2019-03-08 / Community

A Window on the Past

Memories return of Ted Dyke and Dyke Farm
By Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


Left, John and Robert Dyke in their family’s hayfield, 1944. Far left, Robert Dyke with horse, Tiger, in 1950. Left, John and Robert Dyke in their family’s hayfield, 1944. Far left, Robert Dyke with horse, Tiger, in 1950. I recently came across a letter that was written back in 1990 by Elford Messer who was a member of South Portland Historical Society. When I joined the society back in 2004, Elford was an active volunteer. I remember seeing him at our museum on Braeburn Avenue back then, usually working on some research project or another. Elford lived in South Portland his whole life; it was a sad day when he died about six years ago.

In the letter that is transcribed here, Elford had written to Elsa Dyke to share his memories that he had of her father, Ted Dyke. Dyke Farm was located on Westbrook Street and was a central part of the life in Thornton Heights. The farm would later be sold and its land and fields subdivided to become what is today the Country Gardens neighborhood. The farmhouse still exists on Westbrook Street.

In Elford’s words: “In 1926, my family moved onto Fillmore Avenue, just a short distance from the Dyke farm. The whole farm was my play area while growing up. Chester “Bud” Dyke was my playmate. The “squash house” where Bud lived was also a storage area for a 1912 model “T” Ford; I drove that antique for thousands of reckless miles, yet the Ford was jacked up and never came down off the blocks; what good times we had! There was a field down back where [a] series of drainage ditches made a wonderful ice skating rink. The things a couple of boys could do for amusement around the Dyke farm are too numerous to mention in a letter.

“I grew up during those lean years of the great depression. My family was considered poor; my father, although never idle, lacked professional skill and steady employment. I remember the Dyke family very well, especially Ernest, or “Ted” as everyone affectionately called him. I well remember the milk house. For a long time, Ted saw to it that I had milk to drink every day, compliments of the Dyke farm. Each afternoon, when I opened the milk cooler, it was empty except for the cool water and a pint of milk that Ted had left for me.


Robert Dyke with his pet rabbit in 1944. Robert Dyke with his pet rabbit in 1944. “As a young girl, my wife lived at 125 Westbrook St.; her family took milk from Mr. Dyke. She is wishing now that she had saved a few of those bottles.

“We still live in the neighborhood and go for a three mile walk every morning, weather permitting, through what is now called Country Gardens. Frequently, while on our morning walk, I imagine things as they were fifty or sixty years ago. We weren’t really poor; we had many rich blessings; having neighbors like the Dykes was one of our many blessings.”


Ted Dyke and his son Robert, haying a field on their farm in 1954. Ted Dyke and his son Robert, haying a field on their farm in 1954. Do you have memories of a special neighbor or other person in South Portland? If so, we’d love if you’d write your memories down and send them to the South Portland Historical Society for preservation. The society can be reached by email at sphistory04106@gmail.com or by regular mail at 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of South Portland Historical Society.

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