Ara Arbor Maloon biography

Uncle Ara Arbor Maloon was born in Detroit, Maine, June 20, 1885, the second child and first son of Flora Ann Carleton and Oliver Libby Maloon. He was born in the Maloon home on the Maloon Flat. Ara was named for a Bangor druggist whom his mother had met in Northport.

His boyhood, we may assume, was typical of young boys of that time. He had one close friend, his double cousin, Merton Maloon, the youngest son of Gilbert and Martha Carleton Maloon, with whom he spent many happy hours in companionship. One of their favorite sports in winter was sliding down the Horseback starting at Merton’s house and sliding on the crust to the brook and even across it when it was frozen over. Part of the time their ´sleds¡ were barrel staves.

Most of the stories of Uncle Ara’s youth came to me from my Mother, Edna Maloon Libbey. She has told of the lambs he had and the baby oxen he broke and hitched to a sled to laul them about in winter.

When Uncle Ara was two years old, he ran away up the road in the Spring when the road was muddy. His father said it would be well to let him go probably so that he might learn not to go away again. Uncle stepped into a mud hole and the clay held him. He cried but the dog they had, a black and brown Shepherd collie, Nero, came up and lay beside him. Thereupon, Uncle began to play with the dog, stopped crying, forgot about the mud and running away from home, so they had to go after him to bring him home. (David’s notes from Mother’s recollections)

In the early winter when Uncle Ara was about seven, he went across the road to the barn. Finding the door latch frozen, he put his mouth down to the latch to thaw it and his lips froze to it. When he pulled his head back, he left the skin of his lips on the latch.

When he was about ten years old, Uncle Ara yoked up two calves and hitched them to a cart. His father had all sizes of yokes so it was not hard to find one to fit. One day when he yoked them up, he asked his sister, Bessie, to go for a ride up the hill and probably up to their Aunt Mart’s. On the way back as they rounded the turn to go down the road to the Maloon Flat from the Horseback, the ´steers¡ broke into a run and as the Congress Cart rounded the turn, it turned over and Bessie fell out, tearing the skirt of her new red dress with black sprigs on it. Uncle raced ahead and stopped the steers but Bessie was left with a large tear in the skirt. So they contrived to repair the damage. Uncle went into the house and got a large needle because Aunt Bessie didn’t dare to with her dress torn. Then they went out to the barn and pulled a long hair from the horse’s tail. With this, they proceeded to sew up the tear with the black hair. (From Bessie Maloon, September 6, 1964 to David Libbey)

Uncle Ara’s Mother, Flora Ann Carleton Maloon, never used a switch on her children. Once when Aunt Bessie and Uncle Ara continued to ply in the watering trough after their mother had told them three or four times to stop, she came after them with a switch and they ran. (From Bessie Maloon, September 6, 1964 to David Libbey)

At school Uncle Ara often sat on the front seat because he did not have too much interest in his studies. Eber Cook, who taught at the Maloon School when Uncle was about ten years old, complained because Uncle did not have his hair combed, so my mother, Edna, much to her embarrassment, had to sit down in the front seat with Ara and comb his hair three times during that forenoon. (David’s notes not quite clear)

Uncle Ara’s father had had charge of the building of the new Maloon schoolhouse. Since Aunt Bessie went a year or so to the old schoolhouse, the new one must have been built about 1891.

Life in the Oliver Maloon family changed abruptly with the untimely death of Oliver in October 29, 1899.

Up to this time Uncle Ara had been attending the Maloon school. Among his teachers were Maud Monroe, Olivia Bickmore, his cousin, and Nellie Merrill. The first two were also his sister’s, Bessie’s, teachers, as well. At the age of fourteen years Uncle had to stop school and go to work. He had already been doing a man’s work on the farm, plowing and haying.

Uncle Ara worked in the Pioneer Mill for about a year in Pittsfield. He and Will Shaw went to work together in a two-wheeled wagon and drove “like mad” (from Aunt Bessie’s) coming around the corner of the yard on one wheel. Both of them boarded at home (on the Flat) and worked nights. When his Mother and sister, Edna, went to Rumford to work in the paper mills in 1900, Ara stayed with his grandmother and Aunt Martha.

Apparently Uncle liked to try his had at drawing as evidenced by a picture (still in existence) of three cats standing eating at a table. This pencil sketch was made in 1901, according to the record on the back.

Uncle Ara went to work as lineman for the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company and was working for them in the early 1900's when his Mother married Frank Walker. Alan Walker, his step brother, worked with Uncle and they used to come home weekends quite often. In 1902 (?) Uncle was working in Dresden Mills, Maine (near Richmond). Without doubt Arthur Totman of Hinckley, Maine was a member of the crew also at this time. In 1906 Uncle went to Littleton, New Hampshire to work for the Coos Telephone Company. At this time Alan Walker went to California. Ara was superintendent for the Coos Telephone Company working out of Littleton. In 1911-1912 Uncle was working for the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company with headquarters at Taunton, Massachusetts.

October 24, 1914 Uncle Ara and Nina Katherine Bedell, daughter of Arthur J. Bedell and Bertha Williams, were united in marriage by Rev. Frank P. Fletcher of the Methodist Church in Littleton, New Hampshire.

In 1920, due to ill health, Uncle left the telephone company and he and Aunt Nina moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts to work for Arthur Totman, who managed the Ham’s Highland and Beach stores. Uncle served as caterer.

Daiz and Arthur Hagman were among the first new friends they made.

One of their addresses was 63 Jefferson Street, Winthrop.

For about a year Uncle managed the Ham Stores himself.

For a period in here from about 1925-1930 Uncle was not at all well as he suffered with ulcers and was in the hospital several times for operations.

When I was small, Uncle Ara and Aunt Nina used to come every summer to spend their vacation with us in Detroit, Maine. Dad used to plan to have his haying done as he looked forward to their coming like a kid. He always made a trip to West Pittsfield to get a big leg of lamb for the occasion as lamb was a rare delicacy for us and besides it was one of the few meats allowed in Uncle’s limited diet. Usually was alerted to be on hand and at least one night he and his dog would come over and with Dad and Uncle they would chase ‘coons Dad’s having a ‘coon tree already spotted in anticipation of the occasion. With much barking and excitement they were off!

Then, with a few shingles and boards appropriately nailed to a wooden cigar box, a bit of sugar and water judiciously placed in it, Uncle Ara and Dad were all set to run bees. Then again would be a night “party” when the bees had been trailed to their hiding place. Equipped with smoke punks, wearing cheese cloth over their faces and necks, and gloves on their hands, Uncle and Dad would “steal” the honey form some hollow tree. I can remember one occasion when I was permitted to go along with David, Mother and Aunt Nina trailing in the feeble light of the kerosene lantern into the woods down below the barn (towards Pittsfield). This time they had to saw down the tree and I shivered in the cool night air as I watched in tense expectation and a little bit of fear.

At some time we would usually go on a picnic, Aunt Bessie, with us, traveling in Dad’s old big open Studebaker. Often we went to Sibley Pond where Dad owned a lot of land.

Aunt Nina died in May 28, 1931, at the age of forty-two years. She had suffered greatly with cancer of the stomach.

Uncle and Aunt Nina had had a cat, Pete, that came originally from a litter of kittens belonging to John and Blanche Richmond in Troy, Maine. We had a kitten, Bicky, from the same litter. Pete was a wild kitty, afraid of anyone but the family. After Aunt Nina died, Uncle Ara sent Pete to our house in Maine for Betsey to care for but after Uncle and Aunt Lillian were married, Pete returned to them. Uncle Ara paid Betsey $1.00 a week for food and labor for caring for Pete.

On June 5, 1934 Uncle Ara married Aunt Lillian Emelia Johnson, daughter of Mary Anderson and John Albert Johnson at the Universalist Church in Boston on the Fenway. They were united in marriage by Dr. Leroy Coombs, one time minister at the Universalist Church in Pittsfield, Maine (1898-1907). Dr. Coombs felt he recognized the name of Maloon and when he found Uncle was a member of the family he had known, Mrs. Coombs called Aunt Lillian and asked if she might be a guest at their wedding. Aunt Lillian responded, “I would be honored.”

Uncle Ara and Aunt Lillian first lived at 184 Somerset Avenue, Winthrop, Massachusetts. They moved to Buchanan Street in 1935.

They had their one and only car at this time a Chrysler. Uncle had bought it a few years earlier. They went on their belated wedding trip around the coast of Main in it in September, 1934. At Auto Rest Park in Carmel, Maine where they stopped, Aunt Lillian went to pet one of the animals and he grabbed her pocketbook through the bars, ripping off the handles. (Uncle Ara must have gotten his car in 1931 as I can remember his calling to get me at school when I was in the fifth grade and I was so proud of such a beautiful car. Of all things, I can remember begging Uncle to come in and listen to me play my violin lesson and Russell Jack, my teacher, held me on his lap while Uncle sat and listened.)

At about 1938 Uncle Ara was making ice cream for all the Ham Stores Beach, Center, Highlands, and Orient Heights.

In 1938-1939 Uncle Ara and Aunt Lillian adopted a daughter, their niece, Betsey Libbey, kindly taking her into their home (Buchanan Street) as their own while she worked at Totman’s Restaurant in the Parks Square Building in Boston. She worked as a waitress at the salary of $12.00 a week to earn money to continue her college education, interrupted after her freshman year. They had many good times together meeting Aunt Lillian in Boston for a movie or ice cream after work, going for rides weekends and hot nights, tagging along to suppers at Flora and Arthur Totman’s, taking part in a church play written by Flora Totman, attending the wedding of Lucile Totman and Al Doran, enjoying the wonderful surprise birthday party (20th) with friends from Winthrop and Parks Square Building there and fancy frozen fruit ices, Hassanemisco Tango Matoonas and Polly and just plain good times of living with those whom you love and who love you.

In 1942 Uncle Ara went into business for himself making the ice cream for the Ham Stores with his factory located at the rear of the Center Store in Winthrop, Massachusetts.

In 1942-1943 Betsey again came to live with them while she attended Burdett College in Boston, worked occasionally at Totman’s candy counter in the Arcade of the Parks Square Building and in January 1943 entered Northeastern University with its first class of girls for a wartime accelerated engineering course. Uncle Ara and Aunt Lillian were still living at 61 Buchanan Street (2nd floor). In 1943 they moved to 42 Loring Road still in Winthorp (on the first floor because Aunt Lillian was advised not to climb stairs) in Mrs. Keating’s house.

In about 1947 Uncle Ara sold his business and went to work for Arthur and John Totman in their restaurant as cook in the Parks Square Building in Boston. He worked here about two years until he retired in 1949 when the Totman’s closed their restaurant.

In 1948 or 1949 Uncle Ara painted Mr. MacDonald’s (candy man at Ham’s) house in Winthrop.

In July 27, 1950 the Maloons moved to Stoughton, buying a four-room expandable Cape Cod bungalow at 404 Walnut Street. here Uncle Ara enjoyed working in his vegetable garden which was his pride and joy. Even after moving to Stoughton, Uncle Ara would travel back to Winthrop two days a month for two or three years to make the ice cream for the Center Store.

Uncle Ara planted a multiflora hedge around the house in 1951 and three years later he built a pretty sunroom addition.

Uncle Ara was operated on in Baker Memorial Hospital in 1957. Gradually his health failed and in 1963 he had great difficulty breathing. he was taken to the Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment for asthma bronitin. He returned home and for a brief period showed improvement, but went back to the Mass. General Hospital where he passed away July 15, 1963 in his 78th year. He was buried July 17, 1963 at the Johnson lot in the Mt. Hope Cemetery, Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Uncle Ara was always a quiet, kindly man, always a gentleman. He was never known to raise his voice or to argue.

Uncle Ara was a Shriner of the Aleppo Temple in Boston and a member of the Commandery in Winthrop.

For four years Uncle Ara and Aunt Lillian spent Christmas with the Williamses, 1950-1953, until travel became difficult.

On the anniversary of their twenty-five years of marriage, Aunt Lillian commented that the best gift they enjoyed was “all the love and happiness we have enjoyed throughout the years.”

Notes compiled by Betsey E. Williams, 4 October 1964

Sources: Edna M. Libbey; Bessie Maloon; Lillian E. Maloon; notes given to David Libbey as personal recollections of Edna Libbey; notes written by Lillian E. Maloon, “Events During 25 Years of Marriage” in 1959; Betsey Williams – personal recollections