Archive for the ‘Scarborough 350 Profiles’ Category

Scarborough 350: Mary Pearson

Monday, December 8th, 2008

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When I stopped at Beech Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in search of winter weather pictures, I made the acquaintance of Mary Pearson, who was shuttling families around the 150 acres on a tractor-pulled wagon. Her parents, Jim and Nancy, bought the property in 1969, but didn’t begin planting trees, balsam fir and blue tip spruce, until 1987. Although Mary is a sergeant with the Scarborough Police Department, where she has worked for more than 20 years, she has been helping out on the farm since she was a kid. She told me that it takes about 10 years to bring a tree to maturity.

I was surprised to learn what a complicated process it is. The trees begin as “plugs” at a year old. They are planted and fertilized, but are transplanted when they are two to four years old. Before replanting, the roots are trimmed to stimulate growth. The trees must be pruned every year to help them grow into a nice shape. Mary says the biggest problem arises when crows land on the trees and break off the fragile top. Upward growth will be stunted unless remaining branches near the top of the tree are bound tightly to the trunk and then pruned to leave one longer, which will grow to become the new leader. (Where else would you put your star or Christmas angel if you didn’t have that slender top piece?)

Mary cheerfully repeated the story of her family’s history on the farm to each group of people she transported out to the field. The story will come to a close eventually. At one time the farm had 25,000 trees growing on it. The number has dwindled to about 12,000 since her parents stopped planting new trees about four years ago. “My folks are in their 70’s now,” she says, “and since it takes 10 years to grow a Christmas tree, they don’t feel they can continue to care for that many trees into their 80’s.”

Scarborough 350: Paul Andriulli

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

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There’s an adage that says, “When you do something you love for a living, it will never feel like work.” Paul Andriulli is a man who loves what he does. It is evidenced in all the fine craftsmanship and detail he puts into his construction and renovation projects. A general contractor who specializes in kitchen and bathroom renovation, Paul learned how to build things from his dad in Paterson, NJ. “Dad loved to putter, to figure out how to fix things. I was always at his side as a kid,” says Paul, who has been running his own business for 32 years.

Paul and his wife, Toni, who works in patient registration at Mercy Hospital, moved to Scarborough in 1986 after coming several times to visit friends who had relocated to Maine. Their friends moved back to New Jersey 10 years ago, but the Andriullis are here to stay. We met right after I moved here, when Paul went out of his way to do me a favor on one of his trips to visit friends and family there, even though I was a complete stranger to him.

Helping people is in his nature. Paul served as a volunteer firefighter in Scarborough for 20 years. He also serves on the board of directors of the Italian Heritage Center in Portland. He was a member of the building committee for the construction of Town Hall, and he set the weather vane on top of the firehouse at Oak Hill. Paul feels he helps people through his construction business, as well. “I’m able to give people their dreams,” he says.

Paul says he is not just a craftsman — he is an artisan. He sees his projects as labors of love. If he has one complaint, it is that everybody seems to be in a rush these days. “People think that it’s like a TV reality show — that you should be able to get all the work done in a week,” he says. “But I need to take the time to do things right. I have pride in what I do.” Paul says you can’t rush the artistic process. “As long as I’m having fun with it,” he says, “I’m happy.”

Scarborough 350: Norman Morin

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

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I met Norman Morin when I went to check out “Cruise Night” at the Rock & Roll Diner on Route 1 in Scarborough. The diner opened a year ago, and it began sponsoring classic car nights this spring. About 50 vintage vehicles typically show up there on Tuesdays from 5 – 8 p.m. When my eye was caught by a hood ornament that looked as though it belonged on an ancient sailing ship, Norman stepped forward to tell me it was not merely decorative — it serves as the hood release, and he was happy to give me a demonstration.

Norman is the proud owner of a 1941 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 special. He bought the car 44 years ago and is its fourth owner. He waxed rhapsodic as he told me about the car’s distinctive features. It was the only Cadillac model of that year whose front fenders extend back into the front door, and is the only one that has real mahogany trim on the inside of the doors. The car’s original owner, George Tidd, was the president of American Gas & Electric in New York City. Tidd had a summer place in Biddeford Pool and only drove the car three months a year. Norman grew up in Biddeford and used to draw pictures and talk to his mother about the cars he had seen and wished he could own someday. He acquired his first classic car, a 1941 Cadillac convertible, in 1963.

Norman and his wife, Jane, bought a home in Scarborough in 1975, where they raised two children and three grandchildren. It turns out that they are virtually neighbors of mine, living on the street just opposite mine along Pine Point Rd. Now retired, Norman spent 34 years working at the Portsmouth Shipyard in the metrology lab, in optical tooling, and as a shop planner. He was in the US Navy from 1966-68, aboard “Triton,” a twin nuclear submarine patrolling off the Russian coast. Norman has passed on his fascination with classic cars to his grandson, Hunter Jones, 8.

Scarborough 350: Parade Day!

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

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I’ll be celebrating Scarborough’s 350th anniversary all year on this blog with pictures and profiles of residents I’ve gotten to know, but this weekend is the town’s official celebration. I had been volunteering with the parade committee, but I had no idea how mammoth the final lineup was until I saw it coming together behind the high school this morning. Kudos to parade chair Dale Temm, who worked tirelessly for months putting it all together; to Mark and Barb Hough, who came down from Yarmouth to organize the procession; and to all the other volunteers and participants who gave their time and energy to make it happen.

There’s no way I can show you all the pageantry of the parade in this space, but I’ve chosen a few scenes to share that I observed as the marchers proceeded through Memorial Park:

1 – Hannaford was a lead sponsor of the parade, and their team carried a giant birthday cake to the town.

2- Barbara Gargano, of Falmouth, cheered on Shriners on scooters.

3- As the parade wound down, one young boy’s face on the Grange float showed that he had had enough.

4 – A Civil War reenacter was overcome by the heat after walking the route in a heavy wool uniform and was tended to at the side of the road.

5 – Members of the military and others pitched in to push an antique fire truck up the hill after it broke down in the middle of the road.

6 – Fred Abaroa, of Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill, still had enough energy at the end of the route to balance a surfboard on his chin.

Scarborough 350: Tricentennial Princesses

Friday, July 11th, 2008

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This weekend Scarborough will celebrate its 350th anniversary with an all-class high school reunion, concerts, dances, road races, a Native American PowWow, a Civil War encampment, historical demonstrations, and, of course, a parade. Riding in one of the cars will be a group of women who were “princesses” at the town’s tri-centennial in 1958. They are Gloria Harmon Durgin, Judith Harmon Williams, Judy Ahlquist Coulthard, Judith Coulthard McMann, and Sandra Stanford Hartford.

They describe Scarborough of 50 years ago as “a quiet town where we knew everybody.” The high school had about 215 students, and the kids’ favorite hangouts were the Big 20 Bowling Alley, Mary & Bob’s Log Cabin (where they went for burgers and soda), and the drive-in movie theater. Theirs was the first freshman class to graduate from the new school building. “Because of the town’s 300th anniversary, we had a historical theme for graduation, where we wore 18th century costumes and danced the minuet,” says Sandra. As tri-centennial princesses, the girls were also invited to dance on TV’s Dave Astor Show (a teen dance party like “American Bandstand).

The girls were sponsored by various companies and non-profit groups. They sold tickets for a fundraiser. “Whoever sold the most tickets got to be named ‘queen’,” says Sandra. “We weren’t in a beauty pageant or anything like that,” she chuckles.

Sandra volunteered at Town Hall during the tri-centennial. Now a resident of Cumberland, she is celebrating her 20th year as a librarian at the Scarborough Public Library. Gloria still lives in Scarborough. The week following graduation she started a job with Unum, but now works with the National Association of School Nurses. Judy Coulthard was a teacher for 25 years and now lives in Buckfield. Her twin great-nieces, Meaghan and Heather, will be carrying the banner in front of the princesses’ car. Judy McMann now makes her home in Phippsburg, and Judy Williams lives in Westbrook.

1957 Chevy provided courtesy of Black Point Auto Sales 

Scarborough 350: Carole Brush

Friday, July 11th, 2008

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I met Carole Brush my first summer here, when we were both working at the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center — she as a part-time staffer, me as a volunteer. It turns out that she and I had each moved to Maine that spring. I came after a job layoff; Carole came to be nearer her children and grandchildren. A native of Teaneck, New Jersey, Carole had worked with Outward Bound in Boulder, Colorado, and as a trail guide at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York.

“From the time I was little, I loved the mountains,” says Carole. “My earliest, most graphic memory is of lying in the grass in my backyard, looking through the fern banks and pretending I was in a forest.” As a teenager, Carole would drive up to the Ramapo Mountains every weekend to go hiking, paddling, and camping. “Sometimes friends came along; other times I went alone. It didn’t matter to me — I just wanted to be in the outdoors,” she says.

This is the first time Carole has lived by the ocean. Maine summers are a little too short for her taste, but she loves snow and snowshoeing. Since her arrival, Carole has become a registered Maine guide for inland water, canoeing, hiking and backpacking. Her goal is to do that full time, but for now she is working a combination of jobs. She teaches classes in yoga and pilates, works as a part-time staffer for the Eastern Trail Alliance, and still spends summers at Scarborough Marsh, working at the gift store and leading canoe tours.

Scarborough 350: The Paradis Family

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

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I’m in a business networking group with Matt Paradis. He never fails to entertain the group at our weekly meetings with his wry, witty humor. While his business supports him, it’s his family life that sustains him. Although Matt and his wife, Katie are both native Mainers ­— he’s from Fort Kent; she’s from Lewiston — they met in Boston, where they were both attending Bentley College. They were introduced by their college roommates, who were dating each other, and were married in 1992.

Matt and Katie had settled in Falmouth, but one day on a trip home from Higgins Beach, they decided to check out an Open House sign they spotted. “We weren’t even remotely thinking about moving,” says Matt, but we fell in love with the house when we saw it.” So 10 years ago they moved to Scarborough. Their son Noah was two; a year later their daughter Isabelle was born. Life was good. Their world was turned upside down, though, three years after that. Their son Austin was born prematurely. He weighed less than two pounds, and his airways were constricted by lung disease. Austin was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit at Maine Medical Center, where he lived for five months before succumbing to his condition. He never got to see his Scarborough home.

Katie lost her job — she and Matt went to see Austin daily at the NICU. Noah, who was then seven, would accompany them three to four times a week. Because of the risk of infection, though, he had to remain outside the unit, only able to look in through the glass window. “I grew to know the hospital well,” says Noah, “but I couldn’t get to know my brother. I could only see him in pictures or through the glass. It was very hard, very frustrating.” The weekend that Austin was taken off his ventilator, he was moved into an isolation unit so the family could spend time with him. “The first time I got to hold him was the weekend he died,” says Noah. Little Isabelle, only three, got to be Austin’s big sister by learning to change his diaper.

A lot has changed for the Paradis family since that sad time. After having worked for companies like Pioneer Plastics, Bass Shoes, and Unum, Matt struck out on his own in 2005. He is a business broker, helping companies or individuals sell or acquire other businesses. Katie is now an NICU family support specialist with the March of Dimes. Isabelle just turned nine and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Noah, 12, has been gifted with a beautiful voice. He’ll be singing the roles of a student revolutionary, a sailor, a prisoner, and a factory foreman in the Portland Stage Company’s production of “Les Miserables” on July 11th and 12th. He would like a career in theater. Most joyously, three years ago the family adopted Allie, who was born in Louisiana. Shy one moment, and running to help me carry my light stand the next, Allie likes nothing better than to be hugged and cuddled by mom and dad. “I didn’t want our experience with Austin to be the last chapter of my reproductive career,” says Katie. “We very much wanted another child.” Austin is remembered, however, in a memorial garden in the backyard where I photographed the family. It is full of lushly growing shrubs and plants, all of which were given to them by friends and family members to honor the young life passed.

Scarborough 350: Diane and Jim Brown

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

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When Jim Brown first laid eyes on Diane Mitchell as students at Scarborough High School, he flipped for her — literally. “He was always doing back flips in the school hallways to impress me,” Diane says laughingly. “I just loved his impish character.”

Forty-six years of marriage later, Jim still makes Diane laugh. They were married the summer Diane graduated high school in the First Congregational Church of Scarborough, where she had been baptized at the age of 13. The church is Scarborough’s oldest, having been founded in 1728 and celebrating its 280th year. The Browns decided to create a replica of the church to serve as a float in Scarborough’s 350th anniversary parade on July 12th. Jim made use of a playhouse he built for his grandchildren five years ago and has fashioned a steeple for the top with a bell that rings. A pair of small benches they had in their home represents the pews. Four of their five grandchildren and several children from the church will ride on the float, dressed in choir robes, while Jim pulls it with his truck. After the parade, Diane and a group of women from the church will be selling 2400 homemade “Whoopie Pies” at the festival. “We hope to raise $5,000 to donate to the church to help have the roof repaired,” says Diane.

Jim and Diane have been doing their baking and building at their home off Spurwink Rd. It used to be the farmhouse her grandparents lived in when they raised lettuce, cabbage and squash on the land. Jim and Diane moved there after Jim’s four-year stint with the US Air Force, having been stationed in Washington state and Newfoundland. “I was so homesick being so far away,” says Diane. “It was great to get back to Scarborough.”

They fondly remember the town’s 300th anniversary in 1958. The celebration spanned a 10-day period. All the men in town were required to grow beards — they were known as “The Brotherhood of the Brush.” Still a high school student, Jim eagerly grew his first beard, which came in a rich auburn, like his mother’s hair. To his dismay, the basketball coach made him shave it off in order to keep playing on the team. “Diane won’t let me grow one this year,” he says with a wink. Diane’s grandfather, on the other hand, won third place for his authentic, old-time look. The Browns have been working as volunteers with the 350th Parade Committee, which is how I’ve come to know them. 

Scarborough 350: Lisa Prince

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

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Lisa Prince is a nutrition expert and weight loss coach, who I met a year ago in a business networking group. It was only in the course of interviewing her for my blog that I learned that she is from my home state of Michigan. In fact, she grew up in East Grand Rapids, where my dad was born and raised. She moved to Maine in 1987 with her husband, Roger, who was attending the University of Maine School of Law. After 10 years they settled in Scarborough and have raised two children, Nick and Kaitlin.

“I love Scarborough,” says Lisa. “It has a great sense of community and a wonderful school system. We love being close to the beach. And there are things the town offers that you can’t find anywhere else, like Gym Dandies.” Gym Dandies is a unicycle group that Lisa’s daughter belongs to. She juggled and rode a 6-foot unicycle last month in the Cherry Blossom parade in Washington D.C. Both children play lacrosse, and her husband coaches lacrosse for the youth league.

Lisa became passionate about fitness when she conquered her own weight problem. “I was overweight from the age of 16 until my mid-20s,” she says. “I was using food to suppress my emotions, but I began running and finally broke free of my pattern of emotional eating.” Lisa lost 50 pounds and says she always wanted to help other people lose weight. After spending 17 years as a teacher at Baxter School for the Deaf in Falmouth, she was ready for a change of career. She began a business as a weight loss coach over three years ago and leases office space at Basics Fitness in South Portland.

“It’s a challenge to market yourself and recruit clients,” says Lisa, “but I’m thrilled with my career switch. It’s very gratifying to help people achieve their wellness goals.” Lisa says women often feel they don’t have time for an exercise program. “One client told me she had five children and just didn’t have the time. But I gave her some strategies to eat better and begin exercising. She lost 60 pounds in a year’s time and has kept it off for six months now.” Lisa says she breaks the process down into small steps, getting people to make small changes in what they eat. “You have to start where you are,” she says, ‘then move forward.”

Scarborough 350: Kevin Kingdon

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

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What self-respecting chocoholic could fail to notice Kevin Kingdon, who shows up as an ambassador at Chamber of Commerce events armed with chocolate truffles? Not me, that’s for sure! While I’ve known Kevin for about eight months now, it was only recently that I learned he is a Scarborough resident and that he lives with his wife Jill and son Jacob half a mile up the road from me, in a house on Pine Point Rd. that was built in 1850.

“Jill and I are both from Maine,” says Kevin, “but we spent our 20’s living in Boston and Vermont. When we decided to start a family, there was no question that we would move back to raise our child here.” The Kingdons spent time in Old Orchard Beach before buying their home eight years ago. “We both grew up in old houses — we love their charm and craftsmanship. For the first few years in the house, though, we didn’t have heat upstairs. We finally put it in when our son was born.”

Today Kingdon was one of the many volunteers participating in the Earth Day beach and marsh cleanup in Scarborough. As he picked up trash along Ross Rd. he said,  “Because we take advantage of all the things Pine Point has to offer — going to the beach, kayaking on the marsh, walking the Eastern Trail, I feel it’s my responsibility to help take care of the area. And more than that: Even though my son is only four, I want to instill in him the spirit of volunteerism. I have to set an example for him.” Kevin says it’s also a tribute to his father-in-law, a Maine backwoodsman who had a huge love of nature.

Kingdon is easy to spot now that he’s driving around the Portland area in a Smart Car that is shaped like a golden bunny, complete with ears. He says he is proud to have been selected to drive the super fuel-efficient vehicle, which is used to promote his chocolates and which leaves less of a carbon stamp. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.