Native Sons and Daughters All – Surviving the Storm


I am a native son. My ancestors came to this continent in 1642. They worked in the great forests, they fished in abundant waters, and they reaped bountiful harvests sewn with their own hands. They came to Biddeford to build homesteads, learn trades, and grow enormous families. They opened up small businesses, taught school, and toiled tirelessly weaving at looms in the local mills. My ancestors are a part of the rich tapestry that tells the story of a great city that has endured both good times and bad.

While some might say that I come from good stock, I would say that I am the product of a caring and tightly-knit community who gave me opportunities as gifts beyond measure. The thread of my life is being woven into this tapestry that is a continual work-in-progress. I am a native son, and I am Biddeford.

At its best, my city was a beacon of hope to unassuming folk seeking only fair opportunity in a place built upon the backs of resolute immigrants who left indelible marks upon the surf, working fields and the banks of a mighty river. The rise of an industry paired with the stubborn perseverance of a faithful people gave way to the inception of an American Dream.  Small town ideals formed the rule of a society where the safety and security of its people was sacred and irrefutable. Words like family, neighborhood and community were interlaced into the fabric and narrative of daily life. Even when times got hard, an unwavering faith and a belief in our identity carried us through adversity. At the end of the day, we were all a part of a proud city called Biddeford and that meant something.

At its worst, my city has endured scandal and controversy paved into mean streets for victims, cynics and downtrodden souls who clung to the sanctity of trust until they could no longer. Sometimes even the best communities can be torn asunder when dignities are robbed and innocence is lost. In turmoil, people question everything, friendships are tested and faiths fall. Those are the dark days that can fragment a city. Reclamation is a long road and recovery is an arduous feat, but there is a lesson in the legacy of all those who came before us – to persevere. Anyone can give up. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But when you find it within yourself to keep everything together when the world expects you to fall apart – that’s true strength. We are still a city called Biddeford and that still means something.

Some of the best life lessons come from when we’ve been underestimated and deemed not good enough. Every doubt cast upon our abilities, every unfounded assumption that we’d never go far, and every knock taken on the chin becomes the fuel that feeds the fire within us to grow beyond the boundaries of accepted conventions. We are survivors. The legacy of our ancestors taught us to fear neither gauntlets thrown nor oppositions mounted. The road behind us is littered with the empty shells of those who misjudged us, while the road ahead calls us to undiscovered frontiers. This makes us as limitless. We are native sons and daughters all and We are Biddeford.

If this message resonates with you, if you share in the belief that we are resilient and are stronger than the trials before us – pass this on. Share it with kindred friends and family. Share it with those who are facing daunting battles that are crushing their lives so that they can be reminded that they need not fight alone. Our heritage and our histories as devout and earnest people define us. We have the power to endure the darkness and heal together.

“There exist limitless opportunities in each of us. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” -Charles Kettering

Published by danielparenteau

Daniel Parenteau is a freelance writer living in Lyman, Maine.

One thought on “Native Sons and Daughters All – Surviving the Storm

  1. That was a great message, Dan. Thank you for sharing it. You’re ancestors were here 38 years before Peter Staples landed in Kittery and married the daughter of she of Nathanial Hawthorne’s Scarlett Letter. They had five sons who had five sons (they didn’t mention the daughters back then), so I’m related to 60% of the Staples in the country. Our history makes us strong if we appreciate it and learn from it. Have a great day, my friend. – Fred

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