Annie “Cricket” Mackovjak tells an amazing story. She has lived through some great adventures, and has come out of them carrying only the benevolent scars of memory. Read about this first part of her life journey and see if you don’t agree with me that she must be protected by a very competent guardian angel.
Annie’s story will appear in this blog in two parts. This first part describes her adventures up to her marriage to Jim Mackovjak in December of 1978. The second section lists the highlights of her life after moving to Gustavus.
Annie Osgood Mackovjak was born on December 5, 1948, in Lincoln, Maine. The family home was in Prentiss, a town so small that some people in Maine didn’t know where to find it. Annie grew up on Maple Grove Farm, a dairy and potato farm. Annie’s brother tapped maple trees from their farm for Christmas gifts. A neighboring family tapped the trees for syrup to make their living, using horses to provide labor, doing things the old-fashioned way.
In the 20s and 30s the family sold lots of apples, sending them by train to Boston. They no longer harvested the orchard by the time Annie came along. However, her mother still made lots of applesauce. These days, her brother still lives on the farm, and the deer eat more of the apples than the humans do.
Annie has always loved being outside, and when she was young she was given the nickname of “Cricket,” as they chirped every night in the summer. (This nickname actually came back to her twice later in her life.) She earned the nickname from her mom, though she spent many hours outside with her dad, helping with feeding and milking the cattle, getting in the hay, and digging potatoes. When she was six or seven she had a pony that she rode a great deal. She didn’t have a bicycle until she reached eighth grade. Very often after school her dad would have her pony saddled and waiting in the stable so she could ride.
When she was ten, her dad got a sleigh on skis. They lived on a side road with little traffic, so she could take her brother on rides in the winter.
Annie drove the family tractor starting at about age nine. She drove the fields to pick up rocks and she also helped with haying. The family had approximately 600 acres, some in forest, but enough for cattle to graze and to raise oats for them to eat. They also planted fields of potatoes. Annie would ride her pony, accompanied by a border collie, to round up the cows and bring them in. She loved to ride, and one time actually tried riding a pig. However, she says horses are better. The farm also had chickens. One Sunday afternoon when she was outside, she heard a great deal of squawking coming from the chicken coop. When she went to investigate, she discovered that a scrawny, hungry fox had broken into the pen. Annie killed the fox. She says she doesn’t remember what she hit him with, but it was something hard enough to do the job. She also remembers seeing black bear sitting in the field of oats, raking in the grain.
Annie attended a one-room school from first through fourth grades. Then a new school district was formed, and she was bused to school in Springfield, Maine. Annie liked the new school as she could play sports, such as basketball, volleyball, and softball.
She attended St. Joseph’s Academy in Portland, Maine. This academy was an all-girl Catholic boarding school. (Now that school has been combined with another and a new school has been built called the Maine Girls’ Academy, but it is no longer a boarding school.) At that school there were no sports offered, and physical education classes consisted of lessons in such athletic activities as swimming, tennis, or ballet.
When she was a high school freshman, her “big sister” was called Cricket, which reminded Annie that she had shared that name for a long time. Every Sunday morning she would write home and sign her letter “Cricket.”
One time Annie’s grandfather came to visit and brought a big box of chocolates. She was in “Seventh Heaven Dorm,” and after lights out, she and two of her friends gathered in the large bathroom and ate all the chocolates. Of course, their transgression was discovered. The next morning a nun met them to arrange punishments. Annie’s was to attend a 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. class in Latin, and another from 9:00 to 10:00 at night, for one month. Annie continued taking Latin as a class after she completed her month of punishment. The extra classes paid off later, as Annie took the national Latin exam and got a 96%.
Annie’s aunt and uncle in California gave her a trip to California as a graduation present. This trip took her further from home than she had ever been before. She was there for six weeks, and then couldn’t get home because there was an airline strike. She had to take the bus, which followed the old Route 66, from Los Angeles to Maine. She made an interesting observation on this trip: She says that after she crossed the Mississippi, people didn’t have much patience; jostled other passengers and were rude in general. On the western side of the river, people seemed to be more helpful and accepting.
From 1966 to 1970, Annie went to college at St. Joseph’s in Maine. She had a full tuition scholarship. Her degree was in English with a minor in history. Continue reading