The Worthington 250 Interviews, Part Six: Ed Lewis, Birder, Skier, and All-purpose Treasurer

A familiar sight around town: Ed Lewis on roller skis.

Note: This transcript is from a series of interviews conducted by Harold Anderson of Valley Eye Radio during Worthington’s 250th anniversary celebrations, which took place from June 29 to July 3, 2018. Valley Eye Radio, based in the Pioneer Valley, provides local news, interviews and other content to those with vision loss or other disabilities.

Harold Anderson: So Ed, are you a lifelong resident or did you move to Worthington?

Ed Lewis: I grew up in Maine, Lewiston-Auburn area, and then went to school near Albany, New York, and met a girl there when I was 19 and she was 18. Many years later, we now have three kids together. She is from far-western Pennsylvania. To find a place to live that was more or less between the families, we wanted to move to the Albany, New York area.

I was working for the Folgers Coffee Company in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had a fellow from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, General Electric Company call me and ask if I was interested in taking a job to set up environmental compliance programs for General Electric defense systems. I said, “Well, I don’t want to live in Boston.” He says, “Well, Pittsfield is not in Boston.” And I said, “If I can get there in an hour’s drive from Albany, I will interview with you.” He says, “Well, you can.”

So I interviewed out there, and I got the job offer on the spot. What’s going to keep you from coming out here? My wife needs a job. She’s an electrical engineer. “We want her more than you.” So out we come.

We moved into Dalton, Massachusetts, which is right on the Appalachian Trail, but we did want to move further to the country. I’m from Maine – I wanted to live in a place more like Maine than Dalton was, and we’re looking more rural, because I grew up in a small, rural town. We saw a newspaper ad for a house in Worthington, which we never heard of. We came out and looked at the house, and my father said, “You gotta buy that house. I like the town. Move out.” That was Memorial Day week in 1985, and we’ve been here ever since.

My major interest is outdoor sports, and I said, “If I’m going to move, I want to be able to go skiing out the back door of my house without having to drive.” So indeed, I found a house that is handy to the international snowmobile trail, which runs through Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Quebec and New Brunswick, all the way to the north shore of the St. Lawrence.

It so happens that we own part of that snowmobile trail. There’s a very active snowmobile club here in town, and although I’m not a snowmobiler, I am a skier. So I host part of the trail, and it’s a huge community thing. Community is a big thing here in this town, which we particularly like. I maintain that part of the trail, I ski on it, and they run their sleds over it and have a good time.

HA: Definitely have a little bit of a snow around here.

EL: That’s what they all say, though I did like the winter in Quebec and Maine better. Winter is more touch-and-go here. I would like to see more steady deep powder snow from December through the end of March, and I don’t like all that winter rain and ice they get out here. But it is the way it is – everything’s a compromise. It’s a great town to live in. Brought up our kids here, and there’s employment here. Now I’m self-employed – I do environmental compliance consulting for a number of major companies in the area, and my wife is a senior program manager for General Dynamics Corporation out of Pittsfield. We’ve had very good employment and it’s undeniably a beautiful area.

HA: What do you like most about living in Worthington?

EL: The ability to get out and go skiing. I took up road skiing during the warm months and go snow skiing during the cold months. In fact, I’m probably better known in town for road skiing than for who I am. I go out on the roller skis, skiing on the roads all over  town.

We do a lot of birdwatching. We participate in Cornell University’s “Project FeederWatch.” This is a primo birdwatching area – good diversity of habitat.

Local bird sightings photographed by Ed Lewis

HA: We’re at the 250th anniversary celebration of Worthington. What does Worthington’s history mean to you?

EL: A lot of my skill is computer-type of stuff, so I got drafted to become the treasurer of the Worthington Historical Society back in 1996. That’s over 20 years ago. I let it be very well known that I know nothing about history. I can do all your accounting for you, but I don’t know history at all. But I served, and that job has morphed to become treasurer of many other organizations in town, including the Worthington 250 celebration.

I do find it very interesting to read some of the old journals, as to what it was like here back in 1900. There was a lot less forest. I love steppe desert. I think the most beautiful part of the country is Western Nebraska and Central Wyoming, where it’s open country without so bloody many trees. Worthington looked really beautiful then in 1900 – this rolling landscape without all these trees that make it so claustrophobic. One reason why we live in this town is there are some big fields, potato fields, so I can find solace in a couple of places to see a horizon without trees.

View of Worthington Corners c. 1920s, in the days of extensive deforestation.

HA: So are you involved in the town meetings and the town events?

EL: I am peripherally. I put in a lot of hours for the church as treasurer, for the historical society as treasurer, for the Worthington Swim and Tennis Club. That’s a sad story. Worthington Swim and Tennis Club was owned by the Worthington Golf Club for 51 years, and it was a fabulous partnership. It changed ownership earlier this year, with the result that the pool is shutting down. It operated so well and brought so much entertainment for the kids, and a social venue for the adults. We got a lot of our summer social life down at the pool. And unfortunately that’s gone.

HA: What would you say is Worthington’s best feature?

EL: I like the people. It’s a nice, rural, easy town – trust anybody. The general quality of life is very high. Certainly doing the Worthington 250 has been a tremendous community event, and I’ve gotten to know other people much better than I would have otherwise. The chairman, Evan Johnson, and the activity parade coordinator, Bobby Dodge, have done just a magnificent job pulling this thing together. And it’s brought a lot of us together from different walks of life, different experiences. I’m working on the committee doing the sales with a gal who has lived all of her life here. So it’s been a real pleasure getting to know and work with her and with the other folks on the committee.

Posted September 9, 2020. The interview transcription was funded by a grant from the Worthington Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

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