Is There Still a Wendy’s in Belfast, Maine

Someone asked that question on Facebook today. Finally, after all these years I had to go public, I had to answer the question once and for all–I had insider information on the case I had kept secret for more than 50 years that I couldn’t take to my grave! Here is the sullen truth at last exposed to the “Sunlight of Truth.”

I doubt it is still there due to legal and social problems back in the very early 60s. “Wendy’s Hideaway” was a “cat house” like they have legally set up in Nevada these modern, “progressive” times. Back then, “Wendy’s Hideaway” was well-known to the local Belfast men and ignored, it was offered, by the local women–if, in fact, they knew of it at all.

Rumor was the men were quite discreet sneaking in and out of it while the women were actually happy to have them “visit” Ms. Wendy and her “daughters” once or twice a month. That way the wives didn’t have to be bothered with their marriage duties in the bedroom at all. Many of the men planted extra rows of corn, cucumbers, some musk melons, and other staple-type vegetables in the summer to “exchange” for whatever occurred in that house itself. So the women were actually doubly happy, no, triply happy. They didn’t lose any money from their household budget by their husbands’ wastefully spending it there. They were relieved from any romantic happenings expected of them occasionally, and, with the extensively bigger gardens, the men were out hoeing and weeding most all summer until way after 10 pm. The “go-get” girls then set up about three or four roadside stands at several prime traffic areas just outside of the Belfast city limits and sold the produce they received in barter. Made damned good money, too, I was told. They did have some small tents set up around the stands, more near the woods, and, at my current age, I now know why. What entrepreneurs those girls were back then!

Back when women had very little opportunity to earn money, invest, and retire happy and even wealthy., these women had forward-looking goals and a business plan beyond reproach. That women were disadvantage in those days was true everywhere, but especially so in the hopelessly impoverished, rural State of Maine. I have been told that the girls working in that house all retired quite comfortably, had been investing in Maine’s beautiful, rustic, cheap waterfront properties of such pristine bodies of water locally as Sanborn Pond, Cross Pond, Saint Georges Lake, and even that larger lake over on the other side of the Penobscot River.

The “business” establishment itself was actually located just off Lord Street in Belfast. (What a coincidence?) It operated quite successfully in the 40s, 50s, and into the early 60s. I was never old enough to sneak into the “house,” but I heard real good things about the girls there! “Real little go-getters!” they were commonly called. One summer, Aunt Ruth got us kids a job raking blueberries. We made piddling money for the long hours and backbreaking work, but I managed to smuggle many quarts of fresh blueberries all the month of August. I took these to “Wendy’s Hideaway” and attempted to gain access to whatever it was they did there that all the men in town–and the surrounding towns–were so enthused over.. When I appeared at their back door with many quarts of blueberries in hand, the “go-getters” giggled and laughed among themselves, but I will honestly admit I was never allowed in. However, they loved those sweet, fresh blueberries to the last “getter” and weren’t about to pass them up, accepted whatever I brought, and said they would open an account for me for future business when I turned eighteen years of age and was legal. The girls were nice to me, said they would open a separate page in their ledger book, a page just for me just like in my little bank book. (I do admit I built up a nice little credit account from three summer of berries and from the milk, cottage cheese, and broiler chickens in the winter months.

“Wendy’s Hideaway” was always “winked” at by the Mayor, Police, etc., until Mrs Buella Thompson caught her husband, “Loppy,” coming out of the back door one cold February winter’s day with his fly unzipped. She was quite active in the First Baptist Church, a moral leader if you will, so let’s just say things got a lot colder for Ol Loppy the rest of the winter–in fact, it was quite chilly anywhere around him for the rest of his life!

Then it was Mrs. Thompson who was doing all the “go-getting”–she “go-get” the Chief of Police, and she “go-get” the Mayor, who then lost the election the following November, She “go-get”‘ed” everyone, good or bad, church goer or Wendy’s Hideaway “customer.” She even tried to “go-get” the “GO GET GIRLS”–the moniker their lawyer gave them as the scandal, although squelched pretty much in Belfast, began getting attention as far south as Portland. Some contend to this day that a book was written, a movie made, and other merchandise produced which made all connected wealthy–well, at least the lawyer, as is commonly the case.

Of course, before they would cooperate with any book or movie deals, they had it in writing that the names and places had to be changed so as to never reflect back on Belfast–their home town, too. There would never be a “Peyton Place” in Maine! They soon became famous for being known as the local “Happy Girls.” They became so famous, considering Belfast was a pretty staid small city in those days and much of the gossip was squelched by Mrs. Thompson and her band of women–ruthless women, too–that few dared speak of “Wendy’s Hideaway.” The “Go Get Girls” threatened to open their book of appointments and fees paid by whom to the city newspaper, “The Republican Journal.” Mrs. Thompson, supposedly, was confidentially informed that her husband was one of their best customers and often brought them bushels of sweet corn, cucumbers, and anything of value he could scrounge up all summer. Seems Ol’ Loppy was addicted to Wendy’s “menu.”

The respite–or maybe more aptly the despite–shuttered soon thereafter–right before my eighteenth birthday, too, damned it!

 

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Ms. Lee Anne Wonnacott’s Biggest Day

I sat down with my first cup of coffee yesterday morning and opened up my Yahoo Mail to see what surprises I may have received overnight. Good thing I had fortified my Folgers with a snort of Jameson Irish Whiskey! There before me, in few words, I realized a major marketing milestone had unfolded rather unexpectedly for my friend, Lee Anne Wonnacott, a writer of Western Romance novels extraordinaire. The first of those words was her own—a single, two syllable expression of glee—centered in the body of the email with lots of white space around; you could not help but expect it to leap off the page in joy right at you! Lee Anne commanded my attention by her happy-as-a-lark expression now before me:

                                                                       Lookie!!

For a split second, I was befuddled by that simple display of excitement. Then I quickly saw its meaning directly below in an email she had forwarded from a prestigious literary group, Book of the Day.org, who quite succinctly, but robustly, advised Ms. Wonnacott:

                                        From: bookoftheday.org

                                         Date: 3/3/2016 3:07 PM (GMT-08:00)

                                         To: lwonnaco

                                          Subject: Nick Stolter – Lee Anne Wonnacott

                                          Your book is scheduled for: 8 March 2016. See        you on the Front Page!

I had no idea she had submitted one of her e-books to this organization for review and consideration. But’s that’s her nature—unassuming and ambitious as well as bold and daring.

I met the enigmatic Ms. Wonnacott over a year and a half ago. I thought her to be a nice, hard-working lady, a mother of several children and grandmother of even more. I learned by reading her short autobiography authors submit to Amazon that she had endured tragedy in her life. In her own words: A friend sat me down on the front steps in 1991, kissed my cheek and told me that he would come back from over there. I’m still waiting.

That was the timeframe of the first Iraq war. As a Vietnam War Veteran (Although not grammatically correct according to some, I always capitalize the V.) and a career Marine myself, I read between the lines. I still do not know the complete story of her personal misfortune—we never discuss it—but I surmise the love of her life, the father of her children, went off to the Gulf War and never returned. She often refers to me as “My favorite Marine!” I believe it to be therapeutic for her to do so. Perhaps I am a stand-in for the “Marine,” if he even was a Marine, she lost.

I was mortified one day—about three or four months into our acquaintance—when I was cruising Amazon for books when I came across her name as the author of a number of Western Romance novels published in e-book format. After I calmed down from the sudden surge of excitement—and as I comprehended the extent of her published works—I wanted to crawl under my desk. All this time I had been bragging to her nonstop it seemed—and anyone else I could collar—

about my involvement in the writing and publishing of Colonel Jim Bathurst’s nonfiction account of his thirty-six year career as a United States Marine. He had asked for my assistance so I voluntarily assumed the responsibilities of editor for what turned out to be one of the greatest learning adventures of my life.

I am not ashamed of my standing tall recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of Jim Bathurst’s and my long journey in the evolution of a 562 page, 200,000 word account of his rather unique career. But imagine the effect on my balloon full of hot air when I discovered that my female “Zane Grey” had already published more than a dozen books herself, which were selling quite well, thank you—especially so, in of all places, Japan. Talk about a deflating experience!

I have once again assumed the designation as “editor,” but now for Ms. Wonnacott, although, quite frankly, I have yet to make even a modicum of difference in her writing career. She has the most unique method of compiling 200,000 words of vivid, attention-commanding verse into what ultimately results in a riveting tale of the old West—complete with gun fights, bar room brawls, and even cat fights in moments of jealousy between women of the range competing for the few available bachelor cowboys.

Her books chronicle the manliest phase of our country’s history, the days when you strapped on your Colt .45 caliber pistol and settled disputes in the streets at “High Noon,” most often with deadly consequences. And she does it all with one seemingly effortless contrivance: perhaps the most animated imagination I have ever encountered anyone possessing. Her astonishingly innate talent to capture the essence of what it must have been like in the day-to-day struggle for survival during the period of the early– to–mid–1800s sets her apart from other writers of such novels.

When I first met Lee Anne Wonnacott, and after I had read some of her work and came to the realization that she was indeed an accomplished novelist, I wanted to be a part of boosting her over the remaining walls preventing her attaining the status of such romance writers as Danielle Steel, whose numerous books hog the shelves of Barnes & Noble.

In fact, one evening after a prodigious amount of time at Chili’s Grill & Bar (love their baby back pork ribs!), energetically attended to by the professional barkeep Caesar, where I consumed an equally prodigious amount of that wonderfully “Boston” lager, Samuel Adams, with each cold glass accompanied by shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey, I walked her over to our local Barnes & Noble under the pretense of buying a book or two on some mundane aspect of publishing. She agreed to accompany me there. What she did not know was I had reconnoitered the store earlier to determine where Danielle Steel’s books were located. She is one of the most prolific romance novel writers yet.

I escorted Ms. Wonnacott in a round-about path to the Steel book cache under the guise of searching for books we needed. When we closed in on Danielle’s designated section of the store, I positioned Lee Anne in such a manner she would be confronted head-on with the vast array of that acclaimed writers collection of work. I then exclaimed in excitement, aptly fueled by the Jameson’s, “Oh, look! Speak of the devil!” as I pointed to Steel’s books filling the shelves for a length of at least eight-to-ten feet at eye level, the prime height for any product in the retail business. Then I shocked Lee Anne to the core. I began moving Steel’s books from their current location repositioning them about three or four feet further down the shelf, even to the lower shelves.

She looked at me in fright, then quickly checked to see if there were any store employees in sight. She then asked in a low, but frantic tone of voice, “What are you doing?” I coolly replied, “I’m relocating some of Danielle’s books so that by next fall they have room for yours.”

Needless to say, Ms. Wonnacott thought I had lost it

—that the Jameson’s had pushed me over the cliffs I usually hovered at the edge of anyway.

My little joke was intended to boost her confidence and actually make her more aware of the talent she possessed. Lee Anne is a modest lady, refreshingly so. She considers writing as her therapy and does it “for myself.” And that’s fine—for her.

However, I have responsibility for being a part of her struggle. My new-found creed is, “I am not Mr. Nice Guy! I’m an editor, dammit!” That came from lessons learned during my prior stint as editor of We’ll All Die As Marines: One Marine’s Journey From Private To Colonel.

Despite my somewhat too-lackadaisical approach to my prestigious designation as an editor once again, Lee Anne affirmed my stature as being official by publically including my name with her own in perhaps the world’s largest bookstore—Amazon. And where could it be more public? So much so that along with one of her novels being awarded the honor of being named “Book of the Day,” I now have the ultimate responsibility and great burden of fulfilling one of my promises made to her when I first became involved with her writing career. I knew then—almost immediately—that she had infinitely more talent than publishing e-books could ever show, and that she deserved both the financial and personal recognition for it in a manner commensurately accorded to Danielle Steel. Or even, to some degree, Stephen King.

My promise to Lee Anne Wonnacott, always somewhat jokingly, was that I would have her on The Oprah Winfrey Show within a year. One thing Lee Anne loves to do is laugh. If that promise does nothing else, it makes her laugh each and every time I tell her of her intermediate destination on the road to fame and fortune. Appearing on Oprah’s television show increases any author’s stature by leaps and bounds. With that comes the fortune. While Lee Anne always laughs uproariously at my Oprahizing her, I see a glint in her eyes that betrays her thoughts, What if—

I think she cares more about the fortune aspects of becoming a highly successful author. She has grandchildren she loves. I have faith that, deep in her heart, she wants to fulfill her and her mate’s, a war casualty, long-ago dream of raising a family, and providing well for them. Some dreams never die.

Postscript: The day after Lee Anne was informed by email of her book’s acclamation, on March 4, 2016, Book of the Day.org chose Stephen King’s book, “11/22/63,” as that day’s awarded literary work. That says something of the stature afforded to Ms. Lee Anne Wonnacott—she beat out King if only by one day! Watch for her on Oprah—soon.

 

 

Ms. Lee Anne Wonnacott’s Biggest Day

I sat down with my first cup of coffee yesterday morning and opened up my Yahoo Mail to see what surprises I may have received overnight. Good thing I had fortified my Folgers with a snort of Jameson Irish Whiskey! There before me, in few words, I realized a major marketing milestone had unfolded rather unexpectedly for my friend, Lee Anne Wonnacott, a writer of Western Romance novels extraordinaire. The first of those words was her own—a single, two syllable expression of glee—centered in the body of the email with lots of white space around; you could not help but expect it to leap off the page in joy right at you! Lee Anne commanded my attention by her happy-as-a-lark expression now before me:

                                                                           Lookie!!

For a split second, I was befuddled by that simple display of excitement. Then I quickly saw its meaning directly below in an email she had forwarded from a prestigious literary group, Book of the Day.org, who quite succinctly, but robustly, advised Ms. Wonnacott:

                                        From: bookoftheday.org

                                         Date: 3/3/2016 3:07 PM (GMT-08:00)

                                         To: lwonnaco

                                          Subject: Nick Stolter – Lee Anne Wonnacott

                                         Your book is scheduled for: 8 March 2016. See        you on the Front Page!

I had no idea she had submitted one of her e-books to this organization for review and consideration. But’s that’s her nature—unassuming and ambitious as well as bold and daring.

I met the enigmatic Ms. Wonnacott over a year and a half ago. I thought her to be a nice, hard-working lady, a mother of several children and grandmother of even more. I learned by reading her short autobiography authors submit to Amazon that she had endured tragedy in her life. In her own words: A friend sat me down on the front steps in 1991, kissed my cheek and told me that he would come back from over there. I’m still waiting.

That was the timeframe of the first Iraq war. As a Vietnam War Veteran (Although not grammatically correct according to some, I always capitalize the V.) and a career Marine myself, I read between the lines. I still do not know the complete story of her personal misfortune—we never discuss it—but I surmise the love of her life, the father of her children, went off to the Gulf War and never returned. She often refers to me as “My favorite Marine!” I believe it to be therapeutic for her to do so. Perhaps I am a stand-in for the “Marine,” if he even was a Marine, she lost.

I was mortified one day—about three or four months into our acquaintance—when I was cruising Amazon for books when I came across her name as the author of a number of Western Romance novels published in e-book format. After I calmed down from the sudden surge of excitement—and as I comprehended the extent of her published works—I wanted to crawl under my desk. All this time I had been bragging to her nonstop it seemed—and anyone else I could collar—

about my involvement in the writing and publishing of Colonel Jim Bathurst’s nonfiction account of his thirty-six year career as a United States Marine. He had asked for my assistance so I voluntarily assumed the responsibilities of editor for what turned out to be one of the greatest learning adventures of my life.

I am not ashamed of my standing tall recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of Jim Bathurst’s and my long journey in the evolution of a 562 page, 200,000 word account of his rather unique career. But imagine the effect on my balloon full of hot air when I discovered that my female “Zane Grey” had already published more than a dozen books herself, which were selling quite well, thank you—especially so, in of all places, Japan. Talk about a deflating experience!

I have once again assumed the designation as “editor,” but now for Ms. Wonnacott, although, quite frankly, I have yet to make even a modicum of difference in her writing career. She has the most unique method of compiling 200,000 words of vivid, attention-commanding verse into what ultimately results in a riveting tale of the old West—complete with gun fights, bar room brawls, and even cat fights in moments of jealousy between women of the range competing for the few available bachelor cowboys.

Her books chronicle the manliest phase of our country’s history, the days when you strapped on your Colt .45 caliber pistol and settled disputes in the streets at “High Noon,” most often with deadly consequences. And she does it all with one seemingly effortless contrivance: perhaps the most animated imagination I have ever encountered anyone possessing. Her astonishingly innate talent to capture the essence of what it must have been like in the day-to-day struggle for survival during the period of the early– to–mid–1800s sets her apart from other writers of such novels.

When I first met Lee Anne Wonnacott, and after I had read some of her work and came to the realization that she was indeed an accomplished novelist, I wanted to be a part of boosting her over the remaining walls preventing her attaining the status of such romance writers as Danielle Steel, whose numerous books hog the shelves of Barnes & Noble.

In fact, one evening after a prodigious amount of time at Chili’s Grill & Bar (love their baby back pork ribs!), energetically attended to by the professional barkeep Caesar, where I consumed an equally prodigious amount of that wonderfully “Boston” lager, Samuel Adams, with each cold glass accompanied by shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey, I walked her over to our local Barnes & Noble under the pretense of buying a book or two on some mundane aspect of publishing. She agreed to accompany me there. What she did not know was I had reconnoitered the store earlier to determine where Danielle Steel’s books were located. She is one of the most prolific romance novel writers yet.

I escorted Ms. Wonnacott in a round-about path to the Steel book cache under the guise of searching for books we needed. When we closed in on Danielle’s designated section of the store, I positioned Lee Anne in such a manner she would be confronted head-on with the vast array of that acclaimed writers collection of work. I then exclaimed in excitement, aptly fueled by the Jameson’s, “Oh, look! Speak of the devil!” as I pointed to Steel’s books filling the shelves for a length of at least eight-to-ten feet at eye level, the prime height for any product in the retail business. Then I shocked Lee Anne to the core. I began moving Steel’s books from their current location repositioning them about three or four feet further down the shelf, even to the lower shelves.

She looked at me in fright, then quickly checked to see if there were any store employees in sight. She then asked in a low, but frantic tone of voice, “What are you doing?” I coolly replied, “I’m relocating some of Danielle’s books so that by next fall they have room for yours.”

Needless to say, Ms. Wonnacott thought I had lost it—that the Jameson’s had pushed me over the cliffs I usually hovered at the edge of anyway.

My little joke was intended to boost her confidence and actually make her more aware of the talent she possessed. Lee Anne is a modest lady, refreshingly so. She considers writing as her therapy and does it “for myself.” And that’s fine—for her.

However, I have responsibility for being a part of her struggle. My new-found creed is, “I am not Mr. Nice Guy! I’m an editor, dammit!” That came from lessons learned during my prior stint as editor of We’ll All Die As Marines: One Marine’s Journey From Private To Colonel.

Despite my somewhat too-lackadaisical approach to my prestigious designation as an editor once again, Lee Anne affirmed my stature as being official by publically including my name with her own in perhaps the world’s largest bookstore—Amazon. And where could it be more public? So much so that along with one of her novels being awarded the honor of being named “Book of the Day,” I now have the ultimate responsibility and great burden of fulfilling one of my promises made to her when I first became involved with her writing career. I knew then—almost immediately—that she had infinitely more talent than publishing e-books could ever show, and that she deserved both the financial and personal recognition for it in a manner commensurately accorded to Danielle Steel. Or even, to some degree, Stephen King.

My promise to Lee Anne Wonnacott, always somewhat jokingly, was that I would have her on The Oprah Winfrey Show within a year. One thing Lee Anne loves to do is laugh. If that promise does nothing else, it makes her laugh each and every time I tell her of her intermediate destination on the road to fame and fortune. Appearing on Oprah’s television show increases any author’s stature by leaps and bounds. With that comes the fortune. While Lee Anne always laughs uproariously at my Oprahizing her, I see a glint in her eyes that betrays her thoughts, What if—

I think she cares more about the fortune aspects of becoming a highly successful author. She has grandchildren she loves. I have faith that, deep in her heart, she wants to fulfill her and her mate’s, a war casualty, long-ago dream of raising a family, and providing well for them. Some dreams never die.

Postscript: The day after Lee Anne was informed by email of her book’s acclamation, on March 4, 2016, Book of the Day.org chose Stephen King’s book, “11/22/63,” as that day’s awarded literary work. That says something of the stature afforded to Ms. Lee Anne Wonnacott—she beat out King if only by one day! Watch for her on Oprah—soon.