NORWAY — The Norway Historical Society has been presented with the prototype of a folding sled that was patented by local man in 1919.
On Oct. 5, three great-grandchildren of Charles Aldrich, who patented the folding sled in 1919 while living in West Paris and working at W.F. Tubbs Snowshoe Company in Norway, gathered at the Historical Society on Main Street to present it the Society.
Curator Charles Longley and Society members Sue Denison and Sidney and Roberta Gordon were on hand to accept the prototype, plus a table-sized 1861 map of the United States.
Aldrich developed the folding sled, which could be locked in an extended position to carry on a man’s back and would be used used as a tote sled, for example, to carry a deer out of the woods.
An application was filed with the U.S. Patent Office on Dec. 16, 1918, as serial number 266,883 and was approved on April 8, 1919.
The great-grandchildren, brother and sister Charles Aldrich and Martha Aldrich Shaw and their cousin Patty Perry, live in Vermont, Pennsylvania and Norway, Maine, respectively, presented the tote sled to the Norway Historical Society.
Their memories of playing at the three-story Tubbs building on Tannery Street where their father, grandfather, great-grandfather and uncle worked are still vivid – the smell of leather, playing in the upstairs rooms and such.
The folding sled was manufactured in the Tannery Street building and sold far and wide. Its biggest client was LL Bean – which still has one hanging prominently on the wall at its flagship store in Freeport.
While not designed as a sliding sled, the wooden, curved runners and flat surface might have tempted a youngster to jump on it and take a spin down a hill.
“We were kids. I’m sure we did,” chuckled Martha.
Charles still has the tote sled he used to carry sap as a child.
The patent and prototype of the folding sled was passed on to the oldest son – first Elmer, then Homer and most recently Charles, who was named after his great-grandfather. Charles decided the prototype folding sled should be on view.
“I couldn’t see it being put in a closet where no one would see it,” said Charles of his decision.
Aldrich, who died in 1940 at age 90 in his home in Norway, was employed at the W.F. Tubbs Snowshoe Company and later in SnoCraft, which was carried on by his son, Elmer, and grandsons. He had been a wood worker and blacksmith early on, before coming to Norway.