The Ghosts of Walter Crockett: A Memoir by W. Edward Crockett

The author of The Ghosts of Walter Crockett and I have one thing in common: the year of our birth (1961). This is significant, for while we were raised in different cities in different countries, the time period was shared, so I could immediately identify with Ed Crockett as he recounts his life growing up in Portland Maine.

Ed Crockett is the youngest of eight children born to Walter and Virginia Crockett. They lived in the Munjoy Hill area of Portland, an area that was viewed as a ‘poor’ neighbourhood, but from all accounts, it was a happy enough childhood until Walter succumbed to his alcohol addiction, leaving Virginia no choice but to kick him out of the house. (It was the only way she could get benefits in the 60s if there was no man in the house.) One would think that this would bring Walter to his senses, but no, he was to live 17 years on the streets, “the biggest drunk in Portland” as his obituary stated. He was so often close to death that he was administered the Last Rites 5 times!

One can imagine young Ed’s embarrassment as he continually encounters his father passed out on a park bench or bumming for spare change in the same neighbourhood where he would play and go to school. He would grow up to hate his father for ditching his responsibilities, leaving the Crockett family practically destitute. Thus, ‘the ghosts” of his father would dog him all the way to college and beyond. Even when his father eventually sobered up for good, Ed could still not reconcile the childhood image of his street-bum father with the sober, hard-working version he has now become.

I thought I was doing the right thing, but it wasn't until the twenty-first century, nearly twenty years into his hard-fought sobriety, that I acknowledged my new relationship with my father was a house of cards, more show than substance. Both of us went through the motions, acting like all was fine and forgiven. It was just superficial. Truth be told, even when he was sober I still thought of my father as an anti-role model. Deep down I still saw him as that shitty father in the Harry Chapin song [Cat's in the Cradle] I had told him about years earlier in Orono. I didn't appreciate his struggle or what he had accomplished even as he was almost miraculously modifying his personal narrative.

Memoirs are very popular, and The Ghosts of Walter Crockett is a strangely fascinating one. For here is a time capsule of life “on the wrong side of the tracks” in 1960s Portland. Elementary school, high school, drinking, partying, college, frat life, dating, marriage, we follow Ed through it all, while the ghosts of Walter materialize throughout. Ed’s perseverance is extraordinary, and the family values he holds so dear are the driving forces in his life as he strives to be the father his own never was.

See also  The Zone: Rediscovering Our Natural Self by Rob Wood

Edward Crockett is a Portland native, raised on Portland’s Munjoy Hill as the baby of eight children. He is a member of the Maine House of Representatives and president of Capt’n Eli Soda. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine and an MBA from Boston College. He has previously worked helping lead several of Maine’s most iconic brands, including Country Kitchen, Hannaford, and Oakhurst Dairy. He lives in North Deering, with his wife, Martha. They are the proud parents of three adult children, Seth, Mattie, and Ted.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Islandport Press (Nov. 8 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1952143217
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1952143212

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