Retirement Living Community, Brunswick, Maine
Thornton Oaks Retirement Community

The Thornton Round Table

For many Thornton Oaks residents, retirement is prime time to write. They’ve published novels, memoirs, plays, and poetry. There’s even a writers group that meets monthly. In 2004 the group published an anthology of their work, entitled Leaves From Thornton Oaks. All agree that the setting here is conducive to writing.

Barbara Hamlin wrote her memoir, From Minnesota to Maine and the Stops in Between, published through, after taking an autobiographical writing class at Midcoast Senior College. “My life was so different before I was married,” she says. “I wanted my children and grandchildren to know a bit more about my past.” Her book is a series of essays about growing up in a small mining town in northern Minnesota. Barbara is currently working on a history of the family cottage on Christmas Cove and its inhabitants, including her mother-in-law Hilda Hamlin, the inspiration for the children’s book character, Miss Rumphius.
Elizabeth Loewald, MD, says her husband’s passing was an influence as she wrote Sighting Anton Pavlovich, a biography of Chekhov, published in 2004 by the Hermitage Press. The book looks at Chekhov’s life as a doctor and a writer. Liz has published poems and short stories, and is currently working on a memoir. “You have no excuses—like vacuuming—not to write,” she says, of living at Thornton Oaks, “Because someone else does the housework.”
Georgiana Peacher, PhD, is an accomplished author of poetry, plays, and non-fiction. Her most recent book, Scriabin Mysterium, is a prose poem based on the life of composer, Alexander Scriabin. She wrote the book while living at Thornton Oaks, and is currently working on a series of essay poems on the various parts of the body. Another prose poem, Mary Stuart’s Ravishment Descending Time, was published by TriQuarterly at Northwestern University, in 1976. Georgiana also produced a limited edition illuminated version of the book, a copy of which can be found at the Museum of Modern Art. Her How to Improve Your Speaking Voice, published by Frederick Fell, draws on her career as a voice pathologist, and is still in print after more than 40 years.

Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover

“I think the general public has an impression of a community like ours as being full of ‘old people,’” says Barbara Hamlin. Barbara admits to thinking that way herself, before moving to Thornton Oaks. “The age thing is just something you have to get over,” she says now. “Each one of these ‘old people’ has led a very interesting life—including me. I’m grateful to live in a community with so many stimulating people with whom to have discussions and share ideas.”

“All of my friends were getting younger and younger,” says Georgiana Peacher, taking a different tack. “I was happy to move to Thornton Oaks and meet some people my own age.” (Georgiana still keeps in touch with her younger friends.)

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