Greetings from Zip Code 04074 (Life in the Suburbs): Bridge Generation’s leader dies

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Somebody someday is going to write a book about how Scarborough, in the last 50 years or so has changed from a potato-farming/dairy/lobstering/lumbering town to a white-wine-sipping, brie-nibbling, Junior-League-function-attending, Save-the-Whales-car-wash-backing (though would never actually get their hands wet and WASH a car) Yuppie coastal community. When they do, there will be a chapter on Mickey Martelle.

Walter “Mickey” Martelle grew up in Portland, attended Cheverus High School, and moved to Scarborough in the early l960s to marry wife, Dot, and raise Dan, Scott, Lisa, Craig and Jennifer. He moved to Wellsville, N.Y. in the late l960s for a new job. He died there recently at age 80.

Mickey was a one-man Time magazine-type story on “social trends in America” blah blah blah.

He was a fascinating guy, though that description would surprise him.

He came to a town that was backwoods, not highly educated, rural, mostly unpaved, WASPy, white, male-dominated and very very “unsmooth.” Here is what he brought to the table (to the sometimes shock of neighbors and friends):

• He liked football (violent game!)

• He drank beer in public! (outside, by his grill, or playing two-hand touch with kids)

• He used profanity! (“Goddammed right I do; what the hell are you going to do about it?” he would often ask those questioning his activities);

• He raced stock cars at Beech Ridge Speedway! (the cars were loud and fast, and smashed into each other on purpose!);

• He was a newspaper reporter for the Biddeford newspaper! (he did stories by asking people what they did, where they lived, what their hobbies were! None of his business, right?!);

• He was a Catholic! (Scarborough invented Protestantism…);

• He was of Franco-American heritage – and proud of it! (“You Brits came all the way over here on a boat only to land at Goddam Plymouth Rock,” I heard him tell somebody once…);

What I have just listed would take up two to three weeks in a college Intro to Sociology, or Anthropology 101 class.

Ethnic background, religion, hobbies, mannerisms, social interaction with neighbors.

Scarborough was changing. Ever see the TV show “Wonder Years”? That reminded me of Scarborough in the l960s.

Not so much new housing developments yet; those would come in droves in the l970s. More just changes on streets, backyards, clothing, hair, styles, TV shows, how people dealt with each other across the street.

I have lived in Scarborough more than a half century. I have seen some things change. I have also seen some things frozen in time (post office system of mail delivery; how we approach and coach youth baseball; traffic systems at Pine Point and Higgins Beach, e.g.).

I cannot remember any one person who was more of a poster boy for so much change in so many ways as Mickey Martelle brought to Fogg Road and Scarborough in a decade. My father died recently at 90.

I now realize Martelle was his best friend.

My father might also be a chapter in that book on the latest 50 years of Scarborough. He would be the “before” Scarborough – WASP, straight-laced, conservative. Martelle would be the “after,” or perhaps better, the “middle that got us away from the before and led to new things, including the ‘after.’”

Fascinating guy. Fun times. R.I.P., Walter.

Vroom vroom…Hut hut hut 42 go!

Dan Warren is a trial lawyer in Scarborough. He can be reached by private Facebook message at Jones & Warren Attorneys at Law page, or by e mail at jonesandwarren@gmail.com

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