Remembering Others

I’ve written tributes about people in my life who were special to me. I think it’s important to discharge our debts of gratitude personally, and in some cases, publicly. I’ve tried to walk that out in my own life.

Having written two books about Moxie, the distinctly-different regional soft drink that has developed a cult following in parts of my native New England, I know a bit about the elixir’s history. I also recognize that there have been figures in that history that were essential in keeping Moxie’s brand alive.

If your curiosity about Moxie’s been piqued, I’d point you to a couple of blog posts. This one about Sue Conroy is one I’d highly recommend. Sue got me excited about Moxie and forced me to dig into the drink’s past. And then if you think you are good at math, there’s nothing quite like a little Moxie math.

My second book (which captures much of the first one, now out-of-print) is still available.

If you live in Maine within the circulation of the Lewiston Sun-Journal, you’ll also find my feature story on the front page of the paper’s Sunday magazine b-section. It’s a tribute of sorts to Frank Anicetti, Mr. Moxie, or “the Mayor of Moxietown” as I dubbed him a few years back.

Tribute to Frank Anicetti/Lewiston Sun Journal

When you write a book about a subject, sometimes you grow tired of talking about it, time after time. With Moxie (I wrote my first book in 2008), I’d grown weary of rehashing the same story, over and over.

Frank died in May. I began thinking about him and his life. Perhaps the grief and loss associated with the death of my own son, Mark, softened me a bit towards Moxie and the abundant memories I had and countless conversations with Frank.

I’ve always enjoyed working with Mark Mogensen at the Sun-Journal. He is an editor’s editor. By that I mean that he always brings out the best in a writer and their story, at least that’s been my experience. I pitched him an idea about Moxie and Frank and he was game. I was pleased that he honored the space that I composed my tribute in, and save for a few minor changes, the story is virtually what I sent him.

I know I’ll miss seeing Frank this year. My habit of visiting him at his store the Friday afternoon of Moxie Fest weekend won’t take place.

As a writer, you should enjoy and savor what you write. I learned from my son, a beautiful writer that we should “write for ourselves, first.” I enjoyed this section of my story quite a bit:

Getting to know him [Frank] as well as I did over the course of the last decade, I learned that obtaining information about Moxie also entailed listening to the latest theory that Frank had on whatever subject he’d become interested in at the time. He was loquacious if he was anything. Holding court daily in his store, he might be waxing philosophical about UFOs, the Lincoln assassination or aspects of local town politics or gossip. I leaned to plan for an hour-long visit at least.

 Considering society’s instant-communication ways—we now have a president who blurts out whatever’s on his mind via Twitter—Frank was the anti-Twitter, and never really grasped the ways of social media in a world gone mad with it. Not being rushed allowed me to come to appreciate that he was first and foremost a storyteller. I’m sure his love of story is what forged our bond over the years.

I miss you Frank in all your uniquely, quirky (and even, irritating) ways. I’ll think about you this Moxie season and I’m grateful for your encouragement to take on Moxie and the need to update its canon just slightly, bringing it into the 21st century.