Artifact: Photograph of Children on Charlie Arnold Playground Equipment, 1986

Description: Betsy Hewlett shared a photo of her children, twins Ben and Annie, taken in their backyard at 156 Indian Point Road, circa 1986. The children are depicted playing on school playground equipment that Charlie Arnold salvaged. Arnold was well-known in the area for selling salvaged materials that he stored in his backyard.

Oral History:

Oral History Transcription:

Transcript of Betsy Hewlett Interview, August 2, 2018

TG – This is Tim Garrity (TG) interviewing History Harvest participant Betsy Hewlett (BH) at the Sound Schoolhouse on August 2, 2018. This is part of Mount Desert Island Historical society’s History Harvest. So, Betsy tell me about the photographs you’ve brought to us.

BH -I have two photos these are actually my my children they were taken in our backyard at 156 Indian Point Rd. Probably when my kids were three so it is probably ’86 maybe? And my son Ben and my daughter Annie are riding on these two little things that we had in our backyard and I’m not even sure what they’re called. They are from the Tremont playground and we repurposed them and brought them to our property and cemented them on some ledge and every summer this was a big deal for our kids. We couldn’t use them in the winter because the springs would’ve broken which maybe why they left the Tremont school.

The interest in the story for me is that these two objects that came from the Tremont School were probably removed from the school sometime in the late 70s early 80s and they were taken to a dump that was a salvage dump behind the house of Charlie Arnold. Charlie Arnold and his wife lived on the Oak Hill Road and Charlie was a salvager who went around the island. He was born I believe on the island and I believe he started his salvaging after the fire of ‘47 and he collected things in his backyard which became a dump called Charlie’s dump. He then would resell them.

I think he was probably a fisherman, but I think this was really his source of income and he took flooring from estates in Bar Harbor and would pile it in his back 40 and then people would come and buy it from him. So there’s a whole group of people that were building houses on the island in the 70s and 80s who would go to Charlie’s and buy things from Charlie and then incorporate them in their house. It turns out that our house, in addition to these wonderful playground items that came from Charlie; we also had flooring. The entire house had wood flooring that came from Baymeath Estate in Hulls Cove. That had come via Charlie and the people that built our home were Rale and Ed Ainsworth. They built the house and we bought it in 1982. They started it in ’74 and they built the whole house around materials that they had scrounged or gotten from Charlie that he had gotten. Whether Charlie bought those materials or not is probably a good question and I think a story on Charlie would be a wonderful idea.

Charlie has passed away. He has two daughters who live on the island still. One is Gail Arnold and I don’t know the name of the other one. They would have some great memories of their father and probably a lot of photographs and things of Charlie.

TG – What was it like to talk to Charlie?

BH – Charlie was a real friendly guy. He would talk your arm off and if he if he didn’t have what you wanted he would tell you to come back. Then I think he probably would go out looking. If he knew somebody would buy something then he would go. I don’t know where he was getting all of his things. By that time, I think he probably was starting to be on the wane of collecting in the 80s so I think most of his collecting was probably done in the 50s and 60s.

TG – What was it like to visit his stock? He had a place on Indian Point Road and could you describe his place?

BH – Yeah, I think it’s the third it’s not actually Indian Point, it’s on the Oak Hill Rd. Three houses on the south side in from Indian Point Road. The house was bought from Charlie Arnold by a family by the name of Giordano. It still had a lot of things in the dump when the Giordano’s bought it so Bob Giordano continued to sell things out of the back and people would still stop at Bob’s but by that time Charlie had moved to Florida and was retired and not in good health. So Bob Giordano tried to do it and then when Bob and his wife try to sell the house they were unable to sell it because the back was considered toxic. I don’t know what – it has been sold so somebody either cleaned it up or whatever but there’s a lot of stuff back there.

TG – What was it like to go to his yard to select materials?

BH — He just loved it would take you out back sort of but then he would say “come back, come back in a couple of days.” And then you come back in a couple of days and what you wanted or something close would be pulled out to the front of the dump. He never really let people go way back in there and scratch for themselves. I think the people that were most interested in his things were people that were building their houses sort of on their own. Hook and Ian Wheeler? Which you may know? They also have a lot of things in their house. Jen and Jim Perkins have a lot of things from Charlie Arnold. People that were home steading, do-it-yourselfers.

TG – Rick Savage described in a Chebacco article how his father built materials out of one of the cottages in Hulls Cove.

BH – Yes, and I think it’s a real common thing here on the island for locals to do that. I know Charles Savage, many of the pieces in his gardens were things that he scrounged or salvaged from houses that were coming down or people that were rebuilding in Northeast. So, that’s our story.

TG – okay couple more questions. Tell me now your children’s names?

BH – Ben is on the pelican and Amy is riding on the turtle.

TG – Are they twins?

BH – Yes, they’re twins and they were born in 83.

TG – And as we’re speaking today, 2018, that means they’re 35. What are they doing now?

BH – Ben is a civil engineer living in Boston he’s married and he also has a second job of starting a distillery Cultural Path Distillery in Everet and my daughter Annie just completed physical therapy doctoral program and is a doctor of physical therapy in Bellingham, Washington. We grew up with Charlie’s goods and animate our house feel very warm and elegant you have something from an estate in Charlie was famous for that.

TG – Well, thank you, Betsy.

BH – You’re very welcome, Tim.

Hewlett Oral History Transcription.pdf