Thursday, September 30, 2010

Those Places Thursday - Cushman's Bakery of Portland, Maine

Cushman's Bakery, in Portland, Maine, was one of  "those places" that played an integral part in the lives of many members of my family.  It could even be said that, but for Cushman's, I wouldn't even be here...

My maternal grandfather, Ross Bustin (1908-1990) worked at Cushman's as a truck driver, from a small neighborhood delivery truck, whose sides opened up to reveal the freshest bread, rolls, pies and donuts, to the longer distance trucks which had routes all over New England.  He ended his working career running the small retail outlet on Franklin St., on Munjoy Hill.  I remember stopping in many times in those waning days of Cushman's presence in Portland.

His brother Lawrence (1913-1969), whom I knew as Uncle Laurie, was foreman on the shipping floor for over 35 years at Store #5, at 107 Elm St.

It was there that their sister Vesta (1907-1964), whom I knew as Aunt Beck, worked in the office as a bookkeeper.  When we were little kids, Aunt Beck would always bring us discarded office paper for us to draw and color on (an early recycler!)  Her husband, Vanstone Tewksbury, also worked there at one time.

Dad (Richard Seavey) started at "the bakery" sometime around October 1953, after he came home from his stint in the Navy. He always worked in the Bread Room, which accelerated a mild asthma condition. He stayed with Cushman's until the company closed its Portland operations altogether in the '60's.

Mom (Marilyn Bustin) worked there in the Cookie Room during the summer of 1948, between her junior and senior year of high school, and then returned after graduation 1949.  A mutual friend played matchmaker and soon a budding romance was under way!  She continued working there after they were married until the end of December 1954, when she discovered she was pregnant with Yours Truly.

My memories of Cushman's include sitting in the family station wagon waiting for Dad to get off work.  We were one of many one-car families back then, and if Mom needed the car, she took him in and picked him up. Frequently, Dad would come to the window of the Break Room to let us know he had a chance to get some overtime, and we would wait it out. Our family knew so many of the workers that we would have lots of car-window visitors.  We would also have numerous plant tours with our Scout troops, etc.  And, of course, there was always the bread (I particularly remember a pastel-ly swirl loaf used to make canapes) and the donuts (in the see-through box).

The Maine Historical Society, on p. 4 of their Spring 2005 issue, published an excellent article on the history of Cushman's. And, just last summer, Colin Sargent published Cushman's "Secret" Scotch Cookie Recipe on his Portland Monthly website.


  1. Small World! My dad drove a Cushman's Bakery truck when he was in college. He lived in Beverly, and I have no idea what his route included. My godfather used to tell me how he would sneak rides with my Dad, and how wonderful the truck smelled inside!

  2. I can remember back in 1956, we had a Cushman's Bakery delivery man who made weekly stops at our home with fresh baked products like bread, doughnuts, yo yos', The fresh air smell and cold wind on winter days as the kitchen door opened to let the guy in to take moms' order and delivery right on the spot,and numerous other products too.. Here's to the memories Mr. Nolan our dedicated route man.

  3. My dad, Raymond (Pete) Taylor was a cake decorator at cushman's for 38 years up until they went out of business.
    He also would bring a truck home on weekends to paint the Cushman's lettering on it to make a little extra money.
    He became friends with "Vet" Cushman and they would go off flying in Vet's small plane. I remember him telling me they flew the length of the Maine Turnpike the day it opened.
    Dad built a boat for Vet that was in the shape of a duck that Vet used for duck hunting at Sebasco.
    I have many memories of the time our family spent at Sebasco as guests of the Cushman's in the "Lighthouse".
    My dad thought of Cushman's Bakery as family and was devastated when they went out of business.

  4. In the 1950's I lived in Temple Heights, Northport, Maine and we had a Cushman Delivery Driver that we looked forward to each time he came. One day he saved by life by knocking a bottle of poison out of my hands that an older boy tried to get me to drink. I was too young to know what to do about reporting it and no else cared. Thank you Mr. Cushman, wherever you are.

  5. The car picture above is my tribute to my Grandfather, Leo A. Benjamin. It is a 1953 Chevrolet sedan delivery that very much resembles the 1954 Chevrolet that he once drove. He was an independent delivery driver for Cushman's Bakery for more than 40 years. He was affectionately known as "Benny the Baker" in our hometown of Billerica, MA.

  6. My mom was a Salem "witch" and worked for Cushman's in the office as a booked per in the 40's, before she met my dad after WWII.

    I remember as a kid, my mom would put the Cushman's sign in my bedroom window so when the driver saw it, he knew to stop by!

    John Minnon

  7. both my parents worked for the bakery my mother decorated cakes and worked sales. My farther repaired the wooden crates in our garage at home and I still have boxes of riots. My grandfather Wilbur Philbrook was management and retired from their prior to the union. I have several memories of the portland plant and lots of cushman stufff around the house.

  8. OMG My family had a summer home on Gorham Hill in NH. I remember the "Cush Man" truck stopping regularly to stock us up on all kins of pastries. Added to what my grandmother was always baking we had a never ending supply of sweets. It's sad how today's standards would have the state take all the children away from such a home.

  9. In the late forties and early 50s the Cushman truck would come down our road, deep in the middle of NH, once a week. I was about 5 at the time, and mother and I would spend all week deciding which doughnuts to order. My favorite was always chocolate coconut. It was definitely a simpler time. Not easier, but simpler.

  10. Our Cushman Bakery man used to whistle while he delivered his products in Bath, Maine. I was very jealous of his whistle too, as he hit every note in the scale effortlessly, although his cheeks were really puffed out! The local "depot" for Cushman was a quonset hut in Brunswick Maine very near Cooks Corner. The name was obvious on the side of the building until very recently.

  11. Fond memories of the truck coming every Saturday when I was a kid in Lynn, my favorite was the plain doughnuts.

  12. Fond memory's of the delivery's every Saturday in Lynn when I was a kid, my favorite was the plain doughnut.