Looking Back

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This photo of Peter J. Foye and his son at their shoe repair business at 3 Brackett St., Westbrook, was taken during the city's Centennial Celebration in 1914. The small building was attached to the old Brackett/LaFond building and served as a shoe repair shop with various owners until it was demolished in 1974. To see more historical photos and artifacts, visit the Westbrook Historical Society at the Fred C. Wescott Building, 426 Bridge St. It is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon, and the first Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m., September-June. Inquiries can be emailed to westhistorical@myfairpoint.net. The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org.

Dec. 30, 1992

The Westbrook High School Marching Band left Westbrook in two waves Sunday, and about 200 Westbrook adults have gone or will be leaving at once to be on hand when the band marches in the Tournament of Roses parade before a world TV audience Friday in Pasadena, California. The band members will be coming back to Portland on three flights Jan 2.

In 36 years as a resident of Pasadena, California, Bill Cary has seen a lot of bands march down Orange Grove Boulevard in Tournament of Roses parades. None has thrilled him the way one will Friday. Bill graduated from Westbrook High School in 1951. He’ll be applauding the Big Blue Marching Band at every step it takes as it passes his accustomed parade-watching spot. In Westbrook High School circles, Cary is remembered 41 years after his graduation. He was a star of Paddy Davan’s 1951 basketball team, state big-school champions and undefeated until it lost to a Massachusetts team in the New Englands. He was a pitching star of the state championship baseball team. Cary keeps in touch with Westbrook through friends and through the American Journal.

Joel Hawkes retired Monday, bringing to an end 86 years in which his family owned and operated Westbrook Star Laundry. The new owner is Cintas, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Cintas also is a family owned business, but bigger. Westbrook becomes the 92nd facility it owns in the U.S. and Canada. The laundry was founded in 1894 by George Perrin. Joel Hawkes’ grandfather, Leroy Hawkes, bought the business from Perrin in 1906 and ran it until his death in 1944. Joel’s father and mother, Everett and Myrtilla Hawkes, took over until Joel finished Westbrook High School and graduated from the University of Maine in 1960. After urban renewal demolished its location on Carpenter Street, the laundry moved to the 5-Star Industrial Park.

Eight-year-old John Burke did just what his father told him to do Christmas morning – but his actions had nothing to do with opening presents. Instead, the plucky Gorham boy is credited with snatching his 20-month-old brother, Kevin, from his crib and bringing him downstairs to his mother Kathy, who had just called the fire department. No one was injured during the 3 a.m. blaze, which gutted the first floor of the Sunset Lane home. Most of the family’s belongings were destroyed and the dog was lost. The fire was caused by a faulty electrical outlet, according to the boys’ father, Jay Burke, who said his son’s actions were prompted by fire safety instructions received at home. “I’m real proud of my son,” he said Monday. “He did exactly what he was supposed to do.”

Dec. 31, 2002

Westbrook got 22 inches of snow in a storm that started on Christmas Day – the most of any community in Maine, according to the National Weather Service. “It was the most snow we’ve had on Christmas since we’ve been keeping records,” said Art Lester, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Gray. Those records go back to 1870. Gorham got 18.4 inches from the storm. The previous record of 7.4 inches on Christmas was set in 1978.

A week before Christmas, Susan Duchaine of Gorham was organizing the last stack of gifts for a local family that otherwise would have faced a pretty grim holiday. “We do about 12 families every year,” Duchaine said of the gifts piled on the long conference table in her office at Design Dwellings. She said that although she and her employees do most of the buying and wrapping, others quietly contribute to the effort. She cited Dana Lampron, Shaw Brothers and PineLyne Furniture. Playing Santa is not the image that Susan Duchaine conveys to most people. Those who see her on the local cable station, forcefully arguing a point before the Town Council, have an image of a big developer, strident and out to get her way. She says she has not desire to overburden the town’s services by building houses, but she knows people need homes.

Wescott Junior High School opened in 1975. As other Westbrook schools have been renovated or expanded, the junior high has remained untouched, along with its neighbor, Congin Elementary. Now, Assistant Superintendent Michael Kane estimates that renovations to Congin could cost about $3 million and renovations to Wescott could cost between $20 million and $25 million. Kane is hoping to get money for Congin from the state’s revolving renovation fund. But if Wescott doesn’t get state money in the next round of funding for new construction projects, the school district may ask residents whether they would be willing to pay for the projects without state help.

Traffic through the center of Gorham is so bad that the Maine Department of Transportation is recommending two bypass routes around the village. Ray Faucher, project manager for the state’s latest study designed to find solutions to gridlock in Gorham Village, said last week that two routes, one on the south and one on the north side of the village, are being proposed to help provide relief. The southern route would begin between Waterhouse and Straw roads on Route 114 and loop northwest to connect with Route 25 near the foot of Brandy Brook Hill. A second northern route would begin at Mosher Corner east of town on Route 25, swing north and west around town and reconnect with Route 25 west of the village near Rust Road.

Endicott College, Beverly, Massachusetts, has announced that Amber-Lyn Douglas, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Douglas of Gorham, has been accepted to spend the spring 2003 semester studying abroad. She will attend Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

This photo of Peter J. Foye and his son at their shoe repair business at 3 Brackett St., Westbrook, was taken during the city’s Centennial Celebration in 1914. The small building was attached to the old Brackett/LaFond building and served as a shoe repair shop with various owners until it was demolished in 1974. To see more historical photos and artifacts, visit the Westbrook Historical Society at the Fred C. Wescott Building, 426 Bridge St. It is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon, and the first Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m., September-June. Inquiries can be emailed to westhistorical@myfairpoint.net. The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org.