"BASEBALL FIELD ON CEDAR STREET"
There were loads of kids from the lower-end of the Town of Dexter (back in the 1930’s it was known as the “Tough-end”) that played at the Cedar Street ballfield. This ballfield was surrounded by Lower Main, Lincoln, Water, Liberty, St. Francis Streets and Railroad Avenue. The ballfield itself was crowded into a small area bordering Lincoln Street, McLellan Street and Cedar Street.
The home of the late Ardel "Pud" Howard (his wife still lives there) is situated right on top of homeplate and the pitchers mound. The left field didn’t have any obstacles but was a little up-hill. The Florence McKenney home now sits in this area. The Pine Tree Canning Factory was right in back of the center and left field area but it was close enough for a baseball to glance off the walls...no windows. The George and Myrtie Leighton home was off to the right of the field and we had to be careful of foul balls hit in that direction as there were plenty of nice shiny windows waiting for a ‘direct hit’. Now, before I forget to mention anymore about glass!! We always decided before a game that there would be ‘no divvying up’ on broken windows!! Which meant that whoever broke a window had to pay for it.
Now, back to the next house which was directly across the road in back of home plate. This was the home of the Art Parks family and always got the most broken windows. Broken windows were one of our most annoying problems. (While I am on this subject.) If we ever needed the police or some other supervision, it wasn’t always available, as it is to day, just a phone-call away. A problem just like I mentioned could be settled by the owner and the kids parents. If it was a more serious problem, we could get in touch with sheriff Fred Marsh or State Policeman Anse Dorr who was always at Al Davis’s Drugstore, with his trusty motorcycle parked outside.
Art and Bertha Parks, as I remember, had a family of two girls, blonde and pretty, Virginia and Barbara, two boys, Art, Jr. and Bill and some smaller children. Art’s main line of business was a laundryman. He was also known about town as the leader of, "Art Park’s Band". He was a drummer and a great one at that!! He sure could beat those drums!! He used to play at the Roseland Ballroom, now Tillson’s Warehouse in back of their hardware store and The Crystal Ballroom in Dover and Sebec Ballroom on Sebec Lake. Some of the musicians mentioned were Ray Dory, a singer from Augusta, Norm Eldin on the saxophone, from Augusta. Tim Haseltine, Perley Pynes and Larry Jewett may have played. They were mentioned but I’m not sure about them. I’m told that the Art Park’s Band did a lot of playing about 1935 and some of the high school kids used to go to the dances. Thanks goes to Phyllis Ambrose and Roland Clukey for this information about "Art Parks Band".
The Joe Mountain home (now the home of Reggie Mossey, Sr.) situated right next to Cedar Street School on McLellan Street was also an inviting target for fly balls. I don’t remember that we broke any windows but probably had some near misses.
The right field area near the Leighton home and the Pine Tree Canning Factory was the one place that we always hated to hit a ball as the deep grass was a great haven for lost balls. It seemed that we spent most of our playing time hunting for those lost balls.
The house up Cedar Street next to the Parks place belonged to Millie Trundy and Albert “Peanut” Baskett. Peanut Baskett also owned the Gables over on the corner of Lincoln and Water Streets. It was a grocery-dancehall-bar kind of place. The house beyond the Trundy-Baskett place was owned by Grover and Angeline Fields. He was the town blacksmith and they had eight boys, Grover jr., Walter, Floyd, Ludlow, Albion, twins Elwood and Ernest and Paul. Four girls, Vesta, Helen, Mary and Edith.
The Wintle family from St Francis Street, represented the ‘tough-end’ with seven boys and four girls. The boys, Victor, Kenneth, James, this writer, Fredrick, Francis, Robert and Roger. The girls, Bernice, Evelyn, Madelyn and Rebecca. There was another boy that died when he was two years old. He died in 1918 of influenza. At that period in time, the First World War, there were thousands that died of the flu epidemic.
Another large family, cousins of mine, the Cooksons’, were usually a part of the gang that played ball. They were from the Center Street area. Eva and George raised a family of five boys and three girls- Philip "Sippy", Beulah, Georgia, Beatrice, Norman "Hardrock", Wilbur "Freckles", Galen "Cooney" and Alfred Cookson.
Another large family from Center Street were the Clukeys. The Dexter Directory lists the names as, Thomas L. (Mildred) 7 Center St. Millworker. Evangeline, Sylvia, Roland, Vincent, Regina, Geralda, Raymond, Barbara, Gerald, Gloria, David, Carol and Eugene.
Play Ball!!! Any number of kids could play, we didn’t always have enough so the first thing that we had to do was to choose the players for each team. Do any of you folks out there remember how it was done? Well, one of us would toss the bat to another player who caught it about halfway down the handle.
Player number one put his hand above player number two and so on up to the top-----whoever got their hand to the top would have the first pick of the players. We had to go through the same ritual to see who would come up to bat first. The pitcher and catcher were the umpires. The batter could stay up until he grounded out, flied out or was struck out. You couldn’t walk on four balls. Those were our rules, but, of course they could be changed, especially if some of the kids on the opposing team were bigger than we were!!
Other boys from the lower-end of town that I haven’t mentioned may have played and they were; Albert, Vincent and Ernest Daigle from the lower part of Cedar Street, Graydon and Clarence Gilbert lived in the last house on Cedar Street. Then there were the Howard boys, Pud and Bob over on Lower Main Street and right across the street, Almon, Sam and Rodney Page. The Sands boys, Everett, Ronnie and Galen from St. Francis Street. Earl and Kenneth Richards, Walter, Henry "Chenud" and Leon "Peanut" Nadeau from Lincoln Street.
Sometimes I am just sitting around daydreaming about all of those kids and the good old days that we spent at the Cedar Street ball field. I wonder what ever happened to the ones who aren’t around now and how many of them actually went on to make a career of playing ball. It would be nice to know-- Oh well, I guess that I will never know, but it sure was a lot of fun back in ‘the good old days’!!
Contact Jim Wintle by email or call 207-924-7598.
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