Daniel Francis Dullea came from Peabody, Massachusetts, to Norway, Maine, to live in 1900 and to work for the B.F. Spinney Co., a shoe manufacturing firm. The selectmen of Norway had pooled their own personal funds to construct a four-story factory building to specifically attract workers from that shoe factory in Peabody. Imagine that in 1880, the town fathers (there were no women officials) of Norway were doing economic development with their own money! This is what brought my grandfather to Norway. Last year the Dullea family held a reunion at the family homestead to honor their patriach and celebrate the 100 years that the family has lived in the homestead, still owned by a family member, on the bog of Pennesseewassee.

Daniel F. and Addie Canwell Dullea married in 1904, bought the family’s Norway Lake homestead in 1917 and had nine children while Daniel “worked his way up” to shoe factory superintendent. When they were courting, Daniel bicycled 36 miles from Norway and back to visit Addie at her family’s home in Hartford. Photo courtesy of Dennise Dullea Whitley

In 1904, Daniel married a young woman, Addie Canwell, from Hartford, Maine. He would share stories about riding his bicycle from Norway, where he lived in a rooming house, to Hartford, 36 miles over Streaked Mountain, to court our grandmother. Anyone who has driven over Streaked Mountain remembers the severe downgrade and many tortuous curves. When the family would ride over to Hartford to visit our great-grandmother, Grampa would point out the downhill curves where he would be going so fast on his bike, he couldn’t navigate and would end up in the woods several times.

Despite the arduous courting, Addie and Dan were married in 1904 and they bought the Norway Lake house in 1917. Dan and Addie had nine children, losing one at 18 months. Grampa “worked his way up,” as we Mainers are wont to say, to superintendent of the Norway shoe factory and retired in 1944.  His son Dennis Dullea, my dad, followed him into the factory and rose through the shoe factory hierarchy to become a much-respected and loved foreman of the packing room and worked there until he was 72.

Great-Grandmother Canwell, my role model, was an amazing woman. After her husband died, she continued to live in the Hartford house, which did not have electricity or running water. As a child I was fascinated with the pump at the kitchen sink that had to be worked by hand to get any water! Each day Grammy arose and donned her housedress, nylon stockings and black lace-up shoes with moderate heels. I was so fortunate to have this wonderful role model. She could remember when President Lincoln was assassinated, and she even taught me how to sit like a lady in a hoopskirt prom dress when they became popular. Eventually, she would come to stay with my grandparents in the wintertime but always returned to the Hartford house in the spring.

There are many family stories about Gram Canwell, but my favorite was the retelling of how for years, Gram allowed the men in the neighborhood to store their barrels of apple cider, which were being aged to become “hard” cider, in her stone cellar at the Hartford house, because the temperature was conducive to a good stiff cider!

Apparently the barrels of fermenting hard cider give off an unpleasant odor if they are not kept clean. Gram asked the men to clean the barrels after use. When they repeatedly failed to do what she asked, one day she took her ax and chopped up all the barrels! In my mind, I think of Carry Nation, a radical member of the temperance movement (which opposed alcohol before the advent of Prohibition) who is noted for attacking alcohol-serving establishments (most often taverns) with a hatchet. The difference between them being that my grandmother did not oppose the making of alcohol from cider – she just didn’t like dirty barrels in her cellar!

When the Dullea family gets together for holiday gatherings and reunions, we all recount our favorite memories of the family homestead at the lake and we share stories about our amazing Great-Gram Canwell and Grampa and Grammie and growing up in and on Norway Lake, especially about our fond memories of the old, flat-bottomed wooden boat, which we called the “Skow.” In fact, Dad always told me that he found me on a waterlily pad, and he would take me out in the Skow and show me the exact pad!

An important role of reunions is to share the collective history and to pass on the favorite family foibles, so that the next familial generation understands their heritage.

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