Editor’s Note: Chestertown and Spy special friend Vince Raimond would have turned 95 years old today. In honor of his memory, we have reposted Jim Dissette’s story of the first annual “Vincestock” from last year.
For those of us who knew Vince Raimond, Saturday’s First Annual Vincestock gathering was a sweet way to remember an old friend and to renew acquaintances with his large constellation of family and friends.
The evening progressed toward a sunset Solstice toast with an amazing assortment of music from Tom McHugh’s blues harp to Karen Sommerville’s acapella, along with anecdotes and a poignant story about rediscovering his long lost family as told by his daughter, Checkie.
I knew Vince from my earliest days in Chestertown. In 1968 he was my girlfriend’s landlord —wasn’t he everyone’s landlord one time or another? But I knew him most as the person who introduced me to a lifelong love for the theatre arts. I’d wager to say that Chestertown would not have the presence it does today for the performing arts. He and his wife Leslie launched, curated and nursed a fledgling theatre group along for 30 years and his spirit is still present in the Garfield’s performances.
Vince was not an “all things to all people” kind of guy. Part of his charisma was his strong set of values, and he’d announce his take on life at the drop of a hat. Agree or disagree you always knew where he stood, and if he was a friend, I knew it never to waver.
One summer, I think 1969, I was looking for part-time work, Vince hired me to do some copywriting for a brochure advertising some of his real-estate properties. And as I was an english and creative writing major at Washington College, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to flex my poetic muscles, such as they were, and embroidered each property description with an over-abundance of adjectives hinting at colonial charm where none existed, breathtaking value where there was little more than a “starter house”, and impeccable landscaping where there might have been one withered rose-bush. I proudly turned my copy in at the end of the week and awaited his glee. He sat at his desk in a short sleeved shirt looking like a Roman wrestler on vacation from the Coliseum. In fact, the first time I saw Vince I thought, “Damn, Spartacus lives in Chestertown.”
He looked up from my copy sheets, shrugged and said, “Dissette, these are just houses.” And so began my interest in non-fiction.
What struck me most about Saturday’s gathering was how our matrix of friendships, new or generationally, link us to each other in unexpected and long-lasting ways. With stories and celebration, we not only pay tribute to a friend who is no longer with us, but rekindle the qualities that most attracted us to that person and by sharing them keep that person among us, not as a shadow of the lost, but internalized as someone who breathes and walks among us.
You’re still with us, Vince.