Mattawamkeag school closure recalls beloved doctor

Posted March 08, 2009, at 6:06 p.m.

I recently read in the BDN of the closing of the Dr. Carl Troutt School in Mattawamkeag. The Jan. 24 article brought some held-back tears as it reminded me of the part Dr. Troutt played in my life.

If my recollections are correct, that school opened in 1937. I was in eighth grade. We had been attending school in an old building, probably built around the time of the Civil War or possibly even earlier. That school held all grades from first to 12th, was heated by a galvanized iron monster, which took 4-foot pieces of hard-wood. There was no such thing as running water and the toilet facilities were shared by all children all 12 grades, even though it had inside accommodations. There was one school bus in Mattawamkeag, which only picked up children who lived on the main road, Route 2, which passed through the town. Most of us had to walk to school.

In the neighboring town of Winn lived the only doctor north of Lincoln, Dr. Sherard, who was getting along in years and could not make house calls. Since this was in the heart of the Depression, very few families had automobile transport and there were no such things as taxis. The nearest so-called hospital was in Lincoln, 15 miles from Mattawamkeag.

This was the scenario into which Dr. Carl Troutt came to practice his profession. Dr. Troutt was an osteopathic doctor, and in those days that was not considered to be a real doctor. Most of the people in town didn’t even know what osteopathy was, and hence we were more than a bit skeptical about accepting this type of “doc-tor.” But since his sign said “Dr.” and since he was the only one available on call, he soon began to pick up on doctoring, delivering babies and doing appendectomies and the like.

The one service that the town did have was the telephone service, if one could afford to pay the monthly charge for owning one. Hence much of the calling of Dr. Troutt was by person to person.

My father was working at a sawmill on the outskirts of the village and was injured by a load of logs breaking loose from its sled and rolling onto his legs. The men working with him loaded him onto the only truck they owned and brought him home and I ran about a quarter-mile to get Dr. Troutt. Fortunately, he was at home and we sped back to my home.

Upon examination of my father’s condition, Dr. Troutt decided that my father needed to go to Bangor (60 miles away) for the best care. Although there was a hospital as such in Lincoln they would not be able to do the X-rays needed to examine the true damage. I rode the 15 miles with the doctor to Lincoln and then had to let them go on to Bangor (no ambulances back then) and my job was to go back home and tell my mother what had happened. I had no transportation so I hitchhiked (I was 13) back to Mattawamkeag.

I have related all of this merely to give just one example of the kind of special service that Dr. Troutt gave to that isolated area in those difficult times. In the years that Dr. Troutt gave to the town and the extended remote communities of Mattawamkeag he became a most beloved person. He literally gave himself to the town and when it came to the need of a new school he was most highly in favor of its construction and made many contributions to its existence.

The Dr. Troutt School became a center of pride for the town and has served it well for 70-plus years. Although I left Mattawamkeag at the beginning of World War II, there still is in my heart a very warm place of memory of the years in which Dr. Carl Troutt was more than just the name of a new school, which, by the way, had a real furnace, running water, flushing toilets, a well-equipped laboratory.

Dr. Troutt undoubtedly brought many new lives into the area and certainly gave many years of good life to all of his patients that he so unselfishly tended to in those days when the roads were not always safely sanded or plowed immediately after the kind of storms that Mattawamkeag still experiences.

I am sure there are many others whose stories would well compare to mine, but I wanted to share how the Dr. Carl Troutt School and the man that it was lovingly named after touched and blessed my life.

Paul E. Marshall, a retired minister, lives in Hope.

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