Archive for April, 2008

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.

Scarborough 350: Leroy Crockett

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

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I attended my first Chamber of Commerce meeting last September as a guest. It was there that I made the acquaintance of Leroy Crockett. He was making his first stab at political office, running for a seat on the Scarborough town council. Although he failed in that bid, coming in third, he has remained active in civic affairs. Leroy says he wants to preserve “quality of place” in Scarborough.

Born in Portland, Leroy has lived most of his life in Scarborough, raising a family of a daughter, son and stepson. When he grew up here, the town only had five police officers and kids could ride their bikes anywhere. High school students were even recruited to go out on rescue calls. Hannaford’s hadn’t yet arrived and there was no middle school, but there was a drive-in movie theater. While the town has grown and changed much since then, Crockett says. “We’re not growing so fast that we aren’t managing it well. For the most part, the town has grown wisely and smart, balancing the mix of residential and business properties.”

Leroy says that with the good schools and community organizations here, Scarborough is a great place to raise a family. He applauds the “green” initiatives the town is taking in areas like recycling. His employer, Norton Insurance & Financial Services in Falmouth, encourages their employees to participate in community affairs. Crockett is a member of the Rotary, which works on clean water projects worldwide and which provides scholarships to three Scarborough High School students. In July he’ll start a one-year term as Scarborough Rotary Club president. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, he has served on the business and economic development committee, the events committee, and the concert committee.  With all these duties, Crockett says, “I’ll wake up some days at 4 a.m. and start thinking about what I have to do, and I can’t get back to sleep. Ideas keep popping into my head.”

One of Leroy’s fondest memories about growing up here was as a member of the 1983-84 cross-country team at the high school, which captured its first-ever state championship. “We were coming home that night on the bus, and the Scarborough police and fire departments met us out on the turnpike. Unbeknownst to us, someone had called ahead to spread the good news. They escorted us back into town in a parade, and when we got to the school, all our parents and friends were there to celebrate. They were all so excited for us.” Now that’s a quality of place worth preserving.

Hope springs eternal.

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

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APRIL 18, 2008

By the end of the afternoon yesterday, the last of the snow finally melted out of my yard. Hallelujah! Despite several recent days of mild weather, there was one mound at the end of the driveway where the plow driver had shoved the snow all winter that just refused to go away. I was talking on the phone today to a man up in Houlton, on the Canadian border — he says there are still several feet of snow on the ground there. I’d be a basket-case if I had to live with that much winter a month into spring.

What’s cause for celebration besides the snow’s exit is that there are buds all over my lilac bushes. I have seven shrubs in my front yard. My first spring here, two years ago, the plants yielded very few flowers. I think previous owners had never done any pruning or feeding of the bushes. I’m no gardener, either — my mother had the green thumb in our family, but she passed away more than 15 years ago. I love lilacs, though, so last year I asked the man who mows my lawn if he could prune them for me. I was horrified to return home and find that, instead of taking out a third of the old growth with a pruning tool, as I had read should be done, he had buzz cut all the shrubs by half or more with an electric hedge trimmer. I thought they’d never be able to rebound from such a drastic cut, but now I see signs of hope. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to turn them into the shapely, lush bushes that are pictured in catalogs — years of neglect may have taken a permanent toll — but I’ll be so happy if they’re able to produce those fragrant blooms again.

Lost Weekend.

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

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APRIL 6, 2008

My friend David was kind enough to set up my booth for this weekend’s Women’s Life Expo in Portland. I spent all last month planning the design of the booth and selecting and having display prints made to promote the portrait end of my business. I received a lot of compliments from other vendors on the way the booth looked. I was in a great location, across from the cooking demo stage. But the weekend proved to be a bust. There were very few visitors to the expo on both Friday and Sunday. Saturday had been busy up until about 3:30, but then the traffic died off, and the vendors spent most of the last four hours visiting each other’s booths to stave off the boredom. While I met several very nice people, the experience was a disappointment overall.

Most shocking had been the number of women who came to the event merely looking for whatever free, give-away items they could pick up. Some just raced down the aisles, grabbing handfuls of pens, key chains and the like, without even the pretense of being interested in learning what the vendors had to offer or pausing to say “thank you.” Was it desperation or greed that drove them? At some level I felt pity for them, but more than that, I felt resentment. I think it will be a long time before I participate in an event like this again.