Torn down for a parking lot

By David Grima | Sep 24, 2020

Is the Park Street Grill building at the corner of Park Drive and (South) Main really going to be torn down to make way for a parking lot, or is this announcement just a stunt, part of a negotiating game between the owner and the city?

It was a bit of a shock to hear this news, last week. I mean… the Park Street Grill… their perfect margaritas… what will become of it all?

Last weekend, I spoke to a former commercial tenant of the building, a place many of us still think of as the old Sears building, even though Sears closed its store there in the mid-90s. I was told that while he was there, the building was in far from good condition, with damp in the basement which used to be the Sears’ appliance sales floor.

Rockland Historical Society recently posted a photo on Facebook showing the old Knox County Jail behind the courthouse, and one sharp observer pointed out it was torn down for a parking lot. I think the posted comment was “sound familiar?”

Certainly, the old jail was in poor shape when the county commissioners voted to turn off the electricity, leading to it succumb to Jack Frost and His Wicked Works. But as far as I have been able to tell, you never could get a good margarita there, anyway.

(Part of the jail, the tower above the old sheriff’s house, was bought by a Limerock Street resident and used for a shed, I think. Most elegant.)

Personally, I am more devoted to the Park Street Grill’s business than to the old Sears building that houses it. But I like the building much better than the idea of a parking lot.

* * * * *

Welcome to fall, ladies and gentlemen. Summer, which was long, quiet, and dry, is gone.

* * * * *

In a Courier story about yet another potential candidate for city council – I think the last count put the current total at 86 – resident Ryan Smith of Tea Street is described as “an avid gardener.” The phrase made me shudder, for there was a time when the only people described in the Courier as being “avid” were dead.

When I used to serve the paper as superintendent of obituaries, this description popped up time and time again page two, where the highly popular obits were published. People were avid beekeepers, canners of produce, radio hams, yard salers, crocheters, freshwater fishermen, possibly even margarita drinkers. But they were often quite avid about it.

Times are changing. Now we seem to have people in Rockland who are avid even before their decease. Never mind. If the poor fellow is so unlucky as to be elected, he will soon get a taste of what it’s like to be deceased when he is sworn into office, and learns he will be expected to show up at city hall every week for years; possibly for eternity.

* * * * *

Speaking of the living dead, we have a special kind of holiday coming up in the next month or so; Halloween. How will we handle this annual bean feast, which falls this year on the best of all nights, a Saturday?

Will the roaming bands of kiddies-under-escort wear face masks? Will their parents wear them? Will householders? Will there be fights between maskers and no-maskers? Will some doorsteps in town bear signs forbidding unmasked visitors that night? Will some homes welcome only unmasked trick-or-treaters? Will Gov. Janet Mills issue special Halloween orders? Will some kiddies dress up as Janet Mills?

You can see how complex this special night could be.

At least we had a long time to prepare for Halloween this year, for I saw the first round of Halloween product displays at Lowe’s in Thomaston as far back as Aug. 29.

As for my own Halloween preparations at the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, they are well in hand. I am within an ace of confirming that our very own Beloved Lord Prez Trumpleton (may he live forever) will accept my invitation to attend the festivities here.

He has been talking about dressing up as a monstrous coronavirus, then chugging down a bucket of fake bleach, all the while lit up by searchlights. The plan is that after he has drunk the “bleach,” his papier-mâché coronavirus costume will explode and everyone within 50 yards will be “infected” with harmless bits of flying candy. It seems likely to be a spectacular show.

* * * * *

Four hundred years ago this month, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England. Two hundred years later, Maine became a state. Two hundred years after that, we find ourselves stuck in the middle of a plague.

Are things getter better, or worse? You tell me.

* * * * *

Why does the Hannaford supermarket in the Lime City still have a shelf marker indicating that it sells film for cameras? is this some kind of sentimental longing for a vanished past?

* * * * *

According to CBS, the World Wildlife Fund has reported that about 70% of 4,400 species of animals have died off since 1970. The blame is placed firmly on the shoulders of humankind.

Just terrific.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, the last time I drove by Lake Chickawaukie on Route 17, the lake seemed unnaturally green. I heard someone else mention this, too.

Are we dealing with a resurgence of algae that chokes wildlife and ruins water quality? This was the story 30 years ago, and it took time and money to remove the scourge. People caused it, of course. All the lawn fertilizer was allowed to run off residential properties around the lake, feeding billows of algae.

I do hope this is not happening again.

* * * * *

I see a local candidate for political office is getting free publicity by announcing he plans to create a museum of industry in the old antiques marketplace on lower Rankin Street. Pardon my residual journalistic skepticism, but one cannot help wondering if this project is dependent upon him getting elected.

* * * * *

There is a fine looking two-masted ship of sail on the railway at the Rockland Marine shipyard in the South End, next door to my wonderful towers. I couldn’t get close enough to read its name Monday afternoon, though.

But while I was trying, I saw the Border Patrol was in town, and was out in a twin-outboard engine boat the crew just pulled from the water at the South End boat ramp.

I wonder what they are protecting us from, this time? Canadian lobster?

* * * * *

Finally this week, the New York Times has a feature called “Snapshots of an Extraordinary Moment in Time,” to which readers are encouraged to submit blog postings describing life at the moment. Leota Fulkerson of South Thomaston, submitted the following entry:

“At 3 a.m., from my bathroom window, the call of an owl breaking the night’s silence.”

That’s a good way to end this.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Eric Thurston | Sep 28, 2020 14:44

As superintendent of obituaries, and I assume a lover of palindromes, have you ever encountered and avid diva?

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Sep 24, 2020 11:00

What would Joni Mitchell say?

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