Remembering Mike Lynch
Hugh F. “Mike” Lynch was the ultimate “Quiet American.” He loved golf, skiing, designing and building new homes and Sunday River. I remember him best for his dry sense of humor, the “V” on his Maine license plate and his meticulous records keeping. Other memories are about our conferences over his computer program having to do with the annual billing of Viking Village Association members for their annual dues.
In 1964/65, Mike Lynch became the third person to buy a lot in what was named the Viking Village subdivision in the Sunday River Skiway property.
Mike called his initial connection with Sunday River sort of an accident. In the early 1960’s Mike was a Sugarloaf skier who lived in Portland. On ski weekends he would meet five others at the A&P parking lot on Forest Avenue very early in the morning. From the parking lot they would head for Sugarloaf. After a number of trips, Mike said that he was getting a little tired of the long trips. He started investigating the possibility of buying a lot in the Sugarloaf vicinity. He soon discovered that buying a lot was almost impossible because only lease arrangements were available.
In the meantime Sunday River Skiway had gotten going and had added a chair lift to its skiing facilities. Mike made a few ski trip visits to Sunday River with another friend. They found that at that time, around 1963, Sunday River’s ski trails did not hold the same challenge as Sugarloaf’s but it was much closer to Portland and lots were available to purchase in the new Viking Village.
Mike said one weekend while he was at Sunday River skiing he walked out of the base lodge to the Sunri Ski Shop about 50 yards away and talked to shop owner Paul Kailey. Mike said he sounded out Kailey about buying property here and was told that, “Sure you can do that – just beyond the parking lot there are plenty of lots for sale.” Soon Mike connected with Norm Greig who was the real estate agent for the Viking lots at that time and a sale was closed. For a quarter acre lot in the mid 1960’s Mike paid $650; in 2005 the town of Newry revalued all real estate in the town and this one quarter acre lot was valued at $118,700.
Next summer, Mike began what would be the third house built in the village. He built a floor platform and pitched a tent over it for his weekend accommodations while he worked on the excavation, clearing and foundation. He said one weekend after driving from Portland he turned the corner to the road to his lot and found the road blocked in front of his tent house with a large stack of concrete blocks. During the week, unknown to him, a semi had delivered his blocks. He spent all weekend lugging the blocks to his foundation site.
In the fall before his house was closed in he rented a bunk in the bunk room at the Sunday River Inn. At that time, Ed and Julie Daye owned the inn which Ed had built after the Skiway opened. (Ed was still in 2005 doing finished cabinet and carpenter work for Mike’s then second home in Viking Village.)
In the early years of Sunday River Skiway, a number of interested observers considered the corporation’s financial picture somewhere between shaky or desperate. In exchange for buying 100 shares of Sunday River stock, he got a lifetime skiing pass, which he says turned out to be a very good investment. He recalls that the next year someone was almost going door to door pushing 20-year ski passes that were transferable.
In the late 1970’s Mike retired from his job in Portland. He moved to his house in Viking Village, became a dedicated golfer, played often at the Bethel Inn’s golf course, and decorated his front lawn with the village’s only golf pin and flag.
As Viking Village grew, the Skiway officials found dealing with all the owners as individuals somewhat difficult and time consuming so a village homeowners association was formed. Mike thinks that this association was a benefit to all. Water supply was one of the main problems that came up as the ski area built condos and created many new water users. At first village water came from a well drilled at a site above the elevation of the village. The village water system consisted of a gravity feed system that used pipes of increasingly smaller diameter. At the top of the village there was inch and one half pipe and at the bottom elevation it was only three quarters inch. Mike said that he had good water pressure but as more users connected to the well in the same aquiver and more wells for the condos were added, supply and pressure dropped to that point that a new well was demanded. The new well was drilled at a site and elevation lower than the village. It had plenty of water, more than the first well, but the pipe system had to be replaced due to the flow restrictions resulting from the original layout.
As Mike got deeper into Village affairs he bought a computer to keep up with bookkeeping and to enjoy playing computer golf games. In the 1990’s he worked on Newry’s 911 road naming project for the town. Mike eventually left Viking Village for his new home on the Sunday River road above Artist Bridge where he had a beautiful view of the intervale. My last visit with Mike was just three years ago when again he had questions about his prep for billing Viking Village association members.
51st Annual Western Maine, Gem, Mineral and Jewelry Show
The weekend mineral and gem show at Telstar as usual drew a large number of exhibitors from as far away as Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania. This was the 51st annual show for the association. Oxford County’s importance within the world of gemologists and mineral collectors is demonstrated by its ability to attract exhibitors. Ace reporters Kathy Bennett and grandson Ashton Samala covered the event on Sunday each with a camera to record what amounts to a largely visual event. Kathy left the show pleased with a necklace she found that suited her exactly.
Ashton said that the minerals that interested him were those with stone animals on them along with the mineral animal shape and fossils of sea creatures.
There were a number of gem exhibits displaying how minerals and gems are formed within rock formations as well as some displays of fossilized creatures embedded in rock. The educational value for family visits to the show speaks for itself.
Oxford County Mineral and Gem Association has a very attractive Web site with details of this year’s show easy to find.
The site address is http://www.oxfordcountymineralandgemassociation.blogspot.com/. Randy Withee from Nobles Corner was again this year’s show chairman. Among the association officers, Eleanor Davis is the Librarian.
Bethel’s newest attraction, the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum was represented at the show with an architect’s illustration of what the finished museum will look like and a fact sheet which covered the following: expected staffing will be six full and part-time employees plus seasonal interns. Museum offices are currently at Mt. Mann Jeweler’s at 57 Main Street with two phone numbers 824-3036 and 824-3030. Jim Reuter of Smith Reuter Lull Architects is the building designer and the Paulus Design Group of Bath, Maine, and Washington, DC, is designing the exhibitions. General contractor for construction was not named.
Photos of show exhibits are at www.thebetheljournals.info/News/Bethel071612.htm