As we still try to cope with the tragedy in Lewiston, Maine, it still pains me to see this city that I love have to go through something as dreadful as this.

I grew up in South Paris, Maine, in the '70s and '80s when there wasn't a lot to do in the Oxford Hills area. We had a grocery store and a couple of department stores with Ames in Oxford and Woolworth in South Paris. There were plenty of gas stations including an old-school Cumberland Farms, and LaVerdiere's Drug Store, which is where I learned to play Pac-Man in their arcade. For anything else for entertainment like restaurants and movies, we drove the 30 minutes to Lewiston.

Back then, there were two malls in Lewiston: the Promenade Mall, which is now what looks like a warehouse, and the Lewiston Mall, right across the street where there was another arcade called Aladain's Castle, right next to Zayre. There was a movie theater at the back of the Promenade Mall that had two screens, or you could drive over to the Auburn Mall where they had two tiny theaters next to Sears. That's where I saw Can't Buy Me Love in 1987 starring a young Partick Dempsey, who just so happens to be born in Lewiston. Sears and the theaters are long gone.

There are a lot of other little things about Lewiston that make it special to me too. Here are five of those things that I absolutely love about Lewiston to this day.

Watching Train Cross Over Great Falls

The Maine Central Railroad (later Guilford, Pan Am, and now CSX), has tracks that run over a rail trestle that crosses Great Falls on the Androscoggin River. I grew up around trains, and love to watch them as they pass slowly over the falls.

Sam's Italians

Sam's has 11 locations throughout Maine, and one of them used to be in South Paris. The original was on Main Street in Lewiston until they recently closed after 83 years. It's sad to see it go, but there are plenty of locations in or near Lewiston to get their amazing Italians or great pizza.

Google Maps
Google Maps

The Old Grand Trunk Railroad Trestle

You've probably walked over this bridge and may not have even known it used to carry trains from Auburn into Lewiston. The two cities are both railroad towns to this day, but back when passenger rail was still the way to travel, people from Canada would come down to Lewiston on the former Grand Trunk Railroad that ran from Portland to Quebec. The trestle is now a footbridge for the Auburn Riverwalk.

The Great Falls Balloon Festival

Honestly, I've never been to the Great Falls Balloon Festival in person, but while I lived in nearby Lisbon, I would often see the balloons up in the air as I did shopping or other errands in Lewiston. It was always quite a sight to see.

The Smell of Baking Bread at LePage Barkeries

When going to Lewiston from South Paris, we would always cross over the Androscoggin River on Cedar Street and turn right onto Canal Street. If you time it right, you can smell the baking bread at the Country Kitchen plant on Canal Street, today owned by LePage Bakeries. The scent was amazing, but almost overpowering (in a good way).

Google Maps
Google Maps

There's a lot to love about Lewiston, and a lot of nice memories I have of this city over the past 50 years.

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