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It was a mundane life, but I was happy. Solidly middle-class, no entitlements or luxuries, but we never went without either. Growing up on such an even keel made me appreciate what I have and not lust after what I don’t. This balance has served me well.

I was born in Brunswick Maine, September 12, 1972, in Parkview Memorial Hospital. It’s a big Jesus hospital now, but I don’t think it was then. My mom said I was a good baby, but it took me forever to grow hair. And now, after my hirsute high school days, I’ve come full-circle.

My dad was a travel agent for Stowe (yes, named after Harriet Beecher, who also hailed from Brunswick) Travel, and my mom occasionally sold Avon. Her parents lived on the family farm in Whitefield, ME, and my dad’s mom kept her apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, until I was eight and she moved in with us. I went to the elementary school across from First Parish Church, next to the Bowdoin College campus, and I had a black, white and purple blanket for naptime.

We lived in a red ranch house on Thomas Point Road (there was an apartment first on Pleasant Street, but I don’t remember my time there). It was my older brother Eric, my parents, assorted cats and our beagle Ginger. Ginger was a fat little thing, and I loved her. There was a little stream in the woods behind the house, and I remember my mom flinging Ginger’s messes into the stream. Don’t tell the EPA.

First through third grades I went to Jordan Acers Elementary. The principal was Ms. Kurz, and the music teacher was Ms. Elser. I didn’t know it at the time, but Ms. Kurz and Ms. Elser were a couple. My teacher was Mr. Barrett, and he could be a mean bastard. But I suffered no trauma back then. I had friends, my bus ride was long and scenic (from the trailer park to the tidal basins of the Sheepscott River) and we spent the ride rocking out to Huey Louis, Greg Khin and Christopher Cross (sic) on the radio and dreaming of playing at Fenway for the Sox.

Eric and I played Nerf football in the yard and basketball in the paneled hall leading to the bedrooms. We played KISS, Bee Gees and the Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever soundtrack records on our turntable. I once backed into a wall-mount space heater in the bathroom, and I had griddle marks on my butt for a long time afterwards. We went to Thomas Point Beach, and we viewed all the artifacts from Admiral Peary’s exhibition to the North Pole at the Bowdoin College Museum.

We visited my grandparents at the farm, and we visited my grandmother in Brooklyn. We saw Star Wars and Poltergeist and Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater and we played Atari at home. We played on the rocks at Bailey Island and we bought Smurf figures and other toys at the Maine Mall. We went roller skating at the rec center and we watched the Blue Angels from our driveway when the air show came to the Brunswick Naval Air Station. We ate out at Pizza Hut and we ate home cooking at home.

We were a happy American family unit in 1970s America. It was middle of the road America, and it was all I knew and all I knew I wanted.

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25 comments
  1. ryeder said:

    I grew up a few miles north west of you. A tiny backwoods rural farm in Livermore. Remembering what it was like and what it has grown into can be depressing, but, everything changes. BYW…my mom bought Avon…lol…enjoyed the story…

    • I know Livermore quite well! Went to high school in Lisbon and currently in Auburn. Small world. And great having you here, thanks.

  2. It sounds like quite the idyllic upbringing. Did you live at Frosty’s? Because I would have lived at Frosty’s.

    • Believe it or not, I still haven’t been to Frosty’s? They just re-opened under new management with the same family recipes. After we get off Rt. 66, I say we hit Frosty’s and Fat Boy.

      • Deal!!!

  3. How dopes an edgy guy evolve from this Mayberry like upbringing? Just curious if you were just always drawn to the Arts or was it something you were exposed to.
    PS. My Beagle Chester is very happy to hear that Ginger was also a “fat little thing”

    • Edgy?!? Niiiiice! Good question! I started drawing when I was veeeery young, started plunking around on the piano at the farm also…maybe that plus our drives to NYC plus sneaking out after bed to watch HBO and listen to the radio? I had my edgy distractions, I guess.

  4. metan said:

    Wow, that first paragraph was taken straight from my childhood!

    I might have grown up on the other side of the world in the 70′ but it was full of roller skating, KISS, Star Wars and Smurf figurines too. It’s a small world, isn’t it?

    • A small world after all… *grin*

  5. Strange how nearly perfect that sounds. I wonder, will our children say the same about their own upbringing in not so nearly idyllic environments. You are the same age as my sons, they traveled with me with work moves, with their other mother and sometimes with their dad when he thought about them.

    I think I will have to ask them what they thought this weekend when I have lunch with them.

    • Hope you have a great dialog!

  6. My husband was born in 1970 and grew up in Brunswick, he also went to Jordan Acres. And we had a home in Brunswick when we first got married, it’s a good little town. Frosty’s is a place I’ve heard a ton about from him (esp. the bear claws) but I’ve never set foot in there. Loved reading about your childhood details, I can relate to most all of it.

    • Your man and my bro may well have been in the same class. In. Credible.

  7. Lovely post. There’s something quite special about being able to claim that you saw Star Wars in the movie theater back in 1978. We’re the first generation of non-baby boomers and anyone born later than you just doesn’t fully get it. I can still remember dancing – dramatically – about my bedroom to the Star Wars soundtrack. Until you’ve done that at age 10, life is meaningless.

    • Right, innit? And of course anyone can say, “well, I saw ‘The Graduate’ in the theater”, or whatever, and that’s also great. But we’re fortunate.

      • Nu uh. Do you have any idea how big Dustin Hoffman’s nose is on the big screen?

      • Good point…

  8. Hobbles said:

    How’s your book coming?

    • The Day Job doesn’t want to let me…

  9. I didn’t know you are two years older than me! :) Love your picture. Good memories. Atari…never was into it, but I know my guy friends talked about it. How simple life was back then. Great post! I spent most of my life in the 70’s in Brazil.

    • Before we grew up and suddenly knew better, right? Siiggghhh…

  10. A gripping life said:

    These are such great memories, you don’t mind if I borrow them and claim them as my own, do you? It’s just that they’re so perfectly detailed with just the right amount of editing. Sure, I was born 10 years earlier but no one has to know.

    • Hah! My life is your life.

      And thanks.

  11. unfetteredbs said:

    I accidentally deleted your email…can you resend so I can reply?

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