HAMPDEN, Maine — Many know longtime Hampden resident Fred Mayhew as the Fudge Man because he frequently drops off batches of his homemade chocolate fudge at the local fire station, senior citizen gatherings and for employees of the stores and bank he frequents.
Last week, however, Mayhew was on the receiving end of some unexpected kindness.
It happened on Sept. 2 in the checkout line at the Hampden Hannaford supermarket, Mayhew said Friday during an interview at his Roe Village apartment.
“I was standing there and I had two $20s in my hand to pay for my groceries when the girl behind me said, ‘Put that back in your pocket. I’m gonna pay for that,’” said Mayhew, who noted he was wearing his World War II veteran cap at the time.
“She told me, ‘Lots of luck’ and ‘Thank you for being a veteran,’” he said.
“I’ve never seen her before in my life,” said Mayhew, who turns 89 on Oct. 6. “I said, ‘What’s going on here?’”
Mayhew served as an infantryman with the U.S. Army in 1945 and 1946, he said. After completing basic training and jungle training in the United States, he was sent to the Hawaiian Islands, Okinawa and Korea to relieve members of the Seventh Infantry Division — also known as the “Bloody Seventh,” he said — before being sent back to the U.S., where he was honorably discharged.
Mayhew’s basic training completion certificate and his discharge documents are displayed in frames in his Hampden home.
When Mayhew got home from his Hannaford run, he told his wife of eight years, Esther, that he didn’t pay for the groceries he brought home.
“I said, ‘What did you do? Steal them?” she said with a laugh. “He said, ‘No, a lady came up behind me and told me to put my money in my pocket.’”
The Mayhews said that while they don’t know who the 30-something-year-old woman who paid for the groceries is, they would like her to know that her gesture was appreciated.
“We wasn’t going to get into this this big, but I think it’s good to do that,” Esther Mayhew, 88, said. “It shows appreciation.”
Al Worster of Carmel, another World War II veteran who was visiting the Mayhews on Friday at their Roe Village apartment, said he also has been the recipient of random acts of kindness.
The 88-year-old Air Force veteran said he has gotten up to pay for a meal at Dysart’s to find that someone else already has picked up the tab.
“Good things still happen in the world,” he said.