Stan Howe, retired Bethel historian, sat on his Broad Street porch reading about Bethel history. Rose Lincoln /Bethel Citizen


Stan Howe reads about Bethel. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

Stan Howe Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — Sharing a front porch chat with Stan Howe, is like taking a step back into Bethel’s history.  Howe was the Bethel Historical Society director for much of his life. He mentions people born in the last century and earlier – Margaret Joy Tibbetts (“learn about her!”), William Bingham, Dr. John Gehring, Dr. Moses Mason and William Rogers Chapman (“he lived right over there”) – like they are old friends.  A pile of books sits at his feet. He wrote half of them.

Howe inherited his Federalist style house on Broad street from his cousin. Before that, he lived in the historical society’s apartment next door. He was in his twenties when he returned to Bethel after having lived in Canada, traveling to Europe, and out west to see friends. “I like staying here now,” he says, as a parade of bicyclists, pedestrians and inline skaters go by on the warm fall day. “It’s quite a place. Things happen around here,” he smiles.

At Gorham State Teacher’s College he met his lifelong friend who died early. “It broke my heart,” says Howe. Before teaching school, he attended Gould Academy as a teen and later received his Master’s Degree in American History at the University of Connecticut. In 1978, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Maine, writing his dissertation on C.D. Howe, his grandfather’s cousin.

“I’m like a librarian,” he says with a smile. “I have lots of books. I had to build bookcases for all the books!” He shares his New York Times – “the most wonderful newspaper in the world” – with other readers by leaving his copies at the Bethel Library. “There might be a kid like me who wants to read. As a young boy I read the Christian Science Monitor. It was the only newspaper I had. As a child I used to go to the library all the time. ”

He offers a sage observation of modern life, too, “I got rid of all my electronic stuff. I don’t have any tie-ups. It was so draining. I had to spend all my time, delete, delete, delete.”

Before parting, Howe says to look for him on the other porch where he often sits because it’s warmer. Then he points out a picture of Margaret Chase Smith, from Maine. He says. “She was quite a remarkable person. The only woman in the Senate. She was a pioneer.”

“I’ve had quite a life,” says the historian.

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