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  • Published
    April 2, 2011

    It is all about community

    I began this Local Heroes series over a year ago to celebrate the many good things that have happened in my hometown of Rockland over the last two decades. Specifically, I set out to explore how the prosperous place of my youth in the 1940s and 1950s came roaring back following three decades of decline through the 1980s – and to do it through the voices and actions of the men and women who played significant …

  • Published
    March 8, 2011

    Rockland’s downtown Main Street: Preserved and reborn

    There was a popular refrain when I was growing up in Rockland during the 1940s and 1950s: “Today’s the day [Saturday in the 1940s changed to Friday in the 1950s they all come down, from Union, Hope and ‘Appletown.’” The main attraction? That was the day the stores stayed open until 9 p.m. Sidewalks bustled with families shopping, heading out to supper, catching a movie at the Strand or Park (later renamed the …

  • Published
    February 6, 2011

    Rockland becomes a dining destination

    I heard of a young man who moved to Rockland from New York City in the mid-1970s. A few weeks after arriving, a friend called. “How do you like your new home?” he inquired. The reply: “Rockland’s great as long as you don’t mind driving to Portland to eat out.” While the young man’s assessment was perhaps a bit harsh, Rockland was not known for having a strong restaurant scene in those days. That reputation is …

  • Published
    January 18, 2011

    The O’Hara Corporation: A major force in Rockland’s renewal

    Rockland hosted several finfish-related companies when F.J. O’Hara and Sons entered the fishing business in the city in the late 1930s. Now known as the O’Hara Corporation, it is not only the lone surviving company from that bygone era but is also the largest fishing-related business headquartered in Maine. The company operates businesses in the south, middle and north ends of Rockland, a large scallop fleet out …

  • Published
    October 25, 2010

    Rockland’s windjammer fleet: sailing with history

    In the mid-1950s there were virtually no sailing vessels moored in Rockland. My friend Charlie Graham recalls that when he took Samoset Hotel guests sailing in 1957 there were three – two small daysailers owned by the hotel and the windjammer Victory Chimes, which made her first foray into Rockland in 1954. Today there are several hundred pleasure boats in Rockland, including seven windjammers, the most in any …

  • Published
    September 25, 2010

    Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse: restoring an icon

    Rockland’s Breakwater and lighthouse have been unique landmarks for over a century and treasured storehouses of memories for many of us with deep roots in the community. Two stand out for me. As a small boy of six, I recall my grandfather and I rocking back and forth on the porch of his Owls Head cottage, gazing out at the breakwater and lighthouse across the harbor as he told the story of their construction. …

  • Published
    September 2, 2010

    Penobscot School: Rockland’s window on the world

    My wife, Mary Alice, and I love to show off Midcoast Maine to our friends “from away.” When cruising Rockland with our guests, I often pause in front of a modest facility at 28 Gay Street and ask rhetorically: “Can you believe that inside this 1,200 square-foot building instruction has been offered in 18 different languages and more than 500 hundred students from five continents and 50 countries have studied …

  • Published
    August 11, 2010

    The Island Institute: helping islanders preserve a national treasure

    When I was growing up in Rockland in the 1940s and early 1950s, the city proudly proclaimed that Senter Crane’s, with its five floors of inventory, was the largest department store between Portland and Bangor, and one of the busiest. By the late 1990s, across the nation the multi-floor department store had been replaced by the shopping mall. Rockland was no exception; however, rather than become a symbol of …

  • Published
    July 28, 2010

    The legacy of MBNA

    In 1993 MBNA opened its regional New England marketing headquarters with a 10-person sales office in the Knox Mill building in Camden. A decade later the company’s work force had expanded to 4,500 employees throughout Maine, including marketing centers in Belfast (by far the largest in the state), Camden and Rockland. The company was sold to Bank of America in 2005. MBNA has been gone for five years, yet the many …

  • Published
    July 17, 2010

    Welcome to the Strand

    A festive feeling filled the air in downtown Rockland on the sunshine-laden afternoon of July 3, 2005. Shuttered since 2001, the Strand Theatre was reopening under new ownership. The occasion brought back a flood tide of memories to those of us whose childhood was spent in the pre-television era. Together with the Community Building (now the “Rec” Center), the movie theater was entertainment central in Rockland …

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