Piano chords wafting through an open Orland window introduced David Davis to Virginia Soper more than 70 years ago.
Born in Massachusetts, Ginny remembers when her father (an Orland native) purchased a player piano, “a joy for our family. We would sing along to the music the piano was playing. I grew up with music.” That “piano came with us” when the Sopers moved to Orland in 1930, and Ginny later took piano lessons from Olive Peabody for 25 cents a lesson.
Ginny became an accomplished pianist, playing “wherever musical accompaniment was needed. My music was always free; doing it and enjoying it was my life. I was the organist at the Methodist church (in Orland) a long time.”
Ginny graduated from Bucksport High School and went to the Fisher School, a secretarial school in Boston. She also studied piano at the Boston Conservatory of Music.
Dave hails from Auburn, New York. His uncle, Alex, helped build the Bucksport paper mill and worked as its chief engineer. “My one desire was to come here and visit him,” Dave said. “I came here in 1948, and I never left.”
Ginny lived in one of “three houses in a row” on Narramissic Drive that were occupied by “Sopers, Sopers, Sopers.” An accomplished pianist, she was standing outside one day when she heard a discordant note.
Dave explained that “I was visiting my cousin. Ginny heard me play the piano, which I do poorly, and she had to meet me because her musical ear said so.” Dave and Ginny caught a play at the Surry Playhouse on their first date and married at the Orland United Methodist Church on September 3, 1949.
“I jobbed around,” even picked apples to earn money, and then received a phone call “to fill in wherever they needed the help” at the St. Regis mill in Bucksport, Dave recalled. He worked there “for a number of years” until hired by the Cooperative Extension Service as “a maverick.
“They did not know which category to put me in,” so Dave worked in various Extension programs in Penobscot County.
After living in Bucksport for a year, the Davises “looked for a house” in Orland, Ginny said. Her father gave them seven acres — “a big hay field” — and friends and volunteers built a foundation. The lumber came from a local sawmill; the Davises moved into their new home, heated that first winter by a large kitchen cookstove and the living-room fireplace.
They still live in their home, where they operated Narramissic Valley Greenhouse for years. Ginny worked 20 years for the Orland school superintendent and served as town treasurer for seven years. Dave was an Orland selectman for two terms.
The Davises have a son, Frank, and a daughter, Jane, six grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter, Gwendolyn Jane.
When the Oblate Fathers’ school in Bucksport closed in the early 1970s, the Davises purchased the school’s grand piano for $500. Ginny laughed while describing how the taken-apart piano was carefully brought into the house and reassembled. She still plays that piano.
Once members of Narramissic Grange No. 224, which has closed, the Davises belong to the Orland Historical Society and are active members in the Orland UMC. They also attend the weekly Quaker meetings in Orland.
“Scouting was a big part of my life growing up,” so Dave became involved with Orland Troop 102 “before Frank was old enough to join.” Dave was the troop’s scoutmaster for more than 10 years.
Ginny served as the first treasurer of the Great Pond Mountain Conservancy Trust.