Friday, December 20, 2019

Loon Echo Land Trust accepting applications for Environmental Education Grants

Schools and libraries in Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT)’s seven-town service area (Denmark, Bridgton, Harrison, Naples, Casco, Raymond and Sebago) are invited to apply for one of LELT’s Environmental Education Grants. The purpose of this grant program is to help our future leaders learn more about the natural world.

LELT is accepting applications for the grants now through January 15, 2019. Applications may be downloaded from or picked up at the LELT office, 8 Depot St, Suite 4 in Bridgton and returned by email or mail by the January deadline. Grant recipients will be notified by mid-February of 2020.

LELT’s education endowment was started in 1998 as a memorial to two local teachers, Helen Allen and Polly Bartlett. After her death at the age of 94, Helen Allen’s bequest to Loon Echo allowed LELT to create a fund to support yearly programs in local schools and libraries. 2019 Grant recipients include Spaulding Memorial Library, Raymond Village Library, Bridgton Public Library, Naples Public Library, and Sebago Elementary School.

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is a member supported, non-profit land trust that works to protect the natural resources of the northern Sebago Lake region for future generations. Loon Echo conserves 7,000 acres of land and manages 31 miles of hiking and biking trails in the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. To learn more about Loon Echo Land Trust, or to support their work with a donation, visit or call 207-647-4352.

Katahdin talks series reaches high altitudes

The Katahdin Program, an alternative program which features therapeutic adventure components for high school students in RSU14 launched its “Katahdin Talks” series this week with the incredible story of Bill Yeo’s climb of Mount Everest. Yeo is from Durham, ME.

Yeo shared with students all about his journey to get to Mount Everest, his experience on the mountain, why he chose not to go to the final summit, and so much more. Yeo engaged students with his stories of adventure in the mountains, but also spoke to the life skills and mentality that every student can strive to take with them on any adventure they choose.

Bill Yeo sharing his experiences with the students
After hearing from Yeo, students had an opportunity to ask questions and a couple were even able to sit down with him for a recorded session about his experience.

In response to a question regarding how he dealt with the danger of climbing Mount Everest, Bill Yeo shared that “The more often you are exposed to risky environments, the more conditioned you are to those environments”. He also stated how this can be dangerous, because “you don’t think things seem dangerous”.

When asked about how to follow in his footsteps, Yeo simply said, “Start setting some goals.” He followed that up with encouraging students to ask, “what are the steps I need to take on the way to that goal?”

Yeo encouraged the students who attended not to be dissuaded from pursuing their goals and passions, but to work hard for them, saying, “If you have the desire to do something, you can do anything you want to do.”

Katahdin Talks is a series presented by the Katahdin Program that brings in speakers with a variety of experiences to share with high school students, both those in the Katahdin Program as well as in Windham High School.

When asked why he created the Katahdin Talks series, Dr. Rod Nadeau, Katahdin Adventure Based Counselor, RSU14 said, “It's essentially our version of TED talks - A time and place for intellectual sparks to fly as we learn about new topics of interest.  The mission of Katahdin Talks is to help generate intellectual curiosity and enrich our academics by providing a time and place for students and staff to expand our learning through lecture and dialogue.  Although we've invited some well-known folks, my hope is staff and students will also volunteer as guest speakers to enhance our learning community.”

Schoolhouse Arts Center Performs “A Christmas Carol”

By Emma Bennett

“Marley began it all … by being dead.”

“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens has been a fireside tale for more than a century. Originally published in 1843, everyone knows the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the ghosts that visit him on Christmas Eve, and his everlasting “humbug!”.

From the page to the stage old Ebenezer’s spirit transformed, tucked into a little nook in Standish,
Scoorge visits the  Bob Crachit Family
Maine. It was the 15th of December when Schoolhouse Arts finished their 8th show of “A Christmas Carol”, ending with a grand finale to this winter production. Three months of preparation went into making this the most attended winter show in ten years at Schoolhouse. Record-breaking!

There are currently more than two dozen versions of the story, but this one brought an entirely new take to the original. It gave a little more of Scrooge’s background, creating an emotional attachment between the audience and the character but still imbuing a comical aspect of each character in the story. The audience was amused and moved all at once.

The credit goes to this amazing cast. Greg Pomeroy, who played Scrooge in the show, did a fantastic job capturing Scrooge’s qualities, while also nailing every single joke, not to mention learning pages and pages of lines!

Jeff Christo, as Marley’s ghost and Fezziwig, couldn’t have been more frightening and hilarious at the same time. Then there’s Randy Hunt as Bob Cratchit who stepped into his character’s shoes just like that and made it look easy. There are many others to congratulate: Caitlin Cashman as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Francesca Jellison as Ghost of Christmas Present, Wes Pierson as Tiny Tim, and every single narrator, Christmas Caroler and others who heard the call to round out this production.

I had a great experience being on stage with my Dad - who played Frederick, Scrooge’s nephew. I’m lucky I get to share this with him.

Thanks to TJ, our director, Zoe Peterson, our stage manager, and everyone who helped out backstage with lights and props, we made it a memorable experience.

This was my first time performing at Schoolhouse and I had the best time sharing these past few months with these caring, understanding, and talented people.

Schoolhouse may not have a giant stage or be able to have a large audience, but it holds a lot of heart. Though it may be old, its soul lies on the stage, through everyone that performs on it.

Before the memory fades: Jackass Annie’s epic horseback ride to the Pacific – Windham stopover yields support, encouragement

By Walter Lunt

Part one of a two part series. Part one can be read at this link

In what has been described as one of America’s most remarkable equestrian journeys, a 63-year old down-on-her-luck woman from Minot, Maine rode out of her hometown in a quest to fulfill a life-long dream: to see the country and swim in the Pacific Ocean. Along with Mesannie (aka Annie) Wilkins on that chilly November day in 1954, were ‘her boys,’ an aged horse, Tarzan, and her energetic and faithful dog, Depeche Toi, a Spaniel/Dachshund mix.

Annie riding Tarzan with Depechi Toi perched
atop pack horse
After losing her family and her home and learning from her doctor that she had only about two years to live due to a lung deficiency, Annie decided it was time to strike out. The plan: to ride Tarzan across the country, sleep in jails and barns and work odd jobs.

As to the dangers and the improbability of success, Annie would often say that the Lord has a plan for all of us – “everything is foreordained.” But, as it turned out, she would have to toil very little on the long journey because newspapers, radio and television along the way would take up her cause and sympathetically publicize her cross-country trek as courageous and daring – reporting on every mile and every hardship and misfortune.

Both her admirers and detractors dubbed her ‘Jackass Annie,’ which she happily embraced with her usual high spirits and good cheer.

In her book, “Last of the Saddle Tramps”, a memoir of her cross-country adventure published in 1966, Annie discussed the events surrounding her stay in Windham, which was one of her first overnights. Her account was different from that described in Part One by extended family members of her host’s family (The Windham Eagle, Dec. 6, 2019).

According to Annie, she had bedded down in a grove of trees along a road in the town of Gray. Her sleep was interrupted by Depeche Toi’s angry growls. It was a deputy sheriff, who told her it was improper for them to sleep there, and that he had secured shelter for them with a family in Windham. Tarzan stayed the night in a nearby barn. The deputy drove Annie and her dog to the home of Dr. and Mrs. Laurence Bennett who ran a nursing home on Windham Center Road.

Devoting nearly a full page of her book to her overnight stay at the Bennett’s, Annie wrote:

“So…at one in the morning the sheriff drove me to a small, private hospital that was run by a doctor and his wife (Nellie). They were waiting for me, although the doctor wasn’t really up – he was flat on his back, as he had been for twenty years-paralyzed. His wife wheeled him about on a special contraption. He was still practicing, still helping people. A wonderful man. His wife drove me back to Tarzan’s barn the next morning. While the horse ate his grain, she and I talked. It was (a) pleasant conversation, but I sensed that she was trying to tell me something and didn’t know quite how to go about it. So, I tried to make it easy for her by saying, ‘Some people don’t approve of what I’m trying to do.’

‘My husband and I approve,’ she said.

‘Thank you.’

‘And we wish you would change your mind.’

I wasn’t sure that I’d heard correctly. Depeche Toi was sitting there, head cocked and looking at her, as if he was puzzled, too.

‘While you and I were having breakfast this morning, my husband phoned Minot,’ she continued. ‘He talked to your doctor there. So now we know about you, too.’ She paused, then added, ‘Courage isn’t everything. It’s just one thing.’

I nodded and waited for her to say more, but she didn’t. I was grateful for her concern and pleased that she didn’t press the issue. She was just reminding me of the time limit on my life…I came close to telling her my secret: I had the Lord’s approval. Or was it His blessing?

…Now, I said, ‘I’m feeling better than I have in years. The fresh air helps some, I suppose, but the nice people I’m meeting along the way helps more.’
Described as a 'breezy read,' most reviews
rate "Last of the Saddle Tramps" from 4.5 to 5.0.

She smiled, then put her hands on my shoulders and looked right into my eyes. ‘You’ll get there, you MUST get there,’ she said. Then she kissed me on the left cheek, turned and walked to her car and drove off. I don’t think she looked back, but I waved goodbye anyway.”

Verbatim from her book, that was Annie’s account of her first brush with humanity before the media had begun telegraphing her story. Today, the Bennett family operates Ledgewood Manor, Inc. on Tandberg Trail in North Windham.

Later, in New Hampshire, a Portland Press Herald reporter and an AP photographer caught up with Annie. “That’s what started the whole press thing,” she observed.

After that, nearly every town expected her arrival; she would often be given a police escort. “I felt like Lindbergh from Paris, but I must have looked more like Buffalo Bill’s wife.”

On the way through Massachusetts she was treated to a full Thanksgiving meal. And just outside of Springfield she was directed to a small inn that announced, “Washington Slept Here” and where Tarzan got his own private box stall. A snowstorm briefly halted their departure. When they did leave, a sign was posted over the stable, “Tarzan Sept Here.”

While riding through New Jersey, Annie recorded in her road diary, “I’m beginning to think we’d been adopted by truck drivers,” who frequently stopped to advise what she could expect “up ahead.”
Annie entered Pennsylvania with a cough and a severe back ache. Fortunately, she was invited to stay as long as she wished at the plush Chadds Ford Inn where rest and good food helped her make a full recovery. Annie reported that she and Tarzan were feeling “fitter” than when they’d started out in Maine.

“When I went out to saddle Tarzan, I found that he had company. A man was sitting there on a box making a drawing of my horse. I looked over his shoulder as he worked, and I liked what I saw. 

‘You’re pretty good,’ I told him. “He thanked me and said his name was Andrew. He finished the drawing; Annie saddled Tarzan and left. It was years before Annie realized she had been talking to the famous artist Andrew Wyeth, who lived in Maine and wintered in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
Over the following months, Annie would experience the heat of deserts, the blinding snow and cold of the western mountains and the dangers of unfamiliar terrain. In Arkansas, she barely escaped the fangs of a coiled cottonmouth snake; in Colorado, she was nearly trampled by a herd of cattle, and in Wyoming, awoke one morning under water as a flash flood overtook their camp site. The rushing water spooked Tarzan and her pack horse; they ran 30 miles back in the direction they had come. 

Ultimately, delays and distractions stretched their journey past Annie’s 64th birthday.

In one unusual incident, an overnight stay at a farm in western Wyoming resulted in a marriage proposal from an elderly goat herder. Annie told him, “I have to think about it.” Later that day she moved on, and in her words, “…never looked back.”

And yes, following 18 states, 17 months, 7 thousand miles and eight diaries, Annie, Tarzan and Depeche Toi dipped their feet in the Pacific Ocean. She even appeared on the popular Art Linkletter’s House Party television program. Said Annie, “From his introduction, you would have thought our trip was more important than the one Columbus had made.”

All of America had embraced the portly, friendly-faced woman from Maine. She had the courage and determination to realize her dream before the admiring eyes of millions across the country.

Mesannie Wilkins remained in the West for a long time; she eventually returned to Maine and settled in a town near Minot. A doctor’s diagnosis that she would die before reaching retirement age proved to be unfounded. She passed away in 1980 at the age of 89.

According to Annie, “Doctors, they don’t know everything. Most things in life are foreordained.”  <

Next time, A Matter of Historical Record returns with a salute to Maine’s bicentennial. What was Windham’s vote on statehood? You may be surprised.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Congratulations to the Festival of Trees winners

Windham Hill UCC had a spectacular event, their third annual Festival of Trees, last weekend from Friday, December 6 to Sunday, December 8. There were 23 happy winners and they are as follows: Cavallero, Jennifer Marquis, Heather Johnson, Steve Richards, Tammy Cote, Becky Phinney, Jessica Bridges, Selena Pelletier, Rebecca Canton, Melissa Bailey, Lisa Leighton, Lindsey Monaghan, Carol Laverriere, Melanie Francis, Bill and Linda Thomas, Stacy Webster, Christina Fernald, Shaelynn Sargent, Wendy Henneman, Peter Sawyer, Mary Booth, Taylor McKinnon and Dana Gammon.

There are several new businesses who have already reserved a spot for next year. We can take up to a total of 23 trees in the hall.

The Festival of Trees was a fund-raiser for Windham Hill in important ways. First, one quarter of all funds raised will go to Missions. The Board of Missions and Social Concerns has voted to allocate one third of the funds locally, one third nationally and one third internationally and they will vote on specific charities in the near future. The Festival will also benefit our church budget, giving us new dollars for maintenance and program.

Windham Hill UCC Festival Committee looks forward to a Fourth Annual Festival of Trees next December.

Student of the Week: Vanessa Berry

Vanessa Berry, a seventh-grade student at Jordan-Small Middle School Windham, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Berry states that her favorite subject is science and she enjoys horseback riding, gymnastics and yoga.

Vanessa Berry is the kind of young person for whom this award was made,” stated her teacher. “She is the best kind of human. Academically, she shines in everything she does. Over the course of this year, she has discovered an unexpected love for reading and writing. This is because Vanessa’s work ethic is something to behold. It doesn’t matter what the subject, she gives it her all, going above and beyond her own expectations to shine. However, Vanessa’s light reaches far beyond academics. Be it, teachers or students, she is the first to help others. In fact, we have even referred to her as the “JSMS Ambassador.” In school, on the athletic field, and on the trail, Vanessa builds positive and lasting relationships. She is a role model for us all.

Berry, who believes hands-on projects make learn fun, lives with her family and 2 cute dogs.

American Family Holiday tradition exceeded expectations yet again

Ashley Liberty with son Kenneth
The Windham Chamber Singers performed with exquisite spirit once again in the 2019 edition of An American Family Holiday Tradition. The concerts took place on December 7, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Windham Performing Arts Center.

The Chamber Singers welcomed back Daniel Strange. Strange is a WCS alumnus and on the faculty at the University of Miami. Also returning will was his wife, Ashley Liberty on the violin.

This year’s headliner was Norm Lewis, who is a Broadway veteran recently seen in NBC’s live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar. He made history as The Phantom of the Opera’s first African American Phantom on Broadway. All the performers delighted the audiences with their talent and humor.
Norm Lewis

“The America Family Holiday concerts are a very special time for our Chamber Singers family,” stated Dr. Richard Nickerson, conductor. “It really is ‘The Best Day of the Year’! Daniel Strange and Ashley Liberty are such an important ingredient in this tradition, and it was so special to have Harrison, their son, with us this year. Norm Lewis is our first three-time guest. He has said many times how much he loves coming to Windham. In addition to captivating the audience, he engages our students both on stage and off. Whether he is giving performance advice, telling stories, making social media videos or playing games with the students, we are always thrilled to have him as part of our show. One of the highlights for me was the return of Kim Block.”

If you missed the performance this year, be sure to catch it next year and bill filled with the holiday spirit and warmth that the acts inspire.

Field-Allen Post recognized Leon Davis for his volunteer efforts

At the fourth annual Field-Allen Post 148 Awards night, Leon Davies was recognized with the "Donald Rogers, Past Commander's Service Award" presented this year to the Legion Post member who best exemplifies service to his fellow veterans over the past year.

Post Adjutant David Tanguay, 2nd District Commander,
Phil Ceasar and Award recipient, Leon Davies
Davies is a steadfast supporter of the Vet Coffee program, arriving early to set up the tables and get the coffee started. Davis is also the Post's Chief Cook and runs the kitchen at all Post related dinners and luncheons including all bean suppers, St Patrick's day dinner and the Memorial Day Open house community picnic. Davis is well respected by all the Post members and most deserving of this recognition.

Giving locally: An important holiday tradition for one area youngster

Allie Mannette
Last year, Allie Mannette, then eight years old, set off a chain of holiday giving with her generous donation of proceeds from her yearlong egg sales and homemade craft sales. Allie inspired a number of local people and businesses to donate to Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) during the holiday season. 

This year Mannette, now nine years old, still a dedicated equestrian (she takes lessons at Vienna Farms), outdid herself raising over four times what she did last year for the clients, horses and programs at Riding To The Top. Mannette shocked the staff of RTT when she stopped in last week with a donation of $556. Director Sarah Bronson was on hand to accept the donation and remarked that “This girl is going places!” after she learned that Mannette had once again saved her egg money, made and sold crafts and inspired generosity in others.

Mannette created and displayed a poster about RTT’s services at her grandparent’s annual craft fair in Gorham last week. She also sold her handmade decorations and collected donations for RTT. One of the couples shopping at the fair stopped by her display and gave her a $100 bill for her collection. 

Mary Jane Strumph, Allie’s grandmother, shared that “Everyone in the barn started cheering and clapping. Everyone seems to be inspired by Allie!”   

About Riding to the Top
Founded in 1993, Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center’s (RTT) mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine assisted activities and therapies.  RTT is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International).  Located just west of Portland in Windham, Maine, RTT is the state’s only year-round PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center solely dedicated to serving people with disabilities through equine assisted activities and therapies. More than 250 clients visit annually, assisted by certified instructors, over 160 volunteers, and a herd of 18 horses, all specially trained to assist with therapeutic riding, carriage driving, equine assisted learning and hippotherapy. RTT is a community-based nonprofit, receives no federal or state funding and provides scholarships to over 60% of its clients.  For more information about client services, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit us at or call 892-2813.

Windham Pack 805 sponsored a local family for Christmas

Windham Pack 805 sponsored a local family for Christmas (seven year old boy, 10 year old girl, 12 year old girl, a mom and grandmother). The Scouts gifted the family with winter coats, snow pants, boots, gloves, toys for the kids, gift cards and goodies for mom and grandma, and more! They definitely exceeded expectations!

Raymond author Cheryl Blanchard never set out to be a writer

By Joe McNerney

On Wednesday, December 4, Cheryl Blanchard the author of “236 Cumberland Ave. Portland Maine” was at the Windham Public Library to talk about her recent book describing a time over 50 years ago when she and her ten siblings were living in a haunted apartment building in Portland
“I never knew my family history would be so interesting to others,” she said. It was true that Blanchard and her family had put many childhood memories behind them. This was to do with unnatural occurrences that had plagued them while living at a house in Portland -
236 Cumberland Ave.

Cheryl Blanchard
Blanchard’s father was an entertainer, a trait which seemed to be passed on to his children. 
When seeking better opportunities in Portland, he moved the family from Lubec eventually making their home at 236 Cumberland Ave.

As the title of her book suggests, it is the source of many memories. Many of which have supernatural incidents that were at the time very traumatic. In her book she describes silhouettes looming around, even calling some of them demonic.  In one chapter she describes going down to the tunnel underneath the house. Her brother in particular had very unsettling feelings. 

This is why her chapters are ended with them never speaking of it again. This was until a friend, who was interested in the history of the building, asked Cheryl to write down memories of childhood.

Sitting down with her family, they began to recall memories. Not all of which were good.

“You can’t imagine how wonderful it was,” she recalled fondly. “We could all remember which things happened to whom. It all started flooding back.”

Much of her childhood was shadowed by these dark memories. But just as it would seem that all would be bad – there were good times, too. “Music is what saved us,” stated Blanchard about her father’s love of music. “We all just had music in our blood. We never received lessons, we were all just always singing and dancing.”

Once the stories come flooding back, Blanchard wrote them all down and it became became a book. She was shocked to see the interest in her story. In fact, she’s surprised to have been asked to be interviewed on television. “The chat show 207 has reached out to me, as well as Stephen King.” she said. 
In addition to her speaking engagement last week at the Windham Public Library, Blanchard has been asked to talk about her book and experience at other libraries across the state. There has been quite the interest in her story.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s made into a movie,” she said.

Blanchard is selling the book herself, hoping to eventually be able to publish more copies. 
Her story has elements of Portland history mixed with family heritage and paranormal occurrences. If you'd like to read her book, you can pickup a copy at the Windham Public Library, 271 Windham Center Road. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Student of the Week: Nemo Koumphompakdy

Nemo Koumphompakdy, a seventh-grade student at Jordan-Small Middle Schol Windham, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Koumphompakdy states that his favorite subject is art and his favorite holiday is Christmas.

“Nemo, is known for his positive attitude and warm smile,” stated his teacher. “He is kind to his classmates, gets along well with his peers, and is respectful to all. Nemo always aims to do his best in the arts and enrichment classrooms. 

In Tech, he is an independent and engaged student, as well as an active participant during group challenges. In art, Nemo strives for quality work, demonstrates patience and acceptance of others, and asks questions as needed. Lastly, Nemo always jumps in to lend a hand or do extra cleaning.  These qualities have earned Nemo the distinction of being chosen by the AE team.”

Koumphompakdy is a frequent visitor of the school library and loves to read in his spare time. He also participated in the cross-country team this year.

Windham dancer returns as Clara in Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

Windham resident Emma Davis has returned to dance the coveted role of Clara in Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” at Merrill Auditorium, which began last Friday, November 29th and will continue until Sunday, December 8th.

The Windham Eagle newspaper staff member, Melissa Carter, attended last Friday’s performance
Emma Davis
with her husband and three-year old daughter. It was the first time Carter has attended Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”. She and her family thoroughly enjoyed the performance, especially her three-year-old. “My daughter was mesmerized with the dancing and stage displays throughout most of the evening,” Carter said. “The performers were nothing short of amazing. Their facial expressions communicated how much they enjoyed the theatrical production themselves, which only added to the enjoyment of the spectaculars. I would highly recommend watching this performance if you’ve never seen “The Nutcracker’”.

Set in early 19th century Germany, the ballet features well-known characters such as Clara, Uncle Drosselmeyer, the Nutcracker Prince, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Emma Davis and Laura Moskevich will dance the role of Clara. Arie Eiten and Trevor Seymour will again share the role of Nutcracker Prince. Principals Rhiannon Pelletier and Julia Lopez reprise the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, with First Soloist Kallee Gallant debuting. They will be partnered by Michael Hamilton as Cavalier. David Jon Timm plays the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer, and Principals Glenn and Janet Davis appear as Judge and Mrs. Stahlbalm.

As for the start of the show, Davis grew up dancing at Maine State Ballet and attended Windham Schools as well as being homeschool. She is the granddaughter of popular local resident and Broadway veteran Jonathan Miele, and great-granddaughter of Bob Miele, World War II Veteran and former owner of Patsy’s in South Windham. Davis currently is enrolled as a student at Brigham Young University’s innovative online “Pathway” program. Over the years Davis has danced in hundreds of performances at Maine State Ballet, including almost every role possible from a tiny Reindeer to Clara in “The Nutcracker”.

“I love dancing the role of Clara! When I was growing up I would watch the older girls dance at rehearsals and then would come home and do the entire Nutcracker in my kitchen. Being onstage gives me so much joy as I share my passion for dance with the audience.”

There is one more weekend of “The Nutcracker” performances which include this Friday, December 6 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20-70, with discounts available for groups, seniors & children, and are available at, by calling PortTIX at 207-842-0800, and at the Merrill Auditorium Box Office located on Myrtle Street in Portland. Friday, December 6 is Student Night for High School and College Students with valid ID. These $10 tickets can only be purchased by calling or visiting the Merrill Auditorium Box Office.

Other performers from the Raymond and Windham communities are as follows:

Liliana Abbott, Maisy Dinsmore, Emma Fletcher, Kirsten Mains, Adrienne Pelletier, Gwen Rogers, Isabelle Stoll

Vivian Allen, Emily Charette, Emma Davis, Addison Farris, Mia Gaudet, Amelia Greslick, Meg Kingsley, Juliette Lauzier-Bridges, Hanna Miele, Marin Miele

Maine State Ballet, a non-profit based in Falmouth, Maine, is one of the state’s leading arts organizations. It has been twice named Maine’s Best Dance Group by Downeast Magazine. Maine State Ballet houses the Maine State Ballet Company, the 175-seat Lopez Theater, and its School for the Performing Arts, with continuous instruction in ballet, tap, and jazz for 100 years.

Christmas Caroling in the Barn with the Friendly Beasts event

Faith Lutheran Church of Windham invites the community to a Christmas Caroling in the Barn event that will take place on Sunday, December 15 at The Hartwell Farm, 443 Sebago Lake Road in Gorham at 1 p.m.

This will be an old-fashioned community carol sing held in a cozy barn with live animals,
storytelling, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and special treats for the children.

“Because Mary and Joseph had to seek shelter in a stable the night Jesus was born, Faith Lutheran has a longstanding tradition of gathering in a barn to tell the story of that first Christmas,” stated Faith Lutheran Pastor Jane Field. “This year, we’re giving our tradition a new twist. Instead of a pageant, we will use the French carol, ‘The Friendly Beasts,’ to tell the Christmas story.” 

Based on an ancient European legend that at midnight on Christmas Eve animals can speak, the carol gives each animal in the Bethlehem stable a voice to tell of the gift they gave the Christ child. 
“On December 15, everyone is invited to join us as we sing to the animals who live at Hartwell Farm, including a donkey, a horse, cows, goats and hens, and folks will have a chance to see these animals close up (and maybe even feed them a treat or two!),” Field said.

“We will sing lots of other carols, too, and enjoy Christmas cookies and hot cocoa. Every family who joins us will receive an ornament to take home, and we will have a present for each child who participates.  This very special event is a gift from Faith Lutheran to our neighbors in the community, given in the spirit of joy and love that are at the heart of Christmas.”

Scrooge comes to Schoolhouse Arts Center

Schoolhouse Arts Center is presenting Charles Dickens classic Christmas tale “A Christmas Carol”.  It will be presented for eight performances December 6 through 15.  This is one of the most iconic Christmas stories ever, Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless classic.

This adaptation by Patrick Barlow is a newer interpretation of the traditional ghost story. It follows its main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, through his journey to find the meaning of Christmas all the while being led by three different ghosts: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Future. With humor, and wit, this adaptation is sure to keep true to the original story all the while bringing a fresh wave of energy to the show.

The production is directed by TJ Scannell and includes a cast of 29 local performers. They have been rehearsing for this event for two months. They range in age from 7 to 70. Sometimes heart wrenching,  sometimes scary, but lots of humor will keep audiences entertained to the final curtain.
Performances of “A Christmas Carol” will be held on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors.  Schoolhouse Arts Center is located at 16 Richville Road (Route 114) in Standish, just north of the intersection of Route 114 and Route 35, only 7 miles northwest of Gorham center or North Windham.  Reserve tickets on-line at

For more information about Schoolhouse Arts Center or “A Christmas Carol” please contact our office at 207-642-3743 or visit our web site  

Schoolhouse Arts Center is a non-profit, community-driven organization dedicated to arts education and the presentation of the arts. Our mission is to encourage individual growth and a spirit of community through participation in the arts. We seek to foster a fun, creative, educational, and supportive arts environment where people can grow, develop skills, and involve themselves in the arts.

Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program invites community to lay wreaths

The American Legion Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program will be out in force on Saturday morning, December 7 at Arlington and Smith Cemeteries and they invite the community to join in the laying of the wreaths. 

Members of the following organizations have provided support: Field-Allen Post and Unit (ALA) 148, Studio Flora personnel, Sebago Gardens and VFW.

The above organizations will meet at the Arlington Cemetery at 9 a.m. to attach bows to the wreaths  
and then place them on over 300 veteran’s graves. At the same time, the cadre from the Windham High School Jr. Cadet Corp will be busy placing 200 wreaths on the veterans’ graves at Smith Cemetery on Route 202.

Over 900 wreaths will be placed on veteran’s graves in all the Windham cemeteries. 

The Everlasting Gratitude Program was started in 2013 by local Florist, Libby Jordan, of Studio Flora with a goal of placing an evergreen wreath on every veteran’s grave in the cemeteries of Windham. Moving ahead to today, the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 of Windham is now administering the program with support from Studio Flora.

The Windham based program mirrors the Wreaths across America project that provides wreaths at veteran’s graves in national cemeteries. Windham has over 24 local cemeteries with over 875 veteran’s graves dating back to the Revolutionary War. In December these graves will be honored with the wreaths adorned with a red, white and blue ribbon manufactured by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 148.

Plans are already underway to continue the Wreath Program for 2020.

Again, the community is invited to help lay wreaths on the graves of those who served this Country.

If you are unable to help lay wreaths, funds are always needed to make the bows and purchase the wreaths. To make a financial donation, please send a check to: American Legion Wreath Program P.O. Box 1776, Windham Maine 04062.

Thank you for your support from the American Legion, Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham.

Before the memory fades: Annie Wilkins – Last of the Saddle Tramps

By Walter Lunt

Part 1: The amazing story of a Maine woman’s equestrian journey to California, inspiring hundreds of well-wishers along the way, including one Windham family

Although just an ordinary day in mid-November 1954, the local folks at Windham Center probably did double-takes at the sight of a heavy-set woman riding an aging horse down Route 202. The old mare, plodding along slowly, unfazed by traffic, was also burdened with a heavy pack strung over its hind quarters. A small dog on a long leash kept pace with the slow-moving horse and rider. The trio stopped at the four corners and the friendly-faced equestrian asked one of the locals about lodgings for the night. 

Miss Annie Wilkins ready for her trip to California
from Maine
More about the lady rider’s brief visit to Windham later. First, who was Annie Wilkins? How did she come to be riding a horse into this town? And where was she going?

Messanie (Annie) Wilkins, in 1954, was 64 years old, homeless and broke. But, astonishingly, these were the least of her problems. She had grown up on a pig farm, living with her mother, father and an uncle. All had passed away. Unable to sustain the farm, she lost it to the bank. Soon after, a doctor told her she had less than two years to live, “provided she rested.” Her situation could be summed up simply: no home or family, no money, no future. A more destitute person would be hard to imagine.

In her memoir, Wilkins said she turned to the Lord, who told her to pursue her dreams, whatever they might be.

Her dream, it turns out, was to see the country – to meet people far outside the narrow and limited world she had known in Minot, Maine for over a half century.

In the months following the loss of her family, Annie sold homemade pickles. She had accrued the princely sum of $32. Now, with no prospects, she decided to do as the Good Lord had commanded. Surely, she could work her way across the country.

She paid $5 for a grumpy old camp horse named Tarzan who had been retired from a local riding academy, packed all her belongings and along with her dog, a shaggy brown and white mongrel, rode away. “I didn’t have the heart to look back at my little house,” and assumed she would never see it again.

The route she chose would take her on a 7000-mile equestrian journey. Starting out with just a few dollars in her pocket, and still traveling the plain dirt road away from her ancestral farm, Wilkins said she felt a sudden surge of “the jitters.”

“What sort of idiot am I? Who in his right mind would hire an old woman to work at odd jobs along the way? …plenty of men were out of work, so who would hire a complete stranger, especially an old woman dressed like a man?”

Fighting against her misgivings, Annie soldiered on. The goal: to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean.

One can only imagine the thoughts flowing through Annie Wilkins mind as she rode Gray Road into Windham that chilly afternoon in 1954. She had heard that wayward travelers were often welcome to sleep in jail houses, but she would settle for a warm barn for her and Tarzan.

Windham Center turned out to be a fruitful checkpoint for Annie and her troupe. Residents were patronizing the corner grocery store (now Corsetti’s) and public library. After some discussion, someone suggested Annie visit a family less than a half-mile down Windham Center Road. Doctor and Mrs. Laurence Bennett ran a nursing home and were known to be hospitable.

It turned out to be a visit Annie would never forget. She would write glowingly about the Bennett’s in her memoir. Nellie Bennett provided Annie with hot meals and a comfortable bed. A telephone call to a nearby farm family yielded accommodations for Tarzan. The next morning, Nellie would drive Annie to the farmhouse where she would begin the next leg of her cross-country odyssey.

Next time, “Before the memory fades” will trace the rest of Annie’s journey. As the weeks turned to months, and then years, she would face harsh conditions, meet hundreds of well-wishers and fill her road diary with amazing stories.

In one encounter, an admirer would print post cards about Annie and her journey. Annie sold them along the way for spending money. The cards were about life goals and contained inspiring messages. 

One inscription read, “Don’t look back; that’s not where you’re going.”