September 3, 2007 § 6 Comments

My grandmother’s only remaining sibling died last Monday; I happened upon his obituary Wednesday afternoon. When Richard and I were in Maine last month, we expected to see him at the family reunion, but it was hellishly hot, and he didn’t feel well enough to make the trip. So, of course: guilt.

Raymond W. Harmon Sr., 87
LIMINGTON — Raymond W. Harmon Sr., 87, died on Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, at his home with his wife and family by his side.
He was born in Limington on Aug. 3, 1920, the son of William and Susan Brown Harmon. He lived in Limington his whole life. During his working life, he worked as a teamster with his horses at Limerick Mills, Chase’s Lumber Mill in Limington, and he hauled lumber for Phil Bean. He also worked as an auto mechanic for Earland Gerry, Sebago Lake Garage, and Canton Chevrolet in Sanford. He was also a cattle farmer and he enjoyed going local agricultural fairs. Among his many hobbies included camping and feeding the birds. He was a member of the Odd Fellows of Limerick.
He was predeceased by his parents; two brothers, Russell and Ralph Harmon; three sisters, Regina Chase, Geneva Brooks, and Leona Jones; two sons, Donald and Richard Harmon; and an infant daughter, Natalie Harmon. Surviving are his wife of 70 years, Emelene Harmon; three daughters, Barbara Gilpatrick, Gertrude Norris and her husband Stanley, Lois Black and her husband Bryant; three sons, Edward Harmon and his wife Jackie, Joe Harmon and his wife Sarah, and Raymond Harmon Jr. and his wife Donna; 27 grandchildren; 42 great-grandchildren; and 23 great-great-grandchildren.

Fantastic numbers, aren’t they? Eighty-seven is a ripe old age, and seventy years married… I can’t imagine that”s ever been common. And did you do the addition? Ninety-eight direct descendants.

I didn’t know him well at all, but he always knew who I was, even with so many names already cluttering his mind. My own grandmother died at 60— an old 60— seventeen years ago. God, even I can’t believe it’s been that long. Anyway, Uncle Raymond was a treasure trove of family lore. He could tell stories about our Abenaki blood, logging in the Deep Woods, growing a year’s worth of vegetables for a family of eight during the Depression. He could talk about southwestern Maine in the good ol’ days, when the rivers ran with trout and there weren’t quite so many deer to ruin your apple harvest.

A glance at his favorite past-times is like a glance at my own childhood, full of county fairs, dead needles under soaring white and red pines, chickadee-spotting, backyard gardens full of gladioluses and raspberry cane. The kind of wholesome, homespun Yankee memories that seem rare these days. We weren’t close, but I feel like I lost a part of my own past with him.

Farewell to a wise, generous, well-lived elder. Great Aunt Emelene misses you terribly.


§ 6 Responses to Lineage

  • I won’t clutter your post with descriptions of my beloved dead ancestors, although we’ve had similar experiences. I just want to express how rare and marvelous it is to find two exceptional writers living under the same roof.

    A glance at his favorite past-times is like a glance at my own childhood, full of county fairs, dead needles under soaring white and red pines, chickadee-spotting, backyard gardens full of gladioluses and raspberry cane.

    Jesus, that’s good.

    Say hi to What’s-His-Name for me.

  • By the way, the problem with leaving a comment is that after I log in I’m sent to my profile page rather than back to the message. I’ve figured out what to do (click “visit site” in the upper left corner of the page) but I can well imagine weaker navigators giving up and throwing furniture instead of leaving a comment.

  • gankaku says:


    I can’t figure out what the problem is with the comments. We have it setup us so that anyone should be able top leave one, but it doesn’t seem to be taking. I think I’ll update the WordPress software on her site, see if that works. Bit of a nailbiter, though.

    And I agree… Kristina is a wonderful writer. I think she’ll find a publisher before me, and on that day, we’ll be drinking Champagne. But not something that’s a cliché.

  • kristina says:

    Thanks so much for your kind comment, Stephen, but my childhood summers in Maine could have made a poet out of a groundhog. They were idyllic.

    I’m all in favor of old ancestor tales. When my parents were visiting last month I bought an electronic edition of a book called The Harmon Genealogy comprising All Branches in New England , published in 1920. Apparently I’m from the same line as Capt. Allison Harmon, the strong man of Maine, whose entry reads, in part:

    “Allison lived in Scarboro until 1850 when and a man of extraordinary strength, who, after the crew failed to lift the new anchor, would shoulder it with ease and carry it down to the vessel with the cabin boy hanging on behind. When he became crazy the authorities attempted to capture him at his house and gathered a large number of men to assist. He thereupon, locked the doors and went up on the roof through a large chimney and began throwing bricks down upon his would-be captors, and finally drove them off. ”

    IF! I find a publisher, we’ll have to celebrate with a nice Tokay. And sushi.

    • damfree says:

      Ah, someone asked me about “Strongman Harmon” today. I did a search to see if I could find anything else about him and if there were other versions of the many stories I grew up on I found this post. I too am of his Harmon line and grew up on the many stories of the Harmon’s, Libby’s and other local characters. I learned a lot listening to those stories!! So hello cousin I have never met!

  • kristina says:

    OK, OK… Stephen, thanks for helping me figure out the comment system here.

    I’ve played with the setting in WordPress, and now it’s possible for anyone to leave comments, and you don’t have to login to do so. But we have the normal safeguards in place, so SPAMMERS beware! I’ll do the same on Smart Like Streetcar.

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