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HARRISON – 41-year-old Caroline Leonard grew up in Westchester County, New York. She now resides in Harrison with her husband and three children.
She recently took time to tell us about her life.
Q: When were you born and where were you brought up?
A: I was born on Feb 16, 1970 in Mt. Kisco, New York. It is in Westchester County. Other than my college years, I spent most of my childhood in Scarsdale.
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: Yes. I have two older brothers and one younger sister. My siblings were really spread out. My brothers were eight and six when I was born and I was eight when my sister was born. I always had a motherly feeling towards my sister and we've always been close.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My father was an attorney and he still is.
My mom was a teacher. When I was in my formative years, she was a stay-at-home mom and then when I got older she got into the nursery school business and she was very good at it. She taught with a German woman, who was very nice and Mom asked this woman to be my godmother. She eventually moved back to Germany and she asked me to over there for her 80th birthday. I jumped at the chance and it was a great experience.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: My parents always took us to church and I grew up in a beautiful stone church. It was called St James the Less.
The neighborhood didn't have kids, so I didn't exactly have a blast in that aspect.
I could walk to school; in fact, it was so close I could walk home for lunch.
I definitely loved Barbie dolls and I would take them with me on play dates. My dad would buy me a comic book every Sunday after church. My favorite was Archie.
I took ceramic classes and loved playing with clay.
Family vacations were the best of family times. We took several vacations to Montauk Long Island. It was right on the ocean and I absolutely loved it. It was great playing in the surf and riding the waves. I could do that for hours, getting a ton of sand in my bathing suit.
We took a family camping trip one time when I was seven. It was through Nova Scotia and whenever we would find a new camping site, it was my job to find the place to put the fold-up porta-potty and dig the hole. My brothers called me the potty captain.
I was actually quite an athlete. My town had a competition day each year. It was called E-Day and we would have relay races and different events. As a kindergartner I won in the 50-yard dash and I actually broke a record that stayed until I was in high school.
I always played a sport. I played soccer, being the only girl and I also played softball.
My father took me skiing for the first time when I was eight and it was pure torture and I hated it. I got to like it better, but I only went a few times a year.
It would keep me happy for a while, just putting maple syrup on snow and eating it.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I went through Seely Place and went to Edgemont High School. For my junior and senior year though, I went to an alternative program that was right in my high school. It was an alternative school and was like a school on a deeper level. There were about 25 students and I did have to take some morning classes through the high school. English and history we did through the alternative school.
We had different classes, like musical comedy or current events, which instead of a book, we used the New York Times. We took a lot of field trips. For instance instead of gym, we would go on a five-day camping trip and we did things like rappelling and rock climbing.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: As time went on, I went from being very shy to being a wild child and I would occasionally sneak out of the house. Once, when I was 17, I got back to find my Easter Basket sitting in my room, so I knew the Easter Bunny had caught me.
Q: What have you had for jobs?
A: My first job was when I was 14 and it was folding clothes at Benetton. It was a very pristine store in White Plains. It was my job to keep the shelves neat.
I worked at a frozen yogurt store. The name of the store was Yogurt Yes and I got fired! My friends teased me after that and called it Yogurt Yes; Caroline No.
One of my favorite jobs was working at Trap Rock Suite. It was a funky jewelry store and I used to go there when I was younger with my friends. I thought the Trap Rock Girls were just so cool with their silver jewelry. It was so much fun to be a Trap Rock Girl. I also worked at a Country Club.
Q: Did you go to college?
A: I went to Kenyon College, an Episcopal school outside of Columbus. Kenyon was such a beautiful college and I was so into the Bohemian oasis, but I would have been a child that would have benefited from taking a year off before college. It turned out to be more like a prep-school feeling and I didn't feel like I could spread my wings. Half way through my sophomore year I talked to my parents, left the school and I went home and worked. Within a few months I took the money I made and went to Europe with a friend. We grabbed our backpacks and we tried to fulfill our wanderlust.
Q: Why Europe?
A: What pulled me to go there was the Berlin Wall.
The most exciting part going, to me, was going to Prague. That's where I felt the most freedom and euphoria. Before this period people couldn’t sell anything on the street. And the streets just full of vendors everywhere; selling wares and performing. We could just feel the euphoria through them.
Q: Did you go back to school?
A: Yes. I went back to Kenyon after three months in Europe. I majored in political science. At some point I do hope that I will take advantage of the education I got.
Q: When did you move to Maine?
A: Shortly after college in 1994.
My father’s sister, by chance, bought a plot of land on Sebago Lake to build a housing development and my parents bought a place. New York still is their primary home, but I have always loved New England, so I moved into the house. I was very interested in the Salt Institute of Documentary Research, so I wanted to come to Maine and check it out.
I remember meeting some women in Portland and one lady said to me that since I dared to move to Maine in the middle of winter, I would stay here forever.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: Within the first six months of being in Maine I met James and fell head over heels in love. He lived in Windham and we were happy together, but I was 24 and he was 30. We never decided on getting married, and we sort of went our separate way for three years. We finally got in touch again and decided it was time to be together forever.
We got married in 2001 and we have three great children; Jessie, age nine; Lucy, age six; and Jane, age four.
Q: Do you like Maine?
A: I love it here. One day I was looking through my parent’s bookshelf and I found my father’s baby book. Come to find out, my grandmother’s grandfather was from Norway. His name was Henry Tucker. Minnie Tucker was my great-grandmother and it would be really neat to start a family tree. I had Tucker blood and I would never have known it.
Q: Where did you live after you got married?
A: We moved to Harrison. It was the most affordable house we could find and I knew once I had children, I would want to stay home with them. I can’t say enough what a blessing it has been to find this house and be able to be a stay-at-home mom.
I never felt such a feeling of community as I have in Harrison and the kids love it here. There is a great circle of friends with parents and kids.
Q: Where have you worked in Maine?
A: I was a radio DJ in Saco for WRED. I was Caroline in the Nighttime and I actually had fans!
I was a licensed insurance agent and sold long-term care insurance I also worked a UNUM.
Q: What do you do now?
A: I am a stay-at-home mom. While I was in Maine, I studied to become a Certified Fitness Instructor and I studied to do that thinking down the road to promote fitness ... and hope to go into that field at the Crystal Lake Wellness Center.
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: We do a lot of family visiting, but mostly in Maine. We recently went to Seattle to see my sister. It really went great, though we could have stayed longer and they wished we could have stayed longer. That doesn’t always happen when you knock on someone’s door with three children.
Q: Which place was the most fascinating and why?
A: The Sistine Chapel, when I was traveling in Europe. It wasn’t so much seeing the chapel itself or the ceiling. It was just awe inspiring ... there was this aura about the place ... feeling all who had been there before me.
Q: Did anyone influence you to the point of changing your direction in life?
A: The movie, Sound of Music really influenced my life as a parent. The way Maria was with those children; to get onto their level and show them love.
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A; Since I’ve been in Maine, I’ve become an avid baker. I am a huge believer in the family meal and as a mother, feeding my family is a huge way to nourish them.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: Women, Food and God, by Geneen Roth. It’s a fascinating book about different women’s eating and emotional issues; about how the way we eat is directly connected to our God and spirituality.
Q: What is the one thing you could not give up?
A: I would have to say time with my children. My whole being is wrapped around my children. I am not a smother mother though. I love it when they spread their wings. I don’t get upset if there is a school trip and they say they don’t need me. I’m thrilled when they are confident doing things on their own.
Q: What was the best memory that this interview brought back?
A: It's nice to remember my trip to Europe.
It also reminds me of how shy I used to be and how I never really talked about myself too much. It’s been fun to not be shy and enjoy telling someone my life story.
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: It was like there was something greater than me making my decisions in life. I have never really felt that I was behind the wheel, that there were higher forces doing the work.
I get such a thrill when people say that my house is overflowing with love.
I have another family at the Christ Episcopal Church and I am the Sunday school co-director of Sunday school. I feel it’s important to go to church. Yes, there are days that life takes over, but we go most every Sunday. I just feel it helps to give the kids a rudder to go through life with.
Q: Last day on earth; what would you do and who with?
A: I guess it would be with Jim and the kids and we would be at Disney World with no one else there but us.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: Probably would be my sister from Seattle. I've had good friends and great friends, but she is my best friend; my bosom friend as well as my sister. I would ask her to go for an hour-long walk and have a cappuccino.