The last time I was in my hometown, I walked home in the dark and saw a shooting star. One thing I forgot to mention was that I was carrying our friend Margaret’s Wonderful Worumbo coat home with me, hugging it as I dream-walked. Margaret had given it to Faye and Faye was letting me borrow it for a while.
Margaret is a very old family friend; I’ve written about her before. Among other things, she loves the Red Sox. It was a difficult summer for the Red Sox and it was also a difficult one for Margaret. Although she has been healthy and independent all her life, she fell at home in June and was hospitalized. Following her hospitalization, she went to a rehabilitation facility to improve her strength and mobility. Unfortunately, she continued to have problems walking.
I visited her in August. We talked about the Red Sox and Lisbon Falls and the long list of regular visitors she had. I wheeled her around the facility; she showed me where she did her physical therapy. While we were just sitting and talking, she said “I don’t think I’m going to be able to go home.”
I could tell she had resigned herself to this; still, I didn’t know what to say.
The uncomfortable moment of silence passed and I must have brought up Uncle Bob’s name. She smiled and she said “Bobbie is so good to me.” I smiled and thought about how very true that was. She went on to tell me that when she was home, Uncle Bob had picked her up for church in his pick-up truck. Now, Margaret isn’t much taller than five foot three and climbing into trucks isn’t that easy. Uncle Bob had a little stool O’Pa had made long ago and he opened the door for Margaret, placed the little stool on the ground, and helped her up into the truck. When Margaret recollected that story to me, she still referred to my grandfather respectfully as “Mr. Baumer.”
There were so many things I wanted to ask Margaret that day, but it was almost dinner so we said good-bye and I promised I would visit again.
My parents visited Margaret every other week and kept me posted on her well-being. On November 10, she celebrated her 94th birthday with a dinner at her favorite restaurant, Fishbones.
I had her Wonderful Worumbo coat dry-cleaned and loaded it into the Jeep with everything else I brought home for Thanksgiving. I was planning to visit Margaret over the weekend and model the coat for her.
When I got home Thursday morning, I said “hello” to my parents and then skipped over to Uncle Bob’s. He was getting ready for a Thanksgiving service at church and I could tell he didn’t have time to chit-chat. Then, as if remembering something he would rather forget, he said “Margaret died last night.”
Once again, I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say much; just “good bye” and “see you later.”
Realizing I would have to break the sad news to my parents made the 220 steps between Uncle Bob’s house and Motel Four the longest walk I had taken in a long time.
We had a good Thanksgiving in spite of our sadness and we ate too much pie; we talked about Margaret sporadically, remembering all kinds of things. That evening, I ended up taking a walk alone; I didn’t see any shooting stars, but the moon was waxing towards full and it was amazingly bright. It created crazy shadows along the quiet streets of my hometown.
Margaret’s long life had ended Wednesday night and another bridge to the past is gone. Because Margaret had always been with us, I assumed she’d always be here and there would always be time to ask her about the past, but it didn’t work out that way.
Margaret had a full life; so many people loved her. Here are just four of them:
Left to right: Robert “Bobbie” Baumer, me and the Wonderful Worumbo coat, Herman “Hermie” Baumer, and Richard “Dickie” Moses (son of Worumbo Mill owner, Oliver Moses.)
Good bye, dear Margaret.
My name is Cynthia Buechner Bell and I came upon your blog quite accidently; I will give you my story, that I think you will like. This week, I read Steven King’s book 11/22/63. The minute I read about the Worumbo Woolen mill, it started my trip down memory lane.From about 1950-55, my father worked at 1407 Broadway in New York City. He worked for Worumbo, and his boss was Mr. Claire Burcaw. We lived in Washington Township, New Jersey, and my dad commuted by bus to the Port Authority Bus station every work day. He took me into work with him at least one day each summer, and on those days I was treated to the sights of the city. Some wonderful memories for me. We moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in the summer of l955. I went off to college and met my husband who is a Texan and have lived in Texas , and now Oklahoma for the last 53 years. My husband and I had the joy to visit Portland, Maine twice. Once in May of 2008, and then again in June of 2009. This is what will really blow your mind. Our youngest son, Bubba Bell, was drafted in the 2005 players draft by the Boston Red Sox ( in the 39th round) and played all the way from Lowell, Ma. to Pawtucket, R.I. before being traded and eventually realizing that he would never go to the show(only 2% of minor league players ever make the big team). He hurt his leg shortly after being sent from high A, Lancaster, Ca. to AA Portland Sea Dogs. He had a great seven years playing professional baseball with the Sox, the Indians and the Mets( all in AAA) and ended up playing for the Houston area Sugarland Skeeters his last year 2012. We met some wonderful people along the way, and he met his wife while in Columbus, Ohio.
Hope you enjoyed my story.
I did enjoy your story and although I didn’t live in the Portland area during your son’s season with the Sea Dogs, his name sounds familiar from listening to a lot of sports talk radio. I’m sure one of the Baumers who read this blog will remember him. It sounds like he had a good run and made it further than most.
Your memories of the Worumbo are lovely! Many people here in town look at what’s left of the old mill and see an eyesore. I see a connection to a wider world. That old eyesore produced a beautiful and desired fabric, marketed and sold to glamorous people all over the globe. Some of the marketing materials I’ve seen in old magazines show this.
And of course you know that one-time owner of the Worumbo, Oliver Moses, was a big baseball fan, right? The Worumbo had their own team, the Worumbo Indians and one of Oliver’s descendents, Richard Moses, played semi-pro baseball too.
Thank you for visiting and stop by again any time. My very best to you and your family!