Fred J. Kahrl

Fred J. Kahrl

As Reed & Reed marches smartly ahead toward completion of the Route 1 viaduct over Bath, I think we have been presented with a wonderful opportunity to re-discover Cyril E. Leeman.

But first, while we are investigating, let’s encourage the MeDOT to put Cyril’s memorial stone in more visible place than it was previously.

Right now it is lurking behind the Reed & Reed’s pro-tem field office, the Former R/V Sales office on the corner of Middle Street and Rte. 1 “North,” below the viaduct. Before construction started, this boulder was ignominiously plopped down on the tarmac under the viaduct just west of the Washington Street intersection.

 

 

If you were lucky, and were in the left lane going toward the river, you could read it while you waited for a green light.

Alas, NOT a very illuminating “read,” I am afraid.

Ever since WWII, most of us have been calling this brief section of U.S.Rte.1 the “Leeman Highway”, but the “who” of Cyril Leeman was never properly memorialized and most of those who might have been able to answer the question have passed, clutching Cyril’s secret to their bosoms.

So, as I said, I suggest that we have been presented a perfect opportunity to remedy this situation and tell the world why the City of Bath (?) chose Cyril to attach his heroic name to our tiny piece of America’s first “super” highway.

 

 

First, put Cyril’s boulder next to the fancy crosswalk between the Sandwich Shop and the former Maine Central Railroad station. This path enjoys significant foot traffic and I assume will have its original “gardens” re-established when the final post-construction touch-ups are being made.

Second — and this is a biggie — someone needs to do the hard work necessary to discover who Cyril actually was and why he was chosen for this special memorial. At my request, Robin Haynes of the Patten Free Library History Room has made a marvelous first step of identification, but more work needs to be done. I mean, he’s apparently buried in France! DDay? Battle of the Bulge? Special decorations? Of particular interest would be tracing his family to see if there is a picture available of our famous G.I.

 

 

Perhaps there is an Eagle Scout in-the-making who could shoulder the task, or the American Legion might adopt a project to discover Bath’s contribution to “The Greatest Generation.”

Next … Bath has gone to great pains to install decorative and informative plaques around the city. It is time, I suggest, to include Cyril in this worthy enterprise. I mean, his existing brass plaque is almost embarrassing in its poverty of proper information.

And while you are at it, let’s give Cyril’s two war “buddies” similar attention.

There is Paul R. Davis in whose memory the High Street Overpass is named, past which innumerable schoolchildren trudge daily. What are they to learn from this vague memorial? And, lastly, there is the Read Pitman Memorial Square. Of course, the “square” has been whittled away by the encroachment of the improved Leeman Highway, and by the construction of the Five County Credit Union. A squint at the city tax map suggests that a wedge of the square still exists, and may still be in the public domain, even if only as part of the MeDOT right-of-way.

In fairness, the credit union has tended the landscaping and may have even installed some of the ornamental bushes that now rather conceal Read’s “rock.”

When they upgrade his memorial with one of the fancy new style city signs, I hope they consider installing it out in the open grassy area closer to the “Rte. 1” entrance to the credit union. And if it is truly a square, however modest, please add a bench next to Read’s sign.

As an added reflection, I suspect that … at least in recent decades … Read’s rock is probably the only one of these three memorials that gets a flag for Memorial Day. Hard to stick a flag stand into asphalt or concrete.

Yes, that’s right … Memorial Day is coming soon!

Who is going to pick up the torch and run with it for Cyril, Paul and Read?

Once upon a time, the City cared.

Fred Kahrl is a retired career journalist and editor. He lives in Woolwich.


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