I read with interest your July 20 article “The early years: Paul LePage.” The story of his difficult childhood and challenging path to adulthood, culminating in his rise to the position of the governor of Maine, is compelling and impressive.

I also grew up in Lewiston’s tenements, at the same time and in relatively close proximity (three blocks away) to the future governor. I didn’t know him personally, but there’s a chance we may have brushed against one another while playing in the Lincoln Street pool he mentions fondly.

Although we, too, were poor, my family’s circumstances were not as dire. My parents were not “good Catholics”; they practiced birth control and had only three children, and my mother supplemented my father’s minimum-wage income by taking in piecework from a local shoe shop.

From our fourth-floor apartment, though, we witnessed other families in circumstances similar to the LePages’: large, desperately poor families crammed into small living quarters. Alcoholism and abuse were rampant.

Yet despite our shared background, the governor and I have come to very different conclusions about how best to assist those who struggle in poverty.

I look back and see mothers who would have been deeply heartened by knowing there would be food enough for their children despite times of mill layoffs – or their husbands’ benders.

Early education programs and strong public school systems would have helped more children in that era go beyond the eighth grade, and college/technical school assistance would have provided a hope for a life outside Lewiston’s mills and shoe shops, which even then were beginning to fade.

Perhaps most importantly, affordable medical care would have meant that no family must witness a 4-year-old’s death from “acute gastroenteritis after suffering there for days.”

Jacquie Giasson Fuller