On Nov. 9, 2019, Post 67 in Bridgton, Maine, held a military ball duplicating the ball put on by their post founders in November 1919. Some of the attendees came dressed in World War I uniforms, and two of our active-duty members came in their issued uniforms.
In itself that's not much of a story. What makes it a story is how we got to this point. In December 2018, five members transferred to Post 67 to try to revitalize the little post on Depot Street. When they walked in the front door they couldn't believe what lay in front of them. It looked like a bad episode of "Hoarders." With a membership at eight. and a total absence of any activity resembling that of an American Legion post, the post had fallen into a sad state of repair and had been used as a depository for what most people classify as "junk." There were three window A/C units that didn't work. Four microwaves were broken as well as broken chairs, tables and all manner of things. It seems that at one point the post was going to have a yard sale and people just started donating junk. We brought in a 30-yard dumpster and filled it in four and a half hours. Even the two refrigerators and the oven had to go. .
Now we could start scrubbing the walls and ceilings that were gray with soot from the wood stove. There was an oil-burning furnace in the basement that had not worked in many years. There had not been water to the building since 2007, and the glass in the windows would literally fall out of the frames when we tried to wash them.
There was roof damage from a tree that had fallen years before, as well as rot in the front of the building from other leaks in the roof.
In the midst of all of this we got our Americanism program up and running in the local school system as well as our Oratorical program. In addition to that our service officer has regulars in the town's community center. We supply rides to VA and conduct Buddy Checks.
Now, thanks to the generosity of many in the community and some great local businesses, we have a new roof, the rot in the front wall has been repaired and the entire front has been re-sided. The inside has been repainted, a new heating system has been installed, and a new driveway and landscaping are done.
With all that going on we still found time to host the state Riders Rally and put on the most elegant event this town has seen in 100 years - and remember I. said the post had 8 members in December of 2018. Here we are one year later with 62 members.