In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Beniah Harding

Three 10th grade students interviewed local resident Beniah C. Harding, age 80, at his home in Thomaston. The following two clips discuss his family history, his experiences during the Great Depression, and his enrollment in the Navy.

Transcription of Clip 1:
This is Aaron Maxwell at Ben Harding’s place at 3:05 on the 5th of December, nice to meet you Ben. I’m here to ask you questions about your experiences with the great depression, could you tell me a little about it.

I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts’s at 1919, at the age of 5 I was sent to live with my grandparents on a farm in Holliston, Massachusetts, I lived there until 17. When the depression starts we read in the newspapers about people committing suicide about the great stock market crash

Did you know anyone who was personally affected and committed suicide?

No

How did your family take it?

My father was fortunate, he ran restaurants in Boston, of course running a restaurant he had access to food, and he would exchange meals not for money, but for a personal item like a ring or some keepsake that the customer had access to. On the farm I we didn’t have a great variety of meats so we had lots of wheat products.

Transcription of Clip 2: 17.07
Since you mentioned the war, did you get enlisted?
I was working in Washington after graduating from Colby, and I received a notice from Holliston that I was to be drafted, I wanted no part of the army so I went to the navy headquarters and inquired about a naval commission, and they told me all the things I had to do, like taking physical and mental tests, I passed the mental test easily, but I was 11 pounds overweight, the doctor said if I lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks he’d let me in, so I went on a strict diet of nothing but lettuce and water. After 2 weeks I lost 9.5 pounds, he told me I was a half pound left, but he’d let me in anyways, so that’s how I was enlisted.