did not go on to college because not as many kids went to college as they do today.

The whole family was involved in the business of ice harvesting. Or as Mr. LeMay called it “put up ice.” They had a good sized pond on their land so in the winter they would cut ice, store it in ice houses, and then sell it to people in the summer. The ice was cut in chunks that were about 22” x 44” x: 18”. He learned his job from his mom and dad. His mom and dad didn't have to travel to a job far away, like many people do today.

Arnold remembered that the holidays were much different back then. Kids didn't get Legos or a Nintendo 64. Most of the gifts were home made and practical like mittens, sweaters, hats and so on. The Fourth of July was one of Arnold's favorite holidays. His family went to Brunswick to see fireworks, or bought their own and had family reunions with the fireworks they bought. For birthdays his mom made a cake and homemade presents.

Mr. LeMay didn't go to war, but he remembered local military towers in North Harpswell. Civilians volunteered to watch for planes, identify them, and give their direction.

These are some things Mr. LeMay remembers about Harpswell. He remembers the steamboat that would travel from Portland to South Harpswell. There was a Post Office at Estes Point (now Potts Point) and the mail would come in on the steamboat and the postman would deliver mail to the locals. He also remembers a bowling alley and movie theater. Many things have changed in Harpswell, There are many, many more businesses, houses and people. He preferred Harpswell the old way.