The Life Story of Bessie Malloon

Born 7 June 1887 the youngest of three children of Oliver Libby and Flora Ann Carleton Maloon, Bessie May Maloon was named for her grandmother, Betsey Bradley Andrews Carleton – Bessie being as close to Betsey as they dared to come as Betsey was not a popular name at that time. Bessie herself changed the spelling of her middle name May to Mae. She never liked the name of Mae and eventually had her name legally changed to Bessie Maloon, omitting her middle name entirely when she went to Europe in 1926. (She had to go to Augusta to have the records sworn as it is a court procedure to have a name changed when birth certificate is written.) During the early years of her life she was known by her family as Midge, having been so nicknamed by her father, since she was the youngest and smallest child in the family.

Bessie was anxious to go to school as all the children were going so at the age of four in 1891 she first attended school in Burnham with her brother and sister, Ara and Edna; double cousins, Olga, Nelson and Merton; and the Hathorn boys. She was so small and the walk was so long the boys used to take turns carrying her. The school was up on the Horseback about one half mile south of the road going to the Flat and beyond Mrs. Cushman’s house. Alice Dunton was Bessie’s first teacher.

Bessie next attended the Maloon School on the road from Detroit to Troy. Land for this school was taken from the Solomon Maloon property. She went for a year or two to the old school but then a new larger building was built close to the site of the old school. Among her teachers were Maud Mudgett, Ada Damon (later married to Linwood Hopkins and became neighbors to Edna and Everett Libbey on the Newport Road), Nellie Merrill, and Olivia Bickmore, her cousin. At one time Olivia had cause to chastise Bessie and was going to strike her hand with a ruler but Bessie put her hand behind her back and told Olivia that her father would have her discharged if she struck her. Olivia never threatened her again. Russell Phinney was going with Ada Damon at the time Ada taught there and if a storm came up, Russell would ride to the school on his bicycle to be sure that Ada was all right.

On the way to school the children had to walk past Mr. Basford’s pasture where he kept cows and a bull. Bessie was so afraid of the bull, she used to run when they went by the pasture. Their mother had told them they must never pick any apples from the Basford’s trees or even any that fell by the roadside, but Mrs. Basford would often have an apron full of apples for them as they came home form school.

One day Bessie got so tired walking home from school she sat down in the road and began to cry. Edna felt a responsibility and concern for her but did not know what to do. About this time their Uncle Gilbert came along and told Edna to leave Bessie right there that she would not stay there alone very long. Sure enough, Bessie got up and walked home.

She was taught to knit at an early age and by eight years old was expected to do a stint each day of knitting on socks to sell. Her mother used to have her knit for thirty minutes but Bessie would stop and play with her doll she had hidden under her knitting. In wisdom her mother then measured off an amount of yarn for her to complete knitting. These socks sold at Burnham for 25–30¢ a pair.

By the roadside near the front of their house on the Flat was a huge flat rock. Bessie used to make mudpies on it and they all played there by the hour. In the winter she and her brother and sister used to slide on it.

Once when a little tot of about seven years, Bessie stubbed her toe and skinned the top of it. She saw her cousin, Aubrey Bickmore, coming home from the mill on his bicycle so she began to hobble along. Aubrey took pity on her and put her on his bicycle to ride. She thought that was wonderful.

Aubrey, later to become a minister of the Church of God, was quite rough in his talk when he was young. Van Stevens’ grandfather, a neighbor in Troy, had a peculiar way of greeting people, “Hello, Flora, is that you?” When he met Aubrey, he said, “Hello, Aubrey, is that you?” Aubrey retorted, “Who the Hell did you think it was?”

One summer when Bessie was about twelve years old she picked enough wild strawberries to buy herself two pairs of shoes. Before berries could be sold, they were hulled, then taken to Pittsfield by the horse and wagon and peddled from door to door for 10–12¢ a pound. The shoes Bessie bought cost $3.50 and $1.24 per pair.

Some of Bessie’s fond memories are of going to Unity Fair each year. Their father gave each of the children 10¢ to spend. They had pulled beans, etc. to earn money to go. They went in the two-seater wagon and took with them a roasted chicken for lunch. Late in the day after things were marked down, Flora would buy a basket of Concord grapes to preserve (about 15¢ a basket); walking down the road in the evenings hand-in-hand with her father to look at the beautiful fields (by mid-summer the Hurd’s grass would be so tall you could not see the horses’ heads as they pulled the mowing machine); lying on her stomach barefooted on the drag along with brother, Ara, and grabbing rocks as they went along; taking turns to wash dishes with Edna but skipping out to play every time she could only to be called back by her mother; hating to wash the beanpot because it was stuck on so badly and smelled (In later years she was to remark, “Oh, Lordy, how I hated that beanpot!”); remembering the big crew of men working for her father lumbering and hauling the cut pine to Carleton’s Mill to be sawed into boards which her father sold; going to a friend’s woodlot in Troy Center with her mother to pick wild raspberries; swinging in the sheepshed next to the barn singing at the top of her voice with no concept of musical tone, her favorite song, original with her, “Two Yards of Chiffon and One hat-a,” which she sang over and over again all one summer as the words just fascinated her. (Edna liked to swing in silence so Bessie drove her “mad.” They each had their own chain swing); playing in the watering trough with Ara even after their mother had told them three or four times to stop until their mother had to run after them with a switch; collecting pine pitch in a tin can, cooking it down on top of the wood stove to make wonderful chewing gum (on one occasion the solder on the tin can gave way, letting liquid pitch flow out onto the stove. It burst into flames. The children began to scream. Their father was out in the yard and he dashed in, pulled off the stove cover and dumped the pitch into the stove. They were all so frightened by that episode that their mother never again let them boil down pitch. If a house caught fire in those days, there was almost no way to save it. There was no fire department or close neighbors to help and any well water supply they might have would not be sufficient with only a hand pump.); her father’s shaving hoops with an adz for barrel staves during evenings in the kitchen’ riding in a cart behind Ara’s “steer” team and its consequences; (When Ara was about ten years old and Bessie eight, 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 them. One day after he had yoked them, he asked Bessie to go for a ride up the hill to the Horseback and probably up to 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, the Congress Cart turned over, and Bessie fell out, tearing the skirt of her new red printed dress. Ara raced ahead and stopped the steers but Bessie was left with a large tear in her skirt. They contrived to repair the damage. Ara went into the house and got a large needle because Bessie did not dare to be seen with her torn dress. Then they went to the barn and pulled a long hair from the horses’s tail. With this black hair they proceeded to sew up the tear); fearing the house would burn the year there were bad fires in the woods but the wind turned and they were saved; recalling the sleds each of them had that their father had made for them (their Uncle Gilbert Maloon was a blacksmith so he forged the runners. They used to start sliding in front of Uncle Gilbert’s up on the Horseback and slide all the way to the brook down on the Maloon Flat); remembering her mother’s (Flora) making a black dress for Mrs. Clementine Hathorn to wear to her son’s (Laforest) graduation from M.C.I. Mrs. Hathorn’s arms were as big around as Bessie’s wasit); being impressed with Edwin Carleton’s (cousin and son of Milton and Sarah Carleton) appetite when he ate a half pound of cheese in one sitting once when Bessie came to visit; being challenged by Frank Walker (her step-father) that he could beat Bessie picking up potatoes, so they all went out and picked up potatoes; recalling the brief time a cute little girl with curly locks of about two years of age lived with them (the little girl’s father, through some misfortune, was unable to care for her so he had asked their Uncle Gilbert to take her, promising to pay for her board and keep but Gilbert’s family were unable to take her so Oliver agreed to have her. The children loved her dearly and cried when she had to leave, but Oliver was finding it difficult enough to feed and clothe his own family and did not feel he could keep her since the child’s father had not lived up to his promise of financial support.

When Bessie was about twelve years old, her mother made over from her own burgundy wine colored wedding dress a dress for Bessie. Going to Sunday School at Beech Hill one summer Sunday, Bessie wore the dress with red mitts and a red hat and probably looked very nice. Bessie Wright showed her jealousy and hurt Bessie’s feelings by making a comment, “She thinks she’s pretty special!”

Oliver, Bessie’s father, died October 29, 1899 when she was twelve years old. He was never in good health. His swollen ankles were diagnosed as indicative of dropsy and death due to Bright’s Disease.

The following year while her other and sister, Edna, went to Rumford to work in the paper mills, Bessie lived on the Horseback with Aunt Martha and Uncle Gilbert.

In 1903 Bessie graduated from the Riverside Grammar School in Pittsfield. Miss Eva Hilton was her teacher. There were about twenty-six in her class. She took part in graduation exercises with the Lancey Street Grammar School because she was the only one from Riverside School who graduated, being about a year older than most of those in her class. She spoke a piece in the Old Methodist Church on Manson Street for graduating exercises. She wore her hair drawn back into a single braid down her back tied with a big white bow. Her mother made her a white dress and gave her carnations to wear which was the height of extravagance. At this time Bessie’s mother was living at the Waverley on Harriet Street and took in boarders (meals only) –Olga and Ira Clark, two English girls and some others, all of whom worked in the woolen mill.

After Grammar School Bessie started school at Maine Central Institute in 1903. She lived one year with Edna at Arthur Healey’s at the Waverley, another year with Edna at Samuel Haines’ where Edna did house work and another time at Mark Getchell’s on Hartland Avenue.

During the summer months of 1902 and 1903 (probably) Bessie went to Islesboro to work for Uncle Will Keller. Her mother, Edna and several others also went to do chamber work and wait on tables.

When she was sixteen her mother and Edna gave her a gold watch for her birthday. She could either wear it around her neck or hang it in her belt (later she swapped it for a Waltham watch).

In 1904 Bessie taught the Spring term of school at the Head of the Pond School in Burnham. Aunt Martha took her to school and she boarded at the Edward’s. She paid $2.00 for room and board and got $4.00 for teaching per week. She saved $10.00 to put in the bank that term. She had seven pupils.

The next year John and Blanche Richmond, who were living in Exeter, Maine, got her a teaching position where she taught one term in Corinna, Maine. Here she had fifteen or sixteen students. She heartily disliked the teaching and was homesick. John and Blanche (cousin) used to come to get her over weekends. She taught two more terms (about seven weeks to a term of one-third of the school year) at the Eel Weir School, Burnham, Maine. In 1905 she taught the Spring term at the Maloon School in Detroit, Maine with fifteen students enrolled. For this eight weeks she received $5.00 per week. Everett Libbey was Superintendent of Schools and hired her for this position. At the time Dad hired her, Bessie was living with Edna at Samuel Haines’. Everett gave Bessie her teacher’s examination on the Haines’ piazza. While she was teaching Bessie lived with her mother and second husband, Frank Walker, and they carried her to and from school or she rode her bicycle. In the Teacher’s Register we have, Bessie noted that the Superintendent visited school twice during the term. Recently she told us laughingly that Dad sat in the back of the school room and slept all the time he was there.

During this time she was also attending M.C.I. In her Sophomore year she spoke for the annual Alumni Prize Speaking Contest. For her part she chose a reading entitled “Kate Leland’s Five-Dollar Bills.” Miss Lawton, who taught elocution at M.C.I., cut it down for her and coached her on it. She also wrote a part for the Manson Prize Speaking Contest in 1906. She has said that Mr. McGilvery helped her write this part as Edna was working as assistant bookkeeper at the Waverley Woolen Mills where Mr. William McGilvery was assistant superintendent.

After her junior year at M.C.I. in the summer of 1907 Bessie, along with Merle Healey, Vera Cornforth, and Iva Willis (her companion abroad) went to ocean Park under Frank Thurston’s direction to wait on tables in a restaurant run by the Baptist Association. Mr. Thurston taught at M.C.I. and was also subprincipal. Edna came to visit for three days at Ocean Park and Mr. Thurston took her to Peak’s Island to dinner.

While attending M.C.I., besides teaching three terms of school to help pay her way, Bessie also worked at the Waverley Woolen mill as a “specker,” picking off little specks fo white in the wool that was hung by the yard in big frames.

In 1908 Bessie graduated from Maine Central Institute. Aunt Han Walker Knight (Frank Walker’s sister) bought the material for her commencement dress in New York City. (Hannah’s husband, Ferdinand, was captain of a passenger vessel.) The long, fancy, tucked dress required eight yards of white silk at $1.00 a yard (Bessie’s other paid for it) with val lace edging all the tucks. Miss Ada Coffin of Pittsfield made the dress. She was considered to be the most professional dressmaker of the time.

[Insert 1908 Class Song here]

That same spring of 1908 Bessie joined the Eastern Star (left with Honorable Demit in 1943). She had her first taffeta petticoat and loved to hear it rustle when she walked!

About 1909 Flora Leavitt, a cousin, and Bessie worked and lived together in Augusta, Maine for the winter. They worked in a newspaper publishing house addressing envelopes. There they learned to play bridge with the other roomers. On Saturday nights when prices reached “rock bottom” Bessie used to go out and buy fresh flowers for their room.

About 1910 she lived with Edna at Arthur Healey’s at the Waverley. She and Edna both took china painting lessons with Mrs. Maxey, where they also had rooms. The first thing she painted was a plate with her initial. Then they also took lessons from Mrs. Nellie Burse, on Forrest Street near the old Universalist parsonage. No doubt this is when Aunty did the Bachelor Button plate marked “14? as Edna had painted one first and then helped Bessie with hers. She also painted the “bunny” plates under Mrs. Burse’s tutelage.

According to the history of Troy, Maine – Past and Present, Aunty taught school there in 1910 and 1911 –her last teaching experience. Bessie found teaching so distasteful that her mother advised her to go to business school. In 1911–1912 Bessie attended Morgan’s Business College in Waterville, Maine where she studied shorthand and typing.

Back at Pittsfield she lived with Edna at Mrs. Florice Marden’s on Middle Street but they were so cold in their room that they moved and from 913–1915 they were both living at Dick Berry’s on Easy Street. Here they had a bedroom and a living room. It was here that Edna and Everett Libbey were married on August 4, 1915. A week after Mother and Dad were married, Bessie moved to Leon (Everett’s cousin) and Vera Libby’s on South Main Street (below M.C.I. and the house next to Ed Libby’s). She lived here for five years until Leon and Vera moved to New Hampshire where Leon worked in the Portsmouth Navy Yard.

During the interim, probably about 1913, Bessie worked for the Kennebec Boat and Canoe Company in Waterville for six weeks. The owner, Mr. Terry, was blind so Bessie did all the reading to him. He lived across the tracks from the old railroad station near old Colby College. She boarded with Mrs. Warren Parks (her husband was brother to George, Foss, Llewellyn and Martin. Martin had given Bessie’s father, Oliver, a lovely rifle and he and Martin Parks used to hunt together.)

Mr. Samuel R. Haines asked her to come to the Pittsfield Pioneer Mill as stenographer. She worked there until 1915 (a month after the Pioneer had been purchased by the American Woolen Company). Bessie was the first woman to do the payroll and to distribute the pay envelopes to the workers throughout the mill.

Mr. Haines then got Bessie the position in the Pittsfield National Bank which she held until it was closed in 1933. She had a starting salary of $15 a week and her top salary was $35 per week. She served as secretary to Mr. Henry Libby, cashier, and had charge of savings. When the bank position was offered her she deliberated long as to whether she should take it. My mother advised her to do so as she said, “We will always have the bank.” As we all know, the banks failed but Aunty stayed on with the receivership until the accounts were all paid back in 1939.

Bessie did quite a bit of traveling. In 1924 she went by train with Olga Clark to Iowa to visit cousins, Durwood Pease and Pearl Hopkins. On their return home they stopped in Chicago to visit another cousin, Olivia Bickmore Johnson (daughter of Elizabeth Bickmore, Oliver’s sister. Oliver had been valedictorian of her class at M.C.I. in 1898. When her husband died he left over half a million dollars!) They returned home August 9, the wedding day of Helen Libby and Homer Ray.

Bessie came to live with Mrs. Adelaide Brown and her brother, Colonel Walter Morrill (Civil War) in 1920. She lived there until 1925 when she went to Maine Central Institute girls’ dormitory to room. She lived there for the next three years. [Uncle David’s note: Mrs. Banlett – her daughter, Ida Taft]

In 1926 she traveled abroad, July 1 to September 1, via the Cunnard Line. Her ticket, including travel, hotels, and meals, came to $800. On the trip to Europe she sailed on the S.S. LaSavoie and returned on the S.S. Ohio. She visited England, Holland, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland. She kept up a life-long friendship and correspondence with Prof. Wyckle, conductor of the tour.

From 1928 to 1935 Bessie lived with Joseph and Margaret Buker, on Manson Street. The latter part of that time she had two rooms there. She and Florence Buxton went on an extensive auto trip to eastern Canada.

After the bank closure in 1933 she worked for the Receivership of the Pittsfield National Bank under the direction of Dick Berry until 1939 when all dividends had been paid. Her salary was $1800.00 a year. Edna also worked for the Receivership part time.

In 1935 Bessie bought her own home at 13 Chester Street in June. She paid $1,000.00 to the Receivership for it (it had belonged to James Daily).

From 1939 to 1942 she worked for Lancey Milliken as bookkeeper at the Shoddy Mill receiving $12.00 per week. She also worked six weeks at the Elmwood Hotel in Waterville. Because there were no positions open in Pittsfield she took the State and Federal examinations for bookkeeper.

She sold her house on Chester Street in 1941 and went to room at Minnie Porter’s. The following year (1942) in May she went to work at the Maine State Reformatory for Women in Skowhegan, Maine, where she was bookkeeper for two years.

On May 10, 1942 Bessie officially became a member of the First Universalist Church of Pittsfield, where Rev. Josephine B. Folsom was pastor. While attending M.C.I. Bessie went to the Baptist church but she wanted to be able to dance so she and Edna went to the Universalist Church. Had it not been for this restriction, they might have always been Baptists!

December 4, 1944 Bessie went to Washington, D.C. as assistant auditor in the Army Department as a civilian. This job lasted until May 1946. On her return to Maine she stopped off at 12 Clifton Heights Lane, Clifton, Massachusetts to see her new grandniece, Sharon Libbey Williams.

Bessie lived for a time with Edna and Everett Libbey and worked six weeks for Mr. William Springer, Superintendent of Pittsfield Schools. She would take the bus to Pittsfield mornings and Dad would come after her at night.

On July 11, 1946 she went to work at the Lancey House Hotel as bookkeeper with Darrel Dunton as manager of the hotel. She worked there until July 1955 until change in management. During this time she lived briefly at Minnie Porter’s, then at Millard Cookson’s and then had an apartment at Kinney’s on Lancey Street.

In 1951 Bessie went to the Shorey apartments on Main Street, Pittsfield. In May 1956 she began construction of her house at 8 Libby Street and moved in on September 27. Her house was designed by G. Dean Williams and built by Mr. Walter Jacobs. According to her contract with Mr. Jacobs, she paid him $9,776.05, Dec. 16, 1957 in full payment for building. She enjoyed her home to the fullest for nearly eighteen years. It was tastefully decorated and was her pride and joy. Her house was sold in June 23, 1973 for $15,000.00 to Mrs. Roberts, a widowed mother and school teacher with two small children.

[Insert poem Florence Buxton wrote for House Warming]

For about twenty-five years Bessie was a member of the Contract Club with Mrs. Lancey (Betsey) Milliken, Mrs. Ina Fuller, and Mrs. Nellie Hunnewell. She has been a recent member of the Pittsfield Garden Club and the Universalist Ladies’ Aid Society.

Some of her more recent travels have included a visit to Williamsburg with Mrs. Milliken, visits to New Brunswick, New Jersey with David when he was teaching at Rutgers University, trips to Boston and New and to Lynnfield, Massachusetts to visit with Dean and Betsey.

Thanksgivings for several years in the 1960?s and 1970?s were celebrated t Aunt Bessie’s with the Williams Family and David and sometimes others in attendance.

Aunty has always played a very important part in my life. Almost every Sunday or Saturday she spent with us at home. Dad would transport her whether it was by the old big Studebaker touring car, horse and buggy, horse and pung, or Model A pick-up truck. She was generous to bring something for the meals, something we could not afford to buy ourselves – maybe some fresh grapefruit or hamburg steak or big chrysanthemums for Thanksgiving table decoration.

She loved fresh flowers. In springtime she bought flower seeds and gladioli bulbs to be planted at home [on the Libbey farm] and during the summer months she felt free to take home with her a bouquet to brighten her own room. We children, David and I, loved the opportunity to take an extra bouquet in to her at the bank when Dad would be going “downstreet.” It was rather awe-inspiring to go into the bank by ourselves. Of course, the tellers, Mr. Eaton and Mr. Collamore, would recognize us and call Aunty to the window. Sometimes she would take us “inside” the cashier’s office and we could play with the adding machine while she went to get us 5¢ for an ice cream cone. When she had a home of her own she grew her own flowers and vegetables and delighted in them.

Aunty always called me “Betty” while I was small. Sometimes my jealous streak used to show as I felt she favored David. She always said when I was little she could hold me and all was well but when I was sick (and that was much of my childhood) I wanted Mama. David, on the other hand, was very even-dispositioned, I am told! Maybe this accounted for her preferences in my mind.

Aunty was meticulous in cleanliness and orderliness. She always “fixed” my fingernails when she came up to visit. They probably were dirty and they got scrubbed with brush, soap and water, cleaned and filed and even polished with a buffer. David came in for his share of attention in this regard as many times she bribed him, hoping he would stop biting his fingernails.

Regarding her own home, Cousin Vera once remarked when she was visiting Aunty that she had tidied the house and had the salt and pepper shakers directed due north and south as Aunty required!

Aunty was artistic and talented. She appreciated beauty and nice things. In later years she took lessons and produced beautiful examples of découpage finished with patience and about 14 coats fo varnish interspersed with pumice rubbings. She painted lovely trays and applied gold leaf expertly. She fancied lovely glassware and collected a treasure of rose0in0snow patterned glass and many other choice pieces of glass and china. Her furniture was comprised of many lovely antiques she painstakingly refinished. She exhibited a special skill in drying and artfully arranging flowers.

During my childhood days at home my mother made most of my clothes from clothes that had belonged to Aunt Bessie. Aunty bought lovely dresses and coats and discarded them while they were still like new as she realized they would still serve another need. I, especially, remember coats and a beautiful jumper I had made over from Aunty’s clothes. I was always excited to wear them and never felt badly because the quality of materials was the finest and Mother’s workmanship was excellent. However, a new “boughten” dress, purchased for me, was a highlight in my life. It was before the Pops Concert in my Junior year Aunty took me to Bangor and we picked out the most beautiful dress I had ever seen –red with open slits in the sleeves lined with white taffeta and held together with rhinestone safety pins. When I graduated from Colby College again Aunty took me shopping – this time in Waterville where she gave me my first “boughten” spring coat and a lovely pastel plaid pleated skirt. I felt very elegant and very grateful.

When I was in grade and grammar school Aunty financed my taking piano lessons and at the same time she started David on the piano. For about five years she paid for my violin lessons with Estelle Habenicht. We were her family and all she had. She took great pride in us and she wanted us to have every advantage that sometimes Mother and Dad could not afford to offer us.

One memory is particularly vivid in my mind when Aunty was living at the Buker’s. She was having trouble with her back and had been in bed for sometime and would not be able to come to our house for Christmas. So we went to see her on Christmas Day, traveling in the two-seater sleigh. Aunty had presents ready for us. Mine was a baby doll. (I felt others must think that at 10 years - about- I was too old for another doll but secretly I wanted one so much.) I can remember treasuring that lovely doll all the way home under the fur robe just so impatient to be home to play with it.

In the years since we have not had our parents to go home to in Maine, Aunty has visited us often. We had a memorable Thanksgiving in New Haven with Aunty and Sharon at David’s in 1971. She has visited here many times and we have made trips to Sturbridge, to the Rose Cottage at West Boylston and to the places of historic interest.

Aunty always especially loved picnics and she was always a part of every picnic from my earliest memories at Sibley Pond, China Lake, up in the pasture where Dad built a table, benches and fireplace, or across the road under the apple tree where David landscaped a delightful area. Picnics, parties, special occasions, Aunty was always an expected part of them.

Aunty was honest in all her dealings. She had high standards and a good reputation and left all her positions with fine recommendations.

[Insert Mr. Coolidge’s letter of recommendation]

As a young lady she much have led a very social life with many friends. She even had several opportunities for marriage but for one reason or another they did not materialize. We can only conjecture how different her life might have been had she married and had a family. In 1907–1909 she was engaged to marry her step-brother, Allen Walker. Allen and Ara Maloon were close friends. Allen went to California to earn money for their marriage and said he would send Bessie money to come when he had earned sufficient. Bessie was a junior at M.C.I. when he sent her $100 to come and join him but she said she seemed so young, she hated to leave her mother and she wanted to finish M.C.I. first so in May 1909 Allen wrote her a letter saying he was married. In 1913 Bessie was going seriously with Earle Phillips. He had graduated form M.C.I. and was working his way through pharmaceutical school in Philadelphia. In asking Aunty about this romance, she takes the blame for its failure, saying, “Don’t know what possessed me – the Devil, I guess!” She shared a close friendship with Earl Tarbell before his untimely death by accidental electrocution while working for the Central Maine Power Company in Harmony, Maine in 1922.

In these later years good neighbors and friends, the Lloyd Stithams and Earl Vickerys, have been especially kind to and watchful of her. Ill health meant frequent visits to the hospital and a stay at the Scott-Webb Nursing Home in Hartland, Maine. On February 24, 1973 Aunty left the Scott-Webb to become a resident at Oosterman’s Wakefield Rest Home, Wakefield, Massachusetts as she felt she no longer was able to maintain her home. Dean, Betsey, and David packed all her belongings – part going to New Haven, Connecticut and the remainder in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. Her house on Libby Street was sold.

At the Rest Home she gets much attention and spends her time reading and enjoying the craft classes along with the association with the other patients. Here in her ninetieth year she still makes regular weekly visits to Lynnfield and had a bothersome tooth pulled with no ill effects.

[Aunt Bessie died 1 September 1978.]

Compiled and typed by Betsey E. Williams, 7 November 1977

Sources:

  • Bessie Maloon, correspondence and conversations
  • Edna Libbey - her recollections
  • Notes of David Libbey’s as told to him by Edna
    Libbey
  • Notes of David Libbey’s as told to him by Bessie
    Maloon
  • Flora Leavitt
  • Dean Williams, through his acquaintance with Bessie Maloon