Friday, July 31, 2020

Seasoned columnist Andy Young brings humor, talent to The Windham Eagle newspaper

By Ed Pierce

There are people you meet in life who revel in irreverence and Andy Young is among them.

The veteran chronicler of daily life has been contributing his column to The Windham Eagle for about a month now and says he’s excited to bring his unique storytelling to an entirely new audience.

Andy Young will be contributing a
weekly column for The Windham
“My first published columns showed up in the Connecticut Daily Campus when I was an undergraduate student at UConn. I also covered New England Whaler hockey games for the Willimantic Chronicle, which was at the time Connecticut's second-smallest daily newspaper,” Young said. “I later got some freelance pieces published in the Winsted, Connecticut Evening Citizen; coincidentally they went under shortly after that, making the Chronicle Connecticut's smallest daily. I later wrote for the now defunct Redding Connecticut Pilot and the now defunct Easton Connecticut Courier. The subjects were the doings of the boys’ JV soccer, basketball, and baseball teams at the local high school.”

He said that he didn't put a byline on those though, since he thought having the coach write those summaries might make readership think there was some bias involved.

“Funny thing about that; no one could ever figure out why the JVs got twice the ink that the varsity did,” Young said.

He went on to serve as a baseball announcer for several minor league baseball teams including the Alaska Goldpanners, Durham Bulls, Burlington Indians, Vero Beach Dodgers, and Butte Copper Kings, but after nearly a decade working for teams in North Carolina, Florida, Alaska, and Montana, Young said that he realized he wanted to return to New England.

“I applied for the Portland Sea Dogs radio job in 1994, but they hired someone else. When it opened up again the following winter I re-applied, and this time I got it,” he said. “Give Sea Dog management credit: they clearly weren't going to make the same mistake twice.”

Since moving to Maine, Young has written columns for the now defunct Falmouth Community Leader, the still extant Yarmouth Notes, and the Journal Tribune in Biddeford.

“I had been submitting columns for the Journal Tribune or at least 10 years; I'm not sure how long exactly, but I know it was for at least four terrific encourager/editors: Drew McMullin, Nick Cowenhoven, Kristen Schultze Muszynski and Ed Pierce.”

He also had essays appear in the Maine Sunday Telegram, the Portland Press Herald, and the York County Coast Star, Young said.

The number of papers I've written for that are now defunct is at either six or seven (and counting), so I salute the courage of the folks who run The Windham Eagle for having the courage to take me on,” he said. “Someone asked me if I was the Typhoid Mary of the newspaper business, which I suppose was mildly amusing, until Covid-19 came along.”

A single father of three, Young’s oldest son will be a freshman at UMaine-Orono this fall. He also has a 17-year-old daughter, and his youngest son will be starting high school this fall.

Young was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and grew up in nearby Easton.

“I graduated #88 in a class of 180 from Joel Barlow Regional High School in Redding, Connecticut,” he said. “I went to UConn because: A) I could afford it; B) they agreed to take me; and C) my other options (cutting grass, waiting tables, and/or pumping gas) did not appeal to me as long-term goals at that time.”

For nearly two decades, Young has taught literacy and English at Kennebunk High School.

“I've been there for 18 years and will likely continue until I get it right. But I'll admit the longer I teach, or at least try to, the more that I learn,” he said. “Even better, the more I'm around young people, students and colleagues, the clearer it becomes that I get a chance to make a difference in the lives and futures of young people every day. What a privilege.”

In his spare time, Young said that he enjoys reading, writing, preparing innovative and meaningful curriculum for his students, biking, and then recovering from biking. He also umpires youth baseball and is a referee for youth soccer games.

Along the way, Young has met Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, the late Peter Jennings, Dom DiMaggio, hundreds of baseball luminaries, the late former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, and the guys from the 1970s band Deep Purple.

According to Young, writing a great newspaper column isn’t something that just happens.

“If some printed words can amuse, inspire, or provoke thought from readers, that's a good column,” he said. “And if the thoughts those words provoke aren't violent or irrational ones, well, that's even better.”

He says he agreed to write a column for The Windham Eagle because the New York Times, Washington Post, Des Moines Register, and National Inquirer are all continuing to snub him.

“The truth is that I like to write, and so when I was invited to contribute to the Eagle by someone I like and respect (and who promised me the same lofty salary that I was getting from the Journal Tribune), I leaped at the opportunity,” Young said. “I like having my voice heard. Everyone's got opinions, ideas, hopes, and dreams, but not many people get a public forum with which they can share them. I'm one of the lucky few.” <







Saturday, July 25, 2020

Virtual 'Music with a Mission' concert raises funds for Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing

More than 1,000 people from 13 states streamed the July 11 "Music with as Mission" concert to enjoy Ashley Liberty, an accomplished violinist, and Daniel Strange, a talented pianist, as they performed their mix of jazz, classical, folk and pop standards. 

Strange wrote or arranged all the pieces they performed and did all the complicated production work to record and create the hour-long virtual concert.  One of the highlights was the couple’s seven-year old son, Harrison, who joined his parents on stage to play violin on a new arrangement of the Beatle’s “Eleanor Rigby.”

Liberty and Strange, who are both Maine natives and favorites among concert goers, performed virtually as part of North Windham Union Church’s "Music with a Mission "concert series. 

The show raised about $800 for the new local non-profit, the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, and more than $1,700 for the church. Just as importantly, the show raised awareness about the Fuller Center’s efforts to help people in our community.

"Dan Strange and Ashley Liberty's concert, ‘Hot Fiddle’ was an amazing display of talent,” said Diane Dunton Bruni, Fuller Center President. “Dan grew up in Windham and his wife, Ashley, is from Gray.  Now living in Miami, they continue to impress and inspire by returning and always giving back to this community. Their support of our new non-profit is appreciated and will be put to great use in helping seniors stay in their homes safely."

The Fuller Center for Housing was founded in Georgia by Millard and Linda Fuller, who also began Habitat for Humanity. 

Established a little over a year ago, the mission of the local chapter, Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, is to perform housing repairs and rehabilitation that focuses on keeping seniors safe while aging in place in their homes in Raymond, Standish and Windham. The organization will soon begin their first projects of helping people in need, so this fundraiser was perfectly timed to help meet the demand.

Now in its eighth year of hosting concerts, "Music with a Mission" has provided more than $69,000 for mission support to the church and other community organizations. 

The next show is scheduled for Aug. 1 and will feature Kelly Caufield performing Judy Garland classics from stage and screen.  For more information, see or call 207-892-6142.

For more information about the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, peruse their website at and follow them on Facebook.

Friday, July 24, 2020

A matter of historical record: 'And great was the fall thereof'

The story of Windham’s massive freshet of 1861
Last of a three-part series on Popeville. If you missed the first and/or second-part in this series visit

By Walter Lunt

An extraordinary event, unimaginable today, occurred in Windham in early May, 1861. The great freshet, or flood, originated in North Windham and swept through the center of town, then South Windham, and on to Westbrook and beyond. As reported in part two of this series, the quiet neighborhood of Popeville in Windham, located along Pope Road between route 202 and the Pleasant River bridge, was once the site of a thriving industrial center owned and operated by three brothers, Isaiah, Oliver and Joseph Pope, whose ancestor, Elijah, a Quaker, came to Windham and opened a blacksmith shop there about 1768.

A 1915 postcard view of Popeville looks north toward the
Pleasant Street Bridge.
By 1841, the ambitious and enterprising family had established a prosperous mill business at the mill dam near Pleasant River bridge. The sprawling company included a lumber and grist mill and the manufacture of custom clothing. A substantial boarding house accommodated many workers.

In the early 1900s, Phoebe Pope, great-granddaughter of Elijah, related numerous stories of life in Popeville during the hey-day of Isaiah Pope and Company. She reminisced to a reporter about the plain and honest living style of the Friends, or Quaker, community. Phoebe shared fond memories of the mid-nineteenth century village where “We young people used to gather on pleasant evenings and watch the water rush over the dam. There were nice young folks from neighboring farms, and (among them) some good singers. But the rule was, ‘Be home by nine o’clock.’"

The Pope brothers, always the entrepreneurs, decided in 1859 to expand operations to include a cotton mill, but more waterpower was needed to run it. Two of the brothers, Oliver and Joseph, purchased the water privilege at “The Narrows” at the base of Little Sebago Lake off present day route 115 (between route 302 and the Falmouth Road).  There they enlarged the dam utilizing split stone with no cement or pilings for reinforcement. On the river below, at Popeville, a new cotton mill had been readied for operation.

The spring of 1861 brought unusually heavy rains to the area. Local residents estimated the lake level had risen 10 to 20 feet above normal. At 7 a.m. on the morning of May 7, Ellery Sawyer had just sat down to his breakfast when a thunderous crash and roar emerged from the Little Sebago dam near his farm. “And great the fall thereof.” Sawyer knew in an instant what had happened. 

Mounting his horse, Sawyer raced toward Popeville to warn what he knew would be an impending doom. He beat the rushing water by several hours, its progress halted several times by turns in the river, bridges and by accumulated debris. The Pope brothers made no effort to remove machinery from their various mills or to secure any of their property, believing the heavy booms strung across the river just above Popeville mill dam would restrain the onslaught. An eyewitness to the calamitous event worked as a clerk for the Pope’s and would later write about it in his book Windham in the Past. Samuel T. Dole described the flood waters arrival to Popeville this way:

“At about ten o’clock, a low sullen roar, like the rushing of  a mighty wind, gave evidence that the hour of peril was near at hand; and in a short time, around a curve in the river came an immense wave bearing on its crest a huge quantity of debris, consisting of stumps, the ruin of bridges, mill logs, cord wood and trees that had been torn up by the roots, all in one confused mass, and borne along with irresistible force by the rushing waters. It first encountered a strong double boom, where its career was for a moment checked, but only for a moment. The huge logs of which the boom was constructed snapped like pipe stems, and the confused mass, augmented by hundreds of mill logs, precipitated itself upon the mill dam. At one end of this stood a woolen mill filled with heavy machinery, a large building intended for a cotton mill and partly fitted up for that purpose, and a dye house, which contained all the appliances for coloring and finishing cloth. On the other end of the dam stood a sawmill, a joiner’s shop, grist mill and stave mill, all in one large building. After remaining stationary on the dam for nearly half an hour, the mass of ruins , with a mighty crash, started on its downward course, carrying with it the dye-house and town bridge, the splintered fragments of which were mingled with the already confused mass.”

After leaving the Popeville mills in ruins, the raging waters that were draining Little Sebago Lake continued its mad rush on Pleasant River to its confluence with the Presumpscot River, carving out a new channel and wiping out mills and bridges at Allen’s Falls, Gambo (Newhall), Little Falls (South Windham/Gorham) and Mallison Falls.

In the following days, the Portland Argus and the Portland Transcript newspapers would report various details of the massive Windham flood:

“Seventeen bridges were swept away in the town of Windham…The Windham stage had a narrow escape (as it had just) cleared a bridge when the rushing waters cast it downstream…The scene at Sacarappa (Westbrook) was terribly grand and awful…”(Portland Argus – May 10, 1861; page 2).

“The entire body of water from Little Sebago Pond which is nine miles long by two broad was instantly poured forth into the surrounding countryside… Many from this city went out to view the mighty rush of water …The total damage is probably not less than $30,000 (it was later reported to be in excess of 35,000 {1861} dollars)…Actions for damages have been entered against Messrs. Pope, who it is alleged did not properly secure the dam, and all of their property is attached…” (Portland Transcript – May 18, 1861; Vol. XXV, No. 7).

After the catastrophe, the Popes rebuilt some of the mills, but as Samuel Dole observed “never recovered their old-time prosperity.”
Isaiah Pope died in 1872. The two remaining brothers were in their 70s and 80s and finally sold the mill property in 1879. The end of an era. And great was the fall thereof.

Phoebe Pope and her young sister, Mary, found themselves penniless and homeless and ended up living with Friend ministers in East Parsonsfield where they lived happily with a large circle of Friends.

Next time, we trace down the last surviving Pope. And discuss the Windham Quakers involvement in the Underground Railroad.  <


Friday, July 17, 2020

Drive-Through recognition salutes local Foster Grandparent and Senior Companions volunteers

By Elizabeth Richards
On Tuesday, July 14, Opportunity Alliance volunteers for the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companions programs were recognized at a drive-through event held at Windham Primary School.

“Each year we celebrate the achievements of our foster grandparents and senior companions,” said Susan Lavigne, Director of the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companions programs. Typically, the event is a large in-person gathering attended by teachers, principals, families, case workers and social workers.  “All the people associated with our volunteers gather to say thank you.  That’s a pretty joyous event,” Lavigne said. 

Edna Stewart, a Foster Grandparent for a first-grade classroom
at Windham Primary School, was among a group of volunteers
who received recognition in a drive-through ceremony at
Windham Primary School on Tuesday. Also shown is Alayna
Mladucky, a coordinator for the Opportunity Alliance's Foster
Grandparent and Senior Companion Program.
This year, with the restrictions of the pandemic, things needed to look different.  “Of course, during the pandemic, one cannot have a large group. We still wanted to recognize our volunteers, so we created this drive through recognition which we’re doing in four locations around Southern Maine,” Lavigne said.

Windham Primary School, which is one of several area sites that host Foster Grandparents, offered the use of the bus lane.  This was perfect for the event, Lavigne said, making it safe for staff and for the volunteers, who received a bag of small tokens of appreciation to thank them for their service.

Volunteers drove through the bus lane, stopping at a designated spot and staying in their cars to safely interact with the staff, who wore masks and maintained a safe distance throughout the event.  Some teachers from the school were also present to cheer on the volunteers from afar.

“They’re incredible volunteers in the community, and they mean a lot,” Lavigne said.  This event is one way to say thank you, she said.  At the end of the school year, students and teachers also participated in “Project Gratitude” creating artwork, poems, letters and videos to be forwarded to the volunteers as a thank you, since they couldn’t thank them in person, Lavigne said.

Receiving recognition Tuesday were Foster Grandparents Ellie DiDonato (Fourth Grade, Windham Primary School); Polly Dyer (Fourth Grade, Manchester School); Marianne Marden (Kindergarten, Windham Primary School); Dolores McMillin (First Grade, Windham Primary School); Joan Montefesco (First Grade, Raymond Elementary School); Laura Menezes (Second Grade, Windham Primary School); Laura Sue Nichols (Second Grade, Windham Primary School); Nancy Regier (Fourth Grade, Windham Christian Academy); and Bonnie Rogers (Kindergarten, Windham Primary School. Also receiving recognition Tuesday was Elizabeth Paige, a Senior Companion visiting older adults throughout the Lake Region.

The Foster Grandparent and Senior Companions programs are an opportunity for individuals 55 and older to give back to their community in two different ways.  Foster Grandparents volunteer between 10 and 40 hours per week in schools, Head Start programs, and child development centers.  Senior Companions visit isolated older adults in their homes to offer companionship, help them get to medical appointments, do grocery shopping or essential errands, and provide respite for family caregivers.

The pandemic has changed the way these programs have operated in recent months.  After the abrupt end of the school year, Foster Grandparents remained in contact joining in Zoom meetings or becoming pen pals with students.  Senior Companions shifted to conducting wellness checks and socializing via telephone calls.

“One of the things that has become strikingly clear during this pandemic is the crisis of isolation, especially for older adults. Our senior companions have not skipped a beat,” Lavigne said.   They maintained contact with their clients, reinforcing the need to stay in contact with their doctors for regular health needs, making sure they had food, and “mostly making sure people had someone to talk to,” Lavigne said.

According to the 2019-2020 Annual Report for the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companions programs, a total of 143 volunteers have provided 108,005 hours of community service throughout the year in Southern Maine.  25 of those have been volunteering for 10 years or more. Lavigne said that the number recognized at the four events was 117, as some have left the program since the beginning of the year.

Both programs are national programs, locally sponsored by the Opportunity Alliance.  They are funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service.  The Opportunity Alliances sponsors the Foster Grandparent program in Cumberland, York and western Oxford counties, and the Senior Companions program in Cumberland and York counties.

“We would like people to know that the foster grandparents and senior companions are incredible, valuable community members,” said Lavigne.  “The Opportunity Alliance is incredibly proud of its volunteers and we look forward to them returning fully in the community when it’s safe for everybody.” <

Friday, July 10, 2020

A matter of historical record: Popeville: from industrial mecca to sleepy hamlet

A tiny portion of Pope Road at the Pleasant River bridge was once a thriving commercial district

By Walter Lunt

A casual drive on Pope Road between Windham Hill and the intersection with Gray Road (Route 202) holds nary a clue of what once was.
Two-hundred years ago the area was teeming with mills, stores and other businesses that made it the most important commercial district in Windham. 

Isaiah Allen (1832-1914) was the grandson of Ebenezer Allen
and Charity Pope. COURTESY OF LEE ALLENAdd caption
Today, there are no visible signs, and no physical testimony of the once bustling industrial site between the intersection with Swett Road and the Pleasant River bridge. Tucked between these two points, on both sides of the road and on the river, were several mills and businesses that served the needs of merchants and farmers for decades in the early to mid-1800s from Portland and points north.

As noted in many of our earlier columns, public buildings, roads and famous homesteads were often named after the families who lived there. Such is case for Pope Road and the neighborhood (just described) of Popeville.

Elijah Pope came to Windham from Falmouth (Portland) in about 1769. He was a blacksmith and purchased property near Pleasant River, where built a shop. Many townspeople did not welcome his presence. Pope was a Quaker and followed the ‘peculiar’ tenets of drab clothing, conversation sprinkled with ‘thee and thou’ and conducting religious services in silence. Alarmed at the arrival of Pope and others of the Friends Society persuasion, congregationalist minister Peter T. Smith wrote in his journal, “…kept a day of fasting and Prayer on account of…Many strange Quakers in town.”

A bustling Popeville Center is
shown on a 19th century map
of the Town of Windham.
It is a proud testament of the town of Windham and its people that Elijah Pope soon became an accepted and highly respected member of the community. History records that he was master workman with a large number of customers.

Pope married Phebe Winslow of Falmouth in 1768. They had 12 children, none of whom died young (as did many children in those times). Their third child, Charity, married Ebenezer Allen, also a Quaker (The Windham Eagle – June 26, 2020). Fifth child Nathan was born in 1775 and married Ebenezer’s sister, Phebe. Nathan is well-known in Windham history for his famous walk. 

Determined and entrepreneurial, the 18-year old walked from Popeville to Beverly, Massachusetts where he apprenticed himself to a clothier for five years. Returning to Windham, he started a clothing operation at Great Falls (North Gorham) and later purchased the water rights near his home on Pleasant River where he built a small woolen mill, the first of its kind in Windham. Machinery for the operation was hauled from Andover, 
Massachusetts by teams of horses. By 1804, at age 29, Nathan Pope was in the wool manufacturing business and was already a successful businessman.

Nathan and Phebe had nine children (the fifth child, Elijah, lived only six months). The sixth, who was also named Elijah, studied at Vermont Medical College and later distinguished himself when he and a colleague became the first dentists to perform a pain-free tooth extraction by administering ether to a patient; the first use of anesthesia in dentistry. Dr. Elijah Pope returned to Windham and opened a practice during the latter years of his career. But we digress.

By 1841, three of Nathan’s sons, Isaiah, Oliver and Joseph took over and expanded the family business at Popeville. Soon the tiny neighborhood was a thriving commercial district with no fewer than 12 mills and businesses. Known as Isaiah Pope & Co., there was a  blacksmith shop, fulling mill (for making felt), grist mill (for grinding corn and wheat), cotton mill, dye house, warehouse, office, store, carpentry shop, coopers shop (for making barrels), sawmill and a boarding house (for workers), all located between Swett Road and the river. One business was a custom-made clothing facility. One could only marvel at the open field near the river where row after row of tender-bars displayed colorful cloth hanging in the open air to dry. Daily, teams of horses carried orders for table and piano covers, horse blankets, felt skirts and boot linings to Portland, returning with supplies and raw materials for the busy company. 

To say the least, business was booming in the 1840s and 50s in Popeville.

Next time, a decision to further expand Isaiah Pope & Co. to North Windham proves disastrous.  <

Friday, July 3, 2020

Music with a Mission features Ashley Liberty and Daniel Strange as ‘Hot Fiddle – Virtually yours’

Ashley Liberty and Daniel Strange
will perform 'Hot Fiddle - Virtually
Yours' on July 11 to benefit
the Sebago Lakes Region
Fuller Center for Housing.
Music with a Mission concerts are back! 

In a season full of unknowns and new ‘normals,’ take some time out for something fun and familiar! Violinist Ashley Liberty and pianist Daniel Strange will be presenting their show, ‘Hot Fiddle – Virtually yours’ on July 11 at 7 p.m. 

It will be a free concert (donations encouraged), full of dynamic and creative music in multiple styles, delivered directly to your living room! Special guest, 7-year-old violinist, Harrison Liberty-Strange, will join his parents on Daniel’s new arrangement of ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ Ashley and Daniel have given their time, their production skills, and of course their musical talents at no expense for this 100 percent fundraising event, which aims to raise funds for NWUC and the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing.

Ashley Liberty, an accomplished violinist, and Daniel Strange, a talented pianist, have returned to North Windham Union Church to perform their ‘Hot Fiddle’ concerts to sold out crowds of 300 people each summer for the past three years.  Both are Maine natives from this area and are beloved favorites of local audiences. The concert will be broadcast from the North Windham Union Church on YouTube Premiere, and will be available one-time only on Saturday July 11 at 7 p.m.  A link to the concert will be posted to our website and our FaceBook page. you can’t join us Saturday night, the stream will be free for 48 hours.

The Music with a Mission concert series is sponsored by the North Windham Union Church, which donates a portion of the proceeds to area non-profits.  Now in our eighth season, MWAM has provided over $66,000 for mission support to the church and other community organizations.   

The community proceeds from this concert will help the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing whose mission is to perform housing repairs and renovations to keep seniors safe and aging in their homes in Raymond, Standish and Windham.

The concert is free but donations are gladly accepted with a suggested minimum contribution of $10 per person. Donations may be made before, during or after the concert either on-line or by mailing a check to Music with a Mission c/o NWUC 723 Roosevelt Trail, Windham, ME 04062. 

For more information please call 892-6142 or email <