Carolyn Yeo grew up in the Eastbrook house where she was born in September 1939. For grades K-4, she attended “a school on the Ridge” that later became a private home. For grades 5-8 she went “across the street to a school building they’ve [since] taken down.
“There were only eight of us in that whole school,” and in seventh grade she and a male student passed a state examination that let them skip eighth grade and go directly to Ellsworth High School, Yeo recalled.
“I went to work” right after graduation, she said. “You raked blueberries, you spread hay, you worked in the blueberry factory.” She helped her sister clean camps, worked a while at the Ellsworth A&P, worked as a nurse’s aide and signed on with New England Telephone, a move that developed into a career leading to her retirement from Nynex.
Hired as a telephone operator, Yeo became “a regular clerk, worked in the central office, [and] I was an outside repair foreman.” She held different foreman positions in Bangor and “retired as a demand engineer.”
Until his death, Carolyn was married 53 years to Charles “Shibby” Yeo, whose community service is honored by a plaque next to the front entrance to the town office that Shibby was instrumental in having built. “In some capacity for 45 years, he was involved in town politics,” from the School Board to the Board of Selectmen to “everything in between,” Carolyn said.
The Yeos had four daughters and a son, and Carolyn now has nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Including her children and some grandchildren, “my family’s all here” in Eastbrook, Carolyn said.
She helps care for a young grandson during the week and in season makes “jams and jellies and pickled beets. If I had the time, I would be building birdhouses and doing stained glass.”
Needing stained-glass inserts for an 18-panel window, her sister-in-law sent her the paper patterns for 16 quilt squares. “I made them into glass” panels and added two more of her own, one depicting “the Eastbrook church” and the other “a little boy and a little girl,” Yeo said.
Her roots run deep in this small town, where she grew up knowing great aunts and great uncles, including William Barker French, who “was a selectman forever” in Eastbrook. Long interested in local history, Yeo has the detailed notebook of Eastbrook lore compiled in the mid-1980s by her sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Charles Harris.
Yeo cited specific points from the Harrises’ notebook. Constructed in 1860, the Eastbrook Baptist Church was originally known as “the Eastbrook Union Church,” and three primitive churches built earlier in the 19th century on a Sugar Hill Road site all burned, she said.
Two other 19th-century buildings still stand. Located across Route 200 from the Baptist church, Greenwood Grange No. 363 once had 321 members, Yeo noted, and the old Town Hall on Route 200 “used to be in the vee where the [veterans] monument is” before being “moved across the road in 1967.”
Eastbrook residents now get their mail out of the Franklin post office, but Eastbrook had a post office from 1875 to 1905. At least three sawmills operated in Eastbrook at one time, and there were four schools. Yeo owns one of the two still standing.
Asked about significant changes occurring in Eastbrook, Yeo responded, “The ponds, because there are so many large homes on them now. Quite a few people” now live on the ponds year round, especially on Molasses Pond, where “there are a lot of big cottages built that weren’t there when I was growing up,” Yeo said.