It seems that Calvin Dodge has always had an eye for history. His history column in the local newspaper, the Lincoln County News, is a popular feature. The piles of papers and books on his dining room table testify to the meticulousness of his research into each subject, which he writes up in a neat longhand on lined paper.
Because the home he shares with this wife, Marjorie, is computer-free, the newspaper office prints out the many emails he receives in response to his writing. People seem to enjoy the accounts he shares of places and people in Lincoln County’s past.
One of his own early memories of the home in Newcastle where he grew up is the picture of Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt that hung on the wall—an unusual visual statement in a largely Republican county at that time.
“Both my mother and my father were very proud of it,” he recalled recently. “The Social Security program meant so much to senior citizens then, the older people. It wasn’t meant to be enough to live on, but it gave you a little extra income. It was important to people living in the Recession then, as I think you’d call it now. Money was tight.”
He feels grateful to Frances Perkins, though he never met her. “I do remember going down to her place [the Perkins homestead in Newcastle]. The driveway in her yard was where the school bus turned around after its run on River Road. By spring, they started making ruts in the gravel. When she arrived each summer, she’d call my father [who sold gravel] to come and resurface the driveway. Dad scraped the drive and we hauled gravel from over in Alna to rebuild it. My Dad said Madame Perkins—she was actually called Mrs. Wilson—was very happy with the results.”
Calvin also recalled that his father rebuilt stone walls there and “did a lot of special garden work around the area.”
As for Calvin, he pointed with pride to his 34 years of work for the Bath Iron Works where he eventually became a supervisor. He retired 24 years ago.
That’s when started working in the shop where the couple sells antiques, next to the 19th century house that has been in her family for years and is now the Dodges’ home. “When I retired from BIW, Marjorie gave me a party,” Calvin said, “and that’s when she tossed me the keys to the shop, saying that ‘these will keep you from getting under my feet.’”
In his shop, filled with a glorious assortment of burnished old tools, vinyl records, furniture and a welter of other items, Calvin said he sees some of the people struggling with the difficulties of old age. “We have so many senior citizens come in with a little box of this or a little basket of that. One or the other has passed away or moved into assisted living, or they’re moving to an apartment near a son or daughter, or they simply need a few extra dollars to get them through that week. My heart rings out for these older people.”
Social Security, he agreed, has been at least part of the answer for many: “It’s really something to cherish…It’s a great benefit.”