Harold Smith of Buxton, 100, revisits his family’s genealogy and photos. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Harold Smith, a lifelong Buxton resident, turned 100 years old Sept. 14.

In his lifetime, the horse-driven era of a country town gave way to motorized vehicles, dirt roads to pavement.

“My dad had a team of horses and worked on building roads. Buxton has changed tremendously,” Smith said Tuesday, reminiscing at his dining room table.

One constant is the community’s well wishes for Smith, a former postmaster. He has an album packed with more than 70 birthday cards. One fun card reads, “Your birthday calls for a drink.”

A World War II combat veteran, he and his daughter, Rebecca, live on Puckerbrush Lane near where he was born, “down a little bit” on Long Plains Road. William Baker was the attending doctor at Smith’s birth in 1922 at his grandparents farm, where his grandparents raised their own food. Smith said he still remembers his grandmother’s cookie jar.

Beginning at age 6, he lived with his grandparents on Martin’s Hill to be closer to Dearborn’s Hill School. The teacher, Chester Woodard, walked several miles to the one-room school, which was heated with a woodstove and drinking water was drawn from a well.


“We all drank out of the same bucket,” Smith said.

He once skated down Long Plains Road to the high school in Buxton Center. It was 1936 or ’37 and the road was a sheet of ice, he said.

“It was fun,” he said. “We didn’t have many storm days.”

He graduated in 1939, and military duty followed. He joined the Maine National Guard’s Company D in the 103rd Infantry Regiment based in Westbrook. They fought in the Pacific Theater in World War II. The regiment’s motto was, “To the Last Man.” He is likely the last survivor.

Smith and his wife, Lavon, who died in 1998, early on bought a house and an adjoining 50 acres. Assisted by his father with his team of horses, Smith harvested timber and paid off a loan in two years.

“It was my last hurrah with horses,” Smith said.


He still has the 50 acres where they built a new house.

He paid $35 for his first car, a 1933 Chevy coupe that he rebuilt into a pickup. “Trucks cost less to license at the time,” he said. (Model T’s came in about the time of his birth, he said.)

Up until the 1970s, Smith was the postmaster of the once bustling West Buxton, appointed by President Harry Truman. A boat hauled goods on the Saco River from the Bar Mills railroad depot upstream to West Buxton.

“You could get anything you wanted, from a baby carriage to a casket, except a good jug of rum,” he recalled hearing an old-timer say about West Buxton.

Smith now is a member of the Buxton Centre Baptist Church and enjoys socializing and playing cribbage there with other senior citizens on Mondays.

He has a collection of cribbage boards that he makes. He made one in recognition of the town’s 250th birthday. Another he created from a board salvaged from the York and Cumberland Railroad depot, and another he made from wood saved from the razed, antique house where he and his wife first lived.

He and his daughter call themselves the “Martin’s Hill re-purposers.”

Smith also has a son, Jim, who lives in Connecticut, and one grandchild. His younger sister, Sylvia Allen, lives in Westbrook.

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