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Chewing gum, domestic engineers and tree forts
HARRISON – 54-year-old Paula Holt grew up in Hyannis, Massachusetts and moved to the Oxford Hills area to open a bed and breakfast. She is quite a lady with a contagious smile and an overall good outlook on life.
She recently took time to tell us about her life.
Q: Date you were born and where were you brought up?
A: I was born on August 12, 1956 in Hyannis at the Cape Cod Hospital. I grew up on Cape Cod living in Yarmouth, Centerville and most of the time in Hyannis.
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: Yes, I have three sisters younger than I. Cheryl lives in California with plans to move to Florida and Valerie and Christine are living on the Cape.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: I had the best childhood growing up on Cape Cod. I spent most of the time outdoors roller skating, ice skating on cranberry bogs and at the JFK Skating Rink, sledding on the golf courses, swimming in the ocean and playing on the beaches. I also spent a lot of time building tree forts and playing pickup games with my neighborhood friends.
My family went camping and picnicking a lot.
Life on the Cape in the '50s, '60s and '70s was grand. After that there was a huge influx of people who moved to the Cape and it is just not the same anymore … too crowded. All my green areas where I played are gone.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My Dad served in the Army and did a tour in Korea. After that he worked for the New England Telephone Co. for 33 years. He did some telecommunication work for JFK at the Kennedy Compound during the Kennedy era. He then worked at the Cape Cod Air Force Station for ITT and Raytheon for eight years and then retired after 41 years of work.
My Mom worked for a private advertising firm in Boston and then became a ‘domestic engineer’ and raised us four girls. She was always home cooking, baking and waiting for us to get home. She was my Blue Bird Leader too.
Q: Did your dad know JFK?
A: Yes. My dad mentioned him, but I can’t really recall any specific details or stories.
Q: During your childhood, who could you trust the most?
A: My parents! They were always there for me unconditionally no matter what. I felt very secure in my young life.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: Yes I wanted to be involved with anything that had to do with sports and the outdoors. I played sports in high school.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: I liked to go to the joke store and buy certain items to trick people like a fake pack of chewing gum so when I offered a piece of gum to a friend they would pull a piece out and their finger would get pinched.
Q: What did you have for jobs when you were young?
A: My first job was babysitting for .50 per hour and at 12 years old I cleaned rooms at our friend’s motel near our house. I then worked at KFC in Hyannis where I fried the chicken and made the coleslaw and potatoes and also worked the cash register where I learned how to make change. Throughout high school I worked at CVS at the Cape Cod Mall. I learned a lot about business while working there.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: I met my husband, Doug, in 1976 on the Cape at Dunphey’s Hyannis Resort where I was a waitress and he was the assistant housekeeper. I would wait on him and he would leave me .50 under his plate. We started dating and after he traveled across country by motorcycle with a friend we moved to Vail, Colorado and worked for Vail Food Service for three years. It was great fun taking the gondola to work. We married in my church in Hyannis in 1978 then left Vail in 1980 and started a family business in Waterford.
Q: Do you have any children?
A: Oh, yes. We have two wonderful sons, Tim and Ryan.
Tim is a graduate of UMO and works as a photographer and Graphic Designer and is currently living in Vermont.
Ryan is in his eighth year with the United States Marine Corps. He served one tour in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq. He is currently based in Indian Head, Maryland.
Q: What brought you to Maine?
A: We had the desire to join forces with my husband’s mom and brother and run a country inn.
Doug had relatives in Portland and Naples so they helped us look for an existing Inn in operation … or a large old home we could turn into an Inn in the area.
We renovated an old house in Waterford and converted it into a bed and breakfast known as the Kedarburn Inn. After lots of hard work renting rooms, cooking and serving meals to guests, all while caring for two, baby boys we decided to move to Harrison where they had a lot of activities for children and families.
We have lived in Harrison for 27 years.
Q: Where have you worked your adult life?
A: I worked extensively in the food industry prior and during our years at Kedarburn. Later I became co-owner of Bodies in Motion in the block building in Harrison with Nan Brett for six years where we offered a variety of fitness classes. I taught fitness classes there and all around the Lake Region and Oxford Hills area then went back to college at Saint Joseph’s and graduated in 2001 with a BS degree in Physical Education and Sports Management.
Q: What do you do now for work?
A: I work for the Town of Harrison as a Recreation Director. I served as part-time from 1995 until 2002, when after college I was hired full-time and I am still finding it challenging, yet fun and extremely rewarding.
Q: Anyone said you look like someone famous?
A: Well at one time years ago a few folks mentioned I looked like Patty Duke.
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: Yes, up and down the east coast from Maine to Key West, Florida and many places in between. I have also been out to San Francisco, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and as I mentioned before three years in Vail.
I rode my bike from Montreal, Canada to Portland, Maine in five days to raise money and awareness for AIDS. My dream is to visit all the states in our country either by bike, car or train.
Q: Which place was the most fascinating and why?
A: Washington, DC was the most fascinating! It is just an incredible place to visit and learn about our country and its history.
Q: Did anyone influence you to the point of changing your direction in life?
A: I discovered what I wanted to do when I was a weight training coach at the Lake Region High School back in '96/'97.
I met a lot of great faculty members and students that inspired me to return to college and go after a degree in physical education. While attending Saint Joseph’s College, I added a minor in sports management, which proved to be extremely helpful as I entered the field of Municipal Recreation.
Q: Do you have any pet peeves?
A: People who don’t have basic human people skills and think they are better than you … without money and possessions we are all the same inside and have the same needs, to be acknowledged, respected and loved.
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A: I don’t really collect anything but my hobby is Geocaching! It is just great fun to go out in the woods, walk trails or hike mountains looking for hidden caches or what you may call treasures!
I record every cache I find and also take a picture of it. There are some very creative caches hidden near the most wonderful scenic places you will ever see. There are hidden caches all over our country and the world for that matter. So wherever we go we bring our GPS and the information to where we can begin looking.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: The Last American Man is a fascinating true story about Eustace Conway who left his comfortable home at the age of 17 and moved into the Appalachian Mountains where for the last 20 years he lived off the land.
He is convinced that only encounters with “the high art and godliness of nature” could help save American society from its catastrophically wasteful habits and soul-deadening trivial pursuits.
A good read for those interested in nature and the wild.
Q: What subject do you wish you knew more about?
A: Behavioral Science … the desire to learn more about human behavior and what makes us tick … human behavior is so complex … people’s actions surprise me all the time.
Q: What would a dream job be?
A: I would like to be a United States Marine or a Game Warden where I can protect people and nature.
Q: Do you have one wish?
That all stores close on Sunday like years ago so that families and friends are encouraged to be together and do things other than shop and spend money … back to the front porch I say!
Q: What is the one thing you could not give up?
A: I love solid chocolate and could not live without it.
Q: Do you have a hidden talent or a talent you wished you had?
A: I love music and have great rhythm. I have always wanted to play the drums and still hope to someday. I played a bit when I was a young girl, but wish I took lessons. I also enjoy art and designing fliers, newsletters etc.
Q: What is the one thing you would happily do over again?
A: Marry my husband and give birth to my two sons.
Q: What was the best memory that this interview brought back?
A: Growing up on the Cape and meeting my husband. This question took me right back to each and every moment.
Q: What do you want people to know about you?
A: That I am a fun person to be with and that I am Paula Holt 24/7 … I never pretend to act or be like someone else or change according to the situation I am in … I am 100 percent real all of the time! Sometimes I can be a bit shy if I am in an unfamiliar environment or if there is a huge group of people and I am overwhelmed.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: Jesus … I would love to meet him now and talk with him.
Q: What is your Favorite thing to do?
A: Spend time with my husband Doug. We have lots of fun together traveling, hiking, camping and, of course, geocaching.