Juniper and McKown Points: Long-time stalwarts

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 2:30pm

When my wife and I bought our property on McKown Point Road almost 14 years ago, we had no real connection to Boothbay Harbor or this region other than the fact that Nancy had spent her high school years in Lewiston and I had spent a month at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in the summer of 1967. For the past 40-plus years we have lived in Chicago and it was Nancy's love of Maine and her three siblings who still live in New England which caused us to start thinking about buying a summer house here. There are always a lot of factors that go into that decision but one big one for us was the Juniper Point community house and its tennis courts. We are now busy with our children and grandchildren building the kind of memories on the Point that so many of you cherish.

As I did last year when Anne Dooley was desperate enough to ask me to write an article, I'm going to focus again on the community house tennis program -- and especially on a couple of the stalwart participants in the men's tennis group. Last year I was fortunate enough to talk with Andy Matthews and John Gillies about their history here. I enjoyed that experience and learned so much that I decided this year to interview two other members of the men's program, Curt Harding and Phil Rubel. As Andy and John did, both Curt and Phil have long histories in the Boothbay Harbor region and at the Juniper Point Community House -- and fascinating life stories.

Let's start with the similarities. Both individuals grew up in the Northeast, Curt in Sudbury, Massachusetts and Phil in the NYC metro area and both started coming to the Boothbay Harbor area with their parents 70 years ago. Both divide their time principally between Maine and Florida. Both are not only avid, competitive tennis players, playing approx. three times per week in Maine in the summer and in Florida during the winter, but also avid sailors. And both welcome their children and extended family members to their houses in this area.

Now to the differences. After college at UNH where Curt played on the tennis team, he took over his family's business of growing carnations in greenhouses in Sudbury. Due to competition from South America, he decided to sell the business and serendipitously head off on a boat to the Caribbean for the next seven years with his wife, Jeanne, and two children. Their kids attended a school in Puerto Rico and Curt and Jeanne led week-long charter sailboat expeditions throughout the British Virgin Islands. When the kids were old enough to go to college, Curt and family returned to New England and his children followed in his footsteps to UNH. Even after returning, Curt and Jeanne continued to lead sailing expeditions in the Caribbean for another approx. 20 years. Upon returning to the States, Curt bought a cabin at Sprucewold and then a second, which is where he and Jeanne reside while in Maine and where they house their family members and guests who visit. Interestingly, the Hardings have recently turned in their sailboat for a power boat.

Phil did not pick up tennis until he was in his 30s. For work, he went the corporate route after attending Brown, working first for DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware where he met his late wife, Joan. He then joined American Express Bank which satisfied his love for travel, taking him and his family to Italy and Switzerland. He returned to the States in the late 1960s, settling down in Marblehead, Massachusetts and coming increasingly often to Juniper Point. He remembers playing here when there were only two courts and he remembers the increased tennis activity when the 3rd and 4th courts were added in the 1980s. Phil resides in the house which his parents bought many years ago at the far end of McKown Point Road and which he purchased in the late 1980s. Phil's three children live in three different cities that Phil and Joan lived in -- Geneva, Switzerland; Marblehead; and Sarasota, Florida -- and all enjoy coming to the Rubel Maine homestead during the summer months.

JPVIS tennis

As June’s rain and coolness have given way to July’s sunshine and warmth, JPVIS is bustling with activities. Dave Taylor, our tennis and recreation director, reports: The Ladies Social on Tuesday, July 9 was a huge success. Lots of good food, fun people, and exciting tennis. On Thursday, July 11 the JPVIS Junior Interclub team traveled via boat to Christmas Cove for a match. It is such a memorable trip and we love to keep this tradition alive. Our Juniors played well and came out a bit ahead in overall matches. Thank you to the Lewis and Mansourian families for helping with transportation.

This past Sunday morning, roars could be heard at the community house tennis courts coming from various cottages of people glued to the Fed-Djok match. Wow!

On Thursday, July 18 we plan on doing a Mixed Doubles Social at 5:45 at Juniper Point and have invited the pro and members from the BBH Country Club to join us. Burnt Island is Saturday, July 20 and volunteers are needed to run games and help transport people to and from the island.

Non-tennis news

Last Wednesday evening, John and Patti Gillies hosted the latest JPVIS history/story-telling evening. In addition to our hosts, the following were present: Mary Nutt an Tim Hankins, Kathy Hanley, Stu and Susan McGillivray, Art abd Helene Barnes, Debbie (Swan) and Don Snyder, Mary MacCormac, Chris and Debbie Kurz, Mary Fleming and Jeff Kowalski, Phil Rubel, siblings Kit and Charlie Andrews, Terry Paetzold and Bev McCoid. We continued the tradition of stories about how and when our families found and chose Juniper-McKown Point as our summer home, while also branching out to other topics. Such as: how many are in cottages built by Manley Reed? And wasn’t Bunny Gagne’s the first one he built? Or, summer jobs, from pumping gas at Leavitt’s Garage in the Center to moving boats around the harbor during the filming of Carousel. Or, the many artists, sculptors, cartoonists and writers who summered on the Point. Or, rowing to one’s rental cottage on Mouse Island during World War II because of gas rationing. Or, boats of great renown – the Blue Dolphin, the Gundel, Surf Rider, Ella L, and of course Manley’s tugboat, the Juniper, or Little Toot to all the kids on the Point. So many rich and wonderful stories to share!

This coming Wednesday evening, July 17 at 7, Professor Jeff Kowalski, a member of the 8 a.m. men’s tennis group, will be presenting at the community house about the Mayan pyramids and temples. JPVIS had also hoped to host Paula Jackson-Jones with her “Tick Talk” presentation this week or sometime soon. Unfortunately, Paula is too much in demand for the remainder of the summer. To share some of the information on ticks, we’d like to refer to the Boothbay Register article:

If you find a tick and need help, please contact the Boothbay Region Health Center at 633-1075.

Next week’s column will be written by Anne Dooley. Please send your news to her within the next few days to