The Villages of Scarborough – 2011


vol. u i\o,
June 10, ion
Point park
The new beach access area in Pine
Point has been completed after a
year of work. The area, known as
Snowberry Ocean View Park in hon-
or of an amusement park that once
stood next to the Lighthouse Inn,
includes a new walkway, wood-
framed seating area, water foun-
tain, bicycle rack, split-rail fence,
sidewalks, crosswalks and narrower
traffic lanes to allow visitors bet-
ter access to the beach. Last week
Community Services added the fin-
ishing touch to the new park with a
sign outside the entrance.
(Courtesy image)
Town is
rich in
First in a series on the villages of Scarbor-
ough. Next week: Pine Point.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
When the town of Scarborough celebrated
its 350th anniversary in 2008, Bruce
Thurlow wasted no time preparing for the
next big celebration.
Inspired by a book that chronicled the
town’s history, “Scarborough at 350:
Linking the Past to the Present,” Thurlow
embarked on a yearlong project to preserve
memories he and other residents shared
growing up in the town’s many villages.
Thurlow said he took on the project so
others might enjoy and learn from their
experiences at the next landmark birthday
This spring, with help from fellow
resident Mary Pickard of the Scarborough
Historical Society, Thurlow completed his
journey back in time by recording group
interviews with residents who grew up
in the villages of Pine Point, Prouts Neck,
Oak Hill, Pleasant Hill, Blue Point, Higgins
Beach, Spurwink, North Scarborough and
I hinstan.
More than ■!() residents shared their
photographs, memories and insight of the
town’s development and life from the 1930s
to today.
“I had the idea that 50 to 100 years
from now people may do another birthday
party and I wanted something that could
be accessed easily, with people talking
comfortably about these years when
Continued from page 1
Scarborough really became Scarborough,”
said Thurlow, who grew up in Pine Point.
“I felt like a Huck Fin growing up and I
think that’s true for a lot of folks living in
different areas back then and my reason
for leaving this legacy is just that – because
we lived it.”
Although the villages may have been
miles apart, Thurlow and Pickard were
amazed by the many similarities residents
shared growing up.
“One of the biggest things is that people
felt they had more freedom,” Pickard said.
“If a child went to a house, that mother or
father was their mother or father. Houses
were never locked up, there were always
keys in a car and other parents even felt
free to discipline other children.”
Thurlow said many of the villages were
localized because they were separated
by the marsh and transportation was
impractical on a regular basis.
He said many residents remembered the
day-to-day adventures of growing up, such
as playing familiar games or having to walk
or occasionally hitchhike long distances to
school. Surprisingly, there were even small
gangs, Thurlow said.
“It was not uncommon for us ‘crickers’ to
have a gang to deal with the Tuller’ people
living in Blue Point,” Thurlow said with
a laugh. Thurlow said there was no road
in the 1930s, but a hill separated the two
villages and they were constant rivals.
For many, life was simpler with fewer
distractions than today, Pickard said.
“One of other themes was that everyone
said they were ‘poorish,’ but had a lot of
fun,” Pickard said. “Although they may
have been poor they didn’t know because
life was rich in neighborhood relationships
and they always had something to eat.”
Another topic of interest was the different
jobs children held. They joined nearly 300
clammers at Pine Point and worked in the
budding tourist industry at Prouts Neck
and other villages.
“A lot of people used to come by train
to resorts in Pine Point, Higgins, Prouts
Neck,” Pickard said. “They would get off,
arrive for summer and be met with horse-
drawn carriages.”
Many residents remembered the vast
amount of farmland and the dramatic
change brought about by housing
developments, Interstate 295 and increased
“The roadways really opened
Scarborough,” Pickard said. “Some
residents estimated that 90 percent of the
farms became housing developments.”
Pickard said she and Thurlow became
interested in the villages in part through
a 2009 grant from the Maine Community
Heritage Project that included a $7,500
stipend for equipment at the historical
society. The grant allowed the historical
society to archive information online about
prominent people and places around town
and members worked with the library to
help gifted and talented students study
town history.
“The experience has been very successful
up to this point,” Pickard said.
Although a lot has changed in Scarborough
the past 80 years, memories are as clear as
day for those who lived in the 1930s, said
“The thing that was great about being
in the audience, was that we would have
three to six people in a group who would
come in and chat with us and we would ask
one or two questions and then they would
just take off and talk about growing up,”
Thurlow said. “We wanted them to pretend
they were just sitting around the kitchen
table and talking.”
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at
282-4337, ext. 237.
Clams were core of Pine Point community
First in a series on the villages of Scarborough. Next
week: Blue Point.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
For Don Googins and other residents of Scarborough
who grew up in Pine Point during the 1930s, clamming
wasn’t just a summertime activity. It was a way of life.
“Boys were born with a clam rake in their hand and
girls with a knife for cutting clams,” Googins said.
Earlier this year, Googins, along with fellow Pine Point
residents, Lenny Douglass, William Bayley and Bruce
Thurlow, shared their memories growing up in the
seaside section of town for an archival interview that
chronicles the history of Scarborough’s villages from the
The project was spearheaded by residents Thurlow and
Mary Pickard, volunteers at the Historical Society, so
others could look back on the time “when Scarborough
At left, a 1951 photo of Pine Point Pier. The construction, right, of a new pier will be completed in June at Pine
Point. (Courtesy photo/Dan Aceto photo)
became Scarborough.” clamming,” Thurlow said. “Almost everybody down there
If you ask any resident, they’ll tell you Scarborough’s cut clams.”
history begins with the snap and crack of a clamshell.
“Pine Point was basically a cottage industry of §ee PINE POINT, page 6
Pine Point
Continued from page 1
And that meant everyone.
“As kids, I remember we’d have a barrel
of clams that we would have to cut
and shell before we’d go out and play,”
Douglass said.
Although opening a clam with a knife
may seem like a dangerous task for
youngsters, it was customary for children
to be involved in the day-to-day activity,
including helping knit “heads” or small
wooden planks for lobster traps.
Many young Pine Point residents,
including Googins, even turned a good
“Growing up that’s how we made money.
I remember I had about $1,500,” Googins
The industry was such a fabric of the
community, Googins said, that even local
factories such as Snow’s and Thurston and
Bayley’s regularly employed residents to
shuck clams in their own homes.
“We didn’t have Social Security back
then, but everybody could cut clams at
home for extra added income,” Googins
said. “We had a big tray in the kitchen
and we would all go out and cut clams
and throw the clamshells in the avenue.
If I had to make an estimate, I’d say every
other house was cutting clams.”
Snow’s, one of the largest factories in
Pine Point for processing clams, was
built in 1921 and nationally distributed
“Scarboro” clams in chowders, pickled or
“soused” and other varieties. Luckily the
product wasn’t very hard to sell.
“The soft-shell clam was very, very
famous for a long time,” Thurlow said. “My
father used to say there would be no Pine
“It’s sad how much it’s
changed, but I remember
all the great times I had
growing up.”
– Bruce Thurlow
Point if it weren’t for clam shells.”
Though the flats were primarily used
for digging, Thurlow said also they served
another purpose.
“At low tide it was a source of income,
at high tide it was a source of swimming,”
Thurlow said with a laugh.
Although clamming used to be a vital
commercial industry for Pine Point,
Thurlow said the tide has changed.
“What used to be is not true anymore,”
Thurlow said. “Now there are very few
diggers and only certain sections are open.
In the old days, that was not true at all.
You could dig anywhere and you could
even dig without a license.”
Thurlow said stricter state regulations
and sanctions on where people could
dig and cut clams caused the industry
to gradually decline in the late 1960s
and 1970s. By the 1980s and 1990s, the
industry was a shadow of its former self,
said Thurlow.
“It’s sad how much it’s changed, but
I remember all the great times I had
growing up,” Thurlow said.
And just like the many clamshells
scattered along the banks of its shores,
memories of Pine Point are equally
Mary Pickard and Bruce Thurlow interviewed residents of Scarborough from the
different villages in town. Thurlow, who grew up in Pine Point during the 1930s
said he decided to do the project so the town would be able to look back on the
recorded interviews at its next landmark birthday celebration. (Dan Aceto photo)
From fishing and ice-skating at Kennis
Pool to movies and other recreational
activities at the local fire bam, many
residents enjoyed social gatherings
afforded by the quaint neighborhood.
Pine Point’s children were educated at
a one-room schoolhouse, another defining
characteristic of the village.
Originally built on land next to the fire
station, the schoolhouse served the needs
of all children in the area with one teacher
for about 50 students. Many students
assisted the teacher with basic tasks
such as helping mimeograph documents
and other less glamorous jobs, such as
cleaning the outhouse.
While some of the students’ duties were
See PINE POINT, page 7
Pine Point—————————–
Continued from page 6
less than glamorous, the view at the
school was to die for, Thurlow said. “It
looked right out on the ocean, talk about
being distracted.”
For many, the commute to school, was
made even easier by an alternate route
through the woods, known as “the rabbit
Life changed with a paved road and
increased transportation in the 1950s, and
children soon were bused to Blue Point
During World War II, American troops
also constructed trenches along the beach
of Pine Point.
“Every night we had to be in before 5,
and all the soldiers would patrol the beach
with German shepherd dogs,” Googins
In the years after the war, the trenches
would be used for a very different purpose.
“We used to build huts and make a little
clubhouse out of it,” Bayley said.
Bayley will never forget returning home
during a particularly violent storm and
passing the Ocean Spray Motel.
“I heard a horrific noise and I looked
out at that big three-story motel. The roof
came right off and landed in the parking
lot,” Bailey said. “I ran over thinking I’ll
go over help somebody, but nobody was
Another form of supplemental income
for residents was renting space in their
homes to visitors Thurlow said.
“It was common for people to come up
in the summer and stay with a family,”
Thurlow said.
Before World War II, many local
residents and visitors also frequented
popular shore dinner houses for affordable
seaside meals at popular places such as
Snow’s Clam
Bake Dinners as
it stood in 1924.
Snow’s factory,
built in 1921,
was a major dis-
tributor of the
famous “Scar-
boro dam.”
(Courtesy photo)
the Pillsbury House, Waldren Hotel and
other local favorites, he said.
As the automobile industry slowly began
to replace trains, visitors stopped lodging
at residents’ homes and traveled to
different areas.
For Thurlow, the greatest change at Pine
Point has been the loss of community he
and others felt growing up in what was
once a fairly remote area of town.
“Pine Point now has become sort of a
resort area. It’s very expensive and a lot
of people that used to live there can’t
anymore,” Thurlow said. “Many people
that live in Pine Point are in business or
tourists that come to motels. And what we
have now is that people don’t necessarily
know each other. The changes from back
then to today are good not bad, but the
quaintness is not there.”
Don Googins
and his son
Dana proudly
display their
catch after
coming back
from a clam-
ming expedi-
tion in the
1970s. (Cour-
tesy photo)
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at
282-4337, ext. 237.
Proud of their ‘Hiller’ heritage
Residents of Blue
Point share stories
of the village
Second in a series on the villages of
Scarborough. Next week: Dunstan.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
They were known as ‘Hillers,’ and in the
village of Blue Point during the 1930s,
they meant business.
“When I was a little kid you didn’t go to
the crick (Pine Point) without a gang, and
the crick people didn’t come to the hill
without a gang,” Lenny Douglass said.
It wouldn’t take long however, before a
strong sense of community would develop
between the once rival villages.
This year, Douglass, and fellow
Scarborough residents, Tim Downs and
Kirk Barrett, recounted memories growing
up in Blue Point for an archival interview
that focused on the different villages that
make up the town of Scarborough.
The project was spearheaded by
Bruce Thurlow and Mary Pickard of
the Scarborough Historical Society, as a
means of chronicling life from the 1930s to
the present and give residents a historical
reference look back upon at the town’s
next landmark birthday celebration.
Although they may have had their
differences at times, the villages of Blue
Point and Pine Point were unified by one
thing – the firehouse.
“That was the thing that melded us
together, both the adults and the kids,”
Douglass said.
Built in 1914 on Pine Point, the
firehouse served the entire town
of Scarborough and relied on local
volunteers to help protect the community.
Because many residents of Blue Point and
Pine Point were involved in the clamming
industry, many of those who heeded the
call of duty were local clam diggers who
worked during winter at Snow’s Factory
to help can and distribute clams. The
firehouse and factory helped bring the
villages together in a very unique way.
“There was a whistle built at the factory
that signaled the workers where to go in
an emergency,” Thurlow said. “It operated
on the steam that made the food and it
became a way of integrating the guys at
Pine Point and Blue Point.”
For many, that sense of community
brought on by the clamming industry was
See BLUE POINT, page 6
Helen Perley, second from right, displays her circus of mice to a group of children.
Perley, who lived on Seaveys Landing Road in Blue Point, bred white mice and
other small animals nationally for use in laboratories. (Courtesy photo)
Blue Point
Continued from page 1
instilled at a very young age.
“I started digging clams at 6 and then commercially
when I was 12,” Barrett said. “We’d have barrels of them
in the cellar where we would cut them.”
Downs agreed and said many area youth wouldn’t wait
long before spending their earnings.
“I grew up digging clams,” Downs said. “We dug clams
during the day and then partied at Old Orchard Beach at
night. Everybody cruised the strip with old cars. It was
like the movie, “American Graffiti,” that’s exactly the way
it was.”
There was another way for local youth to earn money,
however, and it was something a bit more bizarre.
“Back then we did whatever we could to make money,”
Downs said. ‘We’d sell all kinds of animals and snakes to
Helen Perley,” Downs said.
Perley, who lived off Seavey’s Landing Road in Blue
Point, bought, sold and bred mice and other animals to
be used in testing laboratories nationwide, including
Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. When children would
come across anything slithering, slimy or just downright
odd, they knew it would have a safe, or relatively secure,
home at Perley’s White Animal Farm.
And what was the going rate for a fresh catch? Why, 15
cents per inch of course.
Perley got her start in the business after her son
brought home two white rats as house pets. For
“company,” Perley bought two female rats and “soon
the brood grew to be over 10,000,” according to a book
entitled “Mrs. Perley’s Peoples.” At her peak in the 1950s,
Perley harbored more than 33,000 animals at her home
in Blue Point, including her favorite, a skunk, which she
learned how keep as a pet.
With more than 30,000 animals, Perley needed all the
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A postcard of the Lookaway Inn in Blue Point in the early-1900s. The inn was later purchased by the Volun-
teers of America, a faith-based human services organization that converted it to a home for orphaned chil-
dren. The inn was located on Snow Street, near where the overpass to Pine Point is today. (Courtesy photo)
help she could get.
“One of my jobs growing up was to clean out the cages,”
Barrett said. “I sold my fair share of snakes as well.”
Despite the lucrative profit afforded by the sale of small
rodents and reptiles, for Downs and other children in
the area, the odor upon entering the White Animal Farm
could be a bit overbearing at times.
“You couldn’t breathe in that house, there was no air,”
Downs said. “I never liked to go in because you always
knew there was something loose in there. Everything
Even with an extra pair of hands, some animals simply
could not be contained.
“I remember going down Pine Point Road one day and
looking out seeing my friend poking at something with
a stick,” Downs said. “When I got closer I saw it was a
snake and I knew it wasn’t native to the area, so we
called the police to come and get it.”
As the cruiser pulled up and assessed the situation, the
officer didn’t quite know what to expect.
“The cop said, Svhy did they call me? They know I hate
snakes.’” Downs said. “I thought it might be a cobra, it
was at least eight feet long. When I said that he almost
had, “the big one,”’ Downs said with a laugh.
In an effort to remove the snake as hastily as possible.
Downs said he assisted the officer by opening the lid of
the cage for the animal and promptly shutting it after it
slithered in. After all was said and done, he knew there
was only place the snake could have possibly come from.
“Helen Perley,” he said.
Not even a week later, the snake was on the loose again
and this time, it wouldn’t be so lucky.
“It went to Bruce Turner’s house and his wife cut it to
pieces,” Downs said with a snipping motion.
Perley did more than just provide housing for
animals, however, and even trained mice to do tricks
at a small circus she built for children to enjoy inside
her house. Perley was multi-talented as well. In a book
that celebrated the 350th anniversary of the town of
Scarborough, Fred Snow, former owner of Snow’s Factory,
said she was the best clam digger in town.
With their hard earned coins in hand, many children
in the area spent their time hanging out at the local
variety store, Whitten’s.
“That was what the whole town centered around as far
as the village,” Downs said.
Located across the road from Jasper Street, near the
baseball field and chinch, the store sold a variety of
things that included candy and ice cream; a popular
See BLUE POINT, page 7
Blue Point
Continued from page 6
favorite for many youth in the area.
“I remember the first time they had ice
cream, it was a nickel for a cone and the
line of kids went all the way past Harold
Snow’s. I don’t know where they all came
from,” Downs said with a laugh.
Another local gathering place for
residents was a wooded area with a small
clearing behind Blue Point Church, known
as the Eagles Nest. The area, originally
settled by Native Americans, was home
to clambake dinners and other informal
gatherings for families and children in the
area up until the 1960s. Aside from being
home to many clamshells, there were a
plethora of Native American artifacts and
arrowheads to be found.
“I was like Tom Sawyer, down there,”
Barrett said. “There was always
something to discover.”
When youth weren’t digging for treasure,
there was always the local swimming spot
at nearby Jasper Street.
“It would actually dam up at the end of
Jasper Street and there was a pond that
we used to skate at night and behind the
church, too,” Downs said.
Another distinctive landmark in the
area was the Lookaway Inn. Established
as a hotel in the early 1900s, the building
was later bought by a religious group
known as Volunteers of America, which
operated the building as a home for
Like Pine Point, another distinctive
feature of Blue Point was the one-room
schoolhouse. Located at the corner of Pine
Point Road and Jasper Street, the school
housed approximately 25 students in the
village from the early 1800’s until the
construction of the new Blue Point School
in 1965, and was converted into a house.
Another landmark of the area is Blue
Point Church, built in 1878. It served
residents until 1951 when the decision
was made to build a brick church. The
former building was converted into a
As an influx of people from out of state
moved to Scarborough over the years, and
the demand for housing increased, the
landscape that surrounded Blue Point
changed dramatically.
“It used to all be pasture. It’s interesting
to see the metamorphosis that’s taken
place,” Barrett said. “You used to be able
to see the ocean.”
For Barrett, the development of the area
has contributed to the loss of community
he and others enjoyed as children.
“There isn’t a village anymore. It’s all
gone away,” Barrett said. “You used to be
able to walk up and down the road and
wave to everybody.”
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at
282-4337, ext. 237.
[ ” rv~5g3~| Learn more about the loan without payments
A crowd
gathered at
the Eagle’s
Nest in
Blue Point
the early
The area,
which was
home to
and other
ings, was
a popular
for resi-
dents in
the com-
until the
Vol. 17 No. 9
July 8, 2011
Dunstan defined community
Third in a series on the villages
of Scarborough. Next week: North
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
With three convenient stores, several
gas stations, school, fire department,
pharmacy, post office, shore dinner houses,
barbershop and other businesses, the
village of Dunstan had all the amenities of
a bustling town in the 1930s.
But for Sarah Matteau and other
residents who grew up then, Dunstan,
most importantly, was home.
“It was pretty much my world,” Matteau
said. “We didn’t have to go anywhere else
for anything and hardly ever went to Oak
Hill. Going to Portland was like going to
Boston today and going to Boston was like
going to New York. It’s hard to believe
this small area could encompass so many
businesses at one time.”
Matteau, along with other residents,
shared memories of growing up in
the village community for an archival
interview that chronicles the development
of Scarborough.
The project was spearheaded by Bruce
Thurlow and Mary Pickard of the
Historical Society so others can look
back during the town’s next landmark
anniversary celebration.
The foundation of Dunstan village life
was a strong sense of community.
“You knew all your neighbors and knew
the people that ran the businesses and
everyone was friendly. It was a safe place
to be,” Matteau said. “We probably knew
too much about everybody,” she added
with a laugh.
Although Dunstan more than catered to
needs of local residents, the area served
tourists as well: It was home to a variety
of upscale local shore dinner houses such
as the Wayland, Normandy, Moulton
House and Marshview. The experience
was something to behold, Matteau said.
‘You didn’t just go in for a half-hour
and eat. It took several hours and several
courses,” Matteau said. “And they all
seemed to thrive.”
From steamed and fried clams to boiled
lobster and everything in between, the
shore dinners provided some of the best
local seafood in town for residents and
visitors. And for $2 a plate, the price
wasn’t too bad either.
See DUNSTAN, page 2
Elm trees line Route
1 in a 1950s-era
photograph of
Dunstan village. In
1966, a fire burned
the local pharmacy,
grocery store and
post office. The Dairy
Corner, a popu-
lar hangout today
and years ago, was
formerly a Texaco
gas station. (Courtesy
photo/Dan Aceto photo)
Continued from page 1
One of the longest lasting shore dinner
establishments was not in Dunstan,
but just beyond the town line in Saco.
Cascades, which opened in 1929, was a
popular destination and offered lodging
and food for weary travelers who arrived
by train.
The restaurant regularly employed
residents of Dunstan as waiters,
waitresses and kitchen staff until it closed
several years ago. Matteau and others
remember the establishment not only as a
restaurant but a piece of history.
“It was a very sad day for a lot of people
when they took that place down,” Matteau
Thurlow attributed the decline of
shore dinner houses and tourism to the
popularity of automobiles in the 1950s
and less use of the rail system.
“Dunstan had once been a thriving
and very populous place,” Thurlow said.
“Although there is still the route that
connects Portland to Boston somewhat,
there are no longer any shore dinners and
the huge cabin industry has been replaced
by motels.”
Transportation also enabled residents to
have greater freedom. The construction of
Pine Point Road across the marsh in the
late 1950s would soon bridge villages such
as Dunstan, Pine Point and Blue Point to
other areas of town.
Loss of shore dinner houses was not
the only dramatic change. In 1966, a fire
at Murray’s Pharmacy also engulfed the
local IGA grocery store and post office.
The destruction was an incredible loss for
the community, Matteau said.
“It was devastating to the area,”
Matteau said. “That was the pharmacy,
but it was also where many people
congregated in the morning for coffee and
The loss of the village center forced
residents to buy goods at more distant
locations in town, such as the Mammoth
Mart – now the location of Maine Medical
Center’s Orion Center in Scarborough
– and bigger grocery stores such as
Hannaford Bros, and Shaw’s.
The landscape of Dunstan also
changed after Dutch elm disease swept
through Maine in the late 1960s and
1970s and eradicated nearly all of the elm
trees that once lined Route 1.
“It was loaded with elm trees, it was
beautiful,” Matteau said. “There were a lot
of beautiful fields and wooded areas that
were turned into housing developments.
Today things are constantly changing, it’s
good, but you long for the old days.”
One distinctive landmark of the
Dunstan area, the historical society, has
a history all its own. Originally used as a
generator house for the trolley system in
town, the building supplied power until
1932 for one of the more unique forms of
transportation in town. The building was
The Marshview, one of many popular shore dinner houses in the Dunstan area,
was built in 1940. (Courtesy photo)
later renovated and became a museum in
Another landmark, Dunstan School
Restaurant, was built as a school in 1944
and replaced a smaller wooden school
built in 1925.
Among the popular gathering places
in town was the grange hall, where local
youth put on plays and hosted other
activities for residents. For men, different
filling stations around the village were
a favorite hangout. The Texaco station
is still in use today, although for a much
different reason: It’s now The Dairy
One of the most popular attractions
for tourists and locals was Old Orchard
“That was the place to go,” Matteau
said. “There was nothing like it, and you
felt safe down there. You had to go for
french fries and soft-serve ice cream.”
Dunstan’s neighborhoods have changed,
but Matteau’s memories are always close
at hand.
“For me, I can see all the houses and
know what they were and who lived in
them, so that kind of brings back the
changes that have been made,” Matteau
said. “It makes you realize, ‘wow this has
happened, they’re not there anymore,’ but
that also happens as you get older and I’m
sure my grandparents saw that, too. But
what I really miss most is knowing all my
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at
282-4337, ext. 237.
s,z>— Scaraorougn Grange nan, ouitt in 1909, was a social gathering place for
residents of the village. The hall hosted a variety of events, including bean sup-
oers. dances, card games and the annual World’s Fair. At left, a sign that reads
Hfevs c*’ –sdandry Grange Hall” remains outside the the hail. Although the
feafl is sfl used, activity has declined in recent years. (Courtesy photo/Dan Aceto
Grange hall was the hub of ” 5 01
activity in North Scarborough
Fourth in a series on the villages of
Scarborough. Next week: Oak Hill.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
It’s been more than 60 years since
Barbara Griffin served her first plate
of beans to local residents at North
Scarborough Grange Hall, but her
memories of the once-thriving village
center remain clear as day.
“That was the focal point in town,”
Griffin said. “It was huge.”
This year Griffin retold memories of
growing up in North Scarborough for an
archival interview that chronicles life
from the 1930s. Bruce Thurlow and Mary
Pickard of the Scarborough Historical
Society spearheaded the project to
use during the town’s next landmark
Life in the early to mid-1900s
centered on one establishment in North
Scarborough: The grange.
Built in 1909, the Patrons of Husbandry
Grange Hall was a social gathering place
in town for residents looking to chat, sit
down for a warm meal, dance or enjoy the
popular card game Whist.
The hall also was host to a slightly
larger event: The World’s Fair.
Held annually on the first Wednesday
of October, the fair was an opportunity
for local farmers and craftsmen to peddle
their wares and display their finest works
to residents.
Residents provided entertainment and
horse and dog races were held on dirt-
covered County Road.
The day held particular significance for
Griffin and other children.
“It was a huge event,” Griffin said. “I
remember as a kid school was closed that
The event was catered by grange
members who fed up to 500 people who
gathered in town for the day.
When the community wasn’t gathered
at the grange, another local favorite was
Sherman’s Store, now home to the Painted
Turtle Restaurant.
“That was where guys would play
Barbara Griffin
heaps a spoonful of
beans into a bowl
for hungry patrons
at North Scarbor-
ough Grange Hall.
Griffin has worked
at the hall since
1943. She contin-
ues to help orga-
nize bean suppers
and other events at
the hall. (Courtesy
checkers and card games,” Griffin said.
For children, activities such as sledding
on toboggans, ice skating and board games
were all popular community-building
Some of the activities of yesteryear are
frowned upon today, such as lighting
“Today they wouldn’t let you do that, but
that’s what we used to do,” Griffin said.
“Those were the good old days,” she said
with a laugh.
Although the grange is still used today
to host bean suppers and other events, the
communal atmosphere is not the same as
See VILLAGE, page 5
Continued from page 1
Griffin remembers.
“A lot of it today is that couples are
working and get home at 5:30 at night
and they’re expected to be involved in
children’s things at school so there’s no
time left to go to organizations (such as
the grange hall),” Griffin said. “It has
changed in that respect. Although today
the grange has things young people can
do, there hasn’t been as strong a draw as
there used to be.”
Griffin says fewer activities at the
grange also led to a decline in a sense of
“Things like that kept people together,”
Griffin said. “Back then there was time
to spend with neighbors, but today
everybody is on the fast track. Your
neighbors were always there for you,
whatever emergency it was, they were
Thurlow attributes the decline of many
village communities to the development of
roadways. While they linked once distant
residents, they also allowed further
expansion of homes and businesses.
In North Scarborough, once dusty dirt
roads are now heavily traveled areas for
people outside town during their commute
to and from work.
“The traffic is big,” Griffin said. “It’s
bumper to bumper in the morning and
The village, recognized for the fire
station at the intersection of County Road
and Saco Street, is now home to a busy
intersection that includes Lampron’s
Little Mart and First Stop Convenience
Although much has changed over time,
Griffin remembers the fun she and others
had growing up in the northern village.
“For me, growing up there was no other
place to go except the grange,” Griffin
said. “It was a different time, it was
simpler then.”
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at
282-4337, ext. 237.
Oak Hill has seen some changes
Fifth in a series on the villages of
Scarborough. Next week: Black Point.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
Oak Hill, considered by many to be
the town center in Scarborough, has
grown steadily over the years to become
a burgeoning area for local commerce,
education and entertainment.
But Dick Foley and other residents who
grew up in the 1930s remember a time
when the town was different and life was
“It was kind of an isolated life really,”
said Foley, 73. “Back then, Pine Point was
its own village, North Scarborough was
its own village and Oak Hill was its own
village. As a kid I hardly went anywhere
This year Foley and fellow Scarborough
resident Larry Jensen, 62, shared
memories of growing up in Oak Hill for
an archival interview that chronicles
the development of Scarborough.
Bruce Thurlow and Mary Pickard of
the Scarborough Historical Society
spearheaded the project.
‘Tor many years there was hardly
anything off Route 1 once you passed
Dunstan,” Thurlow said. “There were
Oak Hill Garage as it appeared in the 1920s. The area is now the site of the Scar-
borough Public Safety Building. (Courtesy photo)
no shopping centers behind where
McDonald’s is now.”
Family-owned businesses helped define
the early economic landscape of Oak Hill,
Thurlow said.
As a kid growing up in the 1940s, Foley
may have held one of the most desirable
jobs in town: He worked at his family’s ice
cream parlor.
Founded in 1948 by his father, Francis,
Foley’s was one of the first businesses to
define the area of Oak Hill in the mid-
1900s. Its nickel ice cream cones in the
1950s quickly earned the business a
glowing reputation.
“It was a pretty busy place,” Foley said.
Life at the ice cream parlor wasn’t all
sugarcoated, Foley admits.
See OAK HILL, page 2
Oak Hill——————————————–
Continued from page 1
“My first jobs included lugging water down to the store,
changing the trash barrels and washing the floors. I did
about every job in there,” Foley said. “I remember I used
to work until 9:30 at night on Sunday and then drive
back to Boston when I was in college.”
In 1963, Foley, his sister and brother took over the ice
cream parlor after purchasing the business from their
father for a down payment of $500 each.
The store continued to grow in popularity and served
more than 31 popular flavors to people near and far until
it closed in 1994.
Although the ice cream parlor was a local favorite,
several other landmark buildings also have come and
gone over the years, including Jensen’s father’s auto shop,
now the site of Amato’s at the Oak Hill intersection.
Across the street at the Bangor Savings Bank site was
another famous landmark, Dr. Benjamin Wentworth’s
house. One of the first physicians in town, Wentworth
also owned acres of farmland planted with olive trees
where the high school stands today.
One of the most dramatic changes to the area was
development of the school district.
Bessey Commons, now converted into apartments for
people 55 and older, was the first high school and often
the first place children from Scarborough’s many villages
had a chance to meet.
The former Oak Hill Grammar School also became
home to a familiar landmark: The Scarborough Economic
Development Corp.
The popularity of athletics in Scarborough made schools
a setting for town social events.
“Basketball games were a big thing in town, not only for
the kids playing, but the parents,” Thurlow said. “If you
didn’t get there early enough you didn’t get a seat.”
And after sporting events, there was only one place to
go: Mary and Bob’s restaurant.
“We used to love going to Mary and Bob’s, it was the
local high school restaurant and hangout,” Foley said.
“All the high school kids used to go there after basketball
i games. It was always fun.”
Although the restaurant closed in the 1960s, the land
is still used today and is home to St. Nicholas Episcopal
I Church on Route 1.
When teenagers weren’t participating in sports, regular
dances known as canteens were held each weekend at
town hall.
Other entertainment included the drive-in movie
theater, formerly located at the site of Memorial Park
See OAK HILL, page 5
Oak Hill——————————————-
Continued from page 2
behind Town Hall, performance plays at the Lions Club,
and the local town auction. Jensen recalls attending the
unique town event.
“I remember the things that didn’t sell went into what
was known as the ‘glory hole,’ and at the end of the
auction you could buy the entire glory hole. It would cost
about 50 to 75 dollars and take about three trucks to
haul it all away,” Jensen said with a laugh.
Foley, a member of the planning board in the 1960s,
said he remembers the gradual development of Oak Hill
as more and more businesses began to express interest in
“It was a big boom time,” Foley said. “There was one
after another coming in and that’s when we first started
talking about how to be more efficient with land use.”
One of the major factors that led to economic
development of Scarborough was construction of
Interstate 295, which allowed greater access to the
once-remote town from Portland and other larger cities,
Jensen said.
“1-295 opened up Scarborough,” Jensen said. “We
were like way out in the country for Portland. People in
Portland had summer homes in Higgins Beach. That was
their idea of getting away from the city.”
Another major development came as business
expanded: More town residents.
“In my lifetime there has been a tremendous influx
of residential population,” Jensen said. “It kind of
went hand in hand with the decline of the farming and
agricultural bent that Scarborough had, and the move
toward being a bedroom community for a bigger general
business area.”
Jensen and Foley remember time with family was a
town value as they grew up.
“Back then a big thing for families to do on the
weekend was get in the car and drive down to Old
Orchard,” Foley said. “It seemed like a whole procedure.
You would drive down to Ken’s Place, place your order,
drive around Old Orchard looking at everything, drive
back, get your clams and then drive to the ice cream
Francis Foley,
left, and his
son, Dick Foley,
keep a watch-
ful eye on the
ice cream ma-
chine at Foley’s
in the 1960s.
Dick Foley,
who operated
the business
with his sister
and brother
from 1963 until
1994, grew up
in the village of
Oak Hill. (Cour-
tesy photo)
After working at the ice cream stand for a few years,
Foley realized his family wasn’t the only one with the
“I remember I used to see so much Ken’s stuff in my
trash barrels,” Foley said with a laugh. “I used to say,
‘thank you’.”
As time passed, and travel options increased, Foley said
more families began to leave town for extended stays
farther away from home.
“Now if somebody is going to take a vacation they have
to go to Aruba or something. It was very simplistic back
then,” Foley said.
Although no matter how hectic things got at the ice
cream stand, Foley said that there was always time for
family to come together.
“As busy as we were, every Sunday we would have
dinner as a family,” Foley said. “At the time I remember
we’d gripe about it, but when I look back on it now, those
were some of the best times I ever had.”
Although much has changed since the 1930s, Foley said
he still treasures the place he calls home.
“We’re very fortunate to have what we have,” Foley said.
“Scarborough is a nice town, both from an environmental
perspective and the type of building diversity we have
and I want people to enjoy it and protect it.”
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at 282-4337, ext.
Black Point had ‘everything right there’
The inside of
Newcomb’s store
as it appeared in
Black Point during
the early 1900s.
The store was a
familiar spot for
local youth to find
work during sum-
mer months and
hitch a ride with
local farmers to
help pick berries
and perform odd
jobs around the
village. (Courtesy
Sixth in a series on the villages of Scarborough. Next
week: Prouts Neck.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
For Mary Lello, life on the Newcomb family farm in the
1930s was quite the contrast from her peers at the other
end of Black Point Road.
“We were two miles apart, but it was like two different
worlds,” Lello said.
Lello, 89, and fellow Scarborough^ resident Daisy Higgins,
83, shared memories of growing up in the village of Black
Point for an archival interview that chronicles life in town.
Bruce Thurlow and Mary Pickard of the Scarborough
Historical Society led the project for the town’s next
landmark anniversary celebration.
Life in the 1930s often meant hard labor, and Lello was
no exception.
“There was a lot of work to do,” Lello said. ‘We were all
farmers down there.”
Her brothers helped out in the field and she worked with
her sisters in the kitchen.
Growing up on the farm brought responsibilities, even on
the daily commute to school.
“Sometimes when we drove to school we would deliver
milk along the way. We hoped it was good when we got
there,” Lello said with a laugh.
Summer brought more business opportunities for Lello
and other families.
Prouts Neck, a popular tourist destination, lured
travelers from near and far to enjoy local seafood and
scenic ocean views. While some travelers stayed in hotels,
those without accommodations found lodging in other
nearby places, including Black Point.
“People used to stay over like a bed and breakfast,” Lello
said. “It was amazing the difference in the summer. It was
a very busy time.”
Lello and her brothers and sisters would pitch in however
they could, from waiting tables to other chores for as many
as 10 guests at a time.
Some guests even became regulars.
“Most people came to the farm year after year and we got
to know some nice people,” Lello said.
Daisy Higgins, who lived on the opposite end of the village,
recalls Black Point as a village bustling with activity.
“We had everything right there in the community,”
Higgins said.
Higgins, who worked at the post office in Scarborough for
more than 37 years, remembers the area just across the
marsh from Oak Hill as a thriving community with two
general stores, a library, greenhouse, firehouse, state auto
garage, church and other amenities.
“It’s amazing how different our lives were in that one-
mile difference,” Higgins said.
Although some children may not have grown up tilling
soil and planting vegetables, many youth in Black Point
still experienced life on the farm.
At Newcomb’s store, local farmers would often park their
trucks and enlist help from children and teenagers to pick
berries and other fieldwork. The job may not have paid
much, but Higgins said it was an experience nonetheless.
“I may have got as much as 5 cents an hour,” Higgins said
with a laugh.
Higgins said many residents also tended land on the side
to grow their own food.
See BLACK POINT, page 5
Black Point————————————-
Continued from page 1
“It seemed that most everyone had a little farm,” Higgins
said,. “We used to grow green beans, potatoes and other
things in our backyard.”
By the 1950s, the landscape began to change as farmers
started selling land to developers for residential use.
Two decades later, the area once known for farming had
changed dramatically.
Many farms are gone, but Lello welcomes the renewed
interest in farming at Broadtum Farm and Frith Farm.
“It’s really wonderful that young people want to do
farming,” Lello said.
While many Black Point businesses catered to the needs
of locals, the village was bolstered by one of the largest
train stations in town.
“Many people would take mass transit, the train was a
big thing,” Higgins said.
Although the train may have brought many tourists to
the area, some used the service as a free lift from town to
“The hobos would ride the freight trains and get off and
come knock on the door,” Higgins said. “My mother used
to tell us to come in the house, but she would give them a
sandwich or some coffee. A lot of people were out of work
during that time.”
If one thing unified each village in Scarborough, it was
the sense of community.
“We were free to do anything and it amazes me to this
day,” Higgins said. ‘We used to walk in the middle of
Highland Avenue or ride our bikes down to the beach and I
wouldn’t let my grandchildren do that now. We were pretty
free, but everybody knew everybody so that makes a lot of
Among notable people who resided in Black Point was
Eldred Harmon, Scarborough’s first appointed fire chief,
who lived on a farm across from the fire station at the
comer of Black Point Road and Spurwink. He lived until
he was 99 and was known by many in town as a reputable
and hardworking individual, Thurlow said.
Although times were tough, many children found ways
to have fun with a limited budget. From swimming at
Foss Farm in the summer, now the sjte of Camp Ketcha,
to skiing down Fogg Road in wintertime and gatherings at
the Grange Hall, a little resourcefulness often went a long
way in the 1930s and 1940s.
“We were pretty sheltered, but I think it was a wonderful
time to grow up,” Lello said. “Kids today seem to be so
scheduled. When we had playtime, we went out and just
played ball and made up amusements, our own recreation.
I think we lived in a more relaxed time even though
everyone worked very hard.”
While the community atmosphere of the village life has
changed since the 1930s, Lello looks back on the time
she spent growing up with a fondness she always will
“We didn’t have any money but we had everything we
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at 282-4337, ext.
Prouts Neck history features big hotels
Seventh in a series on the villages of Scarborough. Next
week: Spurwink.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
Against the backdrop of a picturesque coastline made
famous by artist Winslow Homer, the Black Point Inn
on Prouts Neck is the last remnant of an era marked by
luxurious hotels and summer-long visitors.
“That’s the only hotel left now,” Elaine Killelea said.
“Everything else has changed.”
Killelea, 83, and others shared memories of growing up
in Prouts Neck for an archival interview that chronicles
development of Scarborough since the 1930s. Bruce
Thurlow and Mary Pickard of the Scarborough Historical
Society spearheaded the project.
Although the hotels may be long gone, Scarborough
resident Dorothy Hatch, 98, still remembers waiting
tables at the Checkley.
It was a beautiful place to work,” Hatch said.
The Checkley was one of seven large hotels that
included Atlantic House, Middle House, Jocelyn,
Cammock House, West Point House and Willows. They all
were known for catering to needs of affluent visitors, but
for Hatch, no establishment was finer than the Checkley.
“We thought we were superior to the Black Point Inn
because we had an elevator,” she said with a laugh.
Unlike today, visitors to Prouts Neck came by train to
A view of
Prouts Neck
from the
early 1900s
three hotels,
from left,
House, Mid-
dle House
and Willows.
The area
was once
the site of
seven large
hotels. (Cour-
tesy photo)
Scarborough and often stayed the entire summer, Killelea
“People that came to Prouts Neck were very well-to-do
and would stay in big hotels for .months at a time. They
were not your general tourists,” Killelea said.
The influx of guests brought employment for many local
youths, eager to assist.
“It was a way that some of us picked up extra money for
school clothes and things,” Killelea said. “I remember the
boys would meet people at the trains and help them load
their trunks and deliver them to the hotels.”
Once vacationers arrived, there was plenty to do,
including golf.
“At one time there were about 20 caddies there at the
country club,” Killelea said.
Although waiting tables at the Checkley may have been
considered a summer job, the gig included a temporary
change of location and required staff to live all summer
in a dormitory attached to the hotel.
While the schedule may have been rigorous, there was
See PROUTS NECK, page 4
Page 4 Scarborough Leader August 5, 2011
Prouts Neck—————
Continued from page 1
downtime, Hatch said.
From stealing away to go to the beach,
singing in the garden or mischievously
sneaking around the hotel at night and
causing trouble with the bellhops, there
was always fun to be had, Hatch said.
“We all seemed to have a good time. It
was like us against the world over there,”
Hatch said.
Scarborough youth also found work in
the area at the general store and grocery,
V.T. Shaw’s.
“Almost every youngster worked there
growing up,” Killelea said.
The store even catered to the specific
needs of vacationing visitors by taking
individual orders for grocery items and
other supplies.
“They went to every single house on
Prouts Neck and took orders in the
morning and came back in the early
afternoon from Portland,” Killelea said.
After World War II and the advent of
the automobile, many people opted to go
to larger stores in favor of local markets,
Killelea said.
“When supermarkets came in people no
longer wanted to shop from local stores
and pay local prices,” Killelea said. “People
began to drive their own cars and that
changed many things.”
As the years passed, many longtime
visitors to the neck settled in the area and
eventually bought land and built cottages
of their own, Killelea said. Over time, as
more and more people sought regular
employment in Portland and other bigger
cities, work at the hotels became harder to
find. A gradual decline began in the 1940
and after World War II, the area changed
dramatically, Killelea said.
Despite the influx of summer visitors,
there was little that could stop Killelea
and others from enjoying themselves in
the village. From riding her bike along
the boardwalk in the bird sanctuary to ski
jumping off the boathouse on Ferry Beach,
life couldn’t get any better as a youth.
“It was a marvelous place to grow up,”
Killelea said. “We had beaches, a yacht
club, a golf course, a pond for skating in
winter, things they (visitors) didn’t even
And if any child ever acted out,
neighbors were more than welcome to tell
children how they ought to behave.
“Every adult felt perfectly free to tell you
(you were misbehaving),” Killelea said.
“Everybody in the neighborhood was a
caretaker and caregiver.”
That didn’t stop Killelea and others from
enjoying themselves.
“It was such a safe and wonderful time
around here,” Killelea said. “It was a time
of friendliness, wanton friendliness.”
Even during Prohibition, the fun never
“I remember my father and uncles
brought liquor into Prouts Neck,” Killelea
said. “They would come in the winter and
wait a little bit until the one police officer
went to bed and then in came these people
with their liquor. Prouts Neck always had
their liquor, even during dry times.”
And some of that liquor was quite
notorious, including a recipe formulated
by Winslow Homer’s brother, Arthur,
simply known as “Daddy Homer’s Punch,”
a favorite among locals during Fourth of
July celebrations.
Dorothy Hatch reminisces about her
time as a waitress at the Checkley ho-
tel in Prouts Neck. Hatch, 98, worked at
the hotel during the 1930s. (Dan Aceto
“I remember having a glass; boy that
punch was strong,” longtime Scarborough
resident Maude Libby said with a laugh.
No matter where children were, they
knew when to come home for supper.
“When you could smell the wood smoke
you knew it was time to get going,”
Killelea said.
Like other villages in Scarborough,
Prouts Neck and Black Point were home
to a one-room schoolhouse, the Black
Point School. Although there may have
been only 25 students, the teacher faced
staggering responsibilities, Killelea said.
“Sometimes the teacher taught all eight
grades, I don’t know how they did it,”
Killelea said.
Killelea said making the transition
to Oak Hill Grammar School just a few
years later and meeting children from
other villages for the first time was quite
a shock.
“It was terrifying, it really was,” Killelea
said. “It was before we had a school bus, so
we had to walk as well.”
Though activity in the remote area
of Prouts Neck remained fairly calm
throughout the years, one event left a
lasting impact on Killelea: The wreck of
the freighter Sagamore.
The Sagamore, en route from Portland
to New York, capsized Jan. 14, 1934, after
hitting Corwin Rock off Prouts Neck.
The freighter was filled with wool that
was quickly saved by local residents, said
Killelea. She remembers watching the
scene from a bonfire on nearby rocks.
“All the people in town went out and
rescued things. Nobody lost their lives and
they rescued some very wonderful wool,”
Killelea said. “Everyone in town was
wearing snowsuits from the Sagamore
that winter.”
Killela said the memory of her father
rowing out to the wreckage frightened her
and her mother because he couldn’t swim.
“Most men were fishermen, but not
many could swim,” Killelea said. “It was
just one of those things. No fishermen ever
learned how to swim.”
Although times may have been hard for
many in the area, Killelea remembers
the beauty of growing up in a time when
things were simpler.
“I’m sure none of us had a great deal of
money, but we didn’t know it,” Killelea
said. “We had everything we needed and it
was a fun and wonderful time to grow up.”
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at
282-4337, ext. 237.
Farms dominated Spurwink landscape
Eighth in a series on the villages of Scarborough. Next
week: Higgins Beach.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
Ralph Lorfano remembers a time when his entire
Scarborough neighborhood was devoted to the land.
“Back then it was really all farming,” Lorfano said. “It
pretty much took up the entire road.”
Earlier this year, Lorfano, 77, was among residents
interviewed for an ongoing series that chronicles the
history of Scarborough villages. Bruce Thurlow and Mary
Pickard of the Scarborough Historical Society spearheaded
the project.
Although Spurwink may not have been a traditional
village with a garage and town center like Dunstan and
Oak Hill, it still had a strong sense of community.
“All of the farms worked together and knew each other,”
Thurlow said. “They weren’t competitors, they were all
From lettuce to strawberries and every kind of vegetable
The Spur-
wink Country
Kitchen as
it appeared
in 1960. The
restaurant is
still a popular
spot for local
in between, Lorfano said demand for produce in the 1930s picked their crops — it had only just begun,
and 1940s was so great that large trucks stopped by twice “There were some farmers who would drive down to
a day to collect and ship food to markets.
Work didn’t stop at the end of the day other farmers See SPURWINK, page 5
Continued from page 1
Boston six times a week in the summer,”
Lorfano said.
Even the experience of going to market
in Portland was something to behold, he
“The minute you landed there were
people right there,” Lorfano said. “You’d
turn around to weigh something and they’d
be piling zucchinis on the scale and putting
things in bags. It was absolutely wild for
the first hour.”
While work was plentiful, wages were
modest, Lorfano said.
“In 1938 I remember there was a man
who worked for one dollar a day,” Lorfano.
“It was during the Depression and people
were looking for work. I remember the year
before he worked for 50 cents.”
Although Lorfano admits the hours were
long, there was still time to enjoy life.
“We used to always say, “When we’re
done with this lettuce patch can we go
swimming?’ And we’d go down to the river
for a little while and come back,” Lorfano
said. “It was hard work, but we still had
From playing in the ham to climbing
trees, there was always something to do,
including sledding in the middle of the
“We used to sled in the middle of the
roads, and when they’d come by to sand
we would always yell at them,” Lorfano
said with a laugh. “We didn’t really leave
Spurwink much.”
Going to school in the 1940s, Lorfano
remembers the stark difference in
The Stanford family farm as it appeared in the
early 1900s. George Stanford, left, holds a pair of
pheasants after a hunting trip in the 1950s. Stan-
ford owned a contracting business and farm on
Spurwink Road. He regularly sold produce such as
lettuce and strawberries to markets in Boston and
Portland. The Stanford farm was one of many that
once dominated the Spurwink landscape. During
the 1960s and 1970s many farmers sold their land
for residential use, which dramatically changed
the landscape and occupations for many in the
area. (Courtesy photos)
See SPURWINK, page 6
Continued from page 5
“They used to pick all the kids in Scarborough up on one
bus,” Lorfano said. “That’s quite the big change. The kids
from North Scarborough had a long day; they would be
picked up first and dropped off last.”
Among notable places in the area was local favorite
Spurwink Country Kitchen, a home-style restaurant that
still exists today.
Farming wasn’t the only occupation for Lorfano’s family
and others: They also catered to summer residents on
Prouts Neck.
Lorfano’s uncle, George Stanford, was well known
throughout Scarborough. He ran a contracting business
in addition to farming and did a variety of work for town
residents, including making cabinets. He also held spare
keys in case visitors were locked out of their summer
While farming boomed in the early 1900s, life in
Scarborough began to change in the late 1960s and 1970s,
Lorfano said. As the value of land increased, younger
generations lost interest in farming and many sold
property for residential development.
The loss of farms dramatically changed the landscape
and culture of Scarborough.
“Now there’s none left on Spurwink,” Lorfano said. “It’s
sad to see it disappear.”
The sense of community also began to fade as
Scarborough’s population increased, Lorfano said.
“Back then everybody knew everyone else,” Lorfano
said. “It’s quite a bit different now; sometimes you don’t
even know your neighbors. Things were much more low
key. It’s just such a hustle-bustle today with everything
computerized. You very rarely get to talk to anybody on
the phone anymore.”
George Stan-
ford, front
center, with a
work crew at
his farm dur-
ing the 1950s.
Stanford, who
owned a farm
and contract-
ing business
in the area,
employed many
local youth,
including Ralph
Lorfano, seated
at front right.
Lorfano began
working at the
farm when he
was 10. (Cour-
tesy photo)
While much of the landscape of Spurwink may have food.”
changed over time, Lorfano plans to continue doing what
he loves most: Gardening. Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at 282-4337, ext.
“I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t able to grow a little 237.
Residents recall bonds of summer
Ninth in a series on the villages of Scarborough. Next
week. Pleasant Hill.
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
Looking back on his time growing up at Higgins Beach,
Andy Putney recalls the joy he felt each summer when
his friends from afar came back to town.
“I remember how exciting it was in the spring to come
back to Higgins Beach because almost 90 percent of the
people coming in were simply summer residents,” Putney
said. “They were my summer friends, but we had a bond.”
Putney was among residents interviewed for an
archival discussion this year that chronicles the history
of the villages of Scarborough. Bruce Thurlow and
Mary Pickard of the Scarborough Historical Society
spearheaded the project.
The Breakers
Inn as it ap-
pears today at
Higgins Beach.
The inn, built
as a private
home in 1900,
has been
owned and
operated by
the Laughton
family since
1956. (Courtesy
Higgins Beach————————————–
Continued from page 5
the way across the cliffs and sneak into the pool at the
Black Point Inn,” Martin said with a laugh.
While the Black Point Inn provided a welcome change
from chilly water’s of the Atlantic, locals had another
favorite swimming hole: The Spurwink River. Even
its location next to the town sewer outlet did little to
dissuade children from enjoying an afternoon swim.
“We used to like to go to the river because you could run
and dive in, but you had to go when it was high tide and
only when it was coming in because of what was going
out,” Martin said with a laugh. “My father used to always
say, ‘don’t open your eyes when you dive in!’”
Questionable soil along the river also provided another
form of entertainment, spid David Brookes.
‘We used to clam in those flats!” Brookes said with a
laugh. “But here we are, all alive today.”
While the allure of freshly shucked Scarborough clams
was tempting, youngsters had other opportunities
for nourishment when hunger struck, including the
Lunchbox, a local hot dog stand.
“That was a big deal, bringing bottles up to the
Lunchbox,” Johnson said.
Some children were more honest than others about
where they got their secondhand loot.
“I remember there were some who would go around
the back of the store and pick up bottles and bring them
around to the front,” Brookes said.
Although returning bottles was an accepted form of
currency at the Lunchbox, area youth also made money
doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, including shoveling
driveways and other tasks.
For the truly ambitious, there was always the option of
being a “pin boy” at the local bowling alley, the Pliggins
Beach Pavilion.
The job of setting and resetting pins might have
sounded innocent enough, but the task was easier said
than done.
“You got the feeling they weren’t bowling for the pins,
they were bowling for you,” Brookes said with a laugh.
Johnson and others who took on the job had one simple
strategy to make it through a day of work: get out of the
“There used to be a bench you could sit on, but once you
knew there was someone really chucking ’em down there,
you would stand right up,” Johnson said.
Dangerous as it may have been, the alley and an
adjoining store, Stratford Farms, were local favorites. The
store featured an ornate soda fountain made of brass and
“That was the place to go,” Johnson said.
The building is long gone, but the soda fountain is still
in use today – albeit for a much different purpose.
“My father bought the soda fountain and broke it up for
marble,” Laughton said. “It’s now the pastry counter that
I make pies on in the kitchen.”
The building also hosted movies and dances on a second
floor and was integral to the village for another reason: It
was one of the few places that had a phone.
“People with relatives would call the store and someone
would run down and find the family that was being called
and somehow make contact,” Brookes said.
One of the more peculiar services offered to beach
residents was Albert Coppola’s aerial spraying service
in Scarborough called New England Aerial Spray. He
would fly over Higgins Beach and spray DDT to ward off
mosquitoes in the area.
For those who were traveling to the beach on vacation,
the event could be quite startling.
“People from away didn’t know what that meant, but
they found out soon enough,” Johnson said.
“He would take the plane and circle a couple of times
and that was the signal that if you didn’t want your car
plastered with DDT to move it away,” Laughton said.
“He’d spray it all over everything and that would knock
the mosquitoes down for a couple of days.
The quaintness of the village is what many residents,
including Laughton, remember. From local fishermen
selling the day’s catch or blocks of ice to name signs
instead of numbers on cottages, there was always a sense
of community in the village.
Laughton, whose family has owned and operated the
Breakers Inn at Higgins Beach since 1953, said one of
the biggest changes to the area was development of the
village away from the familial feel it once held.
“Higgins Beach has become a much more upscale
community now,” Laughton said. “There are fewer
families there with small kids.”
Johnson said he has three simple words for future
generations of visitors to the beachside community.
“Sustain Higgins Beach.”
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at 282-4337, ext.
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Higgins Beach
Continued from page 1
While Higgins Beach may have
traditionally been a summer getaway for
families from Canada and other parts of
New England in the early 1900s, the area
always harbored a close-knit atmosphere.
Changing seasons brought great
anticipation of coming guests for those
who lived year-round by the beach.
“All my friends were from away,” Brad
Johnson said. “People would come in and
rent cottages for the summer, then it was
a month, then two weeks, which you even
rarely see now.”
Putney and his friends always found
adventures, even without a car.
“In the old days we never used the
streets because there were always
unwritten right-of-ways between the
properties,” Putney said.
That familiarity lent itself to the rocky
shoreline as well.
“It was like a route, you knew where the
natural places to climb the rocks were,”
Johnson said.
The area further down the beach also
provided great opportunities for Rodney
Laughton and other Scarborough children
to steal away and skip rocks, collect sea
glass and enjoy time away from authority
“It was a great place to escape adult
supervision and spend a couple of hours
on a Sunday afternoon,” Laughton said.
Some, like Scarborough resident Connie
A 1910 photo of Higgins Beach shows the Silver Sands Inn, a popular destination for summer visitors, far right. The inn
was destroyed in the blizzard of 1978. (Courtesy photo)
Martin, even braved the journey along the
shoreline all the way to Prouts Neck.
“Our challenge every year was to get all
Village view
Plenty of work and play in Pleasant Hill
Last in a 10-part series on the villages of
By Dan Aceto
Staff Writer
Pleasant Hill, located at the four-way
intersection where Highland Avenue
joins Scarborough from South Portland,
has seen many changes from a once rural
farming community to flourishing suburb.
Elwood Willey, of Walpole, Mass., says
times have changed but he’ll never lose
memories of growing up and working on
the farm to make a living.
“In the 1940s and 1950s it was indeed
a pleasant place for a young farm
boy to grow up and roam around the
neighborhood,” Willey said. “Today that
more carefree, rural farming environment
and culture seems like light years away
compared to today’s cheek-by-jowl houses
built on disappearing farm land, the busy
and noisy roads, and the hectic, fast-
paced, bedroom community way of living.”
Willey, 73, was interviewed this year as
part of an ongoing series that chronicles
the history of the villages of Scarborough
from the 1930s. Bruce Thurlow and Mary
Pickard of Scarborough Historical Society
spearheaded the project.
While Pleasant Hill’s landscape may
have changed over the years, one defining
landmark has withstood the test of time:
Pleasant Hill I lose Company,
Now simply known as Pleasant Hill Fire
Station, the PHHC was built in the late
1920s after a fire swept through Black
Point along Spurwink and close to Higgins
The hose company also served a unique
role in the community, said previous lire
captain Richard Lord, 75.
“We used to say we never put out a lot
of fires, but we had a lot of parties,” Lord
said with a laugh.
From bean suppers to whist parties, and
everything in between, the hose company
was the center of activity for young and
Elwood Willey, far right, and his father, Jasper, center, were interviewed at the family farm in 1957 by local radio personality
George Hunter for his farm and garden show. The Willeys farm was one of many, including Coulthard Farm and Nutter Farm
that once defined the landscape of Pleasant Hill. (Courtesy photo)
old alike.
And for local youth, one of the most
anticipated events of the year was the
annual Halloween party.
With hayrides and hot cider to sip in
the crisp autumn air, the event was a
special time for many, recalls previous fire
captain Richard Fowler, of Scarborough,
“It was a nice little community really,”
Fowler said. “It was a very tight-knit
neighborhood and you knew pretty much
Lord has fond memories of the freedom
children had to explore the village’s rich
“Back then it was a whole different
world,” Lord said. “Kids could go out and
we didn’t have to worry about where they
An early Pleasant Hill fire truck at the town dump in the 1950s. The fire sta-
tion, known as Pleasant Hill Hose Company, hosted many social gatherings for
the village in addition to fighting fires. The man standing next to the cab is Seth
McDermott, dump caretaker and a special police officer for Scarborough. Behind
the engine in overalls is Lou Manter, member of the hose company who lived at
the station before World War 11 and was the first 24-hour man and driver. (Elwood
Willey courtesy photo)
Pleasant Hill —
Continued from page 1
were going. They knew what time to come
home for dinner and then they would go
back out again. There was no supervision
and there were plenty of woods and river
and other things for them to do and make
their own entertainment.”
Although children enjoyed their time
with family and friends, many local youth
learned the meaning of a hard day’s work
at a very early age.
“I started working on the farm when I
was 9 years old for 25 cents an hour. Then
I got a raise to 35 cents and when I made
50 cents I thought I was a millionaire,”
Fowler said with a laugh.
Some children, like Lord, even made
the trip from outside town and traveled
from South Portland to Scarborough – a
common occurrence when farmers needed
seasonal help in summer.
“Kids today can’t really start working
until they’re 15 or 16 years old, but back
then plenty of farmers were looking for
help and anyone could begin picking
strawberries at age 10,” Lord said.
Willey grew up working on the farm of
his father, Jasper Willey. He remembers
not only the hard labor but community
of surrounding families. His father was
one of the first in the area to begin the
practice of rotating crops.
While Jasper Willey’s corn was known
throughout the area, many local farmers
also produced great yields, of squash,
lettuce and other crops for sale to local
markets and even Boston.
Like many other farming villages.
Pleasant Hill began to see a dramatic
The Avalon, a familiar luncheon spot offering light fare for locals in Pleasant Hill, was a seasonal summer res-
taurant operated by Scarborough residents Alice Sawyer and Evelyn Kenney. The restaurant was located at
the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Highland Avenue. (Courtesy photo)
Pleasant Hill—————————–
Continued from page 5
change in the 1960s and 1970s as farmers sold land for
residential development.
“A lot of the children didn’t really want that kind of life,”
Fowler said. “They knew it was a lot of work and wanted
to try different things.”
Fowler, who has owned and operated his own farm
in the area, said change has heen disheartening but
indicative of passing time.
“Over the last 15 years I’ve never had anyone ask for a
job,” Fowler said. “When we were younger, we used to get
out of school and we couldn’t wait to go to work. The $15
to $20 dollars we got every two weeks was a lot of money
back then.”
Youths could always count on farm work, but Pleasant
Hill also had other notable businesses: Nut’s by Nutter,
a nut company owned by Robert Nutter; Cook and Co.,
a sand and gravel business; Cash’s Market, now known
as Al’s Variety Store in Pleasant Hill; and the local gas
station at the Hose Company.
Another quaint seasonal restaurant was the Avalon, a
small restaurant, located at the intersection of Pleasant
Hill and Highland Avenue.
The Avalon was run by sisters Alice Sawyer and Evelyn
Kenney of Scarborough and featured small lunch fare for
hungry residents who pulled up in cars along Pleasant
Hill and eagerly await a table.
As transportation increased over the years, construction
of one of the first airports in southern Maine, the Port-of-
f The School Around Us Invites You the Annual”N
Cine> rtf IVf/m’no’c (lldest & Finest Juried Fairs
Maine, was completed in 1928 at Pleasant Hill.
Before it closed in the late 1960s the airport had a
number of famous aviators touch down for brief stays,
including Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh and Wiley
Lord remembers the experience of watching planes fly
close over the Pleasant Hill countryside.
“I’ll never forget, you could always see the planes come
in over Pleasant Hill and just miss the telephone wires
when they landed,” Lord said.
Willey says he remembers seeing Two Lights State
Park in Cape Elizabeth from Pleasant Hill when he
Pleasant Hill—
Continued from page 6
was younger. One of the most noticeable
changes in the area has been the increase
in traffic and the associated noise, he said.
“There was much less noise pollution
due to lighter road traffic,” Willey said.
“The putt-putt of John Deere tractors
among the fields was easier on the ears.”
Despite the change, residents still look
back with fondness to a time when things
were simpler.
“It isn’t what it used to be,” Lord said.
“But that’s just me and the old way of
thinking. Scarborough is still a very
nice place to be and I think we’re very
fortunate to live here.”
Staff Writer Dan Aceto can be reached at
282-4337, ext. 237.

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