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Stirring up memories


Cool Memories of Maine
February 15, 2006

Cam and Dick Hachey are looking forward to celebrating Artsfest this year as it honors their home state of Maine. Cam was so pleased by the Artsfest articles Maine native Jan Forrester wrote about her state, that she went to her computer and sent a letter to the Editor here at the Post-Searchlight.

I thought that was dandy, so I gave Cam a call and asked her to tell me about living in Maine and what it's like to come from Maine to Bainbridge.

When I asked Cam what she remembered most about her childhood, she had the answer ready. The weather!

And if you ask the question that Cam tells me the Hacheys are asked most often, "Why did you decide to stay in Bainbridge after Dick retired?" She has the answer ready—and it's the same one—the weather!

Cam and Dick both grew up in our Artsfest State. Cam is from Fairfield and Dick hails from nearby Winslow. If you are good at Maine geography—that's about 30 miles north of Augusta and 40 miles south of Bangor.

Both of them come from French-Canadian stock. Both grew up speaking French at home; in fact, Dick's grandparents never learned to speak English. When times were hard in Canada, many of these families moved to Maine and found work in the logging industry (the men) and at the woolen mills (both men and women). Dick's father was a weaver. Cam's dad worked for the railroad.

Cam recalls the cold, snowy winters as harsh, but she also remembers having lots of fun. The big hill that rose behind her family home was great for sledding and tobogganing. Southern girl that I am, I had to ask the difference in a sled and a toboggan. Cam explained that a toboggan doesn't have runners (sleds do) and usually carry several people.

When the kids weren't sliding down the hill, they were ice skating or skiing. Unless, like Cam did on many days, they snuggled down in the house reading and listening to the radio.

But every day brought the long walk to school through the snow. In Cam's school girls, even on the most frigid days, weren't permitted to wear pants to school. They stayed warm by wearing lots of clothes with long underwear and long cotton socks keeping their legs warm under the dresses. They wore them for a long time. The flowers of spring that we welcome into Bainbridge in March don't appear in Maine until around Memorial Day.

The Hacheys didn't know each other as they were growing up. They met on a blind date! Cam worked in an office and Dick had a job with Hathaway Shirts, but he knew he was likely to be drafted. It was the days of the Korean War. The romance blossomed even though Dick did enter the Army. Cam waited for him. Two weeks after he got home for good, they married.

Dick continued to work in the clothing industry. Then sometime around 1960 some friends came home for a visit. They had moved to Americus, Georgia. This sounded like an adventure. So Cam and Dick packed up their four youngsters and headed out. Dick went to work for the Manhattan Shirt Company in Americus. They never moved back. A fifth child joined the family as they moved around the South. They lived in several states—Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina—before coming to Bainbridge in 1989. Dick operated the Dickies plant here. When he retired in 1994, they didn't find it hard to make a decision. They stayed in Bainbridge.

There are, of course, more reasons that just the weather—though that's a big one. Their children grew in the South and are nearby. While family remains in Maine, they can content themselves with visits. (Usually not in the winter!) Bainbridge is special to them. Cam says they love the small town atmosphere and love the people. They especially appreciate that Bainbridge folks "take good care of their town." They once both played golf, but not they have lots of fun staying fit at the Y. Cam also walks a mile every day.

When she remembers those cold Maine winters, Cam also remembers the food. The climate called for hearty "stick-to-your-ribs" meals. She doesn't have set recipes, so if you give these a try—follow Cam's lead and cook by ear and with heart.

New England boiled dinner

The regional classic is an entire meal cooked in one pot. Take a large beef roast, Cam's mom usually used chuck roast, and cook in a pot with carrots, potatoes, and rutabaga. Just before serving add sliced cabbage and cook until it is just done. Serve with biscuits or homemade bread or rolls. Cam's house always smelled wonderful when she came home from school, because her stay-at-home mom, Bernadette Begin, was a master bread maker.

Of course, even inland, State-of-Mainers love their fish. A Hachey family favorite is fish chowder. Cam grew up on haddock, but she has trouble finding it now so she substitutes other white fish such as catfish or cod.

Maine Fish Chowder

Cook a mild fish in water with onion until the fish is flakey. Add cubed potatoes, flake the fish into the broth and add milk and butter. There should not be too much liquid. Season with salt and pepper.

Cam's favorite recipe is a traditional French meat pie. This is usually served during the holidays. Cam's mom made it at Christmas; her grandmother made it for New Year's Day. Every family has its own recipe. Cam has looked it up on the Internet and says none of the recipes she found are exactly the way she makes it. Dick's mom made it one way—she ground her meat before she cooked it, but Cam makes it just the way her mother did.

Tourtiere Pie (French meat pie)

Cook together equal amounts of pork and beef in water with onions and poultry seasoning. (One pound of each should be sufficient for two pies.) After the meat is cooked, remove them from the broth and grind together. Cook potatoes in the meat broth allowing about five potatoes for each pie. Mash the potatoes using the broth to moisten. Combine the meat and potatoes and spoon this filling into a pie shell. Put on a top crust and bake until the crust is golden.

This is a favorite when the Hamby family gets together. Once when Cam and Dick visited Epcot Center they noticed a sign outside of the French Pavilion. Tourtiere Pie was the special of the day!

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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network