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.

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