Linwood Bridges Sr. has crossed the Penobscot River only once to live somewhere other than Verona Island, where he was born.
He traces his Verona Island roots back “a long ways, four or five generations. “I grew up on the East Side” in a farmhouse that “we just tore down … last spring. Twelve of us [eight boys and four girls] grew up in that house,” he said.
Linwood attended the two-room Verona school and the Luman Warren and Jewett schools in Bucksport. “My father needed me to work,” so he left Bucksport High School after his sophomore year, he said.
Linwood has lived on Verona Island almost all his life. When he married his wife, Delores, in 1962, “we had an apartment on Main Street [in Bucksport] for a while, six months to a year. That’s the furthest I’ve ever been” from his hometown.
Hired by the St. Regis Paper Co. in 1963, Linwood worked at the Bucksport mill a few years, “got laid off, supposedly for the summer,” and decided to seek work elsewhere. “I dug marine worms for years,” driving as far as Rockland and Wiscasset and working the shore “everywhere around here,” he said.
“I’ve cut wood. We cut pulpwood years ago, $12 a cord,” Linwood recalled. “We cut [birch] spool wood” 52 inches in length and delivered it to mills.
He operated a garage on Main Street in Bucksport “for a while in the ’60s” and then started working “for Charlie Bishop” at Bishop’s Auto Body. Charlie “was an absolutely nice man, actually my brother-in-law,” Linwood said.
He opened Bridges Body Shop at 42 West Side Drive on Verona Island in 1977. The shop originally had two bays in which “I did everything,” Linwood said. Over the years he added two more bays “and a paint booth out back.”
Linwood initially lived in a house close to West Side Drive. He moved the house back from the road and nearer to his body shop in 1991; today his daughter lives in the house, and “I live on the East Side. There’s not a bad side to it [Verona Island] as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Business at Bridges Body Shop “is steady year-round,” Linwood noted. “You may have a slow time, usually in the spring. Wintertimes we get all types of body work.
“I don’t get involved in rust work,” he said. “We do strictly collision work here” and paint “the areas that are needed,” not entire vehicles.
“I’ve got my son here right now, and I’ve got my grandson [Michael Stanley] here right now,” Linwood said. “We’re busy.”
He and Delores have two sons and three daughters, who all attended Bucksport schools, and there are six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and “all of the kids are around here. All of them showed up for Mother’s Day.”
Linwood has “hunted all my life” for deer, “usually right here” on Verona Island. He has hunted moose in the past, and “I used to go on turkey shoots years ago,” firing at targets set up in the woods.
He likes “to go rifle shooting,” shooting up to 600 yards in matches in Hampden and Scarborough and, in the past, in Vermont. Among the rifles he uses are some “I’ve built. They’re heavy rifles.”
Now 75, Linwood has “a little machine shop in my garage at home. Wish I’d had it years ago.” The machine shop has two lathes, a milling machine, and “grinders enough to outfit Verona Island,” he said.