Friday, September 30, 2022

Area churches work together with food pantry to offer free monthly community meals

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham Hill United Church of Christ (UCC), St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, and Faith Lutheran Church, in conjunction with the Windham Food Pantry will be sponsoring free monthly community dinners on the first Thursday of each month as a way to build strong community connections in the greater Windham area. The first dinner will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 at Windham Hill UCC, 140 Windham Center Road.

Three Windham-area churches are teaming up with the
Windham Food Pantry to host free monthly community dinners 
on the first Thursday of each month in Windham. The first 
dinner will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday,
Oct. 6 at Windham Hill United Church of Christ, 140
Windham Center Road, Windham. COURTESY PHOTO 
“Although Covid is not done with us yet, we have found a way to live with it,” Fr. Tim Higgins, Rector of St. Ann’s, said. “As a result, the Windham Area Clergy Association (WACA) has decided to resurrect the long-held and much-loved community meal that lasted for over 20 years but stalled due to the pandemic.”

Higgins was referring to the highly attended and popular Monday Meals program that was led by Food and Fellowship, Inc., a non-profit ecumenical organization made up of WACA church members. Before the pandemic and required social distancing, Monday Meals hosted between 50 to 70 guests per week. People came from all walks of life and included senior citizens and families with children from the towns of Windham, Gorham, Raymond, Buxton, Falmouth, Naples, Westbrook, Casco, Standish, and Limington, as well as other area communities.

“Unfortunately, the Food and Fellowship committee disbanded due to circumstances beyond their control, but we are going to bring back, in some capacity, the greatest part of the Monday meal program,” Higgins continued. “That is to gain what we have lost in the past three years; to get the community back together on a social level to help prevent social isolation. Social isolation, especially among the elderly, has plagued the nation long before the pandemic but has only increased since.”

Higgins said they want to get the word out to the older citizens in the area. “They are the most affected by social isolation, and the past Monday Meal program proved seniors enjoyed gathering with others due to their attendance.”

Sharon Rankin, Pastor of Windham Hill UCC, noted that the free monthly meal is open to everyone, and there is no specific requirement to attend.

“This is not just about economic need,” she said. “It is more about coming together as a community and eating together. It is about creating bonds. It is about making us stronger as a community.”

Rankin said that although each church “feeds” its members' spiritual needs, many people do not feel an attachment to a church but want to connect with others nonetheless.

“We are called to reach out and feed the hungry,” she said. “In this way, we live the love of Christ. It’s a way of connecting with our community. Providing a free meal is one way to join us together, to ‘be the hands and feet of Christ’ and to fill a need in a nontraditional way.”

The second monthly meal will be held on November 3 at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road. The next meal will be December 8 at Faith Lutheran, 988 Roosevelt Trail. The times for all meals are 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. For more information about this Thursday’s meal or any other upcoming events, please reach out to Windham Hill UCC at (207) 892-4217, St. Ann’s at (207) 892-8447 or Faith Lutheran at (207) 892-9158.

“Anyone and everyone are invited to attend,” Higgins said. “We are very excited about this new energy and new possibility.” <

Friday, September 23, 2022

Craft Fair promises affordable holiday shopping

By Ed Pierce

Christmas is coming and what would the holidays be without a visit to the huge annual craft fair at Windham High School?

The Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters 30th Annual Craft
Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 and
Sunday, Nov. 13 at Windham High School. Vendor spaces
are still available. COURTESY PHOTO   
The Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters 30th Annual Craft Fair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 and Sunday, Nov. 13 at WHS and vendor space is still available. The vendor fee is $100 for a space at the craft fair and includes a table.

Entirely free to the public, the event is the largest of its kind in Windham every holiday season and typically features around 200 vendors and some very interesting gifts for the holiday season, many made right here in Windham.

The types of crafts available include holiday gifts, decorations, jewelry, art, candles, and pretty much anything involving the holiday season.

All proceeds benefit the Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters which support student-athletes at RSU 14, says Kristin Drottar, Booster Club president.

“The boosters provide funding for each athletic team, athletic cords for graduation, and scholarships for graduating seniors, just to list a few things,” Drottar said.

She said she became involved with the craft fair by joining the Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters


“Booster volunteers work together to support the student athletes of RSU 14 and this is our biggest fundraiser,” Drottar said.

According to Drottar and Boosters Club co-chairs Su-Anne Hammond and April Ammons, the best thing about going to the craft fair is that you are supporting your local businesses and buying something unique.

They said the greatest challenge in staging the event this year was overcoming a year lost to the pandemic or a smaller-scale fair being held outside to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

“Because of COVID-19 we’ve missed two years, so it’s challenging to reconnect with everyone, Drottar said. “And some local craft fairs changed their dates which causes vendors to choose between hosts.”

In addition to crafts available at the event, there will be lots of yummy homemade treats and the very popular crockpot meals, Hammond and Ammons said.

Crafts prices typically range from $1 to $100 and with 200 tables for vendors showcasing items for purchase, selection is fantastic.

“People often assume that craft fairs will look the same way that they have looked 40 years ago,” Drottar said. “Craft fairs have changed a lot over the years. We continue to have traditional crafters with handmade items as well as school-based organizations participating in fundraising events and local businesses that set up pop-up spots at our event. It is an eclectic venue to get a lot of your holiday
shopping done while supporting all sorts of vendors.”

Drottar, Hammond and Ammons say that they’re grateful to be inside at the high school for the craft fair and do not have to worry about the weather.

“At this point it is impossible to know how much will be raised. We do offer concessions during the event as well as a silent auction of vendor items,” Drottar said. “The more people that attend, the more money we are able to raise for our school’s athletic programs. We have heard a lot of positive feedback from our vendors. Everyone is happy to be back together, and indoors this year.” <

Friday, September 16, 2022

Reflections of the origins of ‘Raymondtown’

By Ernest H. Knight

Going all the way back to the pre-history of our town, Raymondtown was one of the dozen local “Canada Towns” that had its origins in the 1690 expedition to Canada under the leadership of Sir William Phips.

The man for who the Town of Raymond is named, Capt.
William Raymond, led a group of American soldiers in 1690
to Canada where they attempted unsuccessfully to take the
city of Quebec and prevent raids originating there of towns 
and outposts across New England. COURTESY PHOTO
He was a poor boy from Harpswell who rose to the heights of power to free the coastal towns from the ravages of bands of French and Indian raiders originating from their stronghold at Quebec.

The men making up the expedition were raised in the many settled towns in eastern Massachusetts under their local leaders to serve without pay for the safety and welfare of all. In those days a company of militia, the basic security organization of the day, consisted of 60 men and while nominally a town matter one of more adjacent towns could supply the men as necessitated by population and circumstances.

Thus, our Captain William Raymond led his 60 men from Beverly and Salem in the venture.

Over 2,000 men departed Boston Harbor in a fleet of small vessels in the summer of 1690, but it was late fall before they arrived at Quebec via the St. Lawrence River, a poor time in view of their primitive equipment and approaching winter.

The citadel was attacked and enjoyed brief success in breaching the outer defenses but was soon devastated by an epidemic in the personnel of ships frozen in the ice. Abandoning the campaign, they started for home but many of the ships were wrecked in storms in the Gulf of St, Lawrence and Atlantic Ocean with great loss of lives.

About half the men survived to reach home and the raids from Quebec continued unabated.

Though the colonial government was insensitive to the safety of the settlements, expansion continued through the French & Indian Wars under difficult and deadly conditions. In the 1730s a solution appeared for the colonial government, short of cash but abundantly endowed with wilderness land, to make grants of townships to any groups to whom they were indebted.

There were, besides the “Canada” veterans, others who had served in the Narragansett War, Monadnock conflicts and other actions that qualified for grants as Defense Towns which spread outward in a 50- to 100-mile radius from Boston to act as buffers to the encroachment of the raiders from Quebec via the Connecticut River or Lake Champlain and over cross-country trails to their vulnerable destinations.

Captain Raymond’s company of volunteers, reduced to a few living survivors but under the leadership of younger heirs, was an early claimant of a township based on the 1690 effort although equally entitled to a grant based on the conflict of 1675 and was granted permission to select a site as Canada #1 or Beverly-Canada.

A location was found on the Piscataquog River, now in the town of Weare, New Hampshire, in 1735 and roads, bridges and buildings started but soon were aborted when a boundary dispute discovered that Massachusetts had given away land belonging to revived New Hampshire claims. A large number of other settlements were also negated and these pioneers had to return home and bide their time for a better opportunity, which did not come until 1765.

In 1766 a second grant, in lieu of that lost in 1741, was obtained in other lands governed by Massachusetts along with many others of those evicted 25 years earlier. After looking at and rejecting a site on the Royal River above North Yarmouth, the choice was made of the present homeland, encompassing what is presently the towns of Casco, Raymond, and part of Naples, the largest township in Maine due to deducting the large percentage if the area in lakes and ponds as being useless for cultivation.

So here we are, but not without a little hardship and determination here and there along the way more than 300 years later. <

This article was written by the late Ernest H. Knight, one of the founders of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and contained in his book “Historical Gems of Raymond and Casco.” It was submitted by the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and articles about Raymond history from the historical society will appear regularly in The Windham Eagle newspaper. To find out more about the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, call Frank McDermott at 207-655-4646.

Friday, September 9, 2022

A matter of historical record: Is Roosevelt Trail named for Theodore or Franklin? Route 302: the highway with numerous names

The 26th President of the United States was
Theodore Roosevelt, shown in a photo from
By Walter Lunt

In its over 200-year history, the highway officially named Route 302, stretching in a northwesterly direction from Portland to Fryeburg, has undergone numerous alterations, taken on many different names and gone from a rutted pathway carved by two-wheeled carts to the paved two-lane modern thoroughfare it is today.

According to Maine Department of Transportation records, the roadway was laid out as early as 1784. Despite constant wear and spring washouts, the early road accommodated farmers and millwrights well. But by the mid-1800s, increased traffic driven by growing commerce demanded improved roadways. At the time, draft animals pulled heavy loads of goods through Windham on Windham Center Road and Ward Road. The route was known as the Bridgton Road (Portland to Bridgton); it required a grueling climb up Windham Hill.

Alterations were made between 1847 and 1858 when a new road was built between the intersection of Ward Road and Route 302 to the point where Windham Center Road intersects with Route 302 near today’s Anthoine Road. It was called the “new Anthoine Road.” It was shorter, and avoided the trek over Windham Hill. It should be noted, however, that the entire stretch between Portland and Bridgton retained the name Bridgton Road.

Major alterations also occurred later, in the 20th century. The stretch from Nash Road to Albion Road was straightened and improved. Similar improvements were made with the building of the Fosters Corner rotary in 1950, and in the late 1900s, with a widening through North Windham. Similar improvements were made in Raymond, Naples and Bridgton. Remnants of the “old 302” can be seen in various spots.

In 1914, yet another name was added when the Maine DOT designated Route 302 as State Highway 14. The Roosevelt name was introduced in 1921.

Theodore, or Teddy, Roosevelt was no stranger to Maine. Over four decades, he made many trips to the Pine Tree State where he hunted, fished, snowshoed and even climbed Mount Katahdin. As the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909, the irascible Roosevelt presided over what he liked to call his “bully pulpit” (in those days meaning “splendid,” a meaningful opportunity to promote one’s ideas). Among his many progressive ideas, as the automobile was fast coming into use, was to advance and improve the nation’s highways.

He proposed a transcontinental highway linking Portland, Oregon with Portland, Maine. The idea simmered for more than 10 years, and within one month of his death in 1919 a group of businessmen (car dealers) organized the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway Association (TRIHA) and began creating a 4000-mile network of roads from the west coast, through part of Canada, to the east coast.

The Portland-to-Portland trail became official in 1921 and was so designated on Rand-McNally maps of the time. The route, however, was established as a monument, not an official road name bearing legislative approval. But the name caught on. For many decades, Roosevelt roads from coast to coast were recognized by the public.

However, as interstate highways accommodated increasing numbers of vehicles throughout the country, the TRIH designation faded. But not in the Cumberland County Lakes Region. Business names and addresses commonly utilize Roosevelt Trail, especially along the stretch of Route 302 from Westbrook, through Windham and Raymond to Naples (even though today it is not recognized by Delorme maps).

As for Franklin Roosevelt, his chief tie to Maine are the numerous trips he took through the state to reach his cherished Campobello Island in Passamaquoddy Bay in Canada. Though loved and respected by Mainers, Roosevelt Trail is not named for Franklin Roosevelt.

As we reach the 21st century, there is still another title attached to the multi-named Route 302. According to the Maine Department of Transportation, the name Roosevelt Trail does not appear on any Legislature-named roads. Route 302 was, however, designated the 10th Mountain Division Highway by the Maine Legislature in 2001. The law specifies that the designation does not affect any names that towns and cities may have adopted for Route 302; thus, Roosevelt Trail prevails as the lingering monument to Theodore, especially here in Windham and the Lakes Region.

At this point we’re almost out of names for Route 302. However, there is one more that no one has ever heard before. Max Skidmore, writing in the SCA Journal (Society for Commercial Archeology), “The markers are gone, the name is forgotten, but the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway remains America’s Bully Boulevard.” <

Friday, September 2, 2022

Lakeview Pavilion at Crescent Lake a popular spot during Prohibition

The old Lakeview Pavilion near Crescent Lake in Raymond 
was a popular dance hall for decades in the Lakes Region  of
Maine especially during the Prohibition Era. It was torn
down in the early 1990s. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
By Ernest H. Knight

It is historical fact that since time immemorial man, no matter how austere his circumstances, man has reserved some part of his day-to-day life for entertainment and pleasurable pastimes.

Raymond was no different from other communities during the past decades and a popular form of social activity was dancing, whether it be a reel, a square or just a fast clog or slow shuffle even down to our present generations when it was jitterbugging, rock n’ roll or disco. Even when travel was mainly by foot for the many or by horse and buggy for the more affluent, devotees of the art managed to gravitate to the places where dancing was to be enjoyed.

These places were sometimes halls with hardwood floors appropriately designed and maintained and sometimes merely adequate open space. Music could be anything from a jewsharp or fiddle to an orchestra of strings and brass. Canned music or radio is a recent innovation.

In or close to the town of Raymond many places have at various times provided the opportunity for such pleasures, such as the upper floor of the Mains’ Store in South Casco Village, the Lafayette House (at times known as the Central House, Smith’s Hotel or Sawyer’s Inn) in Raymond Village, Forhan Hall (also the prior Forhan Storehouse on the same site and the present Knights of Pythias Hall), Sam Witham’s in the “Lower Village” (later called the Raymond Inn), Bartlett’s above the Bartlett Store on Mountain Road beyond Raymond Hill and the N.E.O.P. Hall at Webb’s Mills. 

Then there were substantial and available barns suitable for an impromptu or planned wing-ding and it did not require much encouragement for the venturesome to find a way to get to nearby towns to partake if their offerings, such as the famous dance hall at North Windham presided over by Rayal Manchester’s orchestra, the Casino on the Naples Causeway or for the elite a visit to the Poland Spring House, the Summit House or the Bay of Naples Inn.

Dress was somewhat optional though the belles and swains could attempt to make a good impression on the other sex or create envy on the part of their competition and the Beau Brummel set his unruly hair in place with an application of bacon grease if it were not fly time. And of course, there was always the unfortunate wallflower and the annoying stag who only came to ogle and heckle.

A place omitted from the above-mentioned hot spots is the Lakeview Pavilion overlooking Crescent Lake between the Tenney River and the “Over the River” Schoolhouse. The building of this dance hall was somewhat coincidental with the renaming of the Great Rattlesnake Pond into the deglamorized Crescent Lake, otherwise it might have been name “The Rattlesnake Den” with resulting better or worse patronage.

For many years while it was operating as a public spa it was also used during the summer months for Sunday morning services as a branch of the Mechanic Falls Catholic Church, thereby saving vacationing Catholics a long ride to Portland, Westbrook, Lewiston, or Mechanic Falls to fulfill their religious obligations.

As this period was partly during the Prohibition Era brought about by the Volstead Act, and the presence of ready-made hideaways for purposes of refreshment brought about by the increasing availability of the automobile a general overhauling or purification of the building and grounds was necessary in the short interval between the termination of entertainment and the start of early Mass.

But changing times worked against the continued acceptability and profitability of the public dance hall and the property was taken over by the church and renovated into a fulltime place of worship and its allied activities, called St. Raymond’s Catholic Church, open during the summer season.

Eventually the building needed more repairs than the churchgoers could afford, and the church was closed, leaving behind its scenic views of Crescent Lake. <

This article was written by the late Ernest H. Knight, one of the founders of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and contained in his book “Historical Gems of Raymond and Casco.” It was submitted by the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and articles about Raymond history from the historical society will appear regularly in The Windham Eagle newspaper. To find out more about the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, call Frank McDermott at 207-655-4646.