2018-03-16 / Community News

Historical society plans fundraising raffle

By Grant McPherson Staff Writer

The Scarborough Historical Society is holding a raffle to support maintenance and repairs to the group’s more than a century old building, after a particularly harsh winter.

The museum building, located on Route 1 adjacent the fire station, was built in 1911 as a generator house for the Portland Railroad Company, according to the historical society’s website. The historical society took ownership of the building in 1961.

The museum’s curator, Becky Delaware, said the building’s furnace died over the winter and several gutters and drainpipes have fallen off. Delaware has worked at the museum for almost 20 years. The museum is funded through donations, membership dues and occasional benefit suppers organized by the local Lions Club.

“The building needs a good going over,” Delaware said.

The drawing will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, April 8 at Scarborough Public Library and tickets are $10 each. Up for raffle are two items, both made by Scarborough residents.

The first is a bamboo fly fishing rod and case made by Scott Chase and the second is a hand carved loon made by Marshall Goodwin.

There are 300 tickets available for each item and they can be purchased at the museum, open Tuesdays and the second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon.

This is the first raffle the historical society has held. Goodwin and Chase donated their pieces to the historical society and Delaware said future raffles would depend on this kind of charity.

“We don’t have people come and offer every day,” she said. “This was a special occasion for us. We are trying to preserve the cultural and artifact history of Scarborough. We are the only organization that does it and if we don’t preserve it now, they’re may be nothing for the future. We are the receptacles of the past.”

Chase, who worked as a family physician in Scarborough for more than 20 years, became interested in fly-fishing when he attended medical school. He’s a member of the historical society and scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 39. He taught himself how to make the old fashioned fly rods and has completed about 90 so far, keeping only two for himself and giving the rest away.

“I always liked the historical society here in Scarborough,” Chase said. “It’s a little known gem there. In the past our troop helped members with the annual garage sale. There’s always been a little relationship with the scouts and the historical society.

“As members have gotten older, they made the decision last year not to do the annual sale. It’s an awful lot of work. I approached some of the members and asked what (they) would do then to raise funds for the organization. I offered to make a fly rod they could raffle as long as I didn’t have to be involved in selling raffle tickets.”

Chase utilizes a specific species of bamboo that he said only grows in the Guanydong province of China known as Tonkin Cane. He spends between 40 and 50 hours making a single rod by hand, splitting the bamboo into strips and gluing them back together in a cross section pattern. The technique Chase employs dates back to the origin of the sport in Scotland and the British Isles during the 17th century.

“To me it never seemed like it took long,” he said. “It’s a fairly enjoyable process. I work on one here and there when I have time to go down into the basement. I stick to a traditional rod making technique. The only thing that’s changed is a more modern adhesive and epoxy. Bamboo rods are not only a truly American invention, but a Maine invention. In the 1800s Hiram Leonard started producing really the first ones popularized and produced for the public.

“Being a traditionalist myself, it’s neat to engage in sports using the type of equipment our grandfathers used. Bamboo fly rods harken back to a simpler and quieter time. Being made with organic materials seems to fit in with the Maine way of life and environment. Given the bamboo fly rods increased flexibility, I think I lose fewer fish than with a very stiff, fast action modern rod.”

Chase’s rod also comes with a wooden case made from Elsa the Elm tree, a prominent landmark that stood on Route 1 near Oak Hill. Cut down in 2011, the tree was believed to be nearly 200 years old. Chase said he received a piece weighing about 80 pounds from the Scarborough Public Works department.

“In the modern day world, everybody wants things yesterday,” Chase said. “Back 150 years ago, they were stressed too, but in a romantic sense my fishing rods go back to a heritage of doing things the way they were done before. I’m very interested in experimental archeology, not so much what people did but how and recreating that. With my Boy Scouts I’m much more likely to whip out flint and steel rather than using matches and propane.”

“I’m in my mid-50s now and growing up as a kid, I didn’t have a sense of history or interest in the town I lived in. As I’ve gotten older, I moved to Scarborough in 1968, seeing some of these places town down and the connections lost, it’s so important to help preserve this as much as we can for these folks.”

Staff Writer Grant McPherson can be reached news@scarboroughleader.com.

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