One of the more interesting locals, one might say characters, to grace the Calais scene in recent memory was Lois Campbell, seen above in the 1938 Broadcast, the year she graduated from Calais Academy. Lois was born in Calais in 1919 the daughter of Clifford and Mary (Reed) Campbell. She has two brothers, Paul and Bill. The family lived on Monroe Street just up from High on the right-hand side of the street in a Cape which is, we believe, still in the family.
Lois was popular in school and active in sports—she was voted the best female athlete in her class and was Vice President of her class as both a junior and senior. Seen above, second from the left, she and the Calais teams on which she played won nearly every game. In her junior year they outscored their opponents 550-274. Her ambition according to the yearbook was to become the Calais Academy girls’ basketball coach. Her father, Clifford, did not live to see his daughter’s graduation. She was only nine when he died. From The New York Times, October 21, 1928:
AUTO UPSET IN FOG KILLS CALAIS MAN
Calais, Me Oct 20 (AP)
Clifford Campbell, aged 40, a Calais wood dealer was pinned beneath a touring car and drowned at McCullough Brook, a few miles from St. Stephen, N.B., last night. The car, owned and driven by his companion, Earle Grant, left the road in a thick fog. Grant escaped uninjured.
After graduation Lois, like many in those days, worked on the Calais Main Street. She was employed at both Bates Jewelers and Home Radio.
She stayed active in the community and sports. She is seen above in this photo of a Calais softball team taken about 1940. Back row from left: Lois Campbell, Enid (Middlemiss) McDowell-Hall, Betty (Laughlin) Coons, Joyce (Tracy) Lowell, Eunice (Campbell) Harriman, Virginia (Campbell) Gimoresky, Coach Leo Langille Front Row: Elizabeth (Rutherford) Tingley, Ella ( Bea Hill) Moreshead, Audrey (Nason) Yardley, “Sister Sabattis” Jennie Langille, Mae (Scott) Mahar.
In the ‘50s she opened her luncheonette on Main Street which soon became the favorite haunt of the employees of the auto dealers and service stations in this part of town. Campbell’s Luncheonette was a rather narrow building which had been tacked onto the north end of the “Syndicate Block,” the large brick block built about 1900 which most will remember as being anchored on the Avenue end by Checchi’s and later Pisani’s stores.
This part of town became known as “garage row” in the era of automobiles as all of the car dealers and repair shops in town were located in what was then known as “Lower Main Street.” Lois’ Luncheonette was directly across the street from these garages and in the ‘40’s and ‘50s the building was located perfectly to take advantage of the trade from what was then a busy part of Main Street. The “Esso” sign in the distance was Homer Berry’s Esso Station, now O’Brien’s.
We believe the store was originally built to take advantage of the trade from across the street although by the 1950s, when Lois bought the building from the Tori family, Alexander Buick-Pontiac, seen in a later photo above, was one of the few auto dealers left on Main Street. Nonetheless Lois did a good trade and had many loyal customers from businesses across the street and from high school students who would drop in after school for refreshments and entertainment. Lois was no shrinking violet and could give better than she got in any exchange with the workmen and hangers-on who made the luncheonette their refuge. Some recollections:
Phil and I used to frequent Lois Campbell’s Luncheonette quite often, for the entertainment as well as the food. Ed Williamson and Lois put on the best show around. We happened to be in there one day when Lois was blasting Ed to kingdom come! Seems like she asked him to get steaks for her over at Nason and Yardley’s in St. Stephen and asked him to bring them to the Luncheonette as she was going to camp Friday and planned to have a cook-out. Under NO uncertain circumstances was he to take them to her house where her mother lived as Mrs. Campbell would have a fit and a stroke about Lois eating meat on Friday and she would never hear the end of it. Well, guess where he delivered them?…. To Mrs. Campbell asking her to be sure and let Lois know as she wanted to barbecue them at camp on Friday…As soon as Ed came through the door next day all hell broke loose and everyone who happened to be there had their entertainment for the week. Lois swore and hollered for 15 minutes then made Ed the best burger he ever had.
Perhaps Carl Scribner:
Lois was a lovely woman who is fondly remembered by lots of us. I can’t tell you exactly when she opened the luncheonette, probably in the ‘50s. Prior to that it had been Tori’s store. Perhaps Tori built it. I imagine most of us who graduated from High School in Calais in the ‘50’s and ‘60s and even later spent a lot of hours with, as so aptly put by Candy Dwelley, our butt on one of the counter stools. Mary Ellen Mitchell, now Annis, called me from Florida to reminisce about her daily visits to Lois’. Mary’s mother managed Warren Ingersol’s Rooming House on the Avenue and after school she always went to the Lois’ where Ben Hinton would buy her a strawberry milkshake. Kenny Thomas was also a daily visitor. His father would send him to Lois’ for lunch and over the years Kenny became very attached to Lois.
My grandfather, Ed Williamson, used to take me to Campbell’s Luncheonette and buy me ice cream just before supper and made me swear not to tell my mother. Lois Campbell ran the luncheonette and was a great friend with my grandfather. They used to do terrible things to each other. I remember Lois running out of the store and throwing a glass of water at my grandfather. When my grandfather had a heart attack, Lois brought him in a bouquet of burdocks tied up with a red ribbon.
I spent some time at Lois’ myself and recall a constant banter between Lois and the regulars. I remember one fellow especially who was always asking Lois to marry him, saying she was a “diamond in the rough.” I was too young to understand he was just joking and was shocked to hear Lois list in no uncertain terms all the reasons she wouldn’t marry him. Some of the reasons were pretty explicit and of course this exchange was greeted with howls of laughter from the crowd at the counter.
Lois remained active in the life of her class and Calais Academy. She was a driving force behind her class reunions for the Class of 1938 and the larger reunions for Calais Academy. She is seen in the top above in the blue dress holding the 1938 reunion sign; and is wearing a red carnation at the Calais Academy reunion. After she sold the luncheonette, she worked at Barnard’s Nursing home for many years, a job she loved. She did not mellow in her old age and whenever there a problem at Barnard’s, Lois was the fixer:
One of the girls came to her and said that one of the patients had thrown urine at her and told her to get out of the room. Lois marched right down to that room and told the man not to bother “her” girls. She shut the door to his room and pulled up a chair and sat down beside the bed. She lowered her voice and told the man that if he ever threw urine at HER girls again, she would come to his room and dump the remainder ON HIM. He said, “YOU WOULDN’T DARE,” and as she was walking out of the room, she said “TRY IT!” He never gave any of the girls a hard time after that conversation.
She spent her last years living in Red Beach with Frances Sammer in a lovely spot on the river. She died October 26, 2006 after a rich and happy life giving many people joy and, for those who deserved it, no quarter.