WINDHAM – Mary Blake was crazy about covered bridges. So much so that when her husband set about building a bridge over a stream running through their property, she made him build a covered bridge.

“I went to all these places” to ask if someone could build a covered bridge, “but she didn’t want that. She wanted me to build it,” Roland Blake said of the bridge, which is big enough to accommodate a lawn tractor..

Mrs. Blake died Sunday. She was 80.

After Roland Blake retired, he and his wife traveled throughout New England, snapping photographs of covered bridges. They took two or three days whenever they went, he said.

“Vermont had the most” covered bridges, he said.

With all the pictures of covered bridges they collected, it’s the photos of Babb’s Bridge, right in Windham, that grace the walls of their home.

The couple met when they were in the ninth grade. They were married for 61 years and raised six children, one of whom died, Roland Blake said. With six children, she was a homemaker.

“She was busy. She had job enough” raising the children, her husband said.

She was very skilled at crafts, always interested in trying something new, said her daughter, Peggy Bisco.

“My mother crocheted some small flower earrings that she designed herself,” she said. “I have like 30 pair.”

Mrs. Blake would make a set of earrings for her daughter, and Bisco would go out to buy a matching outfit.

Bisco, the postmaster in Bar Mills, said people always asks her about her mother’s earrings. Roland Blake said it wasn’t unusual for his wife to give a pair to someone complimenting the pair she wore.

“I wear them every day,” Bisco said.

Her daughter appreciates the many crafting skills that Mrs. Blake passed on.

“My mother taught me to sew anything,” Bisco said, admitting that she hated the learning process when she was young.

Mrs. Blake made many outfits through the years, most without any pattern. Bisco remembers how she would make a dress with matching pinafore and even a jacket.

“It was incredible, her sewing skills,” her daughter said. “She was a perfectionist.”

Bisco remembers knitting scarves with her mother using the fancy yarn that has become popular in the past few years.

“If she missed a stitch or miscounted, she’d take it all out,” even though it was so hard to unravel, her daughter said.

Mrs. Blake also was an excellent driver. “She could drive anything,” her husband said, whether it was a car, a motorcycle, a dirt bike or a lawn tractor.

When her son Scott Blake started riding a dirt bike, she did too. She rode with her son and even participated in a women’s division mud run with a mud truck.

On one of the few trips the couple took to Florida, she told her husband that she wanted to drive.

“We took three days. She drove all the way,” Roland Blake said. “And she drove all the way home.”

Education was important to Mrs. Blake, who ensured that all of her children finished school. Her daughter said it was also important to her mother to instill a good work ethic in her children.

“My mother taught us all to do an honest day of work,” as Roland Blake had done for many years as a truck driver, Bisco said. “My mother was a homemaker, but my father went to work every day.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]