In a story about Nana's early years written by her daughter for Nana's great grandchildren, there's a quote from a letter written to Nana by her Grandfather Joshua Hubbard on February 18, 1922. In it he says:
"Now Chloe the advice your grandfather now 93 years old gives you is to take good care of your health, get as good an education as you can, live a good long life and do all the good you can in the world ...."
When that letter was written Nana was seventeen years old and in her senior year at Portland High School. Seventy-eight years have passed since the writing of that letter. Ninety-five years have passed since the birth of Chloe Frances Hubbard on January 4, 1905 in the little New England town of West Newfield nestled near the foothills of the White Mountains in southwestern Maine.
West Newfield was a place where small children played freely and happily, roaming nearly at will. And thus, the first child of William Howe Hubbard and Olive May Tibbetts spent her childhood with her brother, Wilbur, who was two years younger. BUT ... that awful word "BUT" ... it was late February of 1918 and all was about to change. This was perhaps the pivotal event in Nana's life and the event that directed the path her life would take. On February 22, 1918, her mother died.
To everything there is a season,
a time to every purpose under heaven
A time to be born, and a time to die ...
Nana was thirteen years old, too young not to need the love and guidance of a mother and too old to stay in the lumber camp environment in which her father worked. Within the week, she was put on a stage alone to be taken to the train that would take her to Tamworth, New Hampshire, to live with strangers who would become known as "Auntie Carl and Uncle Frank."
"During the early spring afternoons, the woman ("Auntie Carl") walks the girl (Chloe) around the porch that encircles the house exhibiting her love for the mountains surrounding them and teaching the girl the names: from the side porch - Chicorua ... Passaconway ... Paugus ... White Face; from the back - Israel; from the front - Whittier. The calming quietness of these short walks, the soothing friendship of the older woman , and the enduring strength and beauty of the mountains - the essence of God - enfold the girl, comforting her in her loss and the healing process begins." For Rachel and Rebekah - A Story from Gramma with Love
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord ...
Change did not stop there. When fall came, there was no place for her to go to school in Tamworth. She had finished 8th grade the year before and needed to go on to high school. Thus she was sent to Portland to live with her mother's sister, her Aunt Bess, husband, and three month old baby girl. Nana, however, would return summers to the Carls in Tamworth to work in their summer boarding home. Tamworth and the Carls became an important part of her life. Aunt Bess, Uncle Bert, and Barbara became her family. And thus that fall of 1918, as she went from a small one-room schoolhouse into the vast corridors of Portland High School, from a town where everyone was friend to the city streets peopled with strangers, Nana began what would turn out to be her forty-eight year stay in Portland.
The other important thing that happened that fall is on the first Sunday after her arrival she was invited to go with Aunt Bess' boarder to Pine Street Methodist Episcopal Church. She had always loved Sunday School in the little Congregational Church down the road from her home in West Newfield so accepted the invitation happily. She soon made friends with the other Pine Street youth through the Epworth League and they became her circle of friends, many lasting a lifetime.
On January 4, 1920, Nana joined Pine Street Methodist Episcopal Church. For most of the next 80 years, Nana was an active member of the Methodist Church, her attendance stopped only by her infirmities. When Pine Street Methodist Episcopal Church closed in 1933 and merged into what was then known as Chestnut Street Methodist Episcopal Church, she continued her various activities and interests there. It is there that she brought her children for baptism and where the center of family activity lay. Nana was active in the Bayside Group (a woman's church school class), the Women's Society of Christian Service (now United Methodist Women), and taught Sunday School in the Primary Department. She was church secretary at Chestnut Street for sixteen years prior to 1966, when her husband, E. Millett Cummings*, became a United Methodist minister at age 60. They sold their home in Portland and moved to Norway.
At some point during Nana's late teen years, she was going to Nashua, New Hampshire, to visit her cousin Emma, who was also a very dear friend. She had an hour's wait in Rochester, New Hampshire, and decided it was time to meet her older half-brother, Philip Hubbard, whom she knew about but had never met. So she used the time to go to the store where he worked. She saw a man that looked like her father, walked over to him, and asked if he was Philip Hubbard. She then told him that she was his sister and thus she gained a second brother, a sister-in-law, nieces and nephews.
Besides Aunt Bess, "Auntie" as she was affectionately known, Nana had another aunt, who lived in North Waterboro, Maine. Aunt Mertie had several daughters. Weekends Nana often took the train to South Waterboro and the stage to either North Waterboro or Limerick, depending on whether she was going to Aunt Mertie's or to her cousin's house. That particular weekend, she was headed to her cousin's when she overheard another passenger, a well-dressed, redheaded young man who kind of caught her eye, ask directions to her cousin's house in Limerick. He was a salesman who had been invited to stay with them when in town. No way was she going where he was going. A quick change of plans was called for and Nana got off the stage at Aunt Mertie's. Later she discovered that this young man was from Livermore, Maine, a son of Lincoln and Ada Cummings, but he was then living and working in Portland.
After a seven year courtship, Nana and Great Grampa were married on December 24, 1932 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Their first child was born December 2, 1933, a son, Philip Wilbur. Their second child was born December 28, 1934, a daughter, Beverly Jean. These were the Depression Years and it was hard to begin a family. Soon it was World War II and other types of challenges had to be met. However, in 1941, after the death of the Carls, they were able to purchase their home on Stevens Avenue in Portland, where they raised their two children. The second great tragedy in Nana's life was the untimely death of her beloved son in January of 1978. Another cross she had to bear was her blindness for nearly thirty years of her life.
Nana loved the stores in downtown Portland - Porteous, Rines, Owen Moores. She loved to shop, especially for Christmas. As the holiday approached, the corner of Nana's and Great Grampa's Stevens Avenue bedroom on her side of the bed was off limits as the packages came in and were wrapped to be placed under the tree later. When shopping became nearly an impossibility in later years (although with the aid of store wheel chairs, she got to do some herself), it had to be done by her daughter beginning in July at the very, very latest, four gifts for each child a book, a toy, an article of clothing, and a little money. This was a formula that her friend, Irma Boobar, said was what every child needed for Christmas. As the great grandchildren grew in number, this became a monumental task! Her back rooms in Norway were filled with presents.
Nana loved to travel (being married to a traveling salesman for thirty plus years, Great Grampa's first job, made that easy). She loved her time with her brothers; she loved her time with her sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law ... trips to West Newfield, to Rochester, to Nashua, to York, to Canton, to Dixfield, to Darien, to Hartford, to Ashley Falls, to Pennsylvania after her son moved there, to the White Mountains, to various church conferences, even just a little ride out to the Cape to watch the ocean. She did not, however, like to come to the Island where her daughter and husband first lived. When her children were growing up, the house was always full of visitors, sometimes relatives from away, sometimes strangers who just happened to be in church that Sunday.
For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent child,
Friends on earth, and friends above;
For all gentle thoughts and mile;
Lord of all to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
The United Methodist Hymnal, 92
Nana's six grandchildren (Martha, Geoffrey, Susan, Laura, Lee, and John) started to arrive in 1959. She and Great Grampa moved to Norway in 1966 and this is where the grandchildren mostly remember them. The great grandchildren began to arrive in 1980 (Sara, Adam, Isaac, and Anna Lornitzo; Emily, Abigail, and Owen Cummings; Alexander and Philip Cummings; Jennifer, Daniel (Martha's step children) and Sarah Ames; Rachel, Rebekah, and Michael Church; Jessica and Tiffany Merrill; and one great, great granddaughter, Jenn's daughter, Haley) and as of this writing we await the birth of Martha's new baby girl. Whether or not Nana will live to hold Hannah Rebekah, we do not know. We do know that Nana is safe in God's hands and that his love envelops her.
Thus Nana has fulfilled the wish of her Grandfather Hubbard so long ago to "live a good long life and do all the good you can in the world ..." Her love was never demonstrative. There were no warm, strong bear hugs. Neither her daughter or her daughter's daughters ever remember being told that she loved them, but, nevertheless, they knew it. In the closing paragraphs of Nana's story (in the letter to Rachel and Rebekah) it is said that
"It is very important for us to listen to and, more importantly to hear the stories of others. By really listening to, and really hearing, the stories of others, we can enhance our own lives, learn what is good, and become strong and useful.
"Nana's story teaches us that despite sad or bad things happening, life, which is given to us by God, is good. It is our task to make choices that help us to make the best of both the adversities and the opportunities that come our way." For Rachel and Rebekah - A Story from Gramma with love
This is the gift that Nana leaves with you, her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchild.
For I am persuaded, that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 38-39
... for God is love
1 John 4:8
*E. Millett Cummings (1906-1991) was the son of A. Lincoln Cummings (1869-1932) who was the son of Martha J. (Merrill) (1832-1892) and Millett Cummings. Martha was the daughter of Richard7 (Joseph6, Daniel5, Joseph4, Daniel3, Daniel2, Nathaniel1) Merrill and Eunice Livermore of Livermore, Maine.
Nana and Sarah