The People's Historian
Posted by Admin, June 23, 2017
Let us honor the man who blazed a path for us in bringing Biddeford history to life — Raymond Gaudette. Last night, people from many different organizations and his family and friends gathered in Clifford Park to remember and treasure the great gifts that Raymond Gaudette brought to our community.
Raymond saw what many people in his time could only dimly see — the power and majesty of 400 years of magnificent history. He was passionate about unearthing, saving, and preserving it. For over 50 years, he was the catalyst to get the community interested and intrigued about the lives and events of time past. To him, it wasn’t just an old building, but a place infused with drama, with emotion and real people just like us.
He was zealous about saving the meetinghouse and getting it recognized as a national treasure. He was passionate about projects that could shed light on an event or a person.
He was the volunteer that everyone in the community could only aspire to. He set up hours one day a week at the McArthur Library so he could be available to visitors who wanted to learn about Biddeford history, and kept up this volunteerism within months before he died. It wasn’t enough to know and write about history for Raymond. He wanted to see it in action. He wanted to see their faces light up and watch their interest deepen as he gave them more information. He created in each and every person he met the thought that they could discover history as he did. They could uncover amazing stories if they only had the faith to dig.
Without history, we see the world in black and white. Our relationship to places and things is distant and detached. With history, we have the compass of context. We can close our eyes and envision these wildly imaginative innovators before us — Pepperell with his schooners emblazoned with dragon logos designed to sway the Chinese merchants; Vines with his heart pounding as he set foot on these magni cent shores and Thomas Cutts who saw the promise of Indian Island. We can see the bones of the past in our buildings, our streets and our mills if we have history as our compass.
Raymond colorized Biddeford for us with his books, his talks and his enthusiastic presence. He was our historical compass. He was and is powerful proof on what a di erence one person can make for the community. Most of our meticulously catalogued and preserved history we enjoy today are the work of a handful of people, one of which was Raymond Gaudette. There are so many di erent documents, personal accounts and stories we would not have if it wasn’t for the tireless contribution of this amazing man.
As you read this, know that you have the opportunity to pick up the torch that Raymond left behind — you can help bring Biddeford history to life. Biddeford history is our history. It does not belong to one person or one organization. It belongs to each one of us. We invite you to join us in discovering this magni cent 400-year history that Raymond was so passionate to preserve.