100th birthday part of Saturday of Saturdays in Wiscasset

Road race, speedway practice, egg hunt also get sun
Posted:  Sunday, April 16, 2017 - 7:45am

“Good, I guess,” Wiscasset’s Ruth Applin said from a chair in Wiscasset Community Center’s Senior Center on Saturday afternoon, when State Rep. Jeff Hanley, R - Pittston, asked how she was.

Applin was turning 100 on Easter Sunday, and town and American Legion Auxiliary officials, friends and five generations of her family came to wish her “Happy Birthday.” They did it with hugs, quiet talks, the Boston Post Cane for being Wiscasset’s oldest resident, Legion pins, a card and plaque for 70 years in the Auxiliary and, from the state, a certificate and an American flag.

“It’s beautiful,” Applin told Hanley in her loudest comment of the afternoon as he knelt in front of her with the flag. The District 87 lawmaker told her he’d personally flown it over the State House in her honor. Applin’s late husband Robert served in the Navy during World War II, their daughter Betty Applin said.

In an interview and his comments to the gathering, Hanley said anyone who makes 100 should be honored for their life and, in the case of Ruth Applin and others reaching that age now, also because they are part of the greatest generation. His parents were, Hanley said.

As he and others honored Applin, her brother Arthur Jones sat next to her, including when Wiscasset Selectman Ben Rines Jr. gave her the cane. Jones, 99, has Nobleboro’s as that town’s oldest resident, Betty Applin said.

Rines said his father Ben Rines Sr. and Ruth Applin grew up next door to each other on Churchill Street, where she still lives.

At 53, Belinda Haggett of Wiscasset is Applin’s oldest granddaughter. Asked what it was like to celebrate her grandmother’s turning 1oo, Haggett said: “Very exciting. It’s amazing. She’s done remarkably.”

Betty Applin said Saturday’s good turnout was really nice to see. “And it actually shows that the community does adore her.”

Saturday was a day for community and family on other fronts, as well. Parks and Recreation’s annual Easter egg hunt at the Wiscasset Middle High School track had close to 200 children, plus their family members, community center staff member Bonnie Blagdon said. She spearheads the event, which this year had a new high of 6,750 colored, plastic eggs, all reused from past years and washed. Volunteers Joan Barnes, Sylvia Wallace and Wallace’s mother Geraldine helped prepare the eggs, Blagdon said. Each held candy, a trinket or one of 26 tags to turn in for a prize.

Brooke Lincoln, 9, of Wiscasset got a  prize, also — a stuffed animal bunny about half her height, for winning a drawing among advance ticket buyers. Entertaining the crowd as Blagdon, carrying the bunny, walked about half the length of the track’s inside to give the Wiscasset Elementary School third grader her prize, Facilities and Programs Manager Bob MacDonald asked if they thought Blagdon could get there without stepping on an egg.

Asked for comment on her prize, Lincoln said: “Yay. Soft,” she added as she felt the material.

MacDonald also took time before the hunt’s start to note it was Todd Souza’s last day as Parks and Recreation’s director. He wanted to be there but was nearby helping set up the department’s FitClass Challenge Four-Miler Road Race & Walk, MacDonald said. He said Souza would hear it if the crowd gave him a hand. Attendees applauded and some cheered.

The Wiscasset Newspaper caught up with Souza, Scarborough’s new director of community services, just before the race started on Route 27. He said it didn’t really feel yet like he was leaving the Wiscasset job, partly because he isn’t leaving Wiscasset. He’ll still live here. Asked if the race was a good way to wrap up his 14 years’ service, Souza said: “Absolutely. It’s a good community event.”

The events at the school and center got sun. So did practice day at Wiscasset Speedway on West Alna Road on Saturday, ahead of the season’s April 22 start. Vanessa Jordan said it will be a good one, her and husband Richard’s fifth as the track’s owners.

Farmington’s Jason Kaherl was working at the wheel of the car brother Shane Kaherl of Jay would be driving. “This is awesome,” Jason Kaherl, a crew member, said about the weather. “I couldn’t have asked for a better day for practice.”