Michael Cooper of Chesterville holds the mic for Willow Paling of Temple Saturday evening, May 11, during the Animal Tales presentation held at Chesterville Center Union Meeting House. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

CHESTERVILLE — Numerous animal stories were shared on Saturday evening, May 11, during the Animal Tales presentation at Chesterville Center Union Meeting House.

Michael Cooper, a renowned mask maker and story teller served as master of ceremonies for the evening. He brought out a variety of masks, showed how each worked and described how it came about or the animal that inspired its creation. He also encouraged audience members to share their stories.

Cooper said his first masks were of humans, then he got the idea for an animal, then another. He spoke of his dad, Dr. E. L. Cooper who was a well-known veterinarian. Animals can’t tell what is wrong, what hurts, he stated.

“My father was a very good observer,” Cooper said. “I think I got that from him. Animal masks worked out really well for me.”

He modeled a dog mask he had made, demonstrated how it has a lower bite piece that he can move. Not all of his masks can talk, he noted. Cooper carved a rooster mask from poplar which is seen as junk wood by many, he said. It is a fantastic wood to carve, it has a nice tight grain, he stated.

“I am a big fan of poplar,” he said.


Michael Cooper flicks out the tongue on a frog mask on Saturday evening, May 11, during an Animal Tales presentation at Chesterville Center Union Meeting House. He carved the mask from a tree on his property. Picasa

Willow Paling of Temple shared a story about her cat Sadie. “She likes to snuggle, likes to play with her toys,” she said.

Paling also spoke of the picture she drew last Saturday during the painting session at the David Archer Town Hall in Chesterville. She said her favorite animal is a unicorn, even though they are just pretend.

Jim Hazen of Chesterville shared stories about the time when he was young, living in Portugal and the family cat befriending a baby chick He also told about moving to Paris, France, and the family’s four parakeets escaping when the cook accidentally left the cage door open then opened a window.

His sister bought one to replace them and it “turned out to be a gifted bird,” he said. The parakeet would come when called, fly from person to person and play hide and seek, he noted. When the family moved back to America the bird was adopted by an older American couple who taught it more tricks which were shared for a time with the family.

Chesterville residents Lydia Plancon and her dad Will talk about their goats Saturday evening, May 11, during the Animal Tales presentation at Chesterville Center Union Meeting House. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

One of the gifts people get from pets is they teach how to say goodbye because they don’t live as long as people, Cooper said. He told of the first of five parakeets his family had while his children were growing up.

Adalyn Pineau of Chesterville spoke of her cat who thinks it is the queen of her house. A week ago she drew a picture of the cat which was matted and hung on the wall for attendees to view.


Bernd Heinrich, who lives in Perkins Plantation near Weld told of a recent encounter with a pileated woodpecker. The bird was hammering on a large maple tree and his shed. Heinrich watched and wondered if it was seeing a reflection of itself through a window. He took the glass out, “all was solved, no more woodpecker,” he shared.

Cooper’s grandson, Cooper Mosher lives in Temple. He shared stories about his goat Poppy chasing him around the pen. Last summer two more goat kids were obtained and Sugar would sleep in the hay feeder, he explained.

Will Plancon and his daughter Lydia, both of Chesterville told of their Nigerian dwarf goats and having to bottle feed a triplet rejected by its mother. The tiny goat lived in a whelping pen in the living room but when it learned how to jump out and make its way upstairs to Lydia’s bed, it was time for the goat to move out with the others.

Michael Cooper of Chesterville speaks Saturday evening, May 11, about the painted turtle he is carving during the Animal Tales presentation at Chesterville Center Union Meeting House. Picasa

Bill Dunham of Chesterville spoke of his fishing for sharks in the Bahamas.

Cooper’s wife Susan Schell told of a chipmunk the family rescued and eventually let go. “He would still come if you called him,” she noted. “He once paraded by with two little baby chipmunks.”

Adalyn’s grandmother Crystal Pineau shared a story about relative horseback riding in Bucksport and encountering a bear on the blueberry barrens.

Cooper provided several other stories while demonstrating how some of his masks work. A bullfrog which has a tongue that can be made to come out and a painted turtle were made from trees cut from his property. He has spent years working on the turtle, it isn’t done yet. Once it is done, he plans to give it to Gloria Varney of Turner, whose son Roy Varney loved painted turtles and died in a 2019 farm accident.


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