Swan sitting in his house.  Samuel Wheeler

GREENWOOD — Most people can recall going by a nickname at some point in their life. Some can even say they’ve been called several. But lifelong Greenwood resident Hugh Swan has gone by “Cubby” since his early childhood. The name simply came from a page in the newspaper.

When Swan was a child, there was a cartoon character in the newspaper named “Cubby Bear.”

His sister liked the name.

“My older sister saw me running around the house naked, so she called me Cubby Bear and it stuck,” he said with a laugh. “People called me Cubby, Cub or Cubby Bear, but they kind of dropped the ‘Bear’ over the years.”

He is called Cubby wherever he goes now.

He was born in Greenwood, one house up the road from where he currently lives now. He moved from the house he was born in when he was a toddler.

Outside of getting the nickname “Cubby,” Swan’s childhood consisted of playing outside a lot, because, as he put it “we didn’t have to worry about television.”

One popular activity was frog catching. He and his friends would go to the brook and hunt for frogs. Swan said when the tourists visited, he would sell them frogs for 10 cents.

“For a kid it was good money,” he said. “We bought mostly candy and soft drinks.”

The tourists used the frogs as bait for fishing.

Swan said hide-and-seek was another popular game he and his friends played growing up.

In the 1950s, Swan was drafted in the Korean Conflict era for a two-year period. He was drafted after the truce.

Swan went through 16 weeks of basic Army training and then an additional eight weeks of paratrooper training.

He spent his first eight weeks of basic training at Fort Dix and then went to Fort Bragg.

Although Swan never left the United States during his time in the military, he did take part in a mock war in Louisiana. He also found himself at the edge of the aircraft, looking down at the ground below, more than 25 times. Each time he jumped, or was nudged by an instructor, out of the plane.

“I enjoyed it after the first two or three jumps. I don’t mind heights anyway,” he said. “My first jump was quite exciting. My toes are at the lip of the aircraft and my hands are on the outside. The guy said he’d tap me on the butt when he wanted me to go. He took his knee and wham, he hit me right under my ass and out I went.”

The jumps were not his only memories in the air.

Swan met a warrant officer who was practicing flying a helicoptering the officer had to get a set amount of fly time in. Swan went up in the chopper with him.

“We had one of the littlest helicopters the military had, I guess. It was one of them plastic bubbles with a tail fin. You could look right down through the floor because it is all Plexiglas enclosure around you.”

Swan spent his weekends flying with the officer.

All his airtime in the military made some of his jobs back in Greenwood seem like nothing.

He painted the church in Greenwood hanging from a rope. He also painted the town hall in Greenwood and a giant barn in West Bethel.

Swan joined the Echo-Tibbetts Mill as a set-up man when he returned from the service. He helped set up different types of machinery. The mill produced many wooden products.

“We had different departments that made different stuff. I worked in the department that made flatware,” Swan said.

Swan has some of the wooden toys that were made at the mill on display at his house. He also still has some of the wooden products that he has made.

He worked in the mill for 37 years and then went to the Penley Mill in West Paris, where he worked for another eight years.

Swans also played a major role in Greenwood’s fire department.  Accompanied by Raymond Seames, he drove a brand new fire truck from Indiana back to Greenwood. It was the first official truck that the town ever had.

He was the department chief for nine years (1983-1992).

Both Swan and Seames are lifetime members of the fire department.

Swan still stops in at the station now and then, and enjoys the fish fries the department puts on.

He has been married to his wife, Denise, for 61 years.

When looking back at all that he is done in the small town, he used a few words to sum up his time.

“I’ve had a good life.”


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