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Highlighting Historical Hampden

Bob's Bears

The Day the Bears Bathed in Hampden
by Bob Hawes

Well, boys and girls, every year on a warm summer's afternoon, at about the time of the Bangor Fair, I think of a happening from my early days on Short Wharf Road. It was not an event that shaped town history and probably not more than a half dozen people even knew about it, but the picture of those bears has remained a sharp image in my mind for lots of years. It happened on a warm August day in the mid- to late 1940s. I would have been eight or ten years old at the time. The mind dims as to the actual year. From the backyard of our home on Short Wharf, I heard some unusual woofing or growling noises coming from the Souadabscook Stream on the upper side of what's now Rt. 1A. Wandering over I saw a strange sight. Two, or maybe three people were holding long leads that were attached to three bears; two brown; one black that were enjoying a leisurely bath in the impoundment behind the dam. The bears had arrived in two vehicles, one a sort of pick-up truck with a cage attached on the body and the other a small "two-bear trailer" pulled behind a car. Where this mini-menagerie arrived from I never found out, but as it was Bangor fair time I thought they might have been part of the festivities at that event. The three bears had a great time huffing and woofing and splashing about. But their little holiday was soon interrupted by one of the officials from the Hampden Water Department who came out and explained that this was the town's drinking supply and it would be in the best interest of all concerned if the bears bathed somewhere else. So the animals were reeled in and put in their respective cages and the little caravan went on down the road. I was a great bit of free entertainment for me to liven up a quiet summer afternoon.