Don Moore: A life spent always looking

Don Moore PC harborSMWhen Don Moore and his wife, Suzanne, moved to Port Clyde in 1972 it was a life-changing—and more importantly, he says, a life-saving—experience. For the previous 20 years he had been in the thick of the fast-paced world of live television news and documentary film-making, starting as a cameraman for NBC and then joining CBS, where he eventually was promoted to the position of producer/director. The turbulent 1960s, with urban protests abounding, was an exciting time to be producing live television news, but the work was not only often extremely dangerous, but also highly stressful—so much so that it was seriously affecting Moore’s health. Port Clyde, where the couple had been spending vacation time, offered respite.

PHOTO: Linda Cortwright

PHOTO: Linda Cortwright

“It took about a year of living in Port Clyde to get all my systems restored after being a television director doing news and documentaries and working in the difficult cities of the time,” Moore recalls. “As Suz would often say, ‘Sometimes when you go to work I don’t know if you’ll be coming home.’ But after about nine months of living here I could think about doing something more than recuperate.”

Moore started his own production company called Composite Productions, Inc., and soon had a contract working for another production company hired to redo the military’s training films. “They were looking for television directors and had heard of my work with CBS,” Moore says. “So they hired me and some other guys. And that project was successful and paid the bills for a long time.”

Following that contract Moore made films for the U.S. Navy for use in anti-submarine warfare. Eventually he became involved in directing and photographing many television projects for Discovery, ESPN, National Geographic and The Outdoor Life Network. Finally, in retirement, he began traveling all over the world taking photographs for Wild Fibers Magazine (published by Maine-based Linda Cortright). That work meshed well with Moore’s increasing desire to focus on still photography, something with which he first began experimenting as a youngster.

fogy abor ay 069SMMoore’s love of this part of Maine and particularly of Port Clyde—he and Suz live on Horse Point Road overlooking the harbor—is evident in the hundreds of photos he has taken of the town and the rest of St. George. “We love the water and the boats—and boats are beautiful things,” he says, gesturing to the view outside their sitting room window. “Someone said they’re like women—they’re all different shapes and sizes, but they’re all beautiful in their own way.”

Moore believes that being a photographer has led him to be especially aware of his surroundings. “I’m always looking,” he says. “In photography we see things other people don’t see. Even though I’m not shooting pictures all the time, I’m seeing pictures. From a photography point of view, every single day this place offers something different, because the light changes, the tide changes.”

Moore and his wife now divide their time between Hilton Head, S.C., and Port Clyde. Hilton Head, he says, is also a satisfying environment for a photographer, but in a different way from Port Clyde. “There I find myself fascinated by all the birds,” he says.

People ask Moore which place he prefers and, although he enjoys both, he feels Port Clyde is truly home. “Living here has offered us a life that we might not have had. We have space, we have time to talk. We have peace and quiet. And we have had a good history in this community.”—JW

Don Moore trapsSM

PHOTOS: Don Moore

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The ham radio system—it could be vitally important in a catastrophe

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Richard Bates

In early November of 2013, not long after Richard Bates was elected to St. George’s Select Board, he and other town officials, along with the St. George Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Association, participated in a three-day, statewide exercise called “Vigilant Guard” designed to test state and local readiness to respond to disasters—calamities like massive power outages, big accidents, catastrophic attacks, and leaks of hazardous materials. Bates says the exercise was for him an eye-opening experience, especially in the way it demonstrated just how important amateur radio systems (often called “ham” radio systems) can be in the case of such emergencies.

“I was familiar with amateur radio in England,” says Bates, who was born and raised in that country. “One of my fellow students in graduate school was an enthusiast and for a while I became involved. But in 2013 I became interested in amateur radio again because during the Vigilant Guard exercise it became clear that the amateur radio system could be vital.”

Bates says this realization was surprising because in a first-world country like the U.S., a place with easy access to the internet and to cell phones, reliable communication is taken for granted. “You hope you won’t have a catastrophe that takes out the internet, cell phones, and land lines, but if you do, amateur radio is there to save you!” he says with a grin. More seriously, he points out that all it would take is for one or two power lines to come down on Route 131 and, at the same time, the cell phone tower on Wallston Road being damaged or knocked over. A devastating ice storm or a Super Storm Sandy makes that eventuality all too plausible.

“The ambulance and firefighter volunteers have hand-held radios and Knox County has a radio system, but who knows how these systems are going to behave in an emergency?” Bates asks. “What I’ve come to appreciate is that having redundancy, having alternatives, is a really good idea.”

But the problem with using the ham radio system for back-up communication in St. George, he discovered, was that only one ham radio operator in St. George had indicated a willingness to help during the Vigilant Guard exercise. And asking that person to operate radio communications 24 hours a day during an emergency seemed untenable. Altogether, Bates says, there are only about 15 amateur radio operators in Knox County available for emergency work.

“So I found out what I needed to do to be licensed and I got some equipment so I could work from home [rather than from the town office, which has radio equipment set up in a room next to the town manager’s office].”

Licensing requirements are set by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Although amateur radio operators used to have to know Morse Code and be adequately versed in the mechanics of the radio equipment they were using—many operators commonly built their own equipment—Bates says the licensing process is not unduly difficult, and if an operator wants their own equipment it is easily available from a variety of retailers.

“The main thing is that the laws say you need to have amateur radio operators who know what they are doing,” Bates explains, noting the importance of having operators who know the various communication protocols involved in emergency situations.

Bates hopes that other town residents will also consider becoming licensed operators. But he has also been exploring ideas for enhancing the emergency radio system in Knox County. One promising idea is to develop what is called a “Mesh Potato” network. Such networks, which use standard phones and small solar-powered radio units, already exist in communities in South Africa, Nigeria, East Timor, Colombia, Brazil and Puerto Rico.

“This is a totally separate system from the amateur radio system,” Bates explains. “This would be a way for non-amateurs to be involved. Most exciting is that with these units there is enough bandwidth to make sending photos or videos possible, something that is not feasible when using ham radios.”

Basically, he says, because the phones and radio units are fairly inexpensive, it could be possible to develop a mesh network with many people involved—the more network locations, the further the reach of the network. If an emergency arises, someone on the network could dial the number for an ambulance or for the hospital and the call would be routed through the network.

Bates hopes that by next spring it might be possible to have a mesh network up and running in Knox County. “My main interest is seeing what we can do for emergency services,” he says. “The more diversity of emergency systems we have, the greater the reliability.”

For information on how to be involved in amateur radio emergency communications contact Knox County Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Project at knoxhams@belljar.net. —JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

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‘Drive-by’ history of St. George to be continued August 27

St. George Band in 1893 (courtesy of St. George Historical Society)

St. George Band in 1893 (courtesy of St. George Historical Society)

Over 100 years ago the villages of St. George, Long Cove and Tenants Harbor each had a bandstand and its own band.  The St. George Band was photographed at the Trotting Park in 1893 (about where Lowe’s is now, see photo). Leader Roscoe Ingraham, (left front) had played with Sousa’s band.

Compressing 400 years of this and other aspects of St. George’s history into an illustrated talk lasting one hour at July’s Historical Society meeting proved impossible. The program did stop at the time promised and the audience, still alert and interested, suggested the program be continued at the August meeting.

Still to be covered are the town’s ethnic groups, fishing, granite, and other industries and other topics as time permits, says Jim Skoglund, the presenter.

The program begins at 7:30 pm, Thursday August 27, at the St. George Grange Hall on Wiley’s Corner Road.  A potluck supper will be held at 6:30 pm and everyone is invited to both supper and program. There is no charge, but a collection will be taken.

For more information call James Skoglund 372-8893.

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Cold Storage Road open house well-attended

IMG_2526SMThe Ad Hoc Project Committee on the Cold Storage Road property in Port Clyde (which was recently purchased by the town) hosted an open house on Saturday, August 22.  Members of the committee were on hand to answer questions and show the many visitors around the site. There are many possibilities for the use of the property for commercial and/or recreational purposes. St. George residents are encouraged to attend meetings of the committee to learn more. The next meeting is Tuesday, September 1 at 5:30pm at the Town Office. Meeting dates and minutes are available on the Town website, stgeorgemaine.com.

PHOTO: Betsy Welch

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St. George VANITZ

BTHSESMWhich frequent contributor to The Dragon likes to drive with the top down in her car with the license plate BTHSE? —Susan Bates

Who’s behind the wheel? Email your answer! The first reader to respond correctly wins a free business-size ad in the print edition of The Dragon. Terry Smith was the first person to identify CLARK IS as belonging to Beth Smith in the August 13 issue.

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Blueberry Cove half marathon draws 173 participants

T.J. Poole crosses the finish line. The overall winner, Thomas Whitehead, is at far right.

T.J. Poole of Medford, MA crosses the finish line. The overall winner, Thomas Whitehead of Cranford, NJ, is at far right.

Blueberry Cove Camp sponsored the 5th annual half marathon to support the UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H Camp & Learning Centers at Tanglewood & Blueberry Cove on Sunday, August 23.   Everyone who finished the race received a medal and enjoyed a delicious post-race brunch.

Steve Cartwright announces the awards.

Steve Cartwright announces the awards.

PHOTOS: Betsy Welch

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Accepting what happens naturally

Feathertop pennisetum

Feathertop pennisetum

When I started gardening in earnest I was a purist. I would use only perennial flowers in my borders, taking on the challenge of staggering bloom times, heights and cultural requirements, while striving to have pleasing color and textural combinations. That was a difficult task, but I took it on. There were some successes, and I learned to rely on plants with outstanding foliage throughout the season as much as colorful flowers in bloom.

But I also found that I was usually disappointed with the results at some point during the summer—I learned, for example, that I would inevitably have unattractive holes in these borders as, for instance, the salvia that I wanted for its rich purple spikes would disappear for a while after I cut it back hoping to get a second or even third bloom. And then there was the problem of the Johnson’s Blue cranesbill geranium that I enjoyed for its abundant flowers in June and into July, but then had to cut back to the ground lest all its seeds matured and turned the garden into a cranesbill thicket.

Now, especially toward the end of the summer, I am glad I have left these puritanical aspirations behind. My borders are largely of perennials, but I have begun to rely on occasional shrubs as what I call “continuos” among the changing perennials, and, of all things, given my former puritanical heart, annual flowers and grasses. Some annuals I have put into the gardens at the beginning of the season, knowing that they will provide a season-long pop of color. I did this with the gentian blue salvia I have in some places. (Though I admit I miscalculated how large some of my perennials would get so a few of these blue beauties were totally swallowed and have languished.) And then others I have waiting in the wings to plug into the holes that show up as I cut back tatty or dormant perennials. This year I happened to have quite a few ‘Feathertop’ pennisetum grasses that I could use to fill some unfortunate holes.

This juggle of perennials, shrubs and annuals I am now doing seems more realistic than the idealism of my initial instincts and desires. Basically, I find I’m emulating what happens naturally—nature accepts every kind of plant. The Platonic in me has shifted to the Aristotelian. Maybe that’s something that inevitably happens with experience.

—Anne E. Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville)

PHOTO: Anne Cox

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Sally Long birthday fundraiser August 29

A 92nd birthday party for Sally (Robinson) Long, who was born at home in St. George on August 31, 1923, will be held August 29, at 5 pm at the St. George Town Office.  Sally’s birthday wish, once again, is to raise funds for the St. George Volunteer Ambulance Service. All proceeds and donations from the party will go to that vital service.

This year the party will include live entertainment by Maine comedian Birdie Googins and a country, gospel, folk music jam as well as a public supper.

Anyone who cannot attend but would like to donate to the ambulance service should mail a check, made out to ST. GEORGE AMBULANCE FUND, to: Sal’s Birthday Bash, 1066 River Road, St. George, Maine 04860.

For more information about the party or about donating, call Sally Jo Kinney at 542-8987 or 372-6695.

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Born and raised in California, but St. George is truly home

Ruth Sadri gives Kathleen Ludman a pedicure.

Ruth Sadri gives Kathleen Ludman a pedicure.

About eight years ago, when Ruth Sadri moved into the house across from the old Watts farm on the Wallston Road, the California license plates on her car led people driving by to conclude that yet another newcomer from away had arrived in town—someone, it was soon discovered, who had had a career as a hairstylist for Hollywood’s Red Carpet elite. But while it is true that Sadri was born and raised in southern California and worked for many years at large Orange County salons, settling in St. George was for her a true homecoming.

“My great, great grandfather built the house in about 1890—he was a Barter,” says Sadri, shedding light on why this might be so. “And my maiden name was Peterson. My father’s father came here from Sweden. He was a stonecutter. My dad left St. George to join the military when he was 17 and never came back because he didn’t like the winters. But I came here summers all my life to stay with my grandparents. I grew up playing with the Watts kids. We had picnics, played by the shore, rowed on the river.”

When she first arrived back in St. George, Sadri had no plans to do anything but work on her property and pursue her interests in what she calls “crafty” things like making soap. But she found she missed the social aspect of working in a salon. So in 2011 she opened T.H.E. Salon on Main Street in Tenants Harbor (T.H.E. stands for Tenants Harbor Esthetics). Describing her business, she says, “Basically I do anything that has to do with hair—color, highlights, perms, cuts. I also do manicures and pedicures.”

Sadri’s salon is generally open Thursday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. “But I’m really open whatever hours I’m booked,” she admits with a smile. “If I were in town I’d keep regular hours.”

Although the exterior of T.H.E Salon has a quaint look that is in keeping with Sadri’s relaxed approach to business hours, the interior has an elegance that reflects her background working in the often super glamorous atmosphere of Orange County and Hollywood. In addition to working in a big salon that “readied” people for the Red Carpet or for acting in commercials, she also once worked for a professional imaging salon that remade the image of high-profile executives. “These were new executives,” she explains. “Our job was to clean them up for their executive role. We would videotape them to see how they spoke and what mannerisms they had. Then we’d go over the tape with them to make suggestions about changes. We’d also go through their wardrobe and dress them.”

Sadri says she also used to do hair style books. “We’d go on photo shoots. I’d gather up the models and go to Hollywood and do their hair and someone would do the make-up. Then we’d dress them.”

Here in St. George, Sadri’s clientele is a more down-to-earth, eclectic mix of women, children and men from all walks of life, some year-round residents, some summer people. “So many people around here are wash and wear, people who don’t want to use product in their hair,” she says matter-of-factly. “So I’m trying to give them a cut that works for them. I like the creativity of it. I especially like if I can change somebody’s hair color and make it look better for them. I like mixing the chemicals—for me it’s kind of a game.” The important thing, she adds, is that “if people know what they want, I know how to get them there.”

In addition to the satisfaction Sadri derives from using her considerable skills to meet her clients’ needs, she also enjoys interacting with them. “I like visiting with people,” she says, noting that her clients seem to enjoy listening to stories about her family. “My mother’s side of the family is from Spain and lived in Mexico. My father was a Swede. My husband was Persian. Some of the stories are pretty interesting!”

Sadri acknowledges that her life now in St. George is quite different from the life she left in southern California, but she’s happy she made the move. “Being here year round you have to really enjoy it,” she says reflectively. “Ever since I was small I knew I wanted to be here.”—JW
The phone number for the salon is 372-0632.

PHOTOS: Julie Wortman

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Happily resuming a passion for bringing broken clocks back to life

These days recently retired Rackliff Island resident John Smegal is spending a lot of time in his garage workshop restoring a late 19th-century “skeleton clock.” This type of timepiece, in which the mechanism and gears are in full view, Smegal says, personifies what he likes about clocks.

“I’m drawn to mechanical clocks and the ingenuity that goes into striving for perfect timekeeping. A mechanical clock has so many things going against it—friction, especially, which is why we have to oil clocks all the time. The innovative aspect of clock development over the years is what interests me.”

Skeleton clocks are intriguing because a person can see some of these innovations in action. As an example, Smegal points to what is called a “fusee gear” that works like a miniature bicycle chain, changing gears to keep the clock mechanism working smoothly even as it winds down. “It’s an old idea that dates to Leonardo DaVinci’s time,” Smegal explains, noting that an interest in restoring old clocks inevitably involves delving into the history of science and culture. “The French invented the skeleton clock, but it was the Brits who took hold of it and brought it to its peak. It became popular to model them after buildings like cathedrals, with lots of moving parts including bells.”
Smegal’s interest in things mechanical began at an early age and, in fact, began with a clock. “My earliest recollection goes back to when I was four or five years old. I got a toy clock for Christmas, probably meant to help children tell time. But it had all these plastic gears that actually turned and worked and you could take it apart and put it back together again. It was my favorite toy and I constantly played with it until it broke.”

From there he moved on to asking his father, who loved tinkering with broken lawnmowers and other machines, for things he could take apart and try to reassemble. By the age of 12, he had moved on to more scientific interests, which eventually led him into the field of chemistry. Following doctoral and post-doctoral work, in 1985 he took a job with Shell Oil and moved to Houston.

That’s when his passion for old clocks began.

“I went to an auction just for the heck of it. I saw this old clock in a corner of the room. It was an early American clock and it was black with dirt and a real mess, but it was love at first sight. So I bid on it and ended up getting it. I found a place that did clock repair and restoration and they restored it. They did a beautiful job, but it cost me a fortune! I had gotten the bug and wanted more clocks, but I didn’t want to pay someone else to do all the fun stuff, which was repairing and restoring them.”

Smegal’s solution was to buy a bunch of books on clock repair and to go to another auction and buy an inexpensive clock that he could use to teach himself repair and restoration.

“Then I was really hooked! To me it was just so much fun to take something that was broken and not working and bring it back to life.” Joining the local chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors brought him in touch with people who had a similar interest and passion—which, he says, “only increased the enjoyment. There were old timers with a lot of knowledge and experience, so I learned from them as well.”

Eventually Smegal also took on the challenge of old watches. “I tried tackling pocket watches. But I found you can’t really develop the skills you need if you have another career.”

Indeed, while clock collecting and restoring had become a consuming passion during his first years in Houston, work and career began taking more and more of his time, bringing his active involvement in the hobby to a standstill. So with retirement has come the opportunity to unpack his tools, set up his workshop and resume the clock repair and restoration work where he left off.

In addition to his current focus on the skeleton clock, he looks forward to doing more work with early American clocks, most of which have cases. “The artistry and craftsmanship of the clock’s case is often what speaks to you first, what you fall in love with first. And the restoration process with clock cases has an enjoyable aspect—there’s a bit of wood working, polishing, gluing.”

But throughout the restoration process, Smegal says, there are also difficult decisions to be made. “You also want to be careful not to ruin the value of the clock by doing something that damages its integrity. There are people who believe you shouldn’t touch the clock, you should leave it as you find it. And then there are others who have the philosophy that you should try to bring the clock back to the way it looked when it was first made, which might mean extensive restoration. I’m somewhere in between.”

He cites a banjo clock he bought online whose case was spattered with paint, probably because it had been left on a wall that someone was repainting. The question was whether to leave the spatters or try to clean the case up. “It wasn’t super valuable and I wanted it to look nice. So I did some research and found a way to restore the finish without doing any damage.”

While Smegal says he looks forward to doing a lot of clock restoration and repair in retirement, he also has many other interests he wants to pursue. Among them is a passion for books and reading. He loves science fiction and history—and mysteries. When you think of his fascination with what makes clocks tick, this latter interest comes as no surprise. “I’m a big puzzle guy,” he admits with an amused shrug.—JW

PHOTOS: Top, Julie Wortman, bottom, James Zoller

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