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NORWAY – Now 58 years old, Portland-born Cathy LaMontagne has lived in Norway since 1982, and spends the winter in Florida.
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 September 23, 1952 in Portland. I grew up in Portland as well; I am a Mainiac!
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: Yes, there were four of us. I had a brother. His name was Francis and he passed away at the age of 53 in 1998. My sister Mildred passed away last August at the age of 74. I have one remaining sister in Portland and her name is Patricia. The closest in age was my brother who was eight years older. I was the surprise baby.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My dad worked for the city of Portland for many, many years and he was given a gold key to the city when he retired. Mostly he headed up the maintenance and had a lot of affiliations with the Baron Center. A lot of it was overseeing heavy equipment such as snowplowing.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom. She passed away when I was 16 and my dad remarried at age 60. So I do have three step-sisters and one step-brother too. We were almost a perfect match in ages for each side of my families.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: I grew up on Munjoy Hill on the eastern Promenade. When I was a teenager, we lived near the Northgate area.
We did a lot of camping as a family and we had a small cottage in Windham and that was the biggest part of my life, enjoyment wise. The camp was on Little Duck Pond and we just enjoyed swimming. We had a small rowboat and so we paddled around now and then.
I took accordion lessons and I couldn't play a note to this day. I was forced to take lessons and I tried to be ill every Wednesday, but usually I was there for the half-hour lesson.
I did a little of a lot of different sports, but none of them very well. I did water ski, downhill skiing, played tennis and field hockey in school too and I never excelled in any of them either.
My siblings were older than me, so most of them were gone or weren't so much into playing with their little sister. It was almost like being an only child.
One sister worked in Washington for a representative of Iowa and I felt so big going to visit her. When I was eight I was helping her stamp some papers and the stamp said Library of Congress. She was the hostess for Kennedy's inaugural ball and when my mother got extremely ill she moved back home.
I also got to visit my other sister in Colorado. It was a big deal when I got to fly alone. There were layovers, but I never had to get out of the plane. Once I was in high school it was ok to have a layover. We toured the air force academy and NORAD ... . It was so much fun to have them push a button and know what it was doing in Portland, Maine way before computers and online info.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be an astronaut.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I attended Portland Schools and graduated from Deering.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: Not necessarily. I was very shy and quite a serious child; maybe even boring.
Q: What have you had for jobs?
A: I did start part time with the Maine Credit Union League and it was a trade association for all the credit unions in the state. That was part time in high school and I remained with them after high school, working there for a couple of years.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: I got married and in 1972 and my husband’s job took us to the Camden area. And I worked for the Camden Community Hospital. After 10 years we were divorced and I moved back to Portland.
Q: What did you do there?
A: In the late '70s to '80s I worked for Pierce, Atwood and Scribner. It was a law firm and I started with two litigation attorneys and before long Mr. Scribner’s secretary left and I became his private secretary. He had a firm in Washington DC as well and he was quite a guy.
Q: Did you ever remarry?
A: Yes! Harvey and I met through tennis while he was a golf pro at Valhalla. We decided to play a game of tennis and where I had played longer and he was a golfer, I thought I’d be able to beat him, but I was wrong.
We got done playing tennis one other time and the golf course was having some kind of function, but where Harvey was the pro, he was always welcome ... . We just slipped right into the party, which was a casual affair and we started dating after that. That was in 1982 and we got married in 1989; it was a long courtship.
Q: What brought you to Norway?
A: Harvey got a job as the pro at Paris Hill shortly after we met and we moved up here. Mr. Scribner used to joke with me about dating a golf pro because he was a non-golfer and he was trying hard to convince me to stay with the firm, but I didn’t.
Q: Did you learn to play golf?
A: Oh yes, but Harvey snuck it on me. I had learned a little and I liked the environment of the golf course and so we played together hitting just every other shot. Then I would tee up every swing, even if it was in the fairway to develop my swing. I would try to shoot whatever par was for that hole, but just to get on the green. If I did that I would put a smiley face on my scorecard. Once the smiles outweighed the frowns I started keeping score. If he had insisted that I learn the right way and keeping score I probably wouldn't have stuck with it.
I got good enough that I taught golf from 1990 to 2000. I worked very hard and loved to practice, and with courage and Harvey lending comfort I thoroughly enjoyed it. Besides teaching, I went to Springfield and worked with a few of the LPGA members and assisted with golf school programs.
We fell in love with this area and the people after a few years; this just became home.
In the year 2000 I requested my amateur status back so that I could play in tournaments, but once I got that back I got a bit lazy. Then my time became more valuable than going to tournaments. Well, maybe it was selfishness or my age ... or all combined.
Q: When did you retire?
A: Harvey retired somewhere around 2003 and we'd go to Florida in the winter and in 1987 we purchased a place in Boca Raton.
When he retired we got involved with Nikken Company and selling magnetic products.
Harvey had a bad back and our neighbor in Florida gave him a magnet to put on his back and he saw a tremendous difference ... and even though we were too proud to do anything like that we started selling; we won a national award in our first three months of sales. We didn't even know we were in a contest. We won an all-expense paid trip to Cancun and it wasn’t a business meeting it was purely for pleasure.
We are still involved in it, but not that active.
Q: What do you do now?
A: We still play a lot of golf and where we are in Florida, there are four, 18 courses to play. It’s nothing competitive except for just fun. Harvey and I like to gamble a bit, so we play for a dollar a game. Sometimes we play against each other or with who we are playing with. Sometimes it feels like $100 because it’s as much bragging rights as anything else, but it does make you think and play better.
Q: See many alligators?
A: Ya. They are quite a common golf-course sight. They are usually so docile-looking, but they can spring out faster than a dog from their tail. They aren’t normally aggressive.
Q: Anyone said you look like someone famous?
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: I’ve been to Colorado, Washington and Cancun. We went to Anaheim once for Nikken and it was our tenth wedding anniversary and also the tenth anniversary of Nikken, so we had a double anniversary. Kenny Rogers performed and that was a great memory. While we were there, there was a 7.0 earthquake. We were at the Hilton and the pool in the lobby was sloshing around. It was a great party and a bad finish.
Q: Which place was the most fascinating and why?
A: We were very lucky to have one of Harvey's students at Boca West arrange for us to go to the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas. It was sort-of work related, but a great experience. The scenery was all golf courses and casinos and we like to play the slots. But it was getting treated like royalty and the attention was wonderful. It was an exclusive hotel with great accommodations.
Q: Did anyone influence you to the point of changing your direction in life?
A: Only Harvey. My life changed once I met him. Before I met him, it was getting up and going to work and coming home.
Q: Any collecting, hobbies or pets?
A: Other than golf it would have to be gambling, but just for fun. We take a bus from Lewiston and go to Bangor now and then. I love the penny slots and hope to contribute to one here in Oxford.
We found a little Florida stray cat and called him Peanut. He lived to be a little over 20 and we knew he was getting old and we had a gathering for him. He really kept us tied down a bit, so we haven't traveled much.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: The book is by Stuart Woods and it's called Santa Fe Dead. It's a suspense novel.
Q: What subject do you wish you knew more about?
A: I wish I knew more foreign languages. In our area in Florida it would be nice to learn Spanish.
Q: What is the one thing you could not give up?
A: My friends. I have lost a lot of friends in the last year, so I really value the ones I still have left.
Q: What is the one thing you would happily do over again?
A: That trip we took to Anaheim and celebrating our tenth anniversary of our wedding.
Q: What was the best memory that this interview brought back?
A: Not the accordion lessons ... but my trips to Colorado to see my sister and her family. It was always special to go out there and the scenery was so different to what we are used to.
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: I don’t think about me that much ... but I think I am trustworthy and a good friend.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: So many people flash through my mind that are gone. I would like to see Mom, Dad, sister and brother, but I wouldn’t want to single one out ... I would tell them that I miss them.