Looking Back


Oct. 13, 1993

Army Pfc. Jeffrey Joy is gazing out these days on some streets less friendly than the Westbrook ones he grew up on. He is a door gunner on a Blackhawk helicopter stationed in Mogadishu, Somalia. The two helicopters shot down recently by Somali gunmen were Blackhawks, and Jeffrey’s mother, Karen Thompson, took two phone calls from his U.S. home base, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, letting her know Jeffrey was all right. Jeffrey entered the Army Reserves in 1991, when he was a junior at Westbrook High School. He had training a Fort Benning, Georgia, and after high school graduation in 1992 entered the Army proper, based at Fort Campbell since a year ago. He is “so proud of his position, proud of being a door gunner,” his mother said.

President Clinton’s plan to bring health care to all Americans was repeatedly challenged by residents and students Friday during a visit by Sen. George Mitchell to Gorham. Mitchell, Senate majority leader, held a public meeting at Shaw Junior High School to discuss the president’s health care plan. “We will not be cutting Medicare and Medicaid,” Mitchell said. “We will be reducing the rate of increases.” He said of the $840 billion that will be spent of health care this year, 40 percent comes from those two programs. A large part of financing the Clinton plan is to come from these caps, which could cut the growth of Medicare and Medicaid in half, he said.

The Prides Corner Garden Club will meet in the Prides Corner Congregational Church on Oct. 20 and will mark its 40th birthday. Hostesses will be Margaret Merrill, Ruth Gain and Rena Lamson. Vaun Born and Helen Wescott co-chair the program.

Oct. 15, 2003

There was excitement in the air last Friday as workers put the finishing touches on Gorham’s new $15 million middle school, readying it for opening Tuesday. There was still wet paint, cardboard covered part of the tile floors and electrical work still was being done, but every teacher the American Journal talked to was confident the building would be ready on time. “Some people might have to work throughout the weekend, but we’ll be ready,” said Donna Pastore, sixth grade special education teacher. The school is opening almost six weeks later than originally anticipated.

Gorham resident Roland Rhoades can remember his first sale for the 98-year-old Fuller Brush Co. like it was just yesterday, rather than in 1992. “It was in a restaurant. I went up to the owner and introduced myself. I showed him our products and made the sale,” he said. Since then, Rhoades has made thousands of such sales and recently was promoted to the position of executive director. Working out of his Blackberry Lane home, Rhoades oversees more than 1,000 Fuller Brush distributors and salesmen across the country. Fuller Brush was founded in 1906 by Alfred Fuller in Hartford, Connecticut.

As the construction season nears its close, most of the Westbrook’s planned downtown development is on schedule and on budget. The biggest delay is the project that isn’t under construction yet – the reconstruction of William Clarke Drive. Although the new parking garage has yet to appear next to the new office building built by developer Tim Flannery, the project is on schedule. Both the office building and the garage have to be complete by April under the contract the city and Flannery have with Core, the company moving into the building. Also proceeding are the city’s new $8.3 million public safety building and the $4.2 million construction project at the Congin School.

Organizers have already begun planning the third annual Festival of Trees 2003 with the hopes that this year’s festival will be even bigger than last year’s. The festival will have trees on display Dec. 5-13 at the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church. Local businesses pay $1,000 to sponsor the trees on display, and proceeds go to local charities. Pat Wilson, a Westbrook resident, started the festival three years ago after her mother, who loved Christmas, died. She said she had taken her mother to a similar festival in Skowhegan the previous year.

Marcus Ziemann of Alberta Drive, Westbrook, has been selected to participate in the National Young Leaders Conference Nov. 11-15 in Washington, D.C. He will be one of 350 outstanding scholars from around the country at the conference.

Tom Kalperis opened Tom’s Restaurant at 863 Main St. in the late 1930s.  Located in the Vallee Block, it sustained considerable damage when the upper floors of the building were destroyed in a fire Feb. 13, 1942. The first floor was renovated and Tom’s Restaurant reopened and remained into the late 1950s. The space was then occupied by Zahare’s Restaurant and then Sherwin-Williams. 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 [email protected] The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org.