Friday, May 26, 2023

Insight: Saluting an American Hero

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Bill Topham of Rochester, New York was one of the most charismatic and funniest men that I’ve ever met and yet he also was devoted to those he cared about and enjoyed sharing tales of what it was like to serve as a U.S. Army Air Service Signal Corps mechanic during World War I.

My grandparents were all deceased by the time I entered first grade, so Bill had become a foster grandfather to me and my brother Doug. Our family spent many wonderful weekends with Bill and his wife, Ida, when I was growing up and the stories that he passed on to me are unforgettable.

Bill Topham served in the U.S. Army Air
Service Signal Corps as a mechanic and a
photo processor during World War I.
Bill was born in 1890 and was 27 when the U.S. was drawn into the war in Europe. During a Joint Session of Congress on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson had asked for a Declaration of War against Germany and many young patriotic men in America packed military recruiting offices once the war was officially declared on April 6, looking to enlist. Not wanting to serve in the infantry, Bill Topham was captivated by airplanes and enlisted in the Army’s newly formed Air Service Signal Corps, and he was assigned to Baker Field in Rochester and the U.S. Aerial School of Photography.

His duties were to keep the limited number of Curtiss JN "Jenny" airplanes at Baker Field operational so that American pilots could train on the aircraft before being sent overseas for aerial observation and photographic assessment missions of German positions in France and Belgium. The early Jenny airplanes he worked on were difficult to maintain and lacking in flight performance because of hasty manufacturing and the rush to get them to the Air Service pilots.

Topham didn’t have to travel far for duty early in the war and in fact, before enlisting, he had been hired by the Eastman Kodak Company, who owned the land and buildings where Baker Field was located. But after nine months at Baker Field, Topham was transferred to the 1st Corps Observation Group in France early in 1918 as the unit was tasked with patrolling the Toul Sector between the towns of Filrey and Apremont in Northeast France to support the U.S. 26th Infantry Division. His job had changed too, switching from an aircraft mechanic to becoming a photography technician and he was among a group of 30 enlisted Air Service specialists who printed and enlarged photographs of enemy ground positions and got them into the hands of Army intelligence officers within hours of being taken by observational pilots flying over the battlefields.

Pilots assigned to the 1st Corps Observation group flew daily missions, taking off at daybreak and nightfall as needed. The aerial photographs helped turned the tide of the war, which had been bogged down for several years as each side was hunkered down along lines of trenches and successful 1st Corps missions were able to identify movement in enemy cargo transport by road and rail and discovering sites of enemy strongholds and troop positioning.

By September 1918, Topham was part of Army Air Service observation troops that led the way to victory at St. Mihiel in France and then served at the final offensive of the war at Meuse-Argonne. The “War To End All Wars” officially ended on Nov. 11, 1918, and Topham was discharged in January 1919. He returned home to Rochester, got married, raised a family, and resumed his job at Eastman Kodak until his retirement in 1955.

One Sunday afternoon in 1962, we were visiting him, and he asked me if I had ever seen a World War I uniform. He went into his closet and came back with his olive drab green wool shirt and trousers, wool coat, his doughboy cap, and his pair of brown leather field shoes. They had been perfectly preserved in plastic wrap but did smell a bit like moth balls. He also showed me his gas mask and cartridge belt, which looked exactly like they had when he last wore them in 1919.

Over a cup of coffee with my mother in his kitchen, he regaled us with stories of once seeing famous Army Air Service Brigadier General Billy Mitchell arriving at the air base in Tours for a meeting with the commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, General John J. Pershing, and what it was like coming under enemy fire while retrieving film from pilots on the tarmac from a mission at St. Mihiel.

He described the anguish of seeing many of his friends perish in combat and the devastation of seeing a 20-year-old American pilot’s plane explode in mid-air during an aerial attack by Germans near the Argonne in 1918. But he also told me about the camaraderie of those who served in France and how they all shared a common bond of survival.

I got the word that Bill had died at age 91 on Nov. 30, 1981, while I was serving in the U.S. Air Force in Arizona. It is because of men like him that we all can enjoy the Memorial Day holiday and salute those who gave their lives so that we may continue to live in freedom. <

Andy Young: It’s not just animals disappearing

By Andy Young

Black Rhinos, Cross River Gorillas, and Sumatran Elephants are just three of the rapidly-vanishing species that are currently on the officially endangered list, and thinking about that sad fact reminded me of a memorable interaction I had a little over two decades ago.

I was on a weeklong business trip in Florida, and after finishing work for the day I headed back to my hotel in the rented car my employer had provided. As I approached the on-ramp to I-95 south I saw a disheveled fellow sticking his thumb out, and for reasons I can’t fully explain, I pulled over.

The man obviously wanted a ride. I told him I was only going south for two exits, but it turned out that where he needed to go was located off the same exit I was headed for. I told him to hop in, and off we went.

Clearly down on his luck, he wasn’t terribly specific about whatever misfortunes had befallen him. He seemed nice enough, and while what he related of his situation was regrettable, he wasn’t complaining or cursing the fates. To me he just seemed like a decent guy who had been victimized by more than his share of adversity.

He told me I could drop him off at the highway exit but doing that would have left him with a lengthy wait or a lengthy walk, so I told him I’d take him wherever he needed to go. It turned out that dropping him off in the parking lot of a one-story cinder block motel in a run-down area of town really wasn’t all that far out of my way. I offered him a bit of money, for which he thanked me. However, he refused to take it, insisting that my showing him a little kindness was more than enough.

The 20 or so minutes I spent with that man made me feel both blessed and fortunate to have everything that I did, and good about having selflessly done something nice for a fellow human being. Eminently satisfied with myself, when I got back to where I was staying, I called my wife to tell her about my day. Leading with the story of the hitchhiker, I expected she’d be impressed by her husband’s magnanimous gesture, but more likely overwhelmed with awe over his random act of kindness.

She was neither of those things. Not only was she not thrilled about my picking up the hitchhiker she was appalled and irate. She accurately pointed out that I had just become the father of an infant son. She added that I had no way of knowing whether that man thumbing a ride was on drugs, armed, an escaped convict, a violent criminal, a sex offender, or some terrible combination of those things. Had he been any of them, the consequences could have been dire.

I was initially taken aback by her reaction, but then, upon sober reflection, realized she was probably right. I was indeed responsible for others besides myself, and because of that my humanitarian gesture, while noble, was an unnecessarily risky one. When I called her back, I promised not to pick up any more strangers on the side of the road.

For what it’s worth, I’ve kept that promise. But that’s not solely because I feel any particular loyalty to my ex-spouse, the mother of our three children.

Black Rhinos, Cross River Gorillas, and Sumatran Elephants are endangered largely because of environmental factors. Other things, however, are disappearing for reasons more societal than ecological.

Like hitchhikers. I haven’t seen another one since that day. <

Friday, May 19, 2023

Insight: A saga of humiliation and redemption

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Sometimes just the scent of freshly cut grass can take me back or if I close my eyes real tight and think about baseball, I am transported through time to the playing fields behind Brookside School and my days as a Little Leaguer.

The 1964 Brighton Little League Minors Division Reds. 
Right Fielder Ed Pierce is at far left in the front row.
For two seasons in 1963 and 1964, I was a member of the Brighton Little League Reds, a Minors Division squad for 9- and 10-year-old boys. Many of my neighborhood friends were on the same team and a few kids from public school that I didn’t know, since I attended Catholic school. Our coach was Mr. Lansky, a physical education instructor and a devoted fan of Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants.

Our first practice in 1963 was held in the gym at Brookside School in the Evans Farm subdivision in early April because snow was still on the ground outside. The team lined up in a straight row and our coach would roll ground balls to us. Our task was to use our baseball gloves to prevent the balls from getting past us and not being able to do that, the coach determined that I was probably better suited for an outfield position than to be a Reds infielder.

Within a few weeks the snow had melted, and we were outside taking batting practice in our flannel uniforms. Our first baseman, Randy Edelman, had a keen batting eye and was able to drive the ball farther than anyone else on the Reds team. My pal Billy Whitney was a slick fielder and became our shortstop while one of my neighbors, David Ronner, played third base and was our leadoff hitter. Our pitcher was my fourth-grade classmate, John Crow, who was able to throw strikes consistently.

As for me, I was relegated to playing right field for the Reds and constantly prayed that no baseballs were hit my way so I could demonstrate my woeful lack of defensive ability and awkward throwing.

Having never played Little League before, I was the worst batter in the Minors Division too. No matter how hard I tried, my strikeouts piled up. Coach Lansky had me batting ninth for most games and opposing players would yell “automatic out” at me when I stepped up to bat. The first season I played, despite encouragement from my teammates, I played in 12 of the Reds’ 16 regular season games and in every at bat that season, I struck out. The Reds team finished 6-10 and I felt I had let my teammates down.

The next year, 1964, I resolved to become a better player and as far as playing in the outfield that season, I was. At the start of the schedule, I was splitting time in right field with my classmate, Rick Walsh, but after a few games, he was diagnosed with severe diabetes requiring hospitalization. I surprised myself with improved defense, catching several fly balls hit to right field and making better throws to back into the infield, but something was still lacking whenever I stepped in to hit.

Coach Lansky had moved me up to seventh in the batting order for my second year of Little League, but I was still striking out every time up, except for the time that a pitcher hit me in the back with an errant fastball. I played in every game that year and the Reds made the playoffs, finishing 9-7 and in fourth place in our division during the regular season.

In the playoffs, we won our first two games behind pitchers John Crow and Patrick O’Herlihy, another Catholic school classmate. In the semifinals, we were trailing the Cubs, 6-2, with the bases loaded in the third inning and two outs when it was my turn to bat. I looked over at the bench at my teammates before grabbing my bat and all I saw were worried looks and Edelman, who was our catcher that year, was putting on his shin guards. I promptly struck out on three pitches.

The Reds won our semifinal playoff game over the Cubs, 7-6, and in the league championship game against the Braves, early on, I misplayed a ball hit my way and two runs scored for the Braves. We were able to hold them though and trailed 2-0 in our last time up. Ronner walked, took second on a fielder’s choice and Whitney singled him home to cut the deficit to 2-1, but Edelman popped out. Crow singled and both he and Whitney advanced to second and third. So here I was, the winning run on second base with two outs in the last inning and I’m up. Coach Lansky pulled me aside, telling me to keep my eyes open as the pitcher delivered the ball to the plate.

I miraculously swung and hit the first pitch, knocking it over the shortstop’s head and Crow raced home with the game- and championship-winning run as we won, 3-2. The only base hit I ever had in Minors Division play erased two years of frustration for me and snapped what seemed like a two-year 0-for-87 strikeout streak.

Decades later, the thing I remember the most about my Little League experience that season is being mobbed at first base for my lone hit that year. <

Andy Young: Is Lord Stanley spinning in his grave?

By Andy Young

Believe it or not, hockey wasn’t Canada’s official national sport until that nation’s parliament passed the National Sport Act of 1994. That bit of vital legislation officially declared lacrosse, which had previously been the national sport, to be the Dominion’s official “summer” sport, while hockey was deemed official “winter” sport. This confirmed that when it comes to having elected officials eager to posture and grandstand by spending time and public monies on legislation with no actual meaning (aside from getting the egocentric politicians involved some extra time in front of the cameras), the United States is not alone.

In reality there was never any question about what Canada’s de facto national sport is. Canadians still follow hockey in general (and the ongoing Stanley Cup playoffs in particular) with the same sort of fervor Americans lavished on baseball’s World Series for the first three-quarters of the 20th century, until television and a variety of other factors relegated the nation’s nominal national pastime to something to look at occasionally between Super Bowls.

Professional hockey’s holy grail is the Stanley Cup, which goes to the winner of the National Hockey League’s post-season playoffs each year. Players have spit out numerous teeth, taken hundreds of stitches, and played on fractured limbs for a chance to win the replica of the original Cup that was donated by Lord Stanley of Preston, Canada’s governor general and an enthusiastic fan of the then-nascent game in 1893.

For 25 years starting in 1942, hockey was almost purely Canadian. During that time the National Hockey League consisted solely of franchises in Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York, Detroit and Chicago. But even though two-thirds of the teams played their home games south of the United States border, in 1967 just two of the approximately 120 NHL players, Detroit’s Doug Roberts and Boston’s Tommy Williams, were Americans. Every other player in the league was Canadian-born and raised. The league’s first European player, Ulf Sterner, lasted all of four games with the New York Rangers in 1965 before, after some over-the-top brutal treatment by hyper-territorial North American opponents, he decamped back to Sweden.

The 1972 summit series between the powerful Soviet National team and a Canadian all-star squad composed of NHL players was followed more passionately by Canadians than any event since World War II. For fans on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean the series confirmed, albeit barely, North American hockey superiority. More significantly, though, it illustrated just how important hockey was (and is) to Canada’s national identity.

These days hockey is a far more international game. At the start of the current season just 41.4 percent of the NHL’s players (294 out of 711) are Canadian. There are 202 Americans; the other 215 hail from 18 different European countries.

As this column is written, four teams remain in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Las Vegas and Dallas are duking it out in the west, while in the east it’s Carolina (Raleigh) vs. Florida.

Would Lord Stanley be excited if he knew that sometime next month the cup he donated will be awarded to a team representing a place at least 653 miles south of the Canada-U.S. border, a locale where ponds, if there are any, never ice over? It’s hard to say, but if baseball’s World Series was going to feature the winner of the National League championship series between the Moscow Czars and the Beijing Wallbuilders against the survivor of the American League Championship series between the Sydney Outbackers and the Johannesburg Afrikaaners, there’d likely be more than a few Americans pining for their sport’s “good old days.” <

Friday, May 12, 2023

Insight: Echoes of wonder and gratitude

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I find it incredibly hard to believe, but May 4 marked an important milestone in my career as a journalist. As it so happened, May 4, 2020 fell on a Monday and it was my very first day as Managing Editor of The Windham Eagle newspaper.

Dave Rampino found four different four-leaf
clovers in some grass outside Windham's
Public Works Department compound in

Now more than three years into this job, I have found it to be among the most rewarding experiences of my entire career, which will reach the 48-year point on May 16. At the age of 21 on May 16, 1975, I had a ringside seat at the Las Vegas Convention Center in covering the Ron Lyle versus Muhammad Ali world championship heavyweight fight for United Press International.

Through the years, I’ve had many memorable stories to tell and countless interviews with national newsmakers, famous politicians, Hall of Fame sports figures and renowned celebrities, but some of my favorite articles have come right here in the Lakes Region while working for The Windham Eagle. I consider myself privileged that some still consider my writing to be worth reading.

Listed in random order, here are some of my favorite stories so far while working for The Windham Eagle newspaper:

On Nov. 10, 2022, I told the story on Veteran’s Day about Windham’s Carroll McDonald, then 97, who was trained to fly the P-51 aircraft during World War II. I always am inspired and motivated to relate the stories and experiences of military veterans of that generation because it brings me closer to my late father, who was wounded in action as an Army infantryman at Anzio Beach in Italy in 1944. Following McDonald’s active-duty discharge in 1945, he returned to Windham and attended business school using the GI Bill and then was hired by the U.S. Post Office as a rural postal delivery driver, a job he worked at for 32 years, delivering mail in South Windham and on River Road until his retirement. In 1951, he joined Windham’s American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 and is still an active member today.

Along those same lines, I enjoyed interviewing Windham’s Edward “Ed” Salmon, then 91, for a Nov. 20, 2020 article about him receiving five military medals and two ribbons for his service in the United States Army in Korea. What made that a special achievement was that the medals were awarded to Salmon 70 years after the fact. He knew he had earned the medals, but he had never physically received them. An effort spearheaded by Legion Post 148 Adjutant David Tanguay rectified that situation, giving Salmon long overdue recognition for his military service.

Service on behalf of others seems to be a common theme among my favorite stories to tell. On April 1, 2022, I wrote an article about Renee Darrow of Windham, who traveled to Poland to work as a volunteer serving meals to Ukrainian refugees displaced by the Russian invasion of their nation by the World Central Kitchen. I’m also constantly amazed by the endurance and dedication of Windham’s Brian McCarthy, who year after year sets out on a bicycle ride spanning hundreds of miles, taking pledges to raise money for the 488th Military Police Company’s Family Readiness Group programs to assist the families of Maine soldiers serving overseas. McCarthy, a South Portland police officer, is a retired Army Sergeant First Class and has been undertaking his “Guardian Ride” for the past five years. I wrote about his charitable cause for the first time on Aug. 6, 2021, and greatly admire McCarthy for his kindness in recognizing the important contributions of military dependents.

I’ve been lucky to find some unbelievable stories to tell in pages of The Windham Eagle in the past three years. On June 13, 2020, I wrote an article about Windham Public Works driver Dave Rampino, who discovered a patch of four-leaf clover while parking a snowplow truck outside the public works compound on Windham Center Road. Rampino hit the jackpot and found four of the rare items after looking his entire life to find a four-leaf clover, beating the odds of 10,000 to 1 of ever finding one. If that wasn’t enough, Raymond Elementary School student Chase Street read that same article about Rampino and was inspired to look in the front yard of his home in Raymond for a four-leaf clover. Amazingly, he found a five-leaf clover. The odds of doing that are estimated at 20,000 to 1. The article about that ran in the Aug, 21, 2020 newspaper.

But of all the articles for the newspaper that I’ve written during the past three years, my personal favorite has been telling the story of Raymond’s Roberta “Bobbie” Kornfield Gordon. It appeared in the Dec. 11, 2020 edition of The Windham Eagle. She’s retired now but has been hosting an annual reunion at her home in Raymond for years of her second-grade students from a class she taught in Rochester, New York in 1966. The class reunions are proof that sometimes the connections between teachers and students are a special bond that can last a lifetime.

These are just a few of many wonderful stories I’ve had the good fortune to tell in The Windham Eagle so far. Hopefully many more will follow.

Andy Young: Every 70 years, whether they need one or not

By Andy Young

On the night he was born, his father was out playing squash with his private secretary.

King Charles III of England
As a youngster he was teased at school. Not only was he called “Fatty” by the bullies he was harassed over his large and protruding ears. His great-uncle suggested to his parents that they get their boy’s protruding appendages surgically pinned back, but because they ignored that recommendation, the lad grew to have more than a passing resemblance to Alfred E. Neuman, the fictitious but ubiquitous cover model for over 500 issues of Mad Magazine.

When he was 14-years-old, he ordered a cherry brandy at a pub. The drinking age at the time was 18. When his youthful misstep became public, his socially prominent family was sufficiently embarrassed to give the bodyguard they employed to protect their son his walking papers.

After matriculating, the young man pursued a naval career, ultimately qualifying as a helicopter pilot. He later gave up flying after botching the landing of a jet aircraft with 11 people aboard. Of the incident, he later remarked, “We went off the end of the runway, unfortunately. It is not something I recommend.”

Like many adults he has committed a social faux pas or two. One of the more awkward ones: thoughtfully sending a gift to a friend who had been seriously injured in a quad bike crash. Unfortunately, the gift was a bottle of scotch; the recipient, singer Ozzy Osbourne, was a recovering alcoholic.

His first wedding, to a charismatic and photogenic woman 13 years his junior, received international attention. However, their very public divorce 13 years later was both deflating and humiliating, and her death in a motor vehicle accident a year later poured salt into what was still an open wound.

But patience is a virtue, and this fellow clearly has it in spades. How many people end up in a career where he has to wait over 70 years for his first promotion?

Last weekend at Westminster Abbey, England held its first coronation since 1953. But the 74-year-old new king wasn’t just twiddling his thumbs while waiting to ascend to the throne. He’s met with 10 different US presidents in his life: Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon (who none-too-subtly tried to set up his daughter Tricia with the then-Prince of Wales), and every one since Jimmy Carter took office in 1977.

He was awarded $25,000 for winning the Vincent Scully Prize for architecture in 2005, but then donated it to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, noting that he and his new wife, Camilla, were “absolutely horrified” by the suffering and destruction they had seen on TV.

While in Barbados helping to celebrate the former British colony’s transition to a republic in November 2021 he publicly acknowledged “the appalling atrocity of slavery.”

He’s 5-foot-10 in height and weighs somewhere around 175 pounds. A friend to the environment, he refrains from eating fish and meat two days a week and eschews dairy products once a week as well. He usually has granola and fruit for breakfast, although he consumes boiled eggs now and again. One of his favorite meals, according to, is lamb with wild mushroom risotto. In many ways he’s an average Joe, albeit one who owns $500 million in personal assets, and has another $46 billion that’s held in trust.

It can’t be easy living one’s entire life under a microscope. Perhaps it’s not necessary (or fair) to have a nation’s taxpayers underwrite a royal family. But if there has to be a king, England (and the world) could do a whole lot worse than Charles III. <

Friday, May 5, 2023

Insight: Regrets which make us stronger

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I recently listened to an interesting podcast on NPR’s Life Kit about personal regrets and the notion that instead of dwelling on mistakes we’ve made, we should embrace our regrets and use them as a guidepost for the future.

In this podcast, the Life Kit hosts interviewed author Daniel H. Pink about his book “The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward” and a discussion ensued focused on regrets that people expressed to the author of inaction and how they outnumbered those of action regrets by a wide margin and inaction regrets rise over time as we age. Pink classifies action regrets as deeds that can be undone, such as choosing the wrong career or purchasing a timeshare on an impulse. Inaction regrets fall into the impossible to resolve “if only” category, such as “what if I were thinner” or “if only I had invested in computer technology when I had the chance to years ago, I’d be wealthy now.”

Pinks says his data shows human regret most often falls into four distinct types including foundational regret (not saving enough for retirement), moral regret (infidelity, bullying), connection regret (I should have married her), and boldness regret (I shouldn’t have quit that job). He associates basic human characteristics with each type of regret, linking a need for personal growth with boldness regrets; a need for goodness with moral regrets; a need for stability with foundational regrets; and a need for love with connection regrets.

According to Pink, if we all take the time and examine our own regrets, it can be a significant tool to help us achieve genuine happiness and empower our lives going forward. He suggests that our goal should not be to minimize our regrets, rather, we should optimize them for our personal benefit.

All of this prompted me to think about regrets of my own and to identify them to better understand what makes me who I am and to stop dwelling on things I really have had no control over in my life.

There are some things about me I simply cannot change. With my paternal grandparents standing just 4-foot-10 and 5-foot-1, it was in my genes that I was never going to reach 6-foot in height or to become a center on a professional basketball team. But despite only reaching a height of 5-foot-7 ½ myself, I do get complimented a great deal about how thick my hair is, even at my advanced age.

Rapidly approaching the 48-year mark for my career in a few weeks, I’ve never regretted my career choice of journalism, yet I do regret my father not living long enough to see me be promoted to the editor position for seven different daily and weekly newspapers over the years since his death.

Under the heading of foundational regret, I probably should have started collecting old baseball cards sooner. Many of the cards I had as a child are now worth considerable amounts and some 1950s, 1960s and 1970s cards that I could have purchased back in the early 1980s for under $1 are now selling for $30 each and up. I also have come to regret not treating some cards with proper respect back in the day. The Topps 1965 Mickey Mantle card that I affixed to the spokes of my bike with a clothes pin because I liked the sound it made is now worth $800 or more in excellent condition.

For moral regret, I am still troubled about making fun of my high school biology teacher with my friends behind his back. He was merely trying to teach us and making fun of his looks is something that I wish I hadn’t done more than 55 years ago.

I do have a few regrets under the boldness category. I still miss my Minolta 35mm camera to this very day and am sorry I gave it to a thrift shop when I started using my new Nikon digital camera. Nothing against digital photography, but the quality of 35mm photos using that camera was outstanding. I have never regretted giving up playing the clarinet while in middle school, but I certainly wish I had kept my turntable to play vinyl records. I abandoned my vinyl records in the early 1990s in favor of CD technology and despite all odds, vinyl records are suddenly back in fashion. I had hundreds of albums from the 1970s and 1980s in my collection and now regret giving them all away.

As far as a connection regret goes, I do wish I would have met my wife Nancy sooner. We have a great life together and are happy to have found each other, but life is short and at our age, more days are behind us than lie ahead.

If examining our regret is helpful and transformative, I certainly have plenty of regrets to put under the microscope regarding my life to this point. Some of my regrets seem rather silly to me now and others I have pinpointed remain things I cannot change or redo. But exploring them does give me a better perspective about who I am.

What are some of your biggest regrets?

Andy Young: Good Karma, Bad Karma

By Andy Young

I am genuinely thankful I’ve gotten this far in life without becoming reliant on alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, painkillers, or any similar scourges. But I am not addiction-free.

I cannot pass a store where old books are sold without going in for a look. And that’s unfortunate, since my already-cluttered home needs more books like Washington, D.C. needs more lobbyists.

However, I believe in Karma, and that explains why I rarely leave an independent bookseller’s place of business without buying something. On my most recent visit to such an establishment I purchased a small, plain paperback titled, Instant Karma. because its subheading, “8879 Ways to Give Yourself and Others Good Fortune Right Now,” convinced me that acquiring it would be a worthwhile investment.

I honestly thought I didn’t need much help accumulating and sharing good Karma. Between picking up litter, contributing anonymously to local charities, donating blood every few weeks, and letting people with fewer than five items go ahead of me in the grocery store checkout line, I had previously assumed I was more or less all set in that department.

But absorbing new ideas is never a bad thing, so I opened the book and discovered that when it comes to doing good, I have a lot to learn. Who knew that “Putting a rug down for bare feet” was a karma-producer? Certainly not me, since my first conscious act each morning is donning a pair of socks.

Another suggestion I liked: “Cook with someone you love.” I’d be happy to do that, although I’d have to find a co-chef who passionately hates cheese as much as I do, since I abhor the smell, the texture, and everything else about cooked cheese.

I was delighted by the number of Instant Karma’s recommendations I’m already performing which apparently have Karmic benefits I was unaware of. “Write legibly,” “Return borrowed items undamaged,” and “Avoid hot, oily foods in the summertime” are just three examples of karma-accumulating actions the book suggests which I already perform habitually.

However, one thing Instant Karma lacks is advice on how to avoid bad karma, which, as John Edwards, Bill Cosby, and R. Kelly can attest, is a very real thing. I think the book could use a companion text, and I’m just the person to write it. My proposed sequel will list 8879 things to refrain from doing if one wishes to ward off the sort of destiny that inevitably befalls those who are sneaky, dishonest, unvirtuous, or just plain mean.

Don’t punt a chihuahua over a cliff. Don’t throw dirt on someone’s birthday cake. Don’t put Vaseline on toilet seats at the library. Don’t slash your neighbor’s tires. Don’t burn down any orphanages. Don’t pour battery acid into the reservoir. Don’t flick boogers at social workers. Don’t cheat on your spouse with a porn star. Don’t cheat on your spouse with a certified public accountant. Don’t cheat on your spouse, period.

The more I think about it, the more I believe I wouldn’t have any problem at all coming up with another 8,869 things to avoid doing if one wishes to avoid becoming a bad karma magnet.

Naturally certain quibbling nitpickers will point out that there are a few exceptions to the “What goes around, comes around” rule. For example, a person able to afford the services of the lawyers who comprised O. J. Simpson’s defense team may be able to temporarily avoid dire Karmic consequences. But to paraphrase a 1971 song that reached number nine on the Billboard Top 100, sooner or later, karma’s gonna get ‘ya.

Just ask John Edwards, Bill Cosby, and/or R. Kelly. <

Tim Nangle: Investing in infrastructure and connecting communities

By State Sen. Tim Nangle

I am pleased to share the details of Maine’s three-year transportation infrastructure work plan and what it means for our communities. The plan, released annually, outlines the Maine Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) strategy for road, bridge, and other transportation upgrades and maintenance projects.

State Sen Tim Nangle
Investing in our state's infrastructure is vital to the well-being of our families, communities and economy. It ensures that we can safely travel to work, school, and medical appointments. It also helps businesses transport their goods efficiently, allowing our economy to prosper. In our rural state, reliable infrastructure is the lifeline that connects us all.

According to the MDOT, the work plan covers approximately $3.94 billion of construction and maintenance, including 2,599 work items statewide. Among the key projects planned for our district in 2023 are crucial improvements that will positively impact Windham, Raymond, and Frye Island.

In Windham, Route 302 will undergo the installation of adaptive traffic signals at various intersections, starting at Route 115 and extending northwest for 1.14 miles to Trails End Road. Additionally, the intersection at Route 202 and River Road in Windham will be rebuilt. This $1.4 million investment in the intersection will improve safety.

Additionally, Route 202 will receive bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, including the construction of an on-road sidewalk from Depot Street to the Mountain Division Trail crossing. The Mountain Division Line will see the construction of an off-road trail or path, beginning at Bridge Street in Westbrook and extending to the Route 202 crossing near Blue Seal Feeds in Windham.

Two bridge maintenance projects in Windham include repairing curbs, rail, and posts on the Mallison Falls Bridge over the Presumpscot River. The Eel Weir Bridge on Route 35 will have the header joints repaired and the bearings and beam ends painted.

In Raymond, the Frye Island Ferry Service will receive a series of upgrades totaling $636,000. These improvements include enhancements to the ferry service between Raymond and Frye Island, reconstruction of electrical systems, and the rebuilding of the mainland ramp, apron hinge and island slip headwall.

The entire MDOT three-year work plan can be viewed here:

When you drive by one of these projects over the next year, remember that work zone safety is paramount for both the workers and drivers alike. According to MDOT, “an average of 500 crashes take place each year in Maine work zones, resulting in several fatalities. Another 200 are injured.” It is crucial that we all remain vigilant and follow the signs and instructions posted in work zones.

When approaching a work zone, reduce your speed and be cautious to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Remember, fines for speeding and other traffic violations are typically doubled in work zones.

By obeying the speed limits, staying alert, and respecting the posted signs, we can help prevent accidents, protect lives, and ensure the smooth progress of construction and maintenance projects.

The Maine Department of Transportation's three-year work plan demonstrates a commitment to investing in the state's infrastructure and ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents. By prioritizing projects that improve roadways, bridges, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and ferry services, we are not only contributing to boosting our local economies but also fostering more robust connections between our communities.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, wants to discuss legislation, or needs help connecting with a state agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My email is, and my office phone number is 207-287-1515. You can find me on Facebook at To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at<

Friday, April 28, 2023

Insight: A family connection worth remembering

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

My aunt, Bernice Rogers, remains one of the most enigmatic individuals in my life and years after her death, I’m still trying to figure her out.

Bernice Rogers, left, visits her sister Harriett Pierce, while 
on a trip to Rochester, New York in 1962.   
At times she could be one of the most sensible and caring people I’ve ever known, and then suddenly turn on a dime and be someone I just couldn’t stand to be around. Her loud laughter could fill up an entire room and make me smile, but five minutes later she’d say or do some of the most hateful things that would make me cringe.

Some of her personality was shaped by traumatic events early in her life. Along with my mother, Bernice experienced abusive foster homes and orphanages in Rochester, New York during the Great Depression when her mother died when she was 14 and her father, who was blind from birth, was placed into the care of the New York School for the Blind. She became pregnant at 16 and was forced to give the baby away because she didn’t have the money to raise it alone. Then she married a man who proposed to her when she was 17 but he abandoned her when she miscarried their child four months later. She filed for divorce and it was granted by the court.

At the age of 18, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps, training at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia. She went on to serve as an office clerk at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for the duration of World War II, rising to the rank of junior leader, equivalent to an U.S. Army corporal. Upon her discharge, she returned to Rochester after the war and married again, and that ended in divorce less than a year later when her abusive husband threw her down some stairs, breaking her arm. Another brief marriage ended in divorce and their child was raised by the father’s family.

To help her recover from those experiences, Bernice’s brother, Bernard, and my mother, Harriett, paid for her to spend time in Miami, Florida with an elderly relative. There she met a boat captain from Alexandria Bay, New York named Ray Rogers, Jr. and they fell in love and got married. To ensure that this marriage would last, she stopped drinking alcohol and became a devout Christian, frequently attending tent revivals and welcoming door-to-door Jehovah’s Witnesses into her home for lengthy discussions when they rang her doorbell.

By the time I was entering school, Aunt Bernice was my favorite aunt, sending me birthday cards with a $5 bill inside or showing up unexpectedly and taking our family out for dinner at Howard Johnson’s restaurant. One summer when I was in high school, Aunt Bernice and Uncle Ray gave me a summer job pumping gasoline at their marina in the Thousand Islands area.

While I enjoyed that job, it was tough to live for a week with Aunt Bernice. She required total silence in her home every afternoon for hours while she napped. The bar of soap in the soap dish in her bathroom was not to be used as it was ornamental only. If I needed to wash my hands, I had to use the garden hose outside. I was forbidden to read any books or newspapers other than “The Watchtower” magazines she had accumulated. She constantly lectured me about the evils of alcohol.

Back home, Aunt Bernice’s eccentric behavior didn’t go unnoticed by my parents. She promised to send birthday or Christmas presents to my brother and I over the phone, but they never arrived. She frequently asked to borrow money and my mother discovered that Bernice and her husband were deep in debt because of her penchant for running up their credit cards shopping for clothing and home furnishings.

Through the years, my visits with Aunt Bernice became fewer as I grew up and went away to college. When I moved to Florida in 1991, she was living in a mobile home about two miles away from my parents in Melbourne. Uncle Ray had died the year before, and Bernice had trouble walking, falling frequently. I once saw her shopping at the grocery store on my way home from work and she didn’t seem to know who I was. She said she had lost her cane when she placed it on the roof of her car the week before as she put her grocery bags on the back seat and then drove away. That happened a lot, and I replaced her cane for her at least seven times.

In September 2005, Aunt Bernice called me from a rehabilitation facility nearby where she was recovering after breaking her hip in a hard fall. She asked my wife Nancy and I to visit her and we did. She asked Nancy if she could wash a pair of pants for her and we took them home. The next morning the rehab facility called to tell us that Aunt Bernice had passed away overnight at the age of 85.

I never did figure her out, but I loved her for who she was and maybe that’s all I could do. She was big part of my family growing up and I still think about her today.<

Andy Young: Dreaming of hosting while guesting

By Andy Young

When Maine’s schools took their annual April break last week, I decided to take an actual driving vacation, my first such junket in quite some time. But even if I had the wherewithal to go tour some famous landmarks or national parks, I’d have opted instead for doing exactly what I did: visit some good people I hadn’t seen for a while.

Taking this trip reminded me of just how lucky I am to be able to do this sort of thing. The quality of the nation’s roads, the ease with which one can obtain fuel, and clarity with which federal and state roadways are marked is something too many Americans take for granted. I for one am particularly glad our country’s interstate highway system is so efficiently laid out; were it not, directionally challenged people like me would never be able to effectively navigate their way between places hundreds of miles apart.

The seven-day, 1,317-mile whirlwind tour covered nine states, although I never did set foot in three of them. New Hampshire, New York, and Delaware were literally drive-through states on this journey.

My first visit was with someone who was a role model and father figure to me and literally thousands of others during his half-century (and counting) on the faculty at the university that eventually awarded me a diploma. I enjoy every visit there, which always ends with me being given some new bit of college-themed apparel. The only time my host ever stops smiling occurs if I attempt to take out my wallet and pay for dinner at whatever restaurant we’ve chosen. “Put that thing away!” he’ll growl, and dutifully I do.

Subsequent stops in four other Connecticut towns yielded quality time with another college friend, a couple whose sons I babysat for many moons ago, and cousins who qualify as both friends and family.

Next up: more quality family time in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, where a day and a half passed in what seemed like an hour. Similarly, the three-hour visit I had in Reading, Pa. with a fellow writer and baseball enthusiast seemed to go by in about ten minutes. From there I drove south to two places where people who were important to me when we lived near one another decades ago confirmed that they’re still just as special today, even though they currently reside 476 miles (Lincoln University, Pa.) and 544 miles (Silver Spring, Maryland) from where I do.

Alas, all good things must end, and when Wednesday morning arrived, I realized it was time to head north. Getting home from suburban Washington, D.C. should have taken nine hours, but thanks to traffic in New Jersey and Connecticut (which I feel should be renamed “New New Jersey”) the trek took nearly 12.

As great as the trip was, I feel slightly guilty, since I didn’t pay for a darned thing the entire time I was on the road: no one would let me.

However, what I did do, was to try to convince each person I encountered to come up and visit Maine this summer. It would be a treat to have any or all of them drop by at some point in the not-too-distant future.

It’s not realistic to expect everyone I invited to come north this year, which is why the chances of my going from being “America’s Guest” to “America’s Host” are pretty slender. But if I can entice even one person to visit sometime soon it’ll give me the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to try: growl “Put that thing away” when my dinner guest reaches for their wallet! <

Friday, April 21, 2023

Insight: Bravery beyond imagination

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Around this time in April some 50 years ago in 1973, the final U.S. prisoners of war being held in North Vietnam were freed and returning to their homes after years of captivity.

U.S. Air Force pilot Mike Lane was
shot down over North Vietnam and 
captured and held as a Prisoner of
War for 2,271 days in the Hanoi Hilton
before being freed. COURTESY PHOTO
About eight years later, when I was stationed at The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., our squadron hosted a symposium on the release of the POWs and it included a special guest speaker, a U.S. Air Force pilot, Lt. Col. Mike Lane, who had been shot down and imprisoned at the Ho Loa Prison Camp, known commonly as the “Hanoi Hilton.” It was my great privilege to be able to interview him for the Bolling Beam, an Air Force weekly newspaper, it it truly opened my eyes to the brutality and hardships that these valiant Americans endured.

Lane was from Connecticut and had participated in the ROTC program while attending Notre Dame University. Upon graduation in 1964, he then trained as a fighter pilot and learned to fly the F-4 Phantom aircraft. After a year of service in England, he was transferred to the 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base in South Vietnam in November 1966. Less than two weeks later, Lane’s F-4 aircraft came under heavy enemy fire on Dec. 2, 1966, while patrolling the skies over North Vietnam. The plane was so badly damaged that Lane was forced to eject, beginning a grueling ordeal that tested his mental and physical strength and will to survive.

He was shaken but alive when he was captured by North Vietnamese troops that day. They tied his hands with rope and forced him to march about 12 miles to the prison, where he was thrown into a cell and later interrogated about his mission and the military capabilities of his aircraft. He stuck to only telling him his name, rank, and military serial number.

His captors consistently beat him and demanded he tell them information about his squadron’s flights during the war and potential targets around Hanoi. He was punched, slapped, and deprived of food and water.

Yet despite it all, Lane and other prisoners held in the prison clung to the belief that one day the war would end, and they would be freed. In the meantime, the prisoners, who were forbidden to speak with each other, learned to communicate between their cells using a primitive form of tapping on their cell walls. Through this system, Lane learned the names of many of the other prisoners and how long they had been held captive as POWs.

When there was food, it was served in filthy conditions and covered with insects. I recall Lane telling me that one day he found a live cockroach in a bowl of rice he was given and a biscuit contained weevils. The worst food I wrote about him being served though was a type of pork still containing bristles that he had to pick away to eat.

The cells of the American prisoners were open-air with iron bars on the windows and the prisoners slept on dirt floors with no blankets for winter or cooling in the summer heat. Guards treated them viciously and beatings continued throughout their imprisonment.

Then one day, after nearly six years of captivity, Lane found out that a deal had been reached to free U.S. POWs. It was called “Operation Homecoming” and finally after 2,271 days as a prisoner, Lane was released on Feb. 18, 1973. He was hospitalized for several months following his release because of injuries he had sustained as a POW.

Once recovered, Lane was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry and intrepidity in action for his in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. His citation mentions that despite the enemy resorting to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions and propaganda materials, Lane resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.

He went on to resume his military career and told me the one thing he wanted everyone to know about his time in captivity as a POW was that the Americans who were held at the Hanoi Hilton were the bravest individuals he ever knew and their love for this country was undeniable. Lane later married and retired as a colonel, serving as the Chief of the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona in October 1988.

His participation in our salute to U.S. POWs at The Pentagon was the highlight of the event and came about because Lane was good friends with our commander, Col. Jerry Bronnenberg, who was my boss. Our nation’s military history is filled with tales of heroism and unselfish sacrifice, but when I think back about the things that our POWs in Vietnam went through, little compares to the treatment they received at the hands of their captors. These men and what they endured should not be forgotten or relegated to a chapter in a history book. They served valiantly and 50 years later, we honor their service.<

Andy Young: Thank you, class!

By Andy Young

When it comes to inherent rewards, for a teacher nothing tops getting a smile or a verbal “thank you” from an appreciative young person at the end of class. I’ll never get tired of that, no matter how often it occurs.

Another thing I can’t get enough of: students really sinking their teeth into a creative writing assignment. Recently I asked the soon-to-be-graduating seniors in my five Grade 12 classes for 150 or more words on any food item that, given the choice, they would NEVER eat again.

The list of nominal comestibles young people dread and/or despise includes many of the usual suspects (mushrooms, hard boiled eggs, seafood, brussels sprouts, and Spam, among others), several desserts (macaroons, pink frosted sugar cookies and pumpkin pie), some wild game (squirrel and rabbit), and a couple of things I had to look up: durian, a foul-smelling fruit native to Borneo and Sumatra, and Marmite, a sticky British food spread made from the byproducts of beer brewing.

The vividness with which these aspiring writers described the depths of their revulsion ranged from inspiring to breathtaking to worrisome. Some examples:

The putrid smell of an orange makes me ill.

A radish is a spicy root that’s bitter and ruins anything you could put with it. Radishes should just stay in the ground.

Beets are by far the worst food I have ever experienced. They simply taste like dirt.

Even before I dug into the liver pate, I was suspicious. It looked like cat food, and thus was unfit for human consumption.

I can’t imagine how some people choose to eat celery willingly. It’s like opting to feast on soggy tree bark.

Pork chops cooked on a George Foreman grill come out super dry. It’s like you’re killing the same animal twice!

Yes, it’s nutritious, but at what cost? No one should have to go through the trauma of eating bok choy.

If the repulsive texture of olives doesn’t get you, their disgusting taste will send you over the edge. How can a single food be sour, bitter, slimy, and wet all at the same time?

But here’s the most shocking result of my little unscientific survey: by an overwhelming margin, the most detested victual amongst the youthful respondents is one many people couldn’t live without.

Below are some of the milder commentaries concerning a food I personally consider to be delicious.

Tomatoes should cease to exist. I hate the taste of the juice, the smell, the texture, and everything about them. I'm scared that if I ever eat tomatoes again, I will get sick again.

The fear of throwing up again torments me so much, I will never eat any kind of tomatoes again.

The slimy texture of the tomato overshadows everything else. Beef and beans can’t save this disaster, and onions don’t help, either. What could have been a perfectly good spoonful of chili is ruined by the mere presence of a chunky tomato.

The day I first consumed tomatoes was the last day of my childhood innocence. I never thought this world could be so vile until the day I was introduced to tomatoes by parents I had previously thought cared about me. There’s a reason why people throw tomatoes at bad actors, prisoners, and politicians.

Food preferences aside, there’s still nothing like getting spoken affirmation from someone who truly appreciates something you’ve done. And on the theory that others feel the same way I do, thank you Liz, Shawn, Andrew, Sophie, Dakota, Mitch, Henry, Quinn, Seamus, Alex, Maya, Jameson, Sarah, and Emma, for writing better than half this essay for me! <

Jane Pringle: Compassion Cures

By State Rep. Jane Pringle

We all feel stress at various times in our lives. The rush of information flooding over us today seems to grow stronger, often overwhelming us. Competing demands on our time can also overwhelm us. Each of us has different skills and resources to cope with this. For some of us, our responses can be life-threatening or life-saving.

State Rep. Jane Pringle
On Thursday, April 6, the “Be The Influence” Coalition led by Laura Morris, hosted a program at the Windham High School called “Compassion Cures: Building Hope By Overcoming Stigma.” It began with a 30-minute documentary film telling local stories about people and families experiencing substance use disorder and helping us see what we/they need to achieve recovery.

The film was followed by a panel discussion. Panelists included people in recovery, families who have lost loved ones to overdose, members of Portland Recovery Center, Northern Lights Medical Center, The Yellow Tulip Project, Director of our State Opioid Response Gordon Smith, Mrs. Maine 2022 Christine Erde, who suffers from Bipolar Disorder, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield and Chelsea Berry, who has produced an album of songs dedicated to those of us dealing with addiction and the loss of loved ones to addiction.

Important messages from this program:

· Substance use disorder (SUD) is a disease of the brain and needs to be viewed and treated like any other diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure.

· There are both biologic and social risk factors that increase the risk for SUD, including family history of SUD.

· People with anxiety and depression sometimes “self-medicate” with substances like alcohol, marijuana and opiates which make them feel better. But, if they have SUD risk factors, they can become addicted to using them, even when that use interferes with everything else in their life.

· There are treatments for SUD that help people recover and programs that help them remain in recovery.

· Opiates obtained on the illegal market are now commonly laced with Fentanyl, a very strong opiate, which can quickly stop breathing and cause death.

· Naloxone (Narcan) is an extremely SAFE medication which blocks the effects of opioids and can save a life!

· The state Opioid Response Program is helping to increase the access to Recovery Programs, Education and Access to Narcan for all of us to be able to save a life and help someone into Recovery.

· If we can treat our friends, neighbors and family members with love and support, we can help them recover from the effects of addiction and regain their health and function!

Future programs planned by the Be The Influence Coalition include:

Mental Health First Aid training for religious leaders. April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road, Windham

Jammin’ For Mental Health through the Arts, May 3 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Windham High School.

I am very proud that Windham has so many people working together to make our community healthier. We are lucky to have them! <

State Rep. Jane Pringle represents District 107, part of Windham.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Andy Young: White to green, with brown in between

By Andy Young

It’s been a few weeks since any friends in tropical locales like Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, and Massachusetts have called me to inquire if winter has ended yet here in the nation’s northeastern terminus. Many woefully misinformed Americans seem to think Maine’s year-round climate is a polar one, and that our fair state would be more aptly labeled as East Alaska. It is for the benefit of these condescending sun belters and Massho……., er, Massachusettsers that I’ll set the record straight. The piles of snow at the end of my driveway are merely shin-high these days, and I expect that they’ll be gone completely by May Day at the latest.

Too many people simply assume that when the white of winter fades, the green of spring immediately follows. That may be true in some parts of the country, but it’s rarely if ever the case here in the nation’s far northeast.

In these parts winter concludes on the calendar several weeks before spring’s actual arrival. The last white-specked-with-sandy-gray snow piles don’t instantly transform into lush greenery any more than a caterpillar crawls into a cocoon one night and wakes up a butterfly the next morning. Here in America’s lone one-syllable state, nature’s predominant hue in April and early May isn’t green, but brown.

If any color on the spectrum has undeservedly gotten a bad name, it’s brown. Roses may be red, and violets may be blue (actually, aren’t they violet?), but the first brown thing that comes to mind isn’t terribly attractive, and it definitely doesn’t smell like roses or violets. It’s also the pigment (and name) associated with a perennially lousy National Football league team.

Brown is the Rodney Dangerfield of colors; it truly gets no respect. If Brown were a third grader, it’d be the last kid selected when sides are being picked for kickball. If Brown was a vegetable, it would be Lima Beans; were it distributed on Halloween night it’d undoubtedly be candy corn. Turnips are the Brown of Thanksgiving; at Christmas Brown is fruitcake. If Brown were a movie, it would probably be, ironically enough, The Color Purple, a 1986 film that was nominated for eleven Academy Awards but didn’t win any.

But every so often Brown gets some well-deserved love. Maple syrup, eggs and potatoes are brown. So are almonds, chocolate, and, ummm….chocolate-covered almonds. Musician James Brown was dubbed “The Godfather of Soul” by his admirers. Charlie Brown is, with the possible exception of his dog Snoopy, the most beloved cartoon character in American history. And when people who like arguing about silly things debate the identity of the 20th century’s greatest athlete, professional football Hall of Famer and All-American collegiate lacrosse star Jim Brown’s name is always in the discussion.

Most Americans associate spring with the smell of flowers blooming, the sound of birds chirping, and the sight of leaves unfurling in a setting that gets progressively greener with each passing day. And those things really do happen in southern Maine as well.


The difference is they occur later up here. Retreating snow doesn’t turn green right away, but instead morphs into a muddy brown landscape that, like late-blooming trees and nascent grass, gets a tiny bit more attractive every 24 hours until the time (usually in early to mid-June) comes when Maine’s spring finally becomes a veritable green wonderland.

But then, about a week after the start of for-real spring, our beautiful summer arrives. And that’s when those smug Floridians, Texans, Carolinians and Massho………, Massachusettsers who wonder why we live up here all winter will themselves inevitably (and quite justifiably) turn green…..with envy! <

Insight: Songs that jog the memory

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Singer Stevie Wonder once said that music, at its essence, is what gives us memories and the longer that a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it. When I first heard that, I began to connect songs to important memories in my life and found it to be an accurate statement.

I discovered that the way my brain works, I tend to remember certain songs with memorable times I have experienced. Some of these songs provoke strong emotions in me or others I associate with aspects of life I overlook or are buried in the past.

In some instances, I can recall where I was or what I was doing when I first heard a particular song.

Here are some examples of what I came up with, what I happened to be doing or why a song is relevant even today in my memories:

I first heard one tune many people are familiar with when I was driving through New York City with my father in the summer of 1969. He was working as an engineer for a startup computer company in Stamford, Connecticut and was commuting home to Rochester, New York on weekends. One weekend he asked me if I wanted to spend the week with him in Stamford and I leaped at the opportunity. It was a short drive to New York City, and he wanted to give me a tour one night when I was visiting. We drove into the city, and I found myself immersed in another world. It was incredible to me that even at 10 p.m., some streets were lighted bright as day for shoppers and pedestrian traffic even at night was heavy there. I got to see Chinatown, the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan and despite a green light, some drivers stopped at an intersection and got out of their cars to purchase ice cream from the Good Humor truck. As we drove past Central Park, the harmonious refrains of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” came on my father’s car radio, and it was the first time I had ever heard it. Therefore, for me, I do not associate “Sweet Caroline” with the seventh inning stretch of Red Sox games at Fenway Park in Boston, rather I remember it for a great time spent with my father driving through New York City. I’ll always associate that tune with my father.

When my wife Nancy and I were first dating, we spent a Saturday morning driving around to various neighborhood garage sales in Florida. A song came on the radio that we both liked. I had not heard it before, and I asked Nancy if she knew what the name of the song was and who performed it. She told me that she had heard the song before, and it was called “Collide” by Howie Day. Whenever I listen to that song today, I am instantly transported back in time to that moment years ago and we both fondly think of it as “our song.”

In January 1972, after spending Christmas at home in Rochester with my family, my college roommate, Craig, picked me up a few days before New Year’s Eve and we drove in his Volkswagen Beetle across the country. We stopped at his brother’s house in Ohio and to visit a friend in Oklahoma City and we were back on the road on Jan. 3 bound for our college in New Mexico. To get there, we had to drive through the Panhandle of Texas and the weather was deteriorating as a massive snowstorm rolled across the plains bearing down on us as we drove along Route 66. To distract us as the storm approached, Craig turned on the car radio and we happened to catch the debut of a new song, “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. I had never heard of her before, so through the years, I have always associated “You’re So Vain” and Carly Simon with riding on Route 66 in the Panhandle of Texas while trying to outrun a dangerous snowstorm.

One of the experiences I came to enjoy about serving in the U.S Air Force in Germany was that the Base Exchange store would have record albums available soon after their public release back home in the states at a discounted price. I amassed quite a collection of performers just breaking out or on the cusp of stardom. It was fun to introduce my friends and co-workers to new music and new artists on a regular basis. Some of these new artists at that time included Nicolette Larson, Van Halen, and The Cars. I can remember picking up and looking at a new album in June 1978 and I paid $5.95 for it without ever hearing a cut from the album or knowing what the band’s music sounded like. That album was “Dire Straits” by Dire Straits, and it remains one of my favorites of all-time, especially the song “Sultans of Swing” from the album. Now nearing some 45 years later, when I think of my time stationed in Germany, I can still hear the song “Sultans of Swing” playing in my head.

What songs jog your memory?

Friday, April 7, 2023

Insight: Not fitting the pattern

Not long before his death, the longtime director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, held a press conference to announce the results of a nationwide study of crime in America. The study surveyed police records from 2,400 U.S. cities and towns in the early 1970s and 50 years later, a recent national crime report eerily echoes findings that Hoover originally confirmed in 1973.

Here’s a summary of results reported:

Burglaries most commonly take place during the months of December, January, and February.

The most probable day and time for burglaries is on a Saturday evening.

Most burglaries take place between the hours of 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The greatest number of violent assaults, rapes, and murders are reported during the months of July and August.

Most murders are committed on a weekend.

The largest number of murders are committed between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and mostly happen at night.

Speaking from personal experience, the burglary that took place at our home in the late 1980s did not fit the pattern.

One summer, we had hired a contractor that our family had used previously for a project to install some new windows and create a new family room addition off the kitchen of our house. This contractor was well respected in the community and had known us for years. He was enthusiastic, kept costs down and did excellent work.

The contractor was in his late 60s and had two of his nephews and his son helping him perform the work. They always arrived on time and were polite and respectful as they spent time at our home.

We brought them water and my wife even made sandwiches for lunch for them one afternoon. We invited them inside where it was cool and to take a break when the temperature outside topped 100 degrees.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about the experience of having them work at our home. After a week and a half, all the necessary work was finished, we paid the contractor and he and his crew left. We were thrilled to have a beautiful new family room complete with a new wood stove, new carpeting and two large windows to look out over the back of our property.

The bill was exactly as the contactor had quoted us and he even painted the new family room to show his appreciation for hiring him and his crew for our project.

Several weeks went by and we resumed our normal routines of working, going to school and caring for my wife’s elderly mother, who was bed-ridden and in poor health.

Then something odd happened. When I arrived home from work one afternoon, I noticed that the VCR under our television was missing and that was unusual because I taped a three-hour block of ABC soap operas (All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital) every day for her. She arrived home from a college nursing class not long thereafter and we quickly determined that our home had been burglarized.

Missing was $800 in cash taken from the drawer of an antique coffee grinder on a shelf in the kitchen, a box of old 1950s baseball cards from a closet, expensive jewelry from her mother’s dresser drawers, a chainsaw, a .22 rifle, my Air Force field jacket, the VCR, and several pieces of antique ivory that my mother-in-law had brought home from India after World War II.

We immediately called the police and reported the burglary. They came out and investigated and said they would get back to us if they found out anything.

A couple of weeks passed, and both my wife and I were sickened by what happened. We did not feel safe in our own home and felt like someone had violated our private space and lost our sense of security.

Then we received a phone call from the police. An arrest was made following the discovery of a few of our stolen items at a pawn shop about 40 miles away. I had kept the serial number of the chainsaw from when I purchased it and had also jotted down the serial number of the .22 rifle and turned that information over to the police when we reported the crime.

The police informed us that they had arrested the son of the contractor for burglarizing our home. His personal information had been taken when he sold the pawn shop the chainsaw and the .22 rifle. Apparently, this fellow was addicted to drugs and admitted to the police that he had installed the family room windows while working at our home and knew how to open them easily on a day when we weren’t there.

The chainsaw and the rifle were the only items police recovered and we have no idea what happened to the other items. He sold the rifle and chainsaw for cash to buy drugs and we weren’t aware he was on probation after being released from jail for burglary. The lesson here is to always be aware of who’s working at your home and to protect your valuables at all times. We didn’t and paid the price. <

Tim Nangle: Keeping our promises and paying the bills

By State Sen. Tim Nangle

Last week was certainly a busy one up in Augusta. After a long night in the Senate chamber, I am proud to share that we have successfully passed Part I of the biennial budget.

State Senator Tim Nangle
This budget reflects our dedication to fulfilling the needs of Mainers by providing essential services and ensuring our ongoing commitments to education, childcare, hospitals, behavioral health, long-term care, property tax relief, and much more. These are not just line items in a budget but an embodiment of our shared values and vision for a better Maine.

The decision to approach the biennial budget in two parts — focusing first on current services and later debating new initiatives — is designed to provide stability and transparency for our families, communities, and small business owners. By making good on our commitments and paying the bills, we’ve laid a solid foundation for future growth and development in our great state.

Part I of the budget keeps our promises on property tax relief, early childcare and education, and health care. It respects Maine’s revenue-sharing program, protects the Property Tax Fairness Credit, upholds the Homestead Exemption Program, and provides tax breaks for older Mainers. It also makes good on the state’s commitment to fund education at 55 percent, provide free school meals for all, support Maine’s childcare workers, and fund teacher retirement.

As a lifelong advocate of public health, I am pleased to see that Part I of the budget prioritizes health care coverage for children and families through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as funding for nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and in-home and community support services for older Mainers and other adults. Additionally, the budget includes funding for the low-cost drugs program, which helps retired Mainers access affordable medications.

By funding education at 55 percent, supporting our childcare workers, and ensuring our retired neighbors can enjoy well-earned tax breaks, Part I of the budget acknowledges the dedication of hard-working Mainers all across our state. Our children will continue to benefit from school meals at no charge, and we'll keep investing in crucial health care programs like CHIP for our youngest Mainers.

This continuing services budget might not make for exciting headlines, but it does make for good government. By maintaining the revenue-sharing program at 5 percent, we ensure stability for property taxes, providing municipalities with the necessary funds to cover essential services like law enforcement, snow removal, and more. This is the first-ever two-year budget to fully restore the revenue-sharing program since its elimination in 2015.

As a former member of the Windham Town Council, I understand how important it is for the state to pay its fair share and provide stability for local municipalities and schools that are currently working on their own budgets.

Knowing what funds that they can expect from the state allows local leaders and school officials to budget more effectively and ensure that municipal taxes don’t increase if they don’t have to. Maine families, communities, and small business owners deserve this type of transparency and leadership from our state government.

Now that we’ve paid all the bills that we agreed to in the 130th Legislature, we can move forward, working across the aisle, to decide what new projects and programs we want to see in the second part of the budget. Importantly, splitting the budget into two parts helps us avoid a government shutdown this summer and guarantees our neighbors, municipalities, and businesses will continue to receive the state services they count on.

As we move forward with the second part of the biennial budget, I will continue working alongside my colleagues to find new ways to strengthen our communities and improve the quality of life for all Mainers. I aim to be your voice in Augusta, representing your hopes and aspirations for what good government means to you.

Thank you for placing your trust in me as your state senator. I remain committed to advocating for the well-being of our families, communities, and local economies. By working together, we can shape the future for a better Maine, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. If you or someone you know needs assistance, wants to discuss legislation, or needs help connecting with a state agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My email is, and my office phone number is 207-287-1515. You can find me on Facebook at To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at <