Rockland lines her jewels up in a row on the west side of Union Street.

The grand Knox County Courthouse, a Carnegie Public Library and nestled in between is our Community Building, built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration.

This past Nov. 8, I stood down on the gym floor at 7:45 a.m. as the morning light came in warmly from the east. I saw a group of election volunteers with their hands raised to take their oaths.

It was a Norman Rockwell moment.

If you want to connect Rockland people, wherever they may be, the glue comes three ways:

Community Building.

Rec Center.

Flannagan Center.

For starters, this is where we exercise our right to vote.

For Rocklanders it is a trove of shared memories and experiences. The variety of events is hard to match.

My first memories of the Community Building were the events put on by our very active Junior Chamber of Commerce organization. I remember annual boat shows in the gym.

I will never forget the Aunt Jemima Pancake Jamboree, where I met and shook hands with Aunt Jemima herself.

Growing up, activities at the Community Building were roller skating, floor hockey, basketball, volleyball and dodgeball. There were bowling alleys and a pool table.

After school there were game rooms with soda fountains and jukebox music. It was a place for boys and girls to meet and hang out.

Saturday nights there were dances with live bands. Some were local bands like the Chevelles, and regional bands who toured the state. In the late 60s the bands were very loud. The old place reverberated like the inside of a coffee can.

Around 1982 I began to work part time at the Rec Center on Friday and Saturday nights. It was also around that time when the Rockland Playground Association formed to build the community playground.

The playground, designed by Robert Leathers, was built by volunteers in just four days. Robert Leathers himself visited all the elementary schools to get their ideas for the playground.

The fundraiser that made it possible was “Pennies from Heaven.” This began with a $5,000 donation from the Maine Lobster Festival. Festival committee members drove to Portland with a check and came back with $5,000 in pennies.

On a Saturday morning, they began laying out pennies on the gym floor at Rockland District High School. People found all the pennies they had laying around and brought them to the gym.

By mid-afternoon there was not a spare penny in Rockland. All the stores and banks were out. The gym floor was covered endline to endline and sideline to sideline with pennies.

Rockland came out big for the kids.

Our community building and its future was a topic in our most recent City Council election. There is a recurring leak that has bedeviled the place and cost the city lots of money. Beyond that is the question of what kinds of programs will resonate in the 21st century.

Let us come together again.

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.

Entrance to the Flanagan Community Center. Photo by Glenn Billington