George Roy died the other day, and if you know what is going on here, you know it is time for some lightbulb jokes.

I am serious. Bear with me.

Q: How many Scarborough natives does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: 30. One to screw in the lightbulb, and 29 to tell you, “Of course, it used to be much easier to screw in lightbulbs around here, before it got crowded and all – not that I am complaining, of course, you know; no, I would never do that. As a matter of fact, do you know we are nationally and perhaps even internationally known for our light-bulb-screwing-in? Oh, yes, after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock (and concluded their purchases at that nice gift shop near it), several of them came to Scarborough, and began quite a project of light bulb screwing in …”

Here’s another one to set the mood for who George Roy was and what he did.

Q: How many newcomers to Scarborough does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: 75. One to screw in the lightbulb, and 74 to tell us, “Oh, Muffy and Derek are just so gifted at screwing in lightbulbs. I know I shouldn’t say this – because they are my own kids – but the other day, Derek screwed in four lightbulbs in a Toys R Us set that Brett stopped off at Toys R Us to buy him. just so he wouldn’t get behind other kids in school, you know. In Darien, where we came from, the school board was just about to start an Advanced Lightbulb Screwing Program because of what Muffy had done in kindergarten. And they were going to expand the school district’s Gifted, Talented and Obnoxiously Smart curriculum to address the needs of kids like mine who had to be more challenged …”

So who was George Roy?

And what does all this have to do with him?

George Roy was a native of Fort Kent, age 62 when he died this early summer. He moved to Scarborough with his wife, Linda, around l977 after graduating from chiropractic school in the Midwest. He and Lyn raised a whole bunch of kids, five or six, I think, and they also had a bunch of grandchildren in the past few years.

He threw himself into developing his chiropractic practice, and also threw himself into the town of Scarborough. If there was a committee in the l980s or early 90s, he was probably on it. If there was an election at the polls during that time, he was probably a candidate. If there was a raffle ticket being sold by kids for some cause at Scarborough High School or Middle School, he probably bought five.

But that is not his claim to fame.

Many people, fortunately, have done those things.

The difference with George?

He pulled it off.

I won’t say that natives acknowledge “He became one of us,” but, if he didn’t, he was close.

Scarborough natives are protective of their native status. Many think their nativeness is all they have.

Our houses may not be as big as yours, our cars not as fancy, our 401Ks not with as many zeroes – oops, never mind.

You get the point.

But we have something you don’t have. We were here first, usually by a mile.

It can all take on the flavor of a sing-songy schoolyard chant: “Nah nah nah-nah-nah. I got here before you!”

Thus, we are reserved and hesitant around people who are new to town. We’re careful about letting people in – when, whom and how.

If you are new to Scarborough, you probably know what I mean.

But with George Roy, I think he made it through the glass walls.

And judging from the hundreds and hundreds of people attending his memorial service in Portland, in a big church by Franklin Arterial, I KNOW he pulled it off.

George had many things going for him.

He was friendly and outgoing. I mean REALLY outgoing.

No matter when or where he entered a room, he had the same smiling greeting for everyone:

“MORNIN’!”

Could be 6 p.m. or 9 p.m., or 11 am. Didn’t matter.

“MORNIN’!”

I was on the Scarborough Town Council with George in the mid- to late l980s into the early ’90s. He was chair (that should tell you something about him).

We had a vigorous 3-3 split on the council then – three perceived “liberals,” I was always told, and three perceived “conservatives,” I was told.

I was Switzerland. George Roy was with the conservatives.

They liked him a lot, but they kidded him hard. They gave him the key to their club, but they also seemed to want him to know it was their key, it was on a string and they could take it back any time they wanted.

One time he was talking during a break about a council proposal with Councilors John Flaherty, Bruce Moulton and the funniest woman to serve on the council since my sister Becky in l977, Jan Peltier.

John Flaherty, a conservative and former police chief, said to George: “When you say ‘Morning!’ like you do, Dr. Roy, it makes me think you are either the most positive person in the world, or you don’t know what the hell is going on!”

George put his arm around John’s shoulder and said, “Maybe some of both, Chief. That’s how we do things in Scarborough, isn’t it?”

Jan Peltier jumped in. She smelled blood or saw an opening. “Oh, an expert on Scarborough culture, are we now, George? You have been here how long?”

“15, 16 years,” he said.

“Oh, so you mean you’re new, George,” Bruce Moulton piped up.

Moulton from downtown for three!

George had something else going for him. He had served as a Marine in Vietnam, and had lost a leg to a bomb – “a Bouncing Betty,” one of his friends from The County once told me at Orono. George never breathed a word about it. He wore an artificial limb. He still went downhill skiing.

He pitched in. He helped. He laughed. He carried his weight. He didn’t complain. He saluted the flag at the Libby-Mitchell Post, but he didn’t grind you if you failed to salute it.

He fit in.

Scarborough can be a beautiful place with its beaches, marsh grasses, lonely gulls crying out in the summer breeze.

But it can be a tough nut to crack.

George Roy cracked it, I think. Only took him about 30 years.

When you crack something like that, it’s usually because you earn it.

R.I.P., George.


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