FRANK ANICETTI, owner of Kennebec Fruit Co., is pictured in the “Moxie Store.”

FRANK ANICETTI, owner of Kennebec Fruit Co., is pictured in the “Moxie Store.”

LISBON

Bottles of Moxie are likely being raised across Lisbon this week in memory of Frank Anicetti, a local icon who had such passion for all things Moxie he was known as “The Moxie Man.”

Anicetti died Monday at age 77, leaving the community in mourning.

Known as the Moxie Store under Anicetti’s watch, his grandfather opened the Kennebec Fruit Co. store in 1913 at the corner of Route 196 and Main Street in Lisbon Falls.

FRANK ANICETTI, former owner of Kennebec Fruit Co. at the corner of Main Street and Route 196, stands with a “sold” sign in front of the building.

FRANK ANICETTI, former owner of Kennebec Fruit Co. at the corner of Main Street and Route 196, stands with a “sold” sign in front of the building.

Many Lisbonites remember going to the store as children where they’d get penny candy, ice cream and joke around with Anicetti. Novelist Stephen King used to wait outside the store for the school bus as a youngster, and reportedly details the store and its prominent marble counter in his novel “11/22/63.”

The store is also where the Moxie Festival was born with the 1982 signing party for Frank Potter’s book “The Moxie Mystique.”

Lisbon Falls became the “hub of the Moxie universe,” Jim Baumer writes in his book “Moxie: Maine in a Bottle.”

And Anicetti had become the mayor of Moxietown, Baumer adds. He writes that Anicetti had been drinking Moxie for as long as he could remember. It was his favorite soda.

Now, the Moxie Festival — the town’s annual festival celebrating Maine’s official soft drink — draws as many as 50,000 people over the course of three days. During the event, people would line down the sidewalk to get some Moxie ice cream, a Tshirt and a dose of the Moxie Man himself.

While Anicetti is credited with establishing the Moxie Festival, Susan Conroy made it happen for many years. She died nearly three years ago.

Her son, Toby Conroy, described Anicetti as a people person, even if he was a little like a grumpy uncle.

“He was like a 2-year-old when the Moxie Festival came around. It was Christmas,” he said. “I seriously think that that’s what kept him going all these years.

“People who knew or appreciated him, knew he could spin a story, tell the truth or spice it up. He could make you leave after 10 minutes or two hours, and you’d want more,” Conroy said.

Anicetti used to say firsttime Moxie drinkers need three sips before they can start to appreciate the taste. Conroy likened him to the soda. By the third encounter you’d say, “OK, this is who he is.”

His sister Kerry Conroy, owner of Hairs Too You beauty salon, spent the last 30 years around Anicetti as a fellow Main Street business owner. Anicetti also got his hair cut at her shop.

“Frank was like family to me,” she said. She and other family members pushed him to be more flexible, given that he could be stubborn and set in his ways. He’d love to tell stories to get people’s reactions and have fun with the community.

“He was the community, really,” Kerry Conroy said. “He had a spirit that was all its own and he had the spirit of Lisbon.”

It was a difficult decision for Anicetti to close the store in February 2016 and put it up for sale, but his health was in jeopardy and he knew times were changing. For the next year, the future of the building was unknown.

Then in February, Lisbon couple Traci and Tony Austin announced they bought the building to turn it into a pub-restaurant named Frank’s.

“He did come in here weekly to check out our progress and check out the changes,” Traci Austin said Tuesday. “He seemed very happy with what we were doing with the building.”

Austin and others expressed disappointment Anicetti won’t be around for the conclusion of the project. Frank’s is slated to be open to the public July 7 during the Moxie Festival and the restaurant should officially open within the following two weeks.

Frank’s will serve Moxie, of course.

“He was very honored to have us immediately name it after him,” Austin said. “I think he welcomed that, that his legacy would still live on.”

“I’ve lived in town my whole life and I remember riding down there on my bike to get an ice cream or penny candy,” said Gina Mason.

She always thought Anicetti was eccentric, but in a good way. He embraced his quirkiness, she said. He had knowledge of unusual things, and knew a lot not only about Moxie but also the town.

People from all over the world came to the Moxie Festival, she said. Many traveled across the country every year to see the Moxie Man and his store.

“He was much like Moxie. He had a mystique of his own,” she said. “You lose a character in town, you lose a part of the town. But he was well followed and people will remember him for many, many years.”

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