Long-time Plow Driver Retires



BAR HARBOR — For more than 20 years, Forrest “Hilt” Hanscom has held what for many may seem like one of the most important jobs in town.

All winter, night and day, he’s driven a snowplow clearing and sanding the icy and snow covered roads of Bar Harbor.

 

Up and down the Eagle Lake Road, over to Otter Creek, through countless subdivision roads, Mr. Hanscom stayed at the wheel of one of the town’s plow trucks, through blinding snow, sleet and hail, all to keep the roads safe.

Mr. Hanscom put in his retirement papers this month. At 69 years old, he said, he’s ready for a rest.

The highway department will honor him with a cookout/potluck style luncheon this Friday, Oct. 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Former co-workers, town residents, and family members are encouraged to stop by the town highway garage on Ledgelawn Avenue for the event.

“Hilt’s honorably served the town for 22 years,” public works director Chip Reeves said. “The town is lucky to have this type of dedication in Hilt and many other long-term employees.”

Mr. Hanscom said he’ll miss the crew of guys he’s worked with, those he’s worked for, and the daily rhythms of working for the town.

“It’s been a long time since I haven’t watched the snowstorms,” he said from his comfortable Trenton home Tuesday. “This will be the first winter I haven’t been on call.”

And being on call as a plow truck driver has meant some wild hours. At midnight, or 1 a.m. he might have had to head in to town. Or, it might just be that he’d start at his regular time, but the snow would keep piling on and, before he knew it, the next day would arrive.

“If you get called in in the morning, and never go home, and stay the next day, that’s a lot of hours,” he said with a chuckle. “The longest time was 33 hours, that happened about half a dozen times.”

At that comment, Mr. Hanscom’s wife, Carlene, reached over and patted him on the shoulder. “I bet the younger ones won’t be so eager to do that,” she said.

Mr. Hanscom credits his wife, and her skills in the kitchen, with much of his success at holding down the job with the town for so long.

“That’s the best part of the story,” he said. “My breakfast was always in my hand, every day I left this house, whether it was one o’clock or five o’clock, and my dinner pail was already in my truck, packed and ready to go.”

Mr. Hanscom smiled proudly. “A lot of the guys tried to figure it out,” he continued. “I says, ‘You’ve just got to know how to pick ’em.’”

Mr. Hanscom has always been comfortable with big rigs. As a youngster, he learned to drive both a snowplow and a big truck from his father, in his hometown of Lee. Over the years since, he’s held several driving jobs, including operating a tractor-trailer for MacQuinn’s construction business and driving a school bus.

He and Ms. Hanscom also owned and operated a general store on Route 3 in Trenton, “the so-called Green Moth,” he said, for 20 years.

For the town of Bar Harbor, during the times of year when the snow didn’t fall, Mr. Hanscom drove a dump truck and helped with road ditching. For the past three years, he’s been stationed at the Hulls Cove sewer treatment plant, tending to the compost pile.

Retirement doesn’t necessarily come easy for someone who has kept so busy for so long. He has been home pretty steadily for the past few weeks, using up vacation time, and is just now starting to get used to not having to be anywhere.

“She’s trying to keep me busy,” he said, nodding toward Ms. Hanscom, “but it doesn’t work.”

Ms. Hanscom doesn’t mind the idea seeing a little more of her husband, though, and will do what she can to help him with the transition.

“It’ll be good to have him around,” she said. “It’ll be good for him.”

For more community news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

 

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