Friday, October 16, 2020

‘Trunk or Treat’ launching spooky new drive-through tradition

Windham Parks and Recreation and the Sebago 
Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce are
co-hosting this year's 'Drive-Thru Trunk of Treat'
from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Oct. 24 behind the
North Windham Hannaford. Pre-registration
and COVID masks are required. Trunk hosts and 
candy sponsors are still needed and have until
4 p.m. on Oct. 21 to do so at
www.windhamparksandrecreation. 
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE  
  
By Ed Pierce

Ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night are prepared to substitute for the hallowed tradition of trick or treating as Windham gets ready for a pandemic-edition “Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat” from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 behind North Windham Hannaford.

Hosted by Windham Parks and Recreation and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the spooky “Trunk or Treat” event is open to Windham-only residents. All pre-registered trick-or-treaters and their families will drive through the grounds with pre-packaged candy and goodies distributed at each trunk.

In lieu of admission, a donation will be accepted for the Windham Food Pantry. The event is open to families with children through eighth grade and to abide by health requirements, COVID masks must be worn by participants over the age of 2.

Families will drive-through and not get out of their cars and may only drive-through at a time designated when they pre-register.

Those who wish to host trunks for participants are encouraged to register by 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at www.windhamrecreation.com

According to Linda J. Brooks, Windham Parks and Recreation department director, the town has been hosting “Trunk or Treat” since 2017.

“We initiated it as a way to handle the growing number of people that were attending our Halloween party each year,” Brooks said. “Additionally, we recognized that since Windham has its rural areas,
there are some families who wanted the benefit of seeing the kids in their costumes, but don’t traditionally get trick-or-treaters at their homes.”

She said that the most challenging aspect of staging the event has been managing the large crowds that have turned out each year to celebrate Halloween. 

“Prior to last year, ‘Trunk or Treat’ was just one part of our larger ‘Halloween Adventure’ that had included a costume contest, games, refreshments and ‘haunted happenings.’ By 2019 we had acknowledged that we had to focus on the ‘Trunk or Treat’ alone, since that was the best way to effectively manage so many people,” Brooks said. “We had plans in place to move the event to the high school for 2020, since we had outgrown the middle school – both the parking area for the outdoor event and the inside facilities available for our inclement weather alternative.” 

Brooks said that the best part of Trunk or Treat every year for Parks and Recreation is the collaborative effort involved in bringing an event of this magnitude to the Windham community and the expressions
of gratitude they receive from those involved.

“The trunks have been hosted by a number of local businesses, community organizations, Town of Windham departments or committees, not to mention generous and creative residents wanting to contribute their own resources to make this all happen,” she said.

This year’s event co-sponsor is no exception.

“The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce jumped at the chance to partner with Windham Parks and Recreation on this event,” said Robin Mullins, Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce executive director. “The SLRCC has worked with Linda Brooks and her amazing staff on several events and have been impressed with the hard work and dedication the team gives to the residents of Windham. We as the local Chamber of Commerce want to do our part by immersing ourselves in the communities we support and be a resource not only for our 10 towns and their programs, but also for local businesses, residents and non-profits as well.”

In addition to “Trunk or Treat,” Windham Parks and Recreation also will host a virtual Halloween Costume Contest sponsored by Dairy Queen.

Brooks said the contest is for kids ages 18 and under. Photos of children in costumes must be submitted
by 4 p.m. Oct. 28 for judging. Along with the photo submission, they require a child’s name, child’s age, parent’s name, a description of costume, and your address as the contest is limited to Windham residents only.

Windham Lions Club members will serve as judges and costumes are judged based on creativity, effort, originality and authenticity. Contest submission may be made to Parks&Recreation@windhammaine.us

Pre-registration for the “Drive Thru Trunk or Treat” opens at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19.

For more information or to pre-register, go to www.windhamrecreation.com  <

Friday, October 9, 2020

A matter of historical record: Lonnon Rhode of Windham – slave and Revolutionary War soldier

By Walter Lunt

Before he was a rebel soldier during the American Revolution, Lonnon Rhode was the house “servant” of Windham’s second settler, the blacksmith William Mayberry. According to history writers Andy O’Brien and Will Chapman (The End of Slavery in Maine – Mainer, June, 2020), due to “…the ambiguous status (of) many African Americans in the north at the time, (a servant) was not considered a slave in the household, but neither was he truly free.”

Many African-Americans in the north
were not considered a slave in the 
household, but neither was she or he
truly free. COURTESY PHOTO 
Add caption
Rhode married Chloe (surname unknown) in December of 1763, according to old records, in a ceremony officiated by Parson Peter Thatcher Smith (The Windham Eagle – Sept. 25, 2020). They were “owned” by Mayberry and, as such, taxed as “property.”

According to the late Windham historian, Kay Soldier, William Mayberry died soon after the couple married; under the estate settlement, Lonnon was bestowed to Mayberry’s son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Margaret, while Chloe went to another son.

Lonnon and Chloe would have four children. Three died young. Lucy, believed to be their youngest, would live out her 65 years as a pauper.

Slavery in Massachusetts (including the District of Maine) would not be abolished until 1783. However, freedom prior to that could be achieved in a variety of ways; one was service in the War for Independence. For his enlistment in Capt. John Skillings’ Company in January of 1777,  Lonnon would receive 26 British pounds; he would pledge 20 pounds of that to Margaret Mayberry for his freedom.

Lonnon served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, including the bloody and pivotable battles of Hubbardton and Saratoga. His company joined Gen. George Washington’s army at Valley Forge in December. It was there he died, probably of exposure after 10 ½ months of combat and misery. It is believed he was buried where he died.

Of the nearly two dozen Windham soldiers who served at Valley Forge, historian Samuel T. Dole (Windham in the Past – 1916) wrote “…their sufferings were almost beyond human endurance. They were without sufficient food, clothing, and shelter…the destitution of these soldiers…cannot be expressed by any language we possess.”

Lonnon Rhode left a widow and his 5-year old daughter, Lucy. After her mother died, as was the custom of the time, Lucy would be “auctioned” off annually at town meeting. She would go to the highest bidder to perform household duties and farm chores in exchange for room, board and clothing. Records show that in 1817, Dr. James Merrill paid $36 to the town in exchange for Lucy’s services for one year. Later, she would live at Windham’s Town Farm (for the poor). Lucy died, age 65, in 1837 and is buried in the paupers’ section of Brown Cemetery on Chute Road in Windham.

In their book Maine’s Visible Black History, authors Price and Talbot comment on the life and military service of Lonnon Rhode, “(He) bought his freedom by paying twice – to earn the money and with his life.”  <                                                             

Friday, October 2, 2020

Windham Masons rededicate lodge building on River Road

By Ed Pierce

Every day drivers traveling on River Road in Windham pass by a large brick building not realizing the history and tradition associated with the structure. To be precise, 964 River Road has been the home of the Presumpscot Lodge 70, the local gathering spot for Freemasons in the area since it was constructed and dedicated in 1970.

The history of the Windham Masonic Lodge dates back 156 years and as Maine celebrated its bicentennial this year, masonry joined in the observance as it can trace its roots in Maine back to 1820 as well. Often misunderstood as a “secret society,” masonry is an international fraternity that Benjamin Franklin, a mason himself, once said “had no secrets.”

The Presumpscot Lodge at 964 River Road has
has been the local gathering spot for Freemasons
since it was first constructed and dedicated in
1970. A ceremony on Saturday will observe
the 50th anniversary of the building in Windham.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
According to Jim Ross, Presumpscot Lodge secretary, Windham’s Masonic history coincides with the rise of the community of Windham.

“Organized in 1864, the first Lodge Master was John R. Rollins, and the first Lodge building was located at Windham Hill,” Ross said. “The lodge takes its name after the Presumpscot River when that river played a prominent part in the town’s early formation.”

Ross said that in 1887 the original Masonic building was dismantled and reconstructed by John R. Rollins, a local carpenter and businessman, at a location near what is now the Vacuum Doctor building at 725 Roosevelt Trail in Windham.

“The Lodge remained at that location until 1970 when its new Lodge building at its current location at 964 River Road was constructed,” he said.

In 2009 the Presumpscot Lodge was consolidated with Standish Lodge of Masons, who were in a very old building requiring needed repairs which were cost prohibitive to that membership.

“The Windham Masons happily accepted their neighbors at the Windham location and a new Lodge was essentially born while maintaining the name of Presumpscot,” Ross said.

Masonry in Maine dates back even further. In 1762, the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Grand Lodge of England (now the United Grand Lodge of England) issued a charter to form a Lodge in Falmouth, which eventually became Portland, at the request of several Masons living in the area.

In 1819, the people of Maine voted to withdraw from Massachusetts and form a separate state. There were 31 Maine Lodges at the time, active and thriving, who then met in convention and voted to follow suit and form their own Grand Lodge when the separation took place, Ross said.

“When Maine joined the Union as the 23rd state on March 15, 1820 and the Grand Lodge of Maine came into being on June 1 following,” he said. “It was consecrated by the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire on June 24, 1820 with William King, the first (and serving) Governor of Maine installed into the office of Grand Master.”

Windham’s Presumpscot Lodge’s membership in 2020 stands at 233 and its organizational structure consists of a Lodge Master who is the presiding head of the Lodge, a Senior Warden and Junior Warden who are the second and third officers respectively in charge along with a Secretary and a Treasurer. All five officers are elected by the membership at its annual meeting in December every year and hold one-year terms.

Remaining lodge officers include two Deacons, two Stewards, a Chaplain, a Marshal, and a Tyler (also known as a sentinel) and are appointed by the Lodge Master, Ross said.

Helping to celebrate the lodge building’s 50th anniversary and rededication Saturday will be the Lodge Master, Mark G. Rosenhek of Raymond.

I like being a part of a borderless, international fraternity whose members are accepting of varied opinions and beliefs,” Rosenhek said. “I find Masonry’s association with Colonial America and our member Founding Fathers, meaningful. As the Worshipful Master of Presumpscot Lodge, I most enjoy sharing our ritual with, and welcoming new members into our Fraternity.”

Ross said that Windham’s Masonic Lodge is made up of men who share similar values for their own well-being, and for the overall health and welfare of the inhabitants of their community.

“Masons contribute time and resources to charity. They participate in many outreach programs designed to better their community,” Ross said. “Many of these endeavors are performed on an individual level while the Lodge may organize to support a chosen endeavor in town that is important to its members”

He said that when a man asks to join a Masonic Lodge, he enters into an opportunity for personal development, character building, and the acquisition of leadership capacities.

“Through his Masonic journey and his association which his brethren provide, a Mason learns the skill and finds the understanding with which he can enhance his community and strengthen his family,” Ross said.

Former Maine Sate Representative Tom Tyler, a lifelong resident of Windham, said being a Mason has been a meaningful part of his life and he enjoys the camaraderie he finds at the lodge.

“For me becoming a mason was to join a fraternity of men who had a common bond of responsibility and dedication to charity,” Tyler said. “Everyone knows of the Shriners, a part of Masonry, however what I found was so much more. As we say to men interested in joining the Masons you will be ‘Not just a Man, A Mason.’ For me it is the fellowship, working with men from all walks of life for common goals,” Tyler said.

Ross said that while the moral philosophy of Freemasonry is founded upon religious principles, it is neither a religion nor a substitute for one.

“It does not solicit membership but welcomes men who have good morals and who profess a belief in a Supreme Being,” he said. “Any man sincerely desirous of serving humanity needs only to ask a member in order to receive a petition for membership.” <