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More in Community
Lamprey, brewing and neuroscience
BOLSTERS MILLS – Lee Margolin grew up in Lewiston, Maine. He is now starting up his own brewing company.
He recently took time to tell us about his life.
Q: When were you born and where were you brought up?
A: I was born November 23, 1954 in Lewiston. I was an only child. The first neighborhood I lived in was right on East Avenue in Lewiston, in an apartment. I walked to school. When I was about nine, we moved over closer to Bates College. There were a bunch of old fields out there that were getting turned into little streets with houses, little developments.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My dad was a local travel agent and he and his brother ran the local Greyhound bus terminal. My mother was pretty much a housewife. Back then that was the usual thing.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: The street was a dead end. There were a lot of kids, in about every other house. The things we did were fairly sports oriented. Where the Bates College fieldhouse is now, that used to be called Bates Woods and we had baseball fields there along Russel Street.
Bates wasn't doing anything with the land and it was wide open so we just kind of took it over as kids. We used that field a lot. On the other side of the street we all had connected backyards that went on into this farmer's field.
It was very much like TV, kind of, trying to be the American Dream neighborhood. The Longley's lived on that street and Mr. Longley became the governor.
My dad and a couple of the other kids' dads would walk up and down the street, a couple of them trying to sneak a smoke away from their wives. They had these nightly walks and it was always different groups of them, depending on who was around. I remember every once in a while I would walk along with them.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: Growing up I was in the public schools, LHS class of '73. Then I went on to UNH, I got a Bachelor's in Zoology. After that I went to Northeastern where I got a Master's and a PhD in biology.
Q: What have you had for jobs?
A: I've had lots of jobs. I chose science, obviously, but it was hard to find good jobs in the biological sciences, so I would flip-flop back and forth. I got my start with K-Mart in Auburn, when I was in high school, in their grill and deli department, and then went on over the years to finally the last restaurant I ever worked at was this really nice downtown Denver restaurant, I was one of the two prep-cooks for this restaurant.
I always worked in the kitchen, and then I'd get a job as, for instance, an intern with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, then that job would end and I'd go back to the restaurant.
Denver was the last restaurant I worked at and I realized, “I have got to get an advanced degree, or the whole biology thing is just not going to go anywhere.” I wanted to be done cooking. I wanted to go back to school and do the science stuff.
So when the opportunity came I moved back to Northeastern and started out in their marine science program. That's what I thought I was going to do. I had to as a grad student do some rotations, you're supposed to take a smattering of other stuff, in your first year before, in the second year, you dive into your project totally.
I chose neuroscience as one of the four or five things I wanted to check out. That year, the professor who was a member of the Society for Neuroscience, said, “Anyone who wants to come, I've got free exhibit-only tickets, come down and check out the annual meeting here.”
All the people who supply neuroscience went to this, and all of the scientists go because they have all the cool gadgets and it was at the old Hynes Auditorium in Boston, and I remember walking in and thinking, “This is it. Bye-bye marine science, hello neuroscience. This is heaven.”
Back then regular schools like Northeastern didn't have neuroscience programs. So they would, faculty and student, cobble up a program from three or four different departments. So I did it that way, and my study was spinal chord regeneration in the sea lamprey.
I've been catching lamprey for 25 years, I have a business and licenses from both the State of Maine and Massachusetts to collect lamprey for scientific purposes and send them all over the US, Canada and Europe, live. They're a great model for spinal chord regeneration because they can do it. They're one of the highest forms of life that are like us that can regenerate their spine.
Q: Do you have children?
A: I have my stepson Tony, who is 33 and my son Sam who is 21.
Q: How did you meet your spouse?
A: My best friend from junior high school taught at Hebron Academy shortly after he got done with school. I would go visit him there, with his wife who was a good friend of mine.
Married to this other gentleman at the time was Lisa, my wife, and they were teaching at Hebron also. I remember leaving and thinking, “All the good girls are taken! This is hopeless, I'm never going to find anybody.” Little did I know, that down the pike, we would end up together.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I do. Photography. I'd have to say collecting lamprey and the brewing are hobbies that have gotten out of control. I was a home brewer for 20 years or more. I'm a big supporter and participator in the craft brewing movement.
Before prohibition every area had a town brewery. That culture vanished with prohibition. It's only since it's been legalized in the '70s that it's coming back. I look around, Naples has Bray's, Bethel has the Sunday River Brewing Company, we've got Gritty's and Baxter over there in Lewiston-Auburn.
Oxford Hills is kind of boxed out of the distinctive brew area; we don't have one of our own, and I'd like to do that.
Q: What is the thing you couldn't live without?
A: I couldn't do it without Lisa. We've been married for 25 years this summer. She really is the yang to my yin.