Nestled in a quiet corner along the Nonesuch River at the end of Horseshoe Drive is the residence of Eldred and Pat Harmon. Just shy of his 97th birthday, Eldred was honored Aug. 12 for 80 years of membership at the First Congregational Church.

I am welcomed into their home, decorated with paintings of family members and favorite places done by Pat, along with hand-braided rugs made by Eldred’s first wife, Elizabeth. The man of honor sits in a La-Z Boy chair overlooking the marsh. He stands, extends his hand and flashes a warm smile.

I don’t ask his secrets to aging successfully. It’s clear I’m speaking to a man who loves life and transitions well to life’s many chapters.

Born Aug. 30, 1910, across the street from Black Point Fire Station, in the white farm house at 344 Black Point Road, Eldred is the oldest native-born Scarborough resident in town. He has lived in Scarborough his entire life. He entered first grade at age 4, attending school directly across the street from his home. The current yellow home just beyond the fire station, at 351 Black Point Road, housed Grades 1-8. He went to high school in the building that is now Alberg Sports. Eldred walked 3 miles each way, each day.

“I wasn’t the smartest scholar, and I didn’t bring books home,” admits Eldred, “I had other things to do,” which included helping his father.

He recalls the time his father went fox hunting and somebody needed to plow the town roads. “I stood on a milk stool and harnessed up the horses,” he says. Once harnessed, others took over. Eldred clarifies, “It’s not plowing like you know plowing.” A log was dragged under the sled runners to pack the snow down. If the snow had drifted, and the horses couldn’t get through, people shoveled first. Plowing the roads was a community effort.

Eldred graduated when he was 16 with 11 others in his class. “It’s easy to plan our reunions,” laughs Eldred, “I’m the only one still living.”

His senior year (1927) was memorable. He returned from Christmas break to attend the new Bessey School. And he remembers a gift he received on his 16th birthday: a 16-gauge Browning automatic shotgun, which hangs on the beam overhead. “My father gave me that.” His dad was the true hunting enthusiast; Eldred preferred to stay home and work the farm. I asked him when he last used it. “Ten years ago,” he says, “I shot a woodchuck.”

With the rumblings of a train in the background, Eldred stops mid sentence to look across the marsh. “They make five runs a day now,” he says, as the Downeaster makes its pass across the marsh. Eldred knows the train schedule. He spends much of his day viewing the landscape outside his window. From observing the traits of the various birds at the many bird feeders to the paddling of a kayaker and the ripple of the water on the river, Eldred knows that life is sacred and he takes it as it comes.

Twelve years ago he began to experience dizzy spells. After undergoing every test imaginable, no reason was found. “My doctor told me that I would just have to live with it,” and so he does, in the peaceful calm of his home. He gets out for short trips, but they don’t go too far.

“We go to different areas of Scarborough. I like to see my town and how it has changed,” he says.

Eldred met his first wife at the Grange. “It was a social place for farmers to gather. There was a ritual to the Grange community,” he says. People would travel from Grange to Grange. Well-known in the farming community, Eldred’s father was the biggest market gardener in Scarborough, supplying vegetables year round to grocery wholesalers on Commercial Street in Portland.

“We’d sell the carrots, dirt and all,” recalls Eldred.

Two large root cellars built into the side of a hill had rock walls and dirt floors. In the winter months fires were built in the root cellar to control the temperature so that they could sell squash year round.

Few had automobiles in that day. Eldred’s first and only purchase on credit was a truck. With his truck, he carved out a niche that carried him through the Depression and defined a career path for him. During the Depression he hauled coal. He stressed over making every payment, and vowed he’d never buy on credit again.

During this period, he also became road commissioner, succeeding his friend, Bill Robinson. When Robinson became too sick to continue his building-moving business, Eldred bought his equipment, and began moving buildings, too.

From farming to delivering coal and moving buildings, Eldred’s hard work enabled him to purchase the property that is now Lil Folk Farm and the 32 acres across the street, which is now the Harmon Farm development. “The (Lil Folk) barn wasn’t there when I bought it. I moved the barn in three pieces from Eight Corners,” he says.

When Merrill Transport purchased its first big hauling truck in 1950, the owner had only Eldred in mind to drive it. His experience in moving buildings, tireless work ethic and desire to deliver friendly service had won Merrill’s confidence. He paid Eldred a premium each time he took a hauling job. From 1950- 1972, Eldred hauled the big loads throughout the East Coast. In 1972 he became the first full-time fire chief in Scarborough, but when he turned 65, in 1975, he was forced to retire.

“They said I was too old to work!” he says with a grin. That didn’t stop him. He’s been involved with the Boys Club, Lions Club, and moved his last building at age 95. He was the marshal in this year’s Memorial Day parade.

Elizabeth died in 1983 and Eldred sold the wooded lot across the street from Lil Folk Farm to the Risbaras in 1984. It was an easy decision, “I wasn’t using it”, he said. He chose his lot in the development on the shore of the Nonesuch, and built the home he’s in now in 1985.

He and Pat married in 1990, and few were surprised. They had been good friends for many years. The past 20 years the couple drove to 49 states, and spent the night at the Artic Circle. Of all the places visited, Eldred likes Maine the best.

They spend five months in Florida each year, and when they return in the spring, Eldred has a ritual. He stands overlooking the marsh and says, “I think I’ll buy this place for the view.”

Eldred Harmon, 97, takes life as it comesEldred Harmon, 97, takes life as it comes

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