Friday, June 26, 2009

Escaped New York Times Reporter’s
Family Issues Statement

David Rohde, the New York Times reporter who escaped seven months of captivity by the Taliban in Pakistan last week, has ties to the area. His parents reside in Kennebunk. They issued the following statement through Edelman Public Affairs.

Statement from the Family of David Rohde:
It is hard to describe the enormous relief we felt at hearing the news of David's escape and knowing he is safe. Every day during these past seven months, we have hoped and prayed for this moment.

We continue to be grateful for the generous support from so many around the world including The Times, the media, private consultants, the U.S. State and Defense Departments, as well as the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

To the countless others who were generous with their thoughts, prayers and counsel, we extend our heartfelt thanks.

As we eagerly await reuniting with David, we ask that our family's privacy be respected at this time.

South Berwick’s 33rd Strawberry Festival
Set for June 27

Strawberry Festival has gone green!
The Strawberry Festival Committee is pleased to announce that they will serve their Strawberry Shortcake and Cheesecake on biodegradable bowls, plates and spoons. These items are made out of sugar cane called Bagasse tableware. Bagasse is the biomass remaining after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juices.
Always the last Saturday in June, this year the festival will be on 27 June 2009. The South Berwick Strawberry Festival officially kicks off summer for this quaint, southern Maine town. The kids are out of school, camps are open and the weather is getting warm. All over town one can see the bright red, white, and green strawberry flags that not only line the main streets, but can also be seen flying from many houses. The day is filled with food, entertainment, games, and crafts.
For thirty-three consecutive years, hundreds of volunteers from South Berwick have come together to put together a South Berwick tradition. As always, official Festival activities will take place only on the grounds of Central School, on Main Street, in the center of town. A stop at the Strawberry Festival Information Booth is a must to find out more about the day’s schedule for the entertainers, as well as where all the various activities are located and to purchase strawberry festival memorabilia.
Preparation of the strawberries start on Friday, the morning before the Festival at the Community Center, where over a hundred and fifty volunteers get together for a good old fashioned social to hull, slice, and sugar the berries. Other volunteers get to the day of the Festival early to slice the biscuits, prepare the whipped cream and move everything under the Strawberry Shortcake tent so all will be ready for the Festival goers when it opens at 10 a.m. Things stay pretty busy for the entire Festival that calls it quits at 4 p.m.
On the Friday before the Festival, there will be a roast beef supper hosted by our local First Parish Federated Church, from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Old Fashioned Trolleys: Running every 20 minutes, there will be old-fashioned trolleys, which will provide free transportation to the Festival from parking locations at Marshwood Great Works School on Route 236, Community Center on Norton Street, Powder House Hill, and Agamenticus Field.
Strawberry Tent and Food: Strawberry shortcakes have always been a favorite of the Festival. They will begin serving at 10 a.m. until we run out. Last year we served up over 4,000 pounds of fresh strawberries, several dozen gallons of whipped cream and over 500 dozen biscuits. Strawberry cheesecake has also been added to the menu and complimented with, you guessed it, strawberries. The costs of these items are only $4.
In addition to shortcakes and cheesecakes there is also a huge food court. There will be a pancake breakfast from 6 – 10 a.m. Throughout the day there will be other various food items sold by local non-profit groups. The Fire Dept. will be selling hamburgers, hot dogs, fries and cold drinks. The Community Pantry will be serving up frozen lemonade. Knights of Columbus with fried dough, Masons with chicken BBQ and other assorted non-profit groups serving sandwich wraps, teriyaki, nachos, fruit cups, cotton candy and water.
Road Race: The day’s activities begin at 8 a.m. with a 5-mile road race and 2.5 mile fun walk, sponsored by the South Berwick Recreation Department and local businesses. It kicks off from Marshwood Middle School on Academy Street.
Entertainment: Throughout the day, a variety of entertainers from around the area will be performing on two stages set up around the grounds.
At the Central School Field Stage, Todd Wellington, professional silly person, gets things going at 9 - 11 a.m.; Women of Note, a cappella group at 11:30 – 1 p.m.; the Schaff Brothers at 2 - 4 p.m.
At the food court stage, Chronic Jazz Syndrome at 9 – 10:30 a.m.
Northern Explosion Cloggers, a great group of cloggers, at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.; Funky Diva’s of Gospel at 2 - 4 p.m.
In the field area from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wildlife Encounters. For the kids there will be a climbing wall, pony rides, a giant tiger slide, dunking booths, exotic animals’ exhibition and much more.
Crafts: Over 110 juried artisans will be on hand to display and sell their hand-made wares, including clothing, pottery, wood products, jewelry, paintings, photographs, candles, jams and dips, furniture, and much, much more. These crafters will be located both at the side of Central School and in the area around the food court.
Remember be kind to your pets and have them stay in the coolness of your home.
Web Site:
Photo caption: This year's Strawberry Festival Logo. (Courtesy Photo)

New Superintendent Named
for Wells-Ogunquit C.S.D.

The Wells-Ogunquit C.S.D. School Committee has announced that Elaine Tomaszewski has been named the new Superintendent of Schools for the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District. The announcement of her appointment and her formal introduction was made at the School Committee meeting of June 17th by School Committee Chairman Michael McDonald.
Ms. Tomaszewski has over 30 years experience in public education including teaching, serving as director of special services and, most recently, Superintendent of Schools in Freeport.
Some descriptive comments about Elaine Tomaszewski by her peers are as follows:
“A true and forceful advocate for schools…extremely professional, reasonable and cooperative in our dealings.”
“Elaine has led by using her beliefs in collaboration and team building, her skills as an excellent communicator, her knowledge of good instruction leading to learning, and her personal qualities of honesty, compassion, caring and kindness.”
“She is intelligent, energetic, a good listener, able to deal with stress and possesses a highly refined sense of humor, including a healthy insightful section of the self-deprecating kind. All of these attitudes add up to a person who holds herself to high standards at all times and is able to encourage everyone she comes in contact with to reach excellence.”
Ms. Tomaszewski received a B.S. Degree from the University of Maine at Farmington and a Masters of Science Degree in Communication Disorders from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She also received a M.S. Degree in Educational Administration and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Administration from the University of Southern Maine.
“I am very excited about working with such an established and highly skilled leader,” said Acting and Assistant Superintendent Ira Waltz. “Our District, and more importantly our students, will gain by her presence.
Ms. Tomaszewski will assume her new role in Wells as of July 1st.

Summer is Busy at the Raitt
Homestead Farm Museum

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
There is a need for volunteers to help staff two celebrations this summer at the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum.
Lisa Raitt, coordinator of events at the museum, said this week she is looking and hoping for up to 20 people to help with the Eliot Antique Tractor and Engine Show in July and the Celebrate Maine Festival in August.
“They’ll be doing pretty much everything,” she said of the volunteers. “It’s a trial by fire.”
The tractor show is scheduled July 24-26 at the farm on State Road in Eliot. Ideally she would like to have the volunteers in place by July 1.
More than 3,000 visitors are anticipated for the show but “it all depends on the weather,” Ms. Raitt said. Between 600 and 1,000 exhibitors are anticipated, including 300 to 500 tractors.
Ms. Raitt said there would be engines of “all different kinds” in “some pretty unique displays” during the 14th annual show.
The weather is not only a factor impacting the show, but also in the preparation for it. The displays are set up in a large hay field at the 33-acre farm, and in order to be ready the field must be hayed, something that the current spell of rain is preventing.
The funds raised by the Antique Tractor and Engine Show and the Celebrate Maine Festival will benefit the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum.
Ms. Raitt said 100 percent of the money “goes right back into the property” in various forms. She said there are “a lot of buildings we are trying to restore” at the museum and these funds are especially key in the current economic climate.
The land at 2077 State Road was a farm, is a farm, and the property “will never be sold for development or anything,” she said.
The farm was established in 1896 by Charles A. Raitt and for years was one of the finest farms in southern Maine.
There are spaces available for vendors and artisans at both events. The deadline for applications is Aug. 1. Those wishing to volunteer or become part of either or both events can do so by calling (207) 748-3303 or e-mailing Lisa Raitt at
The Celebrate Maine Festival, formerly presented by the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce, will be held Aug. 8-9 at the farm. The museum and the Chamber were partners in the celebration for four years, “a marriage made in heaven,” Ms. Raitt said. “The groups worked well together.”
This is the first year the celebration will be hosted solely by the museum with the funds raised going totally to it. “It’s perfectly fine for us,” she said. “It’s wonderful revenue for the farm.”
An added event for Celebrate Maine is the Mainely Grillin’ & Chillin’ Country BBQ State Competition sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society and the New England BBQ Society that has been proclaimed the "Official State of Maine BBQ Competition by Governor Baldacci.
This event is a qualifier for the Jack Daniel's Invitational in Lynchburg, Tenn., and the American Royal Invitational in Kansas City, Mo.
Ms. Raitt said there are already 17 teams signed up to compete in this event.
The teams will be competing for over $3,000 in cash and prizes and the title of the 2009 “Mainely Grillin’ and Chillin’ Country BBQ State Competition” Grand Champion.
Photo caption: One big event at the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum this summer is the Eliot Antique Tractor and Engine Show. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Out of Grief, an Amazing Tribute Rises

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Four years ago, two area teenagers responded to a tragedy by organizing an event that has become an annual tribute to a deceased friend and a significant fundraiser in the cause to help those impacted by cancer.
Jordan Sanford of Shapleigh and Jackson Tupper of Kennebunk, competitive snowboarders, lost their friend and colleague, Tucker Olmsted, to lymphoma at age 14. The young men decided to do something that would serve to commemorate their friend. The result was Tucker’s Boardercross for Cancer, a snowboard competition held at Sunday River that raises money for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program.
“Tucker died from lymphoma,” Sanford said. “ We had competed against him in snowboarding. Jackson and I got together and came up with the idea of boardercross. Tucker had competed in it. He was a great friend we wanted to remember.”
The race is held on President’s Day weekend in February each year and has raised more than $50,000 for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program. Sanford and Tupper and their families put the event together. “It’s a huge commitment,” Tupper said. “Each year we start to prepare in September or October and continue until a month or two after the event. We have to get raffle items, donations, T-shirt designs, and things like that. Afterwards, we do the thank you’s.”
“Jackson and I do most of the work,” said Sanford. “But we have a lot of help from our parents. It takes about an hour a day.”
Sanford and Tupper compete nationally in snowboarding. The United States of America Snowboard Association sanctions the Sunday River event. “We get about 80 competitors,” Sanford said. “For this one, friends also come in, so we get over 100 people. It’s definitely a big turnout.”
Debra Matson, Program Manager of the Children’s Cancer Program, said the event initially came as a surprise. “The boys worked through Tucker’s parents,” Matson said. “The next thing we knew, we got a check. It’s amazing, a big event for them to have pulled off doing everything by themselves.”
For the program, Tucker’s Boardercross for Cancer has become an important source of funds. “We rely heavily of fundraising dollars,” said Matson. “We’re a pediatric oncology program. We couldn’t exist without fundraising. The money we get from the boys’ event will be used to help us develop new programs.”
Sanford and Tupper have been snowboarding since early childhood. In fact, they met on the slopes. “We’ve been friends since third grade,” Tupper said. “I met Jordan on the slopes of Sunday River and we’ve been really good buddies ever since. We have traveled everywhere together, competing in snowboarding.”
Jackson graduated from Kennebunk High School this year and plans to attend the University of Vermont in the fall. Sanford will enter his junior year at Berwick Academy is the fall. They each say they’ve learned much from their experience with Tucker’s Boardercross.
“It shows that hard work pays off in the end,” Sanford said. “We’ve touched so many people in different ways. A friend’s death didn’t go forgotten. It’s a great event. It’s tough to put it into words. I want to continue with this as we go forward.”
Tupper agreed. “We really want to run the fundraiser again,” he said. ‘It’s really what we want to carry on. It will be harder with me going off to college and Jordan traveling a lot more for snowboarding and everything.”
Matson said the event was a positive commentary on the two young men’s characters. “They just want to do this,” she said. “It’s their friend and it’s their cause. They’re not doing it for the recognition. We have invited them to come up and meet with our board so we can thank them.”
Photo caption: From left, Jackson Tupper, Jordan Sanford and Tucker Olmsted as youngsters. (Courtesy photo)

Navy Secretary Mabus Visits Shipyard

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus got a first hand look at the work and workers of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Monday and was suitably impressed by both.
“This has been a terrific day for me,” Secretary Mabus said, during a short meeting with the press at the shipyard’s pass office following his tour.
Turning his attention to the workforce he said, “I want to brag on them” for doing the kind of work they do because there is “zero tolerance” for defects where submarines are concerned.
“I want to thank the people here for being so welcoming and for doing such a good job for the Navy and the country,” he said.
He said the work on submarines at the yard is being done well, under cost and ahead of schedule, meaning that more of the submarines can be kept at sea.
He cited the cooperation between all parties involved at the shipyard for accomplishing this, and noted that what happens at Portsmouth happens other places as well. “This is one shipyard,” he said of the Navy facilities, “and one Navy.”
During the briefing Secretary Mabus was flanked by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee, and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud.
Pingree said it was “wonderful to have you (Secretary Mabus) here” to see the fine work being done in the state of Maine. Earlier in the day Secretary Mabus toured Bath Iron Works with Rep. Pingree and Michaud and U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.
Rep. Michaud also thanked the secretary for visiting the shipyard because “the work they do here is vital.” He said the work at Portsmouth is “the gold standard” for the Navy.
Secretary Mabus is the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy, sworn into office May 19. In his position he leads the Navy and Marine Corps and is responsible for an annual budget in excess of $150 billion and nearly 900,000 men and women.
The Secretary of the Navy is responsible for conducting all the affairs of the Department of the Navy, including recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training, and mobilizing along with overseeing the construction, outfitting, and repair of naval ships, equipment and facilities.
Prior to joining the administration of President Barack Obama, Secretary Mabus served in many government positions and in the private sector.
A former governor of Mississippi, he worked for the enactment of the Better Education for Success Tomorrow program, considered to be one of the most comprehensive education reform programs in America.
He is a former Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Clinton Administration in 1994. Prior to becoming Governor he was elected State Auditor of Mississippi and served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.
Secretary Mabus is a native of Ackerman, Miss., and received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Mississippi, a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Law Degree from Harvard Law School.
He has been awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award from the King Center in Atlanta, the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, the King Abdul Aziz Award from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Mississippi Association of Educators’ Friend of Education Award.
Photo caption: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. ( photo)

Stories of Maine’s Survivor

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
Sometimes a rainy day makes a good book better. Making Waves: The Stories of Maine’s Bob Crowley is a great book in the rain, or on a sunny Maine morning with the smell of the North Atlantic not too far away. One word of caution, this book about the 2008 Survivor winner will be read in one sitting, rain or shine.
In the preface, author David Ladd gives a context in which this book is written. He and Bob Crowley have commuted to work and listened to a thousand of Crowley’s stories. Ladd compiled the endless miles of conversation into this pocket sized book that reads like the tales of old Maine mythology.
Crowley’s father was a Protestant, a marine engineer and a lobsterman who rode his Indian motorcycle in a leather jacket. His mother was Catholic and married the elder Crowley who was “beneath her social class,” according to her father. They met during their service in Manila in World War IIwhere she rebelled by not only being a nurse, but by serving her country. Her successful father believed any sort of servitude was beneath his daughter.
The influence Crowley’s parents had on him was immeasurable. His father’s integrity, prudence and service to this country were beyond Crowley’s fathoming, and his mother’s traditional sense of hospitality was legendary. Vagrants, fishermen, and passersby were invited to stay with his family and to enjoy a home cooked meal at any time. Crowley recalls a guestbook that represented a language from every continent except Antarctica.
At the age of fifteen, Crowley’s parents left him on the island cottage in Casco Bay where his father checked on him weekly. This unique parenting gave him an early sense of independence and plenty of opportunity to cause mischief, particularly building pyrotechnics that one day scorched a good portion of his face when building a pipe bomb.
Crowley’s sense of curiosity led him to jobs as a forester, fisherman, lobsterman, a moth eradication expert, an archaeologist for the Smithsonian, and finally a physics teacher who fully admits he is more incorrigible than his own students.
A particularly amusing story comes about when Crowley goes to Labrador to participate in an archaeological expedition with a group of Inuit people as guides. A favorite Inuit pastime, Crowley states, is to torment the “white man” and scare the living wits out of him. Among the mischief was a close encounter with a polar bear where an Inuit feigned bad aim.
At the end of the trek, Crowley recalls these gentle people fondly and their practical jokes scarring, but also a kind means of including their guest into their community.
Crowley eventually settled in to a job teaching physics. The politics and procedure of public education only brought out Crowley’s rebellious side as his antics compiled into a file that was “thicker than a stack of sandbags meant to hold back a tsunami.” After years of being an independent thinker, he lets us in on the insight that “people are not respected for who they really are and what they actually do, but the position and authority they hold.”
This biography reads like a collection of tall tales of a modern day Paul Bunyan. They are believable, funny, spirited and kind stories about a life that is very interesting while purely Maine. Even for those who haven’t seen Survivor, this book is a clear winner.
Photo caption: Book cover of Making Waves: The Stories of Maine’s Bob Crowley as told to David Ladd. (Courtesy photo)

Local Quilt Shop Featured in National Publication

Knight’s Quilt Shop,, a quilt shop in Cape Neddick, has been chosen as one of the 10 featured shops across the United States and Canada for the Fall 2009 issue of Quilt Sampler magazine, published by Better Homes and Gardens.
Quilt Sampler, published twice a year, has been profiling North America’s top quilt shops for the past 13 years. Quilt shops submit a detailed application on their history, business promotions, charitable work, teaching schedules and design philosophies. A panel of quilt experts led by Jennifer Keltner, group editor of American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine, narrows down the applications to 10 featured shops for each issue. The names of the selected shops are kept secret and unveiled at the spring International Quilt Market.
Competition to be included in Quilt Sampler is keen. Nearly 3,000 quilt shops are eligible to apply for this year’s honor. Knight’s Quilt Shop and the other nine shops chosen were photographed and interviewed by a team from Quilt Sampler, and a multi-page profile of the shop will appear in the issue, which will be available on newsstands on Sept. 8, 2009.
Employees of each quilt shop also design an original quilt for the magazine, and the full-sized pattern for the quilt appears in the issue of Quilt Sampler.
Quilt Sampler has proven to be a huge success, and early, out-of-print issues are collector’s items. Chosen shops are inundated with visitors and requests for the shop’s quilt patterns and fabrics. Quilters are known to try and visit all 10 shops in each issue, getting the signature of each shop owner in their copy of the issue.
The art of quilting has changed dramatically since the days of quilting bees in church basements, with quilting enjoying a major renaissance across the country. A Comprehensive Study of the Quilting Marketplace, released in 2003 by American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, reports that the U.S. quilting market is comprised of 11 million households. The total value of the U.S. quilting industry has grown to an annual expenditure of $2.7 billion. Further research shows that readers of American Patchwork & Quilting spend an average of $1,121 per year on quilting supplies and complete nearly 10 projects per year. This group is overwhelmingly female, well educated, affluent, and have been quilting for almost twelve years.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thornton Academy to Open New Dormitory

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
Thornton Academy is going international. This August, the independent high school in Saco will open up a brand new dormitory, and fill it with up to 38 tuition-paying boarding students. “We have around 31 signed up,” said Mark Powers, Director of Admissions at Thornton Academy.
So far, all 31 of the students are from China and Taiwan. “I did some international recruiting this fall. I went to South Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, and Japan,” said Powers. The trip “was about 3 weeks long, and I went to fairs much like college fairs, set up a table, and met with students and their families.”
Powers said the biggest surprise of his trip were the bilingual abilities of the students he met. “I couldn’t get over how well everyone spoke English. Even the younger kids who I met applying for freshmen year had already taken 5 or 6 years of English.” English is a standard part of the Chinese school curriculum.
The typical school size in China is about 5,000 students, according to Powers. “Classes range from 50-60 students per class, and they’re taking 12-13 classes a day, with no room for extracurricular activities or athletics,” he explained.
Powers believes that these students are choosing TA because “they recognize the critical thinking that American education, Thornton in particular, tries to get across to its students.” They also want to go to TA to “prepare for a university here in the United States and improve their English along the way.”
There will be a number of ways in which the new boarding students can take advantage of the opportunities Thornton has to offer, according to Kelli Corrigan, a Math Teacher and the newly appointed Director of Residential Life & Residential Students. “After the academic day is done around 2 p.m., the students can either participate in athletics or clubs, we have over 40 to choose from. And if they are not participating in an athletic event or club, then we will have an individualized event for them,” explained Corrigan. “I will meet with all the students who are not doing an athletic event or club every Monday, and we’ll come up with activities that they want to do that week.” Such activities may include fishing, surfing, hiking, Ultimate Frisbee and other active endeavors.
In the evening after dinner, “there will be a tutorial program available where all of our content areas will be covered by faculty members,” said Corrigan. Then boarding students will return to a dorm that will be run and monitored by 5 current TA faculty members.
New courses being added, such as AP Physics, will be a byproduct of the new boarding program. Having the library open on Sundays, a new intramural athletics program, and new weekend activity programming will also benefit the day students as well as the boarding students.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for students here in Saco to really learn about different kinds of people. We’re a pretty homogeneous group here at TA. The different cultures and academic interests these boarding students will bring will expand our students’ horizons,” said Powers.
Corrigan agreed, “It’s going to be an amazing eye-opener (for TA students) to see that there is a world beyond ours. I think it’s great.”
Construction on the dormitory began last year and is expected to finish near the beginning of August. Despite the current make-up of the dorm, it is not strictly an international program. Thornton also hopes to eventually draw boarding students from Maine and other states.
Photo caption: The new dormitory at Thornton Academy will house up to 38 students. (Jen Hass photo)

Pennies for Peace

It all started with a book called “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. Sophie
Ritchie, a student in Sarah Petan’s third grade class at Eliot Elementary School, decided to read the story after her parents told her what Greg Mortenson had been doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan to promote peace through education.
After she finished the book, Sophie explained to her class that, “Greg Mortenson was this man who wandered into the tiny village of Korphe (in Pakistan) by accident. He saw that the people were so poor, but they still helped him to get better because he was so sick after attempting to climb K2. To thank the people of Korphe, he helped them build a school for their children.” And he hasn’t stopped building schools and promoting education since.
After her classmates heard Mortenson’s story, several of the students decided to read the book, too. The nineteen students in Petan’s class wanted to help Mortenson with his mission. The children decided to do Pennies for Peace, a fundraising program started by Mortenson’s 10-year-old daughter, Amira. Their class raised $90.82 in pennies in just 2 months time! In Pakistan and Afghanistan a penny can buy a pencil. What a difference that will make in the lives of the children of Korphe! Petan’s third graders at Eliot Elementary School are proud of what they raised and hope that others will join the cause.
In the past 16 years, Mortenson has built over 80 schools. He feels strongly about educating girls, the future mothers in these communities. If you are interested in learning more about Greg Mortenson or Pennies for Peace, check out the website:
Article by Nicole Gastonguay Ritchie, Sophie’s mother.
Photo caption: Petan’s third graders at the Eliot Elementary School. (Courtesy photo)

Brick Store Museum Salutes
President’s 85th Birthday

With former President George H. W. Bush’s 85th birthday on June 12 comes an opportunity to reflect upon what he has meant to the Kennebunks, as well as what the Kennebunks—so often referred to as his “anchor to windward”—have meant to him. The Brick Store Museum unveils Happy Birthday, “41”! on Friday, June 12, as its newest History Showcase display, made possible by the Museum’s business partners, Ocean Bank, Captain Jefferds Inn, Captain Lord Mansion, and Kennebunk Savings Bank. History Showcases are temporary displays that change throughout the year and address a timely theme, current event or new acquisition, thus ensuring that visitors are always seeing something new.
President Bush has frequently stated that he has returned to the Kennebunks every year but one, when he was serving his country in WWII. While the world has come to know George H. W. Bush as congressman, ambassador, Director of the CIA, Vice President and 41st President of the United States, to many locals he is the neighbor, friend, golf or fishing companion affectionately known simply as “41.” This commemorative display draws primarily from the Museum’s Bradbury and Kippax collections, replete with memorabilia telling not so much the national story as the story of the unique Maine connection. Personal snapshots, thank-you notes, Kennebunkport souvenirs, local headlines, campaign buttons, and invitations to area events juxtapose statesman Bush with citizen Bush and illustrate the intersection of the international political stage with the village green. The iconic home on Walker’s Point that served as the “Summer White House” and backdrop to so many news anchors’ reports is also a retreat, a gathering place where the Bushes reconnect with family and friends, relive memories and create new ones.
This birthday salute includes a giant card upon which visitors can pen their greetings, which will be presented to the President later this summer. In addition, the display encourages locals to document their own recollections of the President, First Family, press corps, and Secret Service over the years. These anecdotes will be added to the Museum’s archival collections chronicling the President’s enduring presence in the community.
Happy Birthday, “41”! will be on view throughout the summer. The Brick Store Museum is located at 117 Main Street, Kennebunk. Hours are Tuesdays – Fridays, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (closed holidays). Admission is by donation, suggested $5 per person. Visit or call 207-985-4802 for more info.
Photo caption: Memorabilia about President George H. W. Bush is on display at the Brick Store Museum. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vanishing History

By Chip Schrader
Book Reviewer Editor

Author Steven Burr’s Lost York County features photographs of old homes that bring back names from long ago, and a time in Maine’s history that is quietly fading into modernity. Covering every town in the county, these select buildings represent architectural trends that range from the mid seventeenth century to the twentieth century. While the book provides memories to long time residents, it also gives the newcomer a sense of the origins of this historic vacationland.
The Lady Pepperell House, the Sarah Orne Jewett house and historical landmarks such as Kittery’s Rice Public Library and the Kennebunk Free Library are not to be found in this book. Lost York County is more of an obituary for buildings that have vanished due to urban renewal and tragic fires. It is also a tribute to remaining structures that have little resemblance to their original form after falling into the hands of renovators who had their own ideas.
For anybody familiar with local lore, Lost York County is just as much of a who’s who as it is about what was here. Names like Booth Tarkington, Horace Mitchell, the surnames of Wentworth and Cutts are as old as the incorporations of these towns (or older) and are present throughout. Burr provides the reader with brief histories of these families to round out the significance of the building.
While the Lady Pepperell House is not included, the book has a vintage photo of the Sparhawk House that was built by the same Pepperells. Presently, the house exists with handpicked pieces preservationists reconstructed at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H. Burr doesn’t miss a beat to point out the fact that very little of the original structure remains, and that its complete preservation was never intended.
The Hotel section and summer business chapters follow with the Mousam House in Coastal Kennebunk where ex-President James Monroe dined in1817, but was destroyed in 1979. Burr even indicates the responsible party.
It was also mentioned that Kennebunk once featured over eight hotels along its beaches. The Narragansett has survived after being converted into condominiums, the Eagle Rock Hotel was torn down to the first floor and converted to a house, and others were demolished completely.
While there are some biting side notes, they are subtle and factual. Like a skilled pool player using English to sink a shot, Burr uses his spin sparingly and with a matter of fact tone that is unnoticeable to those not looking for it. His writing is clear, and does not devolve into digressions that beat his points into the readers’ minds, they are just there for the taking.
Photo caption: Cover of Lost York County by Steven Burr. (Courtesy photo)

Noble High School Revisits the
Roaring 20s with Gatsby Party

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist

There has never been a high school gym full of better-dressed teenagers. Last Thursday, Janice Eldridge’s 10th grade U.S. History classes, and Joshua Gould’s 10th grade English classes at Noble High School created an evening inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel: The Great Gatsby. From the 1920s styles to the music to the dancing, it was an impressive sight to watch a bygone era come alive.
“Sophomores here at Noble High School read The Great Gatsby in English, and we study the 20s in Social Studies, so we decided it would be a good way to combine both of them in a fun way,” said Eldridge, one of the night’s organizers.
Slick looking black suits were the order of the day for the boys, with the classic “flapper” look the popular attire for the girls. Ties, fedoras and suspenders added to the overall classiness of an event that is now in its fourth year.
1920s jazz and swing music was provided by the 20-piece Noble High School Jazz Band. As the upbeat music blared, students showed off their swing dancing moves, as well as the recently learned “Charleston” 1920s dancing style. “When the right music comes on for the Charleston I can definitely do it,” claimed 10th grader Noelle LaCroix. “I learned (how to swing dance) from the Gatsby party last year, so I helped teach everybody this year.” Girls were being lifted, spun, twirled and tossed, with varying degrees of success.
A lounge with 12 tables was set up in front of the dance floor, allowing for a nice seat from which to watch the dancing. Students could also create 1920s-era jewelry at a table set up for beading. A grand buffet offered a wide array of “20s-era food,” all homemade by the students and set-up potluck style. “We have some movies from the 20s, some Charlie Chaplin that we’ll play later,” added Eldridge. Several parents and teachers lined the perimeter of the gym to take in the lively spectacle.
An exchange teacher added a new element to the annual event. “Ms. Sun is from China, and the game Mahjong became really popular in the 20s, so she brought an actual Mahjong game and is teaching the kids how to play,” Eldridge said.
The best part of the evening “was just hanging out with friends from around school,” according to 10th grader Dana Woodworth.
This 1920s celebration was originally scheduled to take place at the Hurd Manor in North Berwick, which had been offered up by owner Ben Gumm. Uncooperative weather, however, made organizers decide to move it into the Noble High School gym.
Whether they actually finished reading the entirety of The Great Gatsby novel or not, this unique high school project ensured that these students will never forget the high-flying lifestyle of the Roaring 20s.
Photo caption: Noble High School students dressed the part at the school’s Great Gatsby Party (Yuhong Sun photo)

Memorial Day Weekend Gets Summer
Season Off to a Good Start

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist

The summer season appeared to get off to a good start for area businesses over the long Memorial Day weekend. Although the weather was less than excellent, state officials and businesses said that the weekend attracted a good number of visitors.
“People started arriving on (Tuesday, May 19) and it was a very solid weekend,” said Kathy Goodwin of the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce. “Several (resort) properties were full and the restaurants and gift shops did well. There were quite a few weddings in the area, which also gave us a boost. Those tend to be two to three day events now.”
According to Dan Paradee of the Maine Turnpike Authority, traffic at the York Tolls surpassed last year’s levels, reversing a string of months in which volume at the booth was down. “For the whole of the weekend, traffic at the toll was up 1.1 percent over last year,” Paradee said. “Overall Turnpike traffic was down 1.7 percent over last year. The interesting thing is that on a monthly basis traffic has been down three to four percent each month from last year and the York toll has been down as well, sometimes by a larger amount. The silver lining is that we saw that trend reverse. It was a pretty healthy weekend from a tourism perspective.”
Goodwin’s colleagues at the Ogunquit, Wells, and Kennebunk-Kennebunkport chambers reported varying degrees of optimism. Eleanor Vadenais of Wells said the season was already off to a good start and Memorial Day added to that. “The consensus I’m hearing is that it was a good weekend,” she said. “It was also a good weekend the prior one, the Victoria Day holiday in Canada. Some people said they were even busier then.”
Karen Arel of Ogunquit said businesses there were optimistic for a good summer. “People are holding their optimism for the rest of the summer and were optimistic about the (Memorial Day) weekend,” Arel said. “There were a lot of people around. I heard some (resorts) were running between 85 and 90 percent and others were at 100. It was also nice that the trolley was running. That helped.”
Karen Duddy of Kennebunk-Kennebunkport said she noted a lot of visitors and that it appeared they were careful with their spending.
“I would say we had a significant number of visitors,” she said. “It seemed that they were making smaller purchases, not quite as much on the higher ticket items. Today, everybody is frugal in every aspect of their life. It figures they’ll watch their dollars while on vacation.”
The key to the summer is good weather and the availability of attractions in the area that draw visitors, the chamber officials said.
“If good weather holds that’s all we can ask,” Vadenais said.
Arel and Duddy stressed the area’s diverse attractions. “There are lots of choices here on what to do and that attracts people,” said Arel. “The more positive you are, the better off you’ll be. People are saying they’re looking forward to the summer.”
Duddy agreed. “I believe people will come this summer,” she said. “People need a break (in their lives) so they’ll come and take that break. We’re lucky. We’re only 90 miles from Boston. It’s not far away and is an easy trip for those people. Over Memorial Day, you did see New Hampshire and Massachusetts (license) plates and even some from New York. People were up.”