Houlton had great celebration

11 years ago

Editor’s note: The town of Houlton held a huge celebration the day after the Armistice ending World War I was signed in 1918. Here is how the Aroostook Times reported the event.
The news of the signing of the Armistice which practically ends the greatest of World Wars, was received in town early Monday and the citizens were at once notified of the joyful news by a terrific din of blowing of whistles and ringing of bells, and even the early hour did not deter them from immediately joining the frenzied crowd that swarmed the streets, cheering and blowing horns and for more than 16 hours Houlton went wild with joy and enthusiasm.
    The whistle of the Houlton Water Co’s pumping station can be heard for many miles and soon telephone calls were coming in thick and fast from neighboring towns as to the cause of the din, on being told that Germany had signed up they immediately declared a legal holiday and “beat it” for town to celebrate and soon the already large crowd was augmented by many hundreds of visitors and they continued to come all day and early evening.
The celebration committee previously appointed were early on their jobs and got things under way.
T. V. Holdaway chef-in-chief for the monster barbecue soon had his fires burning and ready for the 1,000 lbs. ox which was to furnish a 6 o’clock supper for the hungry crown and throughout the day hundreds stood by and watched the process of roasting the ox, the first barbecue ever given in town.
The Houlton firemen were assisting in making ready for the mammoth bonfire and load after load of barrels and boxes were hauled to Garrison Hill where one fire was to be located and the other on Titcomb’s Hill for the west side of town.
Early in the day two life-like effigies of the Kaiser and the Crown Prince were strung up in the square for the edification of the crowd.
An automobile parade was started and toured the principal streets of the town all loaded down with record breaking crowds of fun seekers.
One feature of the day’s celebration that deserves mention was the volunteer services, as leader of parades, was a well-known traveling man who sells paints in this section, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. he kept the crowd going, every citizen was eligible for his army and he kept right on recruiting and was the life of the crowd.
Evening brought larger crowds to town for the continued program and at 7 p.m. the grand torch light procession was started with full 500 men and boys in line led by “Uncle Sam” and Hon. F. A. Peabody acting as marshal. On reaching the square the effigies of the Kaiser and son which had been soaked in oil for some hours were lighted amid the hoots and jeers of the crowd, that numbered fully 10,000 people. Just before the torch was applied to the hated pair, a toast to each was read by Geo. A. Hall, Jr., which had been prepared by one of our well-known local poets, which read as follows: “This rat-faced gent, the Kaiser’s Heir, Has left the earth, ten feet to spare. And when his nostrils fill with smoke, he’ll know it’s just a Belgian joke. And if from his exalted perch, He stabs a babe, or burns a church, We all of course will wish him well, But give him first a taste of hell. Here goes the butcher, Bill Kaiser, the Deutche, And stuffed with true German brains, May the flames that encase him, Refuse to erase him, Till hell has him safely in chains.”
The committee which had the celebration in charge is deserving of much credit for the successful culmination of the biggest celebration that Houlton ever knew. It was composed of P. L. Rideout, chairman, T. V. Holdaway, C. H. McCluskey, M. B. McKay, A. O. Putnam, O. M. Smith, Frank McNair, B. B. McIntyre, R. A. Palmer and W. B. Clark.