By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Bang! Pop! Pow! Sirens, blue and red lights. Police cars and ambulances. Language so foul that it could not be used in an X-rated film (but pales when compared to the language of today’s inner-city youth).
Hard-working men and women seeking the bottle to alleviate their frustrations brought on by their thankless jobs in one of Lewiston-Auburn’s mill. They fought in the bars. They fought in the streets. They fought the police.
Sometimes the police fought other police officers trying to instill respect for the badge on an unruly citizen. This was a typical weekend during the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s on Lisbon Street in Lewiston.
In the early evenings on weekends, parents would bundle up their kids, friends would double up and, after filling their cars with snacks, all would head for Lisbon Street and what at the time was the greatest show in Maine. Who needed movies, cop shows or world wrestling when one could park their car along Lisbon Street and watch carnage in real time. Better yet—it was free!
During this period, with the exception of a few social clubs and bars, weekend nights in Lewiston-Auburn were limited. There were a few restaurants and some small movie theaters, but the real nightlife was in Portland.
Oh, how things have changed!
Today Lewiston-Auburn is again alive at night. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we are now at the beginning of a renaissance. No longer are residents forced to head south to Portland to experience fine dining and upscale entertainment.
What’s your dining pleasure? Mediterranean? You’ll find French, Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern eateries throughout the Twin Cities. If you’re a politician and want to practice your blarney, we have a crowded Irish restaurant for you. Seafood cooked fresh after being removed from a fishing line.
Experience cuisine from the Far East countries of China, Japan, India and Thailand. Get hot and spicy at one of our local Mexican cantinas. You might try some anything-but-bland Somali food. Vegetarian, no problem. Finally, for the meat and potato crowd, we have good, old American cooking.
Whether you’re part of the rich, upper-middle class, middle class, lower-middle class, poor or the “so what if it’s not healthy” crowd, L-A has a restaurant for you.
Perhaps you, your children or your friends crave pizza. L-A runs the gamut from a bit upscale to family atmosphere to places where you and your friends can belch and burp and not offend the other customers.
We have sports bars to bring back the memories of “The Glory Days.” Billiard and pool halls helping players to fulfill their Paul Newman fantasies as a hustler. Night clubs and subdued folk music establishments, allowing you to relive your experiences from the 1960s through today.
Add to this theater, concerts, modern dance performances, art galleries, art walks and other upscale performances put on by the Franco American Heritage Center and Bates College, it is easy to see why AARP, not the California Tourist Industry, found us to be one of the Top 10 small cities in the US to retire. L-A: it’s sure happening here!
We should all thank and support our local businesses. They have invested time, money, body and soul into bringing their visions to fruition. They believe in Lewiston-Auburn. Their vision and the vision of future entrepreneurs will build a strong vibrant community for us and our future generations.
Our elected city officials and staffs of both cities all have the same goal: to make L-A a must-see destination for tourists and natives alike.
Hey Portland, do you hear those footsteps behind you? That’s the new and vibrant Lewiston-Auburn closing the gap in the race to be the greatest city in Maine. The creativeness, desire and drive of our local entrepreneurs, who are growing every day, will propel us to victory at the finish line.