Frank Anicetti; A man with Moxie

There’s plenty of characters in Maine, and Frank Anicetti was certainly one of them. For reasons that were not completely clear to me, the variety store owner developed a real passion for Moxie, the soft drink, and that passion led to one of Maine’s most unusual summer festivals, Moxie Days. I spent an afternoon with Frank at his store, Kennebec Fruit, back in the late 1980s, and this story resulted.


LISBON FALLS, Maine (UPI) — It’s easy to see that Frank Anicetti has plenty of Moxie. It’s stuck to the ashtrays, sewn on the stocking caps and printed on the t-shirts that crowd his tiny variety store in a tired old mill town.

Anicetti, 46, may be the world’s biggest drum-beater for Moxie, the slightly bitter soft drink that has been a New England institution for more than 100 years. His Kennebec Fruit Store is lined with memorabilia, Moxie displays and Moxie signs from previous eras.

Even the modern political signs in the in the windows have a decidedly Moxie influence.

MoxieAd1“Vote for Jim Tierney,” begs one hand-lettered sign in a side window. “He’s got Moxie!”

Being the only Moxie booster in Lisbon Falls may be a lonely mission. But all that changes next weekend, when Moxie madcaps from all over converge on the town for the annual Moxie Days celebration, a series of barbecues, parades, beauty pageants and other summer goings-on.

Several hundred Moxie guzzlers showed up last year to bask in the glow of their favorite beverage, and Anicetti thinks this year’s celebration will be bigger than ever.

The festival owes it all to Anicetti and to Moxie, a soft drink that was not inspired, invented or bottled in Lisbon Falls.

If that doesn’t seem logical, it all makes perfect sense to Anicetti. Moxie needed a place for a festival, he realized, while Lisbon Falls needed an excuse for one.

“Old home days come and go,” Anicetti said, “but Moxie has staying power.”

The festival’s beginnings were humble enough. In 1981, Anicetti hosted an autograph party for Frank Potter, another Moxie fanatic who had written a book about the soft drink’s history.

“In 1984, when moxie was 100 years old, I called Potter and said, ‘Let’s have a birthday party for Moxie,’” Anicetti said. They’ve hosted one each year since.

moxieAnicetti claims 30 percent of Lisbon Falls’ 11,000 residents drink Moxie regularly. And he said the townspeople are excited about this year’s Moxie Days, July 12-13.

“They’re pitching right in now,” he said. “The Fire Department has got a fireman’s muster planned, and we’re expecting fire departments from all over Maine and even outside the state to come in.”

“And it looks like the parade is going to be about two hours long, much bigger than last year,” he said.

Anicetti has only fuzzy memories of the beginnings of the Moxie influence at his store, which was founded by his grandfather in 1914. But Moxie has been a big item for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve always enjoyed it, we always drank it and we always had a clientele who came through who like it, too,” Anicetti said.

The worst days for Moxie, he said, were in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Moxie decided to change its formula to make the beverage more appealing to a bigger market.

The move was a disaster, Anicetti said. New drinkers didn’t like it any better than the original, and the small but loyal Moxie vanguard couldn’t stand the new sweet taste.

But even through the darkest days, Kennebec Fruit remained loyal.

“Even when Moxie was dying during the 1950s and 1960s, we still kept it going,” Anicetti said. “Two years later they went back to the old formula.”

Perhaps the strangest part of Anicetti’s love affair with an obscure soft drink is that he’s never been to a bottling plant, and the Moxie company has never acknowledged, or even contacted, the Kennebec Fruit Store.

Georgiana Taylor, head of franchise sales for Monarch Co. of Atlanta, owner of Moxie, said she had never heard of Anicetti or the Moxie Days festival.

“I’m not familiar with it, I don’t know anything about it,” she said. “But people up there really do get into Moxie.”

Tampa Bay’s seawall master

Back in the late 1990s, I worked as a writer for the Tampa Bay Business Journal, covering the business of sports, commercial real estate and the local advertising and marketing business. It was a good place to work and I enjoyed my time there. I don’t really remember doing this story, but I do dimly remember that I used to drive by this place of business on my way to and from work.

Staff Writer

Bill McNamara wasn’t thinking much about docks and seawalls when he was installing chain link fences around schools and prisons in Philadelphia. But when he moved to the Bay Area in the early 1970s, he found there wasn’t much of a market for chain link fences here.

“There was no money in it, no volume, and it was too competitive,” McNamara recalled of his Florida chain link fence prospects. “It got old.”

He needed something else to do, but he didn’t know what. To fill in the time, he started doing some work for a Clearwater-based company that installed boat lifts.

“I just started putting in boat lifts,” said McNamara, whose McNamara & Son is now the biggest dock builder in the Bay Area. “We made one connection after another, and things started to grow for us, just like things were starting to grow for Tampa. I had to hire help, and soon we were doing everything. Before long, we were all the way at the top. We are bigger than anyone as far as residential stuff is concerned.”

“We” is really McNamara, his 36-year-old son Kevin, and a group of employees and subcontractors that right now stands at around 15 people. The 60-year-old McNamara usually stays close to the company’s offices on West Hillsborough Avenue. The younger McNamara can usually be found on one of the company’s barges, placing seawall material or overseeing dock construction.

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Maine Indians want some Baxter State Park land for reservation

During my working days in Maine, I enjoyed writing stories about the state’s Indian tribes – the Penobscots, the Passamaquoddys and the Micmacs. The big story about them (or at least the Penobscots and the Passamaquoddys – the Micmacs were excluded) was the Indian Land Claims Case. A sharp young lawyer in the 1970s found that a key treaty between the state of Maine and the Indians had never been signed by the state and, as a result, the two tribes had a legitimate claim to a huge portion of Maine’s land. The Indians had a great case and the state agreed to settle it (using federal funds – thanks, President Jimmy Carter), and the two Indian tribes suddenly became big players in Maine’s economy.

But there were other stories involving the Indians. In this particular story, the Wabanaki Confederation (made up of Passmaquoddys, Penobscots, Micmacs and Malaseets) wanted a new reservation that would include all the tribes, and they took a step in that direction by briefly occupying part of Baxter State Park. They didn’t get what they wanted, but they did draw some crucial attention to their cause.

I wish there was an Internet back in the mid-1970s. If there had been, I could have done a better job of researching this story. I would have learned that the Wabanaki Confederation was an organization that stretched back to the late 1770s, that it played a key role in the American Revolution, and that under the Treaty of Watertown signed in 1776, Wabanaki soldiers, even those from Canada, had the right to join the U.S. military, a right some have exercised as recently as the war in Afghanistan.

Not sure when this was written, probably around 1976.


INDIAN ISLAND, Maine (UPI) – One of the Indians who had camped in Baxter State Park for nearly a week said Thursday his group hopes the state will provide land for a new Indian reservation.

The Indians were members of the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, MicMac and Maliseet tribes, but all belong to the Wabanaki Confederacy.

wabanaki mapStanley Neptune, who had spent six days at the park with 27 other Indians, said the Wabanakis hope to leave their own reservations and start a new reservation. He said the Wabanakis feel the present tribes are losing their culture, and the new group hopes to preserve the Indian ways.

Neptune also said the Indians left the park because they had accomplished what they wanted, and not because of pressure from park and state officials.

“Everything that happened was good,” Neptune said.

Neptune said the Indians had gone to the park hoping that part of Baxter could be allotted to them. Mount Katahdin, located within the park, is considered a sacred place by the Indians.

“Our idea was to have a place to live,” Neptune said. “We want a place for the Wabanaki Confederacy.”

wabanakiflagcolorNeptune said lawyers are negotiating with the state to see if some land, perhaps some of the state’s public lands, could be set aside for the Wabanakis.

“It was our hope at first to get part of the park, but we found we couldn’t stay there,” Neptune said. “It was a place to go to get answers, and we got answers. We left because it was time to leave.”

Neptune said the state agreed to drop illegal entry charges against nine Indians who were arrested when they tried to join the original group. He also said that tribal governors, who had opposed the action at the park at first, seemed to be changing their minds, and said a meeting between the governors and those who took part in the encampment at Baxter was set for Friday.

“The governors were against us, but now they are changing their thinking.” Neptune said. “We’re trying to save our culture. Not too far in the future, there won’t be any more Indian people.”

Another Indian who had gone to Baxter, Sam Sapio, said the Wabanakis had taken part in some spiritual events at Baxter, but he declined to elaborate.

“We went up there to do some of our traditional things,” he said. “I can’t tell you about that.”

Mount Katahdin has been a spiritual place for Maine’s Indians for many years.

“When they had trouble in the tribes, they would go there to meditate,” Sapio said.

Gov. James B. Longley, who on Wednesday said the state would remove the Indians by force if necessary, said he was glad they had left on their own.

“It is a fine example of how reasonable people can accommodate what is right without needless conflict,” he said.

And… another business story

Advertising was one of my beats when I worked at the Tampa Bay Business Journal in the mid-1990s, and it was something that I really enjoyed. Advertising people are creative and interesting, and the work they do is often clever and attention-getting — at least, it’s SUPPOSED to be. Bill Lipphardt was a successful young guy on the Tampa ad scene and I wrote about him several times. Tragically, he died in 2000 at age 47 when his Porsche crashed during the holiday season.


Ad firm expanding as billings take off

Arthur Frederick
Staff Writer

When St. Petersburg-based Sun Jet dumped its New York ad agency and went shopping for a local replacement, it eyed the top of the list — WestWayne, the Bay Area’s biggest agency, and FKQ Advertising, another big gun.

That’s why more than a few eyebrows were raised last month when the three-year-old airline passed up those two agencies in favor of Lipphardt Advertising, a smaller shop whose 1995 gross billings were only around $9 million — a figure exceeded by about a dozen other local agencies.

There may be more eyebrow-raising in the coming months: Lipphardt expects to more than triple those 1995 billings next year and said they may go even higher than that.

Admittedly, a significant chunk of that increase will come from Sun Jet, the agency’s newest client, which will probably add around $10 million to Lipphardt’s top line. But other new business, plus additional revenue from existing clients, will also weigh in, and Lipphardt is busy gearing up.

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And now for something completely different…

My background is primarily in journalism, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time as a copywriter, churning out PR and ad copy on behalf of all kinds of clients. One of the ad agencies I worked for represented a snowshoe manufacturer, SnoCraft Corporation of Norway, Maine, a company that started around the turn of the last century but which now appears to be out of business. The following feature story was part of a press kit we put together for SnoCraft retailers — we hoped they would attach the names of their own businesses to this piece and then distribute it to local news media. This project was a bit out of the ordinary, but I do remember having some fun researching the history of snowshoes and then trying to come up with a snappy lead. I also recall that I carefully left out any reference to what French Canadians refer to as “mal d’raquette” — pain in the legs and ankles that develops from too much snowshoeing.


Snowshoes: Their history, uses, and where to buy them

Snowshoes help expand winter horizons 

NORWAY, Maine – If it hadn’t been for the snowshoe, America might never have been discovered.

No, Christopher Columbus didn’t wade ashore in the New World while wearing snowshoes. But  the aboriginal peoples who were the first settlers of North America were probably wearing snowshoes thousands of years ago when they crossed the land bridge over the Bering Strait from Asia.

While many think of snowshoes as something identified with Eskimos, those Artic peoples have actually had little use for snowshoes — most of their travel is over ice and wind-packed snow, making snowshoes unnecessary.

It was the North American Indians of the more temperate climates who really refined the snowshoe from a primitive branch-and-bark device to a sophisticated method of winter transportation.

But the history of the snowshoe goes back far beyond the history of North America.  Snowshoes allowed early man to move northward in Asia and into northern Europe, Scandinavia and Siberia.

Many historians believe that the invention of snowshoes ranks with the wheel in its importance to the development of mankind.

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I’ve been writing and shooting pictures forever. Almost.

I’ve worked for newspapers, wire services, ad agencies, PR shops, big corporations, politicians, colleges and all kinds of businesses, large and small.

I’ve written feature stories, obituaries and travel pieces. Speeches, ad copy and press releases.  Articles for trade journals, newsletters and motorcycle magazines.  I’ve photographed everything from wood furnaces to candles to dog shows to birds (actually, lots and LOTS of birds).

Recently, a prospective client said she would like to see my portfolio, and I was somewhat startled to realize that I had never put one together.  I’ve had a website for many years that focuses on my public relations business; but a portfolio that actually showcases my writing and my photos? For some reason, I simply never thought of it.

So I’ve spent some time scouring the Internet, looking through my computer files and paging through my dusty old filing cabinets in search of examples of my work. It’s been fun, and I’ve found quite a few examples that I don’t mind sharing (And a few things I would NEVER share in a million years. But that’s another story).

I decided the best way to showcase all this material was on a blog, where I can mix up words and pictures and post things as I find them. Since this is a blog, and newer stuff ends up on top of the pile, you may want to scroll all the way down to the bottom and then work your way back to the top.  But it really doesn’t matter; it’s all going to be a bit of a jumble anyway.

Thanks for visiting. If there is something you see here that sparks some sort of reaction in you, I’d love to hear it.

(And by the way… I have a separate blog now dedicated to my photo work. Take a look by clicking HERE.)

Bill Frederick

There’s one thing that you might find a little confusing. Most people know me as Bill, but my real first name is Arthur, and as a journalist I always wrote under my real name – Arthur Frederick. So if you see a story that is topped by a byline that says “By ARTHUR FREDERICK”, that’s why.