SEARSPORT — Clayton Milo Blood Sr. is turning 90 Dec. 14, though to him it is not a big deal. “It’s a big deal for my kids,” he said.

Blood has lived an exceptional life filled with love, good fortune and hard work, which he has written about in a memoir, “My Life, a Look Back.” He wanted his grandkids to know what it was like growing up on a farm, milking cows before school, and playing sports, along with valuable lessons he learned along the way.

Born in Belmont in 1931, Blood said his father walked 5 miles to get his grandmother to be the midwife when he was coming into the world. His father hitched up their horse to a sleigh and brought Clayton’s grandmother back to help with the birth.

After three years, his family moved to Morrill, where he said one of his fondest memories was going to the observation tower on Frye Mountain with his neighbor who was a warden to look for signs of smoke from a fire.

Eventually the family moved to a farm in Unity. Blood said, “It was not equipped to be a farm,” lacking machinery and work animals. From age 8, he milked the family cows before school and then again at night. A radio playing in the barn spawned his love of country music. “I used to sing while I milked the cows,” he said.

His first day of high school in Unity, he said, his classmates made fun of his dungarees and the lunch of homemade biscuits and deer meat his mother had packed him. He said it bothered him, as his family could not afford the fancy gabardine pants then in fashion. Somehow, his mother managed to buy him the pants, but he soon ripped them playing baseball.

His father asked Blood if he had learned anything, to which he replied that dungarees were better to play baseball in. His father said, more importantly, “Don’t let what someone else thinks or says about you bother you. It is what you are as a person that counts, not what you wear.”

With resources tight, Blood had no plans to attend college and didn’t take any college prep courses — but Maine Maritime Academy’s recruitment program offered a $30 monthly stipend plus uniforms. That seemed his best option until one of his teachers entered him for a $250 Sears, Roebuck and Co. scholarship, which he won — and changed his mind.

Instead, he majored in agriculture at the University of Maine, and also milked cows for 60 cents an hour, starting at 4:30 a.m., before classes. He married Barbara Myrick in his junior year, and the couple lived in a trailer provided by the university. Their first daughter, Jennifer, was born there. They were together for 68 years until Barbara died last June.

His senior year at the university, Blood practice taught at East Corinth and later filled in for a teacher at Fryeburg Academy, where his students were World War II veterans who had returned to finish high school so they could go to college on the GI Bill. Even though every student was older than Blood, he said it was a great learning experience.

After six weeks in Fryeburg, Blood received a job offer from the Bucksport superintendent, who told him, “You beat the hell out of us in basketball four years ago …. If you are half as good at teaching as you were at the game, and as the university says you are, then I want to hire you.”

At Bucksport, Blood taught vocational agriculture and mentored like-minded students who had not taken college prep courses, shepherding them into the University of Maine. “It’s part of my belief,” he said, “that everyone deserves a chance.”

He remembers taking his students on field trips to his father’s farm in Unity to see how things were done and also to take part himself.

After six years in Bucksport, a friend offered him a job selling insurance. It was a big decision to give up teaching, but he took the position, and later became district manager for the New Hampshire-based company. The family lived in East Derry, New Hampshire, for three years before returning to Maine when Blood was offered an assistant principal position in the Searsport schools.

“I did some good things in Searsport,” he said, noting that he started the adult education program there and later got Mount View involved.

After 14 years in the Searsport school district, “out of the blue,” he got a call from an acquaintance who was commissioner of education, and asked him to meet a man from his office at the airport. “I had no idea what was going on,” Blood said, “but he had flown his plane in and asked if I would like to go up for a ride. I was scared to death.”

The man said the commissioner would be calling Blood the next day to ask if he would head up the Department of Education’s adult education program. Blood went on to develop training programs for businesses, and he personally signed over 36,000 GED diplomas.

“This was still another case where I was not looking for a job, but one came my way,” he said. “All the jobs I ever had, people came to me. I never applied for a job after high school. I think I must be doing something right somewhere along the line.”

When asked the secret to his longevity, Blood said that part has to do with his work ethic, but also that he has had many “blessings” in his life including his wife Barbara, his family and the many friends and acquaintances he has made along the way.

He has enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout his life, in all having bagged two moose and 30 deer, with one in the big buck club, along with catching a 9 1/2-pound salmon back in 1968.

On the back cover of his book, Blood says he never imagined he would live to be 90. “I have had many accomplishments in my life as an athlete, a teacher and administrator, a salesman, a manager, and in my roles in promoting adult education,” he said.

“None of these are as important as my role as a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and now great-grandfather. Without family, nothing else matters.”

Besides his three children, Jennifer, Babette and Clayton Jr., Blood has six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

His family is asking friends, former students and colleagues to send him a card or email with a memory that they would like to share and are hoping to get at least 90 cards. Blood can be reached at claytonblood@yahoo.com.

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