Frances Perkins in the Twin Villages, as recalled by attendees

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Boothbay Register
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On Wednesday, July 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Newcastle Fire Station on the River Road The Newcastle Historical Society will welcome the recollections of Frances Perkins from past and present residents of the Twin Villages and Lincoln County. Miss Perkins or Madame Secretary was also known locally as Mrs. Paul Wilson and she is buried by that name in the Glidden Cemetery on River Road.

The evening is open to anyone with any direct recollection of Frances Perkins, or anyone whose parents or other relatives or friends had a recollection of her. Among the stories already known for the presentation is that of Porter Leighton who bagged groceries for Mrs. Wilson at the Yellowfront in downtown Damariscotta. Geraldine Hanley recalls that she and Verna Wyman used to wash dishes after a formal dinner at the Brick House prepared by Verna’s mother, Angie Wyman. Geraldine recalls rushing to finish the work so she and Verna could get to the movies at the Lincoln Theater. Calvin Dodge recalls that his father used to maintain the gravel driveway of the Brick House. All such recollections are welcome.

Present for the evening will be Tomlin Coggeshall, the grandson of Frances Perkins, who will share some of his recollections.

Frances Perkins was an eminent citizen of several places, but she considered Newcastle and the Brick House on River Road as her home. One authority for her devotion to Maine was President Roosevelt when he was talking with her about a radical reform in California, “What difference, I ask you, would that make in Dutchess County, New York, or Lincoln County, Maine.” He loved Hyde Park in Dutchess County, and he knew that Frances Perkins loved Newcastle in Lincoln County.

She was in Newcastle when the Germans invaded Poland on Friday, September 1, 1939, and she rushed back to Washington for emergency cabinet meetings.

Frances Perkins was the first woman Cabinet Secretary and served as Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945. Often called the “architect of the New Deal,” her primary achievement was Social Security. Before her death in 1965, she learned of the passage of one stage of the Medicare legislation and considered that achievement to be a partial fulfillment of her goal, first expressed to President-elect Roosevelt in 1933, of National Health Insurance.

If any residents have recollections, but will be unable to come to the meeting, please call Morrison Bonpasse of Newcastle, at 586-6078. He looks forward to hearing from anyone with a story about Frances Perkins, and will either assist callers to get to the meeting, or present their stories himself as part of his introduction to the evening.

There will be a brief business meeting beginning at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the program.