Essays of a Camden Native

Essay by a Camden native’s daughter

By Vicki Fletcher | May 16, 2013

Dad always said he wanted to write his own “swan song,” but, sadly, the recent fatigue and discomfort of pancreatic cancer has kept him from doing so. With Dad’s blessing I am stepping in to help.

What follows are my thoughts and memories about a man I call Dad, but who you know as Paul Putnam, a local writer and historian. When anyone calls him a historian he claims he is a writer of memories, always deferring to his friend Barbara Dyer, who he says is the true local historian. Somehow, I think even Barbara would agree there is more than one way to tell history.

Dad is passionate about history and all three of his children share this with him. We have always known “where” we have come from. Thanks to his love of storytelling and his ability to record the in written form we will be able to share them with our future generations.

He was just as avid about our old family photos. We have an extensive collection and nearly all of them are labeled to identify who is in the photo and when it was taken. Dad’s love of all things family is an essential part of who he is.

My earliest memories are about moving. Since Dad was a job shopper, our family went where his new job was. Dad’s jobs were all about the future, from working at Newport Naval Base on projects that required special clearance, to working on the Mercury, Saturn, and Apollo space projects at Cape Kennedy. He inspired us to look ahead to see what could be.

So when Dad graduated from the university, we moved from South Apartments at University of Maine at Orono, to Maryland, then North Carolina, Rhode Island and finally Florida.

In 1965 the family returned home to Camden/Rockport so Dad could take over the family business, Putnam’s Candy Kitchen. Rather than being a step backward, in fact it was after this that Dad began his spiritual journey and gained his steadfast faith in a God that never changes. He always says, “God has a plan, even though we might not know what it is.”

Dad is a man of determination: once he’s made up his mind about something, it is very hard to change. I have never seen his faith waiver. We have been through many tough times as a family and his faith has stood firm. Standing firm for him has not meant that he doesn’t accept different ideas and changes in the world. His grandchildren love that they can talk with him about anything with freedom and that he loves and accepts them without question.

Dad always told us as children not to expect him to go out and fight our battles, but he would make sure we were safe at home. Even after we were grown, Dad has always welcomed us to come home when we need to and he always helped and supported us in whatever good time or hardships we were in.

My husband Mike and I have been living with Dad since June 2009, four years now. The original idea was for us to live together so we could look after Mom, who has dementia. When it became impossible for us to continue to do so, she entered Knox Center, and we became a household of three. It has been a great four years.

Now the time has come, and we have rallied the troops to come say good-bye to Dad. My brother Alan and his wife Sherry left their boat in South Carolina and drove home. My sister Valorie and her daughter from Sydney, Australia, as well as grandchildren from Connecticut and Portland are all on their way home.

It has always pleased Dad when people enjoyed his articles, and we thank all of you for being such great fans of his writing. He has had a great life and he is going in peace, surrounded by family.

We would love to hear memories you might have of Dad or comments on how his writing might have touched your life. Our address is 5 Kerygma Drive, Rockport, ME 04856.

Thank you, Vicki Fletcher, for Paul Putnam


Paul Putnam, a long-time Camden Herald columnist, lives in Rockport. His four volumes of essays, "Thoughts and Reminiscences of a Camden Native," are available at the Reading Corner in Rockland and the Owl and Turtle Bookshop in Camden.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: LYNDA PIERCE | May 17, 2013 06:11

Sending peaceful thoughts to a dear friend...

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