The new book 'SACO & ME' offers a nostalgic glimpse into life growing up the 1950s and 1960s in Saco and is written by a former resident who went on to serve as a music director for performers like Tony Orlando. COURTESY PHOTO/Jay Snyder

The new book ‘SACO & ME’ offers a nostalgic glimpse into life growing up the 1950s and 1960s in Saco and is written by a former resident who went on to serve as a music director for performers like Tony Orlando. COURTESY PHOTO/Jay Snyder

SACO — As many of us grow up yearning for faraway places and distant dreams, we truly never lose the sense of connection with home and later in life it feels good to come back and get reacquainted with the past.

In Jay Snyder’s new book “SACO & ME,” he does just that.

Having grown up in the 1950s and 1960s on Weymouth Street near the intersection of King Street, Snyder walked to school at C.K. Burns Elementary and then attended high school classes at Thornton Academy. But the allure of a career in music captivated him and he pursued his talent elsewhere in music.

Spurred by success with his rock band Euphoria’s Id, Snyder earned a Bachelor of Music degree in composition from Boston University.

He served an apprenticeship at a recording studio in California and it launched a career that saw him work with prominent musicians such as Jim Stafford, the Doodletown Pipers, Jimmy Rodgers, John Davidson, the Hudson Brothers and Tony Orlando. Between 1978 and 1982, he appeared on the Tonight Show six times for the Hudson Brothers and Jim Stafford when he wrote arrangements and conducted the great Doc Severinson Tonight Show Band.

But he never lost his nostalgia for his hometown of Saco, Maine and his new book details his early life there.

“I wrote it as kind of a love letter to Saco; remembering the innocence of the 1950s and the excitement of the 1960s,” Snyder said last week in a telephone interview. “As time goes on, peoples’ memory can fall off. I had a great fondness for Saco and wanted to document how things went in a small town.”

It took him about a year to complete “SACO & ME,” which is now the eighth book he has authored after retiring as music professor having taught at SUNY Oneonta in upstate New York and at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona.

He said in working on “SACO & ME,” he typically wrote six days a week and let his mind drift back to the days of his youth.

“Writing requires a certain amount of discipline and I like that,” Snyder said. “The Saco, Maine of the 1950s and 1960s deserves to be remembered becuase it was a charming place to grow up and so much is gone. The Mutual Theatre no longer shows films. You can’t buy a model airplane at Western Auto. And the smaller pharmacy with the jukebox that constanly played ‘Poetry in Motion’ floats stilled in the memory pool of someone’s longing.”

Working with a meticulous editor, Dan Marcus, and graphics designer Maxine Cameron Stenstrom, Snyder has produced an insightful and detailed glimpse into an era long ago. It’s filled with stories about candy stores, holidays, Cub Scouts, Ray’s Lunch Van, trips to Old Orchard Beach, and weekend dances.

“People who have read it tell me that it’s a mixture of Robert Benchley with Thornton Wilder and a touch of John Dos Passos,” Snyder said. “What qualifies me to write it? I was there and I remember.”

He also returned to Saco last spring from his home in Sana Monica, California. While back home, Snyder completed research for the book with the help of his friends Chuck Tsomides, Joe Maloney, and his former boyhood neighbor on Weymouth Street, Peter Scontras, who also is an author of a book on Saco history and now owns the popular Way Way General Store on Buxton Road.  

Locals who’ve read “SACO & ME,” such as Don Camire of Rapid Ray’s attest to its authenticity.

“Don told me he absolutely loves the book,” Snyder said.

Sndyer has dedicated “SACO & ME” to his teachers of Latin and English at Thornton Academy, Harriet Patrick and Pauline Fournier.

“Change the name, the places, the special foods and you’ll see this time capsule holds something familiar,” Snyder said. 

The “SACO & ME” book is priced at $9.95 and can be purchased at the Way Way Store or through amazon.com. If interest in the book is strong, Snyder says he may return to Maine for a book signing event in the future.

—  Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]


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