Journal One-on-One

94-year-old woman hopes to revive North Montville Baptist Church community

By Jordan Bailey | Aug 22, 2014
Photo by: Jordan Bailey Winnie Hall, of Winthrop, in the doorway of the North Montville Baptist Church.

The Republican Journal visited Winifred Ella Hall at the North Montville Baptist Church during its an annual afternoon of music event. Hall's maiden name is McCorrison, and her father started a car dealership and garage in Thorndike.

Hall lived within walking distance of the church in her childhood, and remembers it as the center of an active community. She has returned to the area and is trying to get area residents involved in the church again.

TRJ: What towns have you lived in in the area?

Hall: I was born in Thorndike and I lived there for a while, but I moved to Montville as a child with my parents and I went to this church for years and years. That's why I came back to this church. I have been in Florida for 23 — I think — years, and I have come back because I would like to buried in my home state, Maine, up on the Pleasant Hill by Erskine Academy. That's why I am back here, and my daughter Sheryl has come back to take care of me. Everyone is gone, but me. I'm 94.

TRJ: What schools did you go to and what did you do for work?

Hall: I went to Freedom Academy, and then I went to college at Nasson College in Springvale, and then I went to beauty school at Lavoy's Beauty School in Lewiston, and after I graduated from there, I didn't go any more to school. I did hairdressing until I was too old to do it. My husband built a building, shop, and I had four girls work for me and we did hairdressing for a long time. 37 years I held a license in the state of Maine. It was called Winnie's Beauty Shop and it was in South China.

TRJ: What are some of your memories of living in Montville?

Hall: I grew up in Montville. It was a nice town to live in, I'd say. I enjoyed it very much. My mother was very strict and she saw that I came here to church every Sunday. My father was a car salesman. He was always going to Boston, and I would help him drive the cars down. Thirty-five miles an hour was all we could go, when they were new. I drove alone in a car. That was way back in the 40s or 50s. It was way back. We drove down Route 1, the main road.

TRJ: What kind of cars would you drive up?

Hall: Pontiacs and Cadillacs, good cars. Of course, I had to learn to drive when I was young. I was 15 years old when I got my driver's license. Mother wasn't in favor of me having a license, but I had to to go to High School, because Freedom Academy was a few miles from where I lived.

TRJ: How was your family involved with the North Montville Baptist Church?

Hall: This building was built way back over a hundred years ago. My grandfather Charles, my father's father, had a lot to do with it. The family has always been very close to this church. They have always furnished money and helped run it.

I remember having ice-cream socials here when I was young, and we're having one today. I think this place has changed a lot. People aren't interested in going to church nowadays. They just don't go.

One year we put on a Christmas pageant, and we had 200 people here to see it. We couldn't get them all in,  so many came from everywhere, that they couldn't get them in. So my father said, "We will put it on again." We had to show it a second time. My father was a great hand to do new things. He got colored lights, and that was the first time this community had ever seen those things. It was my first solo, my mother practiced with me every afternoon. I had to sing "The Star" and I had to pantomime the song. It was very complicated. I was only nine years old.

It was all sparkly, with tin foil and stuff. it was very beautiful with the colored lights. No one had done that before. It was something very new to Montville.

TRJ: Did he put colored lights up on your house too?

Hall: No, he did put electricity in the house, because he got books and studied. He was a school teacher when he was very young — my father was — and very bright.

TRJ: Did your family do any farming?

Hall: I rode horseback, and I drove horses to cultivate and horse-hoe the potatoes.

We used to have acres of factory peas and then grandpa would have acres of string beans, and all these things that we had to work hard to do. We had about five or six acres of peas we sold to the factories.

TRJ: What did your husband do?

Hall: Well, I was married three times. My first husband was a carpenter. We moved around a few times for him to work. My second husband, Walter, was a contractor, fixing roads and things. My third husband, who I married when I was 70, raised little fish in a hatchery in Palermo for the state of Maine. I was only married 3-1/2 years to him. I never got married again after Paul died.

I took care of my last two husbands before they died. It was hard. I think my third husband was the hardest to lose. He was so energetic and the state of Maine seemed to need him so badly to raise fish. He really was a wonderful man and he did so much for the state of Maine. His name was Paul Arther Hall.

TRJ: Do you have anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Hall: I would like to tell people to come to this church. That, I think, saved me from being in the wrong a good many times, being a Christian. I'm sure it did. A lot of people don't go. The world is getting to be terrible today and I think we need more Christians, is what we need in this country today.

Starting in September, services will be held every other Sunday at 2 p.m. at the North Montville Baptist Church.

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