County Face: Norma Watson of New Limerick
NEW LIMERICK, Maine — It might not come with a 401(k) plan, health insurance coverage or even an actual paycheck, but Norma Watson of New Limerick says being a mom and a farmer’s wife are the best jobs she ever had.
Today, this mom of 10 boasts 22 grandkids and an amazing 33 great-grandkids. But big families are nothing out of the ordinary for her. Norma is one of 14 siblings.
“I was the youngest in my family, and I took full advantage of that,” she recalled with a chuckle.
Born in Monticello, Norma said she moved around quite a bit when she was young, living in Houlton, Massachusetts and even Connecticut for a little while.
A part of Houlton High School’s Class of 1948, Norma said she always loved school (math especially), but she ended up not finishing high school back then. As it turned out, not long after she left school, her family needed her help. When one of her sisters died in a tragic accident, 17-year-old Norma stepped up to help, caring for a trio of her little nieces and a nephew for more than year.
“They weren’t bad kids,” she said. “And I wasn’t much more than a kid myself. So, we got along pretty well.”
In a way, that experience prepared her to be a mom. Because soon after, she met her late husband Robert Watson through some mutual friends.
“Lillian Lovely and I were good friends and she asked me if I wanted to go out with Robert and I said, ‘Sure.’”
Norma said all it took was that one date and she knew he was the one for her. The two were married in 1950 at Houlton’s Salvation Army church.
Her husband Robert was no stranger to hard work. Before Robert was even out of high school, he’d opened a service garage near what’s now their County Road home.
“And then, after we were married, he went into farming full-time with his father,” she explained. “And then, he did trucking. He did everything. I could brag on him all day.”
In between raising a house full of a kids and helping run the farm, Norma also found time to do a few other things over the years, including going back to school to get her high school diploma.
“I loved that actually,” she said. “I even took a course in psychology.”
She also logged over 25 years at Cary Library, starting under Librarian Helen Atchison.
“She was a good person, very knowledgeable,” Norma said. “She told me once, ‘You don’t have to know the answer to every question. You just have to know where to find the answers.’”
These days, Norma loves playing games (both in-person and on the computer), reading and spending time with her family. She’s also a long-time member of County Road Baptist Church. And her house is one sure sign Christmas is on its way; with help from her family, she adorns the driveway of her house with 14 light-up Christmas trees every year.
And here’s one more surprise fact you might not have known about this local: she’s the proud owner of one super smart pup.
She and her daughter Lois teamed up to teach Norma’s little dog Lulu some fancy skills. Now, Lulu can ride a small rocking horse, dance and even play the piano — among other things.
“It all started with the rocking horse … and just went from there,” said Norma with a smile.