MY POINT OF VIEW – Labor Day: It gives us another needed break

Norman Rockwell’s painting of Rosie the Riveter in 1943.

by Gary Kennedy

Well, we have one of those long weekends arriving soon. It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by so rapidly. Covid coupled with stress and turmoil seems to have played a role in the rapidity in which time has flown. When you become a senior that doesn’t play out as a good thing. There comes a time in all of our lives when things need to slow down. Unfortunately, we have very little control over that.

Labor Day is celebrated on Monday, September 5, which allows many of us another needed break from the hazardous toils of employment. We might love our job but it sure is great to have a little free time to share with family and friends. It gives us a little extra time to share with our retrospective glasses which acts as a guide into the future. My family and I enjoy the holiday as we can reminisce and pull the past forward, thus allowing us conscientious purpose for the future.

When it is my time to tout the past the first thing that comes to mind is Rosie the Riveter. The holiday itself pays tribute to the conditions and achievements of the American worker. This holiday was created by the labor movement in the 19th century. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, by then President Grover Cleveland. Labor Day carried some soon to be historically important people as well as some outlandish rules.

Rosie Riveter

I mentioned Rosie the Riveter who became America’s sweetheart because of her principals, attire and ethical demeanor. Rosie is one of my favorite historical figures as she represented the work ethic of Americans. She symbolized the ability of women to fill any void in support of their spouse and country. Whenever there was a shortage of help in the labor force women such as Rosie stepped up to fill the void. (America’s Pride) I always mention her during any labor shortage for whatever reason, especially war. I think of her on Memorial Day as well as Labor Day. I hope my annual effort serves to motivate the young ones who didn’t know her, to look her up and become familiar with the kind of person she was and what she stood for.

I mentioned outlandish rules; one of which was you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day unless you were rich and could afford to vacation at all seasons. Many people actually adhered to that rule. However, after a time most people felt it was hog wash and dismissed it from the things not to do.

There were a couple of ladies who claimed to be the real Rosie the Riveter but I think the most accepted was Naomi Parker Fraley who passed away in 2018, at age 96. Dr. James J. Kimble, of the University of New Jersey, Professor of Communications, was the researcher that finally got it right. The most memorable thing Rosie ever said was shortly before her death and upon it being confirmed that she was in fact the real Rosie the Riveter, “The women of this country these days need some icons, if they think I’m one, I’m happy.” Rosie is one of my heroes, yet despite her success, Rosie was forced off the factory floor when the war ended. Her achievements are buried in books and all her accomplishments wiped out of our conscious. She proved what a woman could do in the labor force, especially in the hour of need. Thanks to historian researches in search of detail and truth we were able to receive her true unredacted story.

So while you are enjoying your family and friends on this extended weekend think about how we achieved what we have and who we are today. There are many Labor Day stories; I am only sharing one with all of my friends out there. Labor Day emphasizes work ethic of which there are many examples even in our own families. Look around and you will see where you got it from. I and all my friends here at The Town Line wish you a happy and safe holiday. May the one that you pray to bless and watch over you and yours. God Bless.

The views of the author of this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.

Vassalboro holds Memorial Day ceremony

from left to right, Mike Poulin, Tom Richards, commander, James Kilbride, adjutant, Doug Grasso, Nicole Jordan and Robert Whitehouse. (photo by Rachel Kilbride)

At the Vassalboro Recreation Field. (photo by Rachel Kilbride)

VASSALBORO, ME — American Legion Post #126, in Vassalboro, laid wreaths at the various veteran monuments in Vassalboro on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 2022.

The wreath laying ceremonies began at 9 a.m., on Main St, North Vassalboro, at Main Street Veteran Monument. From there they proceeded to the bridge on Oak Grove Road to lay flowers in honor of those lost at sea. Next they gathered at the flagpole and monument at the North Vassalboro Cemetery, on Cemetery St. From there they went to the Recreation Field, in East Vassalboro. Their final stop was in East Vassalboro at the Civil War Monument, at Monument Park, near the boat landing.

Memorial Day: Let us never forget our solemn pledge


by Joseph Reagan

On Memorial Day, 1945, the war in Europe had ended but the fighting in the Pacific continued, Lt. Gen. Lucian Truscott voiced remarks at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery at Nettuno, Italy. Turning his back on the assembled VIP’s he faced the rows upon rows of headstones and apologized to the 20,000 fallen Americans who had been laid to rest far from home. He was quoted as saying, “All over the world our soldiers sleep beneath the crosses. It is a challenge to us – all allied nations – to ensure that they do not and have not died in vain.”

Fast forward to Memorial Day 2022, and the familiar voices of brothers in arms begin to call one another on the phone. People usually think of reconnecting with former military buddies as a joyous happening. However, for this Memorial Day, the topic of conversation was not an armistice, a promotion, or even a daughter’s wedding or new addition to a home, it was about the latest in a string of suicides that silence the voice of our brothers but brought renewed connections from other familiar voices. One desperately said, “Sir, I needed to call someone who could understand this.”

Everyone in the greatest generation understood war. At home they experienced rationing, school children collected scrap, and women took up factory jobs while overseas the troops endured combat and were witness to some of the largest and most brutal atrocities in the modern age. When the war was over, they followed the lead of Lt. Gen Truscott and committed their lives to ensure that they “have not died in vain.” The shared sacrifice of a generation united them and helped them solve tough problems.

In subsequent wars, such as the Korean and Vietnam era, veterans did not experience the same level of understanding and thus either turned their voice inward or used their voice to fight for one another on subjects that varied from Agent Orange, PTSD, and other once-silent conditions.

The War on Terror introduced a unique time in our nation’s collective history as acts of war played out in real-time on our media devices. Although only one percent of Americans served post 9/11, it seems 100 percent of the country used their voice to express their opinions of this shared history as it unfolded.

For Korea and Vietnam veterans, war was not a shared experience and therefore various voices having various opinions helped further the national conversation regarding the treatment of veterans leading to safer and more thoughtful approaches. Unlike the veterans of Korea and Vietnam, the veterans of the last several decades did not return home to the voices of dissent that could be addressed directly, instead, they returned to a polite nation that creates media of dissent and very little opportunity for honest, open dialog.

This new era of media, learning, and personal discussions bring rise to the question, “Do people really remember why we hold our veterans in a place of honor?” For years, voices saying meaningless phrases like “the enemy gets a vote” or “there’s nothing you could have done” were meant to comfort those of us who have held the heavy responsibility of leading troops in combat. However, many people seem to lack the understanding that our hearts have been forever scarred by the invisible wounds of war, scarred by guilt and grief, and by the longing for forgiveness that will never come. Even if forgiveness was offered, it would be hard to accept as no mere words can undo a life experience and because of this, we often feel isolated, misunderstood, and undervalued therefore our voices remain silent.

As conversations with the voice on the other end of the phone come to its inevitable conclusion, I am reminded that to remain silent is a betrayal of my obligation to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. As Horace Bushnell once said, the best thing for us to do is to remember “what they have put it on us to do for the dear common country to which they sold their life.” As we gather as one nation this Memorial Day, my hope is that instead of directing shallow words of gratitude at each other, we do as Lt. Gen. Truscott did and direct our gratitude directly towards those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In both our words and actions, let us all commit ourselves to serve the country to which they gave their lives.

While there is still much work to be done, the generation of veterans from this century have access to vast resources, life-saving technology, and increased information. This same generation of veterans is just now starting to define our post-service legacy and like our grandparents, return home with a deep commitment to service, and a desire to address the many problems that we face.

One such issue needing to be addressed is helping veterans find purpose in their post-service lives. Truscott’s apology to the dead are not empty words, but a strong voice reminding us that we have an obligation to choose resilience and purpose when faced with guilt or grief. As an example, Gold Star Families, who have experienced tremendous loss, continue to serve their communities to maintain the legacy of the loved one they lost. I often recall a colleague of mine responding to the question “why do you do so much to help veterans?” he simply held up his finger, choking back tears he responded, “for the one I couldn’t save.” By choosing to use his voice to advocate for other veterans, he not only helped them find their purpose – he found his own.

It’s often said that for those who have served “every day is Memorial Day,” a traditionally silent observance in the veteran’s mind that can best be described as an impossible trinity made up of an overwhelming sense of guilt, grief, and grit. Usually, a moment of silence on this day is a welcomed and solemn way to honor the voices from our past, but for myself, after losing three former soldiers to suicide in the past few months, silence is no longer an option and the freedom to use our voice is the greatest gift that our veterans have to offer this Memorial Day.

Joseph Reagan is the Director of Military and Veterans Outreach for Wreaths Across America. He has almost 20 years experience working with leaders within government, nonprofit, and Fortune 500 companies to develop sustainable strategies supporting National Security, and Veterans’ Health. He served eight years on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army including two tours to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division. He is the recipient of multiple awards and decorations including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

To view resources for service members, veterans, and their families, please visit

MY POINT OF VIEW: Valentine’s Day usually means sweethearts

St. Valentine

by Gary Kennedy

When we think of Valentine’s Day we think of sweethearts, roses and candies. For most of us it implies love and how we can show it, thus the beauty and the sweets. Some people display this special day in other ways such as, Rose Day, Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day and ends on February 14 as Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s week is the most celebrated love week of the year.

However, St. Valentine’s Day started as a Christian feast day honoring one or two Christian martyrs name Saint Valentine. Biblically speaking we refer to 1st Corinthians 13:4-8, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, and it is not one sided keeps no record of wrongs. (Song of Solomon 8:7), many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. The trick is to not read anything into the process but to accept it as the greatest gift you shall ever receive, God’s love through his son. Remember, this is a Christian view.

The name Valentine was actually named after a third-century martyr. This holiday has absolutely no roots in or from the Bible even though we can equate appropriate biblical passages from the Bible. In all due respect we must remember that there are many religions which are not Christian. By that I mean there are faiths that don’t believe or worship the same.

To be more explicit some faiths don’t believe in Christ but do believe in God. Christians believe that God has a son and others who parallel the Christian religion believe that Christ was a prophet, but not the son of God. Holy wars have been fought all over our earth for as long as religion has existed.

So it has always been wise to handle Valentine’s Day from a sweetheart/lovers perspective and not a religious one. This problem has gone on for many centuries. I am just giving you a vague other view for our celebrating a holiday which seems to imply religious overtones. So respectfully, let’s keep it as it was originally intended and buy those chocolates and roses for someone that we hold dear. This could be your sweetheart, a close friend in your classroom or even your mother.

For those of you who want more information from the religious point of view, St. Valentine was a Roman priest and physician who suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Christians by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus at about 270. He was buried on the Via Flaminia and Pope Julius I reportedly built a basilica over his grave.

Valentine’s Day is banned in several countries such as Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan and even regions of Russia. This St. Valentine’s Day originated as a Christian Feast Day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Valentine. This most likely is how this holiday received connection with religion, especially Christianity. So, I guess we just have to remember the true roots of this sweet love filled holiday is the commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

As for myself, I probably will head for the florist shop and design a nifty bouquet of flowers and put them together with something sweet, besides myself and present them in some romantic fashion to my loving partner. I being a man of letters and words will probably design a sweet display in card form in order to receive my reward, a hug and a kiss, if I am lucky.

Whatever your choice will be, we here sincerely wish you and your loved ones a very happy Valentine’s Day. Even though some of you may have been mislead by the meaning of this holiday, love is in the air and as we know God is love, so he automatically comes with it. God bless you all and have a very happy and safe Valentine’s Day.

The views of the author in this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.

A Valentine story: What makes a marriage last for over 50 years

Linda and Ron Morrell today.

by Jeanne Marquis

When I popped over to the China Baptist Church to ask Pastor Ron Morrell if he was willing to do an interview, there he was having lunch with his wife Linda in his book-filled office, enjoying each others’ company and taking a pause on a busy day to be together. That scene alone spoke volumes. The three of us sat down for an interview two days later to hear about their journey of a 58-year marriage and what they felt makes it successful.

Ron and Linda’s journey began when they met at Owosso College, a small Christian college in Owosso, Michigan. Linda says, “The girls were whispering because here’s a guy from California with dark curly hair and a little red ‘sporty’ car.” Ron added it was a red 1959 Studebaker and not exactly a sports car.

They met in November 1963. They were with a group of students who gathered to play parlor games. That evening the game was Password. Linda was seated on the floor near Ron’s chair as it was an informal setting. At one point, Linda nudged Ron’s leg in a friendly way and said he must be cheating since he was doing so well. She got Ron’s attention because he remembers it vividly.

After that evening, Linda surmises other people finagled to bring them together. She waitressed in the dining hall and somehow Ron always was seated at her table. It didn’t take long for a spark to develop and they started dating. On New Year’s Day, 1964, Ron asked Linda to marry him. Ron’s father officiated the ceremony on August 21, 1964.

When asked how they knew they had the right type of love for a strong marriage, Linda confidently said, “You marry your best friend. That’s what it’s all about, and yes, he still is my best friend.”

Money was tight for the young couple. Ron continued his classes at Owosso College and worked for Montgomery Ward in the electrical and paint departments. Linda worked multiple jobs as a nurses’ aid at Riverview Hospital and in factories assembling electrical motors and making sandpaper.

The next year, they decided to move closer to Ron’s family in San Fernando, California. They rented a four-by-six U-Haul trailer and towed it with their 1963 Chevrolet Corvair all the way from Michigan to California. They enrolled in Azusa Pacific University. Ron got rehired on with Montgomery Ward, held a job on campus as coordinator of public information and as a printer for Air Cold Sales to pay for tuition and their living expenses.

Ron and Linda Morrell, in Bell, California.

With a degree in hand and experience at other churches, Ron became a youth pastor at Bell Friends Church, in Bell, California. Linda worked at the Los Angeles county probation Department in East Los Angeles. They welcomed Ron Jr., their first child, into the world on January 2, 1970.

In 1971, Ron received a challenging position at Pico Rivera Friends Church as pastor and to oversee the building of their new church. The congregation was primarily Hispanic with many of the older members speaking only Spanish, so services were regularly translated. Ron explained, “We had a little side room, like a nursery with a glass window and somebody would translate the sermon.”

At this time Linda also began a challenge of working while going back to college at Cal State LA. Linda was working on a degree in corrections with plans of becoming a probation officer. At night she worked at Los Padrinos juvenile hall in Downey, California.

Ron spoke proudly of Linda, “And in the process of all that and working on her degree, she had two babies. Yes, we already had our son. He was born before that time, but the girls were both born while she was working and working on her degree.”

Linda and Ron Morrell and son.

Ron and Linda kept this pace up for nine years. He had raised the money and acted as the general contractor for the building. The church was built and it was time for a change.

From 1980 to 1983, Ron was the Minister of Christian Education for Whittier First Friends Church, which is a campus church for Whittier College, in Whittier, California.

Linda and Ron Morrell as a young couple.

They were also looking for a bigger, geographical change as well. Dear friends of theirs, Lee and Ann Austin, had recently sold their home in California to move to a town called China, Maine. In March 1980, Ron went out to Maine to visit the Austins.

Ron said, “It was March and I was never so cold in all my life. We spent Saturday night at Myrtle and Ralph Austin’s house, in South China, and they had a big cook stove. That’s the house that Ron Maxwell lives in now. There were beans and cinnamon rolls on the stove. I sat in the corner, warming my feet on the stove and decided then that Maine was the place.”

History shows that Linda agreed. Ron and Linda took a leap of faith that moving their family across the entire continent would be a good future. They have been in China, Maine for nearly 40 years in which time they raised three children, welcomed five grandchildren and guided the many members of China Baptist Church. Ron and Linda have shown us that there are many leaps of faith in every marriage and it is best to take those leaps with your best friend, as Linda has advised us.

In his roles as Pastor, Ron has counseled couples on what makes a strong marriage. Here are some of his words of wisdom on the subject:

  • Make time in your week for date time to get away from the kids and work obligations.
  • Be intentional to maintain the relationship by finding common interests and talking.
  • Clear the air when a disagreement comes up.
  • Having a religious faith helps.
  • Be careful of how you talk about your spouse in front of others.

Good advice from a couple married for 58 years.

MY POINT OF VIEW: Remembering the spirit of Christmas, and its meaning

by Gary Kennedy

This was the time of year most of us looked forward to. School books, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Christmas bonus, gifts and great food with family and friends. Usually our hearts are full of joy and season feelings such as giving. Most of us don’t pass the guy or gal standing on the corner asking for help. We are afraid that person might be honestly hungry, homeless and/or alone. I have on occasion filled myself with such guilt that I have turned my vehicle around so as to retrace my steps and redo my original path to give that person standing on the corner a gift so as to right the wrong my mind tells me I might have done.

That being done I feel so much better. After all, who am I to judge or ignore that person’s situation. The guilt would probably pass if I had nothing to give. Actually it’s sad to have such feelings initiated because of a seasonal guilt trip. Jesus wasn’t a big fan of birthdays himself. They were usually given in honor of the rich and famous (kings, pharaohs, etc.) Actually, whenever the Bible does show the celebration of birthdays, it was done by people who weren’t following God.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 says the day of death is better than the day of birth. It continues to speak of the importance of mourning rather than celebrating. “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning”. (Ecclesiastes 7:4) It is good to celebrate our love for God any or every day. We as a collective honor God with our love and obedience to the principles he laid out for us. The greatest commandment is to first love God with all your heart, soul and might. By loving others in this entire world, irrespective of race, color or creed we are giving the greatest gift to God on any day as he did for you and the rest of mankind. The greatest gift each and every day is to try and understand your fellow man/woman and show love. It’s a gift that was given to you and it’s yours to understand and use.

Remember Jesus never asked us to celebrate his birth, he commanded us to remember his death. Christmas is actually a Catholic holiday. I don’t mean to demean the intent; I am just saying there are many misconceptions when it comes to the Christmas holiday. If you forget all the tankers laying idle in the harbors off the West and East coasts you might find many broken hearts revolving around material things and also billions in profits that benefit other than the poor and truly faithful.

The greatest gift waiting to be received by us is that of faith and love. You are the reason for the season and when you think about it you will realize it. If those ships laden with Barbie Dolls and electronic toys were to never reach our shore or, in fact, our homes what do we tell the children. There laid a beautiful chance to set the record straight. We can always give our children material things but what the world needs right now is children taught history as it was meant to be. God so loved the world that he gave the most precious gift that could possibly be given, his only son. Times are very trying right now and the salvation of this world rests on the shoulders of that which we love most, our children. They must learn that we are one in the eyes of he who matters. There is no place for greed, lust, materialism and prejudice. They need to learn that only they can bring about the change that will redeem this lonely, war-ridden place that has been created. We need to help them turn that corner and embrace that which we annually celebrate. Enjoy this holiday that was created by man but remember its original intent and see it through to its true purpose. Let’s remember the loved ones we have lost through this tumultuous time we have addressed as life, and remember the great promise of the real gift, “Eternal Life” with he whom we celebrate in his name. The books of Luke and Matthew as well as John indicate different dates for the possible date of the birth of Jesus of Naza­reth. There are many assumptions but the best would be somewhere between 6 – 4 BC in Bethlehem during or shortly after the harvest season of that area. Some say September or October. After all is said and done it really doesn’t matter when, its why.

We still celebrate Christmas for the love of Christ on December 25 and we will still target our children for the merriment. It’s a reason to love and fill them with joy while loving the Holy Father as the reason for the season.

One more thing before I go, The Town Line is staffed with some military veterans, some with disabilities and some with those you might not see. In any case we know what it’s like to be away from home and those that we love. I am sure we have all shed a tear or two. However, we eventually came home, but many of our comrades didn’t. Both men and women know Flanders Field.

These as you are now seeing are uncertain times. Make sure you pray for all those who wear the uniform of our states and our country. At the same time pray for love and guidance to those of other countries. One field goal, basket or run doesn’t make a game. It’s just a step in the right direction. We all have the ability to love. I can’t imagine someone not loving anyone. For me that is not a possibility.

We wish you all a very merry holiday season and God be with and protect you and yours. Stay safe and remember others always. We are all in this together. If we remember that then we will all receive the blessing of, Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all. Merry Christmas and have a blessed New Year.

The views of the author in this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.

SCORES & OUTDOORS: The challenges of getting a hippopotamus for Christmas

Lu, short for Lucifer, has grown so popular, he even has his own Facebook page where pictures like this are shared. (photo courtesy of Lu’s Facebook page.)

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Roland has taken an early vacation. This is reprinted from the December 24, 2015, issue.

When 10-year-old Gayla Peevey sang her 1953 Christmas song, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, did she really know what she was wishing for?

When the song was released nationally, it shot to the top of the charts and the Oklahoma City zoo acquired a baby hippo named Matilda. Legend has it the song was recorded as a fundraiser to bring the zoo a hippo. But, in a 2007 radio interview in Detroit, Peevey clarified that the song was not originally recorded as a fundraiser. Instead, a local promoter picked up on the popularity of the song and Peevey’s local roots, and launched a campaign to present her with an actual hippopotamus on Christmas.

The campaign succeeded, and she was presented with an actual hippopotamus, which she donated to the city zoo. It lived for nearly 50 years.

That brings us to the point. Had she decided to keep it, it wouldn’t have exactly been a house pet.

She would have had to put in a gigantic pool because the hippos spend most of their day wallowing in the water to keep their body temperature down and to keep their skin from drying out. With the exception of eating, most of hippopotamuses’ lives occur in the water.

Which brings us to another problem. Hippos leave the water at dusk and travel inland, sometimes up to five miles to graze on short grass, their main source of food. That probably wouldn’t have gone over too well with the neighbors and their lawns. Hippos can consume upwards of 150 pounds of grass each night.

The hippopotamus would probably have had problems living in an urban setting. They are among the largest living mammals, only elephants, rhinoceroses and some whales are heavier. They are also one of the most aggressive creatures in the world, and is often regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. So, you’d probably want to have it on a leash.

But, that probably wouldn’t do any good. An adult male can weigh between 3,300 and 4,000 pounds, with older males reaching 7,100 to 9,900 pounds, and would have no problems breaking a tether. Although a female hippo stops growing at around 25 years of age, the males appear to continue to grow throughout their lives.

And, if it got loose, don’t try to outrun it. Despite their bulk, hippopotamuses can run faster than a human on land. Estimates have put their running speed from 18 to 25 miles per hour. The upside? It can only maintain that speed for a few hundred yards. (Actually, that’s all it would need to run you down).

Peevey’s local public works department may have frowned on her having a hippo. Because of their size and their habit of taking the same paths to feed, hippos can have a significant impact on the land they walk across, both by keeping the land clear of vegetation and depressing the ground. But worse, over prolonged periods, hippos could divert the paths of streams and storm run off.

You’d also have to modify your will and make arrangements for its care. Their lifespan is typically 40 to 50 years, and could possibly outlive you. While some have been known to live longer. Bertie the Hippo, who resided at the Denver Zoo, was the oldest living hippo in captivity at age 58 years, but was euthanized in 2015 due to declining health and quality of life. Donna the Hippo, had been the oldest living hippo in captivity, but died on Aug. 3, 2012, at the Mesker Park Zoo, in Evansville, Indiana.

The oldest recorded lifespan was Tanga, who lived in Munich, Germany, and died in 1995 at the age of 61. But there are conflicting reports on Donna. Some say she was 61 years old, while others claim she was 62, which would have made her the longest living hippo in captivity in history. Until recently, Blackie, who resided at the Cleveland Zoo, was the longest living, at age 59, but died on January 13, 2014.

Now, visitors flock to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Florida, to see the oldest hippo in the Americas: Lu, which is short for Lucifer. The 60-year-old bull hippopotamus has lived at the park for almost his entire life.

Born in San Diego, California, in 1960, Lu was relocated to Homo­sassa Springs to join the Ivan Tors Animal Actors. After nearly two decades of starring in movies and television specials, Lu suddenly faced eviction from his beloved home.

So, if you really want a hippopotamus for Christ­mas, you’d better do your homework.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Who was the first boxer to defeat Muhammad Ali in a heavyweight championship fight?

Answer can be found here.

Wal-mart and Wreaths Across America


by Gary Kennedy

The history of Wal-Mart, which is now a super chain, began in 1950. Sam Walton purchased a small store from Luther E. Harrison, in Bentonville, Arkansas, calling it Walton’s (5&10) five and dime. Some of we oldtimers recall the term five and dime. Later in 1962, the Wal-Mart chain proper was formed. It started with only one store in Bentonville, Arkansas. It made its first store outside Arkansas in 1968. By 1980 they had stores in the entire southern USA. Ultimately, there were stores in every state of the USA plus its first store in Canada by 1995. The growth was fueled by mostly new store construction. Eventually, Mohr-value and Kuhn’s Big K were acquired increasing rapid growth.

Sam introduced Sam’s Club warehouse store in 1983 and its first super stores in 1988. As you can see the marketing was strategically planned almost flawlessly. By the second decade of the 21st century the chain had become a mega giant with over 11,000 stores in 27 different countries. Sam came from very poor/humble beginnings but was top notch in high school and was able to work his way through college, ROTC. Eventually, he achieved the rank of captain. The first true Wal-Mart was started in July 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. It was designed to sell only American products, as long as he could find American products being produced within a given area that could supply his entire chain, so as to beat down foreign competition.

In my opinion, Sam was a retail marketing genius. He inadvertently studied other retail chains and used the best of all in his growth plan, which obviously was a progressive one. He worked closely with a brother, James “Bud” Walton. Bud was a pilot during World War II thus both Bud and Sam took to the sky with Sam also acquiring a pilot’s license. A lot of their scouting was done aerially.

I have degrees in both retail management as well as marketing so I can see the very bountiful path Sam and Bud traveled. I wish I could have traveled it with them. Actually, there was a time that I had a very deep dislike for the Waltons because I was looking through the eyes of Zayre, Ames, Sears, K-Mart, as well. However, now that I have the mature version of this family and what they achieved and how they did it, I find it an awesome adventure in business. A man born in the boonies of Oklahoma in 1918, graduate of University of Missouri, founder of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, husband and father of four and much more. Sam started as a farmer, then Mortgage Acquisitions with (Met Life Ins). They drifted for many years. Sam became the youngest Eagle Scout in the state’s history. In adult life Sam became a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from Boy Scouts of America. He worked day and night to help his family. In David H. Hickman High School he was voted “Most Versatile Boy”. Later he attended University of Missouri as an ROTC cadet. Even then he worked odd jobs to help him and his family. Who could ask for a better son?

Sam also served as president of Burall Bible Class, a collection of religious young folks. He graduated from college in 1940 with a BS degree in Economics. He learned at an early age it was much more blessed to give than receive. Wonderful people like the Waltons should never be demeaned by arrogant politicians. We don’t judge a book by its cover. The content is where the value lies.

Sam joined the military, (Army) achieving the rank of captain in military intelligence. How could you not be proud and impressed with a young man such as this? Years ago there were many of us that disliked him because in becoming successful he all but eliminated the middle class of business. Small business would say, “How can you compete and stay in business with this caliber of adversity? Many small businesses fall by the way side as the dynamics of Sam’s approach. He bought and sold right. He negotiated a good purchase price and narrowed the margin when it came to resolve. Location was the key. Do business when, where with the correct mark-up for the products he purchased. He also kept his warehousing handy to the point of sale. His was a common sense strategy. His employees grew with him. Hard work and loyalty were rewarded with income and personal growth. So yes, I am one of them Wal-Mart shoppers and I guess we all know where that philosophy grew from. I am loyal to the entire concept and story.

The reason for this article hasn’t even been addressed yet. I am a 100 percent disabled American veteran and very proud, as Sam Walton was, to have served my country as Sam did. We both were Army. He served in intelligence and I in a medical specialty. Sam was a model person and soldier as well as a great example of a humanitarian. Through the years he and his family have supported our troops in one way or another.

This year I was honored to be part of Wreaths Across America. My wife Julie and I joined a convoy of giant Wal-Mart tractor trailers whose mission was to give and transport one million wreaths for the graves of one million of America’s finest examples of the love for this country. The convoy was to travel from here to Arlington Cemetery, in Washington, DC. The project, as I am told, is sponsored by the Worchester family. This has been going on since 1992. Morrill and Karen Worchester are a 501C-3 organization now. The wreaths are made in the Harringtom – Columbia Falls area and are the donations of individuals and organization across the country. There are 2.4 million wreaths given from Maine to Guam and every military grave in between. Harrington receives 250,000 wreaths. There is a percentage of value of the wreaths that goes to the charities of the volunteers. God Bless and be with you all through this very trying holiday. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Vassalboro American Legion Post donates stockings to veterans at Togus

American Legion Post #126, Vassalboro, filled and donated 160 Christmas stockings to veterans at Togus Veterans Administration Hospital. The Christmas stockings were made by the Sew for a Cause ladies at St. Bridget Center, in North Vassalboro.

From left to right, Thomas Richards, commander, James Kilbride, adjutant and Kylie Higgins, chief of voluntary services.

From left to right, Thomas Richards, commander, Michael Poulin, Doug Grasso, youth officer, James Kilbride, adjutant and Robert Whitehouse.

From left to right, Thomas Richards, commander, Nicole Jordan, and James Kilbride, adjutant.

MY POINT OF VIEW: Thanksgiving is only a word depicting a spot in time

by Gary Kennedy

The views of the author in this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.

In doing my research for a thanksgiving article I started with Huff Post and its contributor Randy S. Woodley. The article was Thanksgiving Myth. Although those of us who have given history an honest look know that the fairy tale, Thanksgiving, isn’t realistic or even close to the truth. I find that some things need to be known in their reality/entirety but some things of which we don’t agree, only need to be described in their proper place and time and in a manner that will not destroy the intent of family. Sometimes truth needs to be given in proportions over time with the advent of maturity.

We know world history was never pristine and much of its foundation is shameful. However, I firmly believe that history has its place in our reality and holidays have another. Sometimes throwing the truth in its entirety destroys the band aid that we give to the wound. We place the band aid so the wound will heal the already very obvious wounded. I believe we tend to live in the past where the truth maintains its origin a little too much. The past is what it is. For me, it’s a precursor of now and a second chance on getting it right.

The first people are not here to answer to their interplay in historical reality and I nor my parents or children shouldn’t have to pay a price for historical evolution. As of late I have found myself searching history because of dirty politics. Who did it, why and what is their history. You can only go back to known time. Other than that we are dealing with innuendo and supposition. We all know the truth, as we see it, time teaches us that.

If we adhere to biblical teaching we only have good intention which became violated by human corruption. Was that the intent of our creator? I don’t think so. I believe that the first broken heart was his. We are talking about a big, all forgiving, beautiful and merciful heart. There has been no other heart like it. I am of the opinion that he has applied thousands of band aids over time. Only he holds the cure in his hands and he has a plan. He has a time and place in which this problem will be revisited and once and for all healed. Have no fear, irrespective of who you are or what you believe he holds the solution.

What I would like to instill in your hearts at this time is nothing more than a band aid. The band aid is laced with lidocaine and antibiotic. The lidocaine will ease the pain and the antibiotic will help with the infection. Guilt is both painful and infectious. That is why we temper the injury with love, forgiveness and understanding. If we truly know that there are very few, if any, good, fair and honest beginnings to the origins of all the parts of this world. If you think about what you know about world history, through all of time, you will grow to realize there is no such thing as a peaceful beginning. Every country and all their extensions began with might, not love. Someone gave up their world in order to form yours. Since the beginning of time through many guises the earth and its people have changed as has its physical appearance. The configuration of borders and even the character and beliefs of people have changed.

Yes, we know the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock as taught to our young ones. We explain in little detail how corn was grown and fish were used for fertilizer. We teach that the Indians taught us much and helped us through some harsh winters. We certainly neglect the parts about our cruelty towards them eventually and how we grew in numbers and carried out materialistic values as we expanded our material gains and used those very friends who saved our lives in our beginnings in America. Yes, it is very sad to forget what the cost of progress is and has been throughout time. We tend to lean now toward the good things. We talk of our friendship, learning, trade and growth. We cherish such things as the great celebratory feasts of turkey, deer, fish, vegetables, and pumpkin pie, most of which was supplied by those very American Indians whose land America really belonged too. Stories of John Smith and Pocahontas are still told to our children. We talk about all the fun and beautiful things but forget the true reality of the celebration. The big picture here is the hands of time and the evolution of peoples. To this very day we tend to find the need to grow separately not collectively. Time has shown us we only tell the good stories to justify the outcome. We always want a happy ending. So, we just make up one in order to conceal the truth. This year several writers have decided to tell at least half truths and write closer to the truth. I’d like to think that we are starting to realize that even though the truth may not always be full of happiness at least it will begin to lead us down the path to unification.

Thanksgiving is only a word depicting a spot in time which people gather together to celebrate the good with merriment. Thursday, November 25, is the day we celebrate the Thanksgiving that we know. It’s always on the fourth Thursday of November. There are other countries that celebrate this same holiday and for most of us the true meaning is being thankful for our annual harvest. These foods have pretty much remained the same over time. It’s a time for family and friends to join together with music and games. It is a very happy day for most. Although the first part of my Thanksgiving dissertation was serious, sad, and informative, the evolution has evolved to a happier scenario. However, I believe we should never forget and learn from the factual parts of this holiday.

The first Thanksgiving event was celebrated in October 1621. It lasted for three days with 53 pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians. It was Abraham Lincoln in 1863 who proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday on the last Friday of November, thanking God for the harvest. So fortunately for us through art work and some writings we know some of our history both good and bad. So I guess from here it depends on how we move forward with what we know and continue to learn.

For me and mine, Thanksgiving begins and ends with the one who makes all things possible. We know the road has had many pot holes and mud puddles but it has also had some wondrous straight aways. Where we take it from here is up to you and me, and what we teach our children. Never hide the truth but always let it be your guide. We still have many hills to climb but with love in your heart the path will be so much more achievable. We have come a long way when you consider the past. We’re not perfect yet but we have grown closer. We will always need that November Turkey day. God bless you and your family and always try to help those you know who need it. Please give a special prayer to those who are enslaved by the wicked. Always remember, “It’s not what you take with you, it’s what you leave behind.”