|By Monica Pettengill
ST. JOHN VALLEY - "Who has the peanuts?" The question made some people laugh, and it made everyone who volunteered at the Can Am Rocky Brook checkpoint remember Jim Grandmaison.
Jim passed away unexpectedly last fall on a bicycling trip to Europe. He was an active member, of the greater Fort Kent community and at times like this past weekend, people remember just how active he was. They also remember just how much they miss him.
Bob Ouellet, a line judge volunteer at Rocky Brook, recalled how Jim always brought jars of nuts with him to eat. Like a lot of people, Bob smiled at the memory, "Jim would eat them, and I'd visit him because I loved them [nuts] too."
One of the things Jim loved to do was to volunteer as a HAM radio' operator for the Can Am Crown. This' was the first year since Rocky Brook became a checkpoint that Jim was absent at the location. In his honor, a Can Am director and volunteer coordinator for Rocky Brook, Norma Landry and her daughter, made a sign to 'display in front of the camp kitchen that said, "Rocky Brook Remembers Jim Grandmaison."
But remembering Jim began weeks before when Landry decided to approach some of Jim's friends to help her financially to make this year's checkpoint in his memory. The only meal of the weekend that was not paid for by friends of Jim Grandmaison was the annual Saturday night meal that Landry pays for and cooks to thank the volunteers at her location'. All of the other food at Rocky Brook, and there was lots of it, was bought in memory of Jim without touching Can Am funds.
"It helped me come back here," Landry said. "I 'talked to his wife first because I wanted to make sure she was OK with the idea and she was very pleased that we would do that."
Landry said that she presented the idea to some of his friends and was overwhelmed with the support she received. "I didn't have any doubt that the idea would be received well, and it was received extremely well," she said.
"We could've been eating lobster and caviar if I had kept going," Landry said. "Everyone I asked said yes, And everyone donated generously."
She added that she didn't even ask for a specific amount, but that after seven people had made their donations, including herself and her husband Andre, she had more than enough to pay for all of the food,
All night long Saturday, volunteers and organizers traded stories about Jim. They laughed as they told stories' about his fondness for Landry's graham pie (she had to make an extra graham pie just for Jim each year) and smiled each and every time his name came into the conversation, which was Ědozens of times throughout the night.
"It's been really hard these past couple of weeks just knowing he wouldn't be here," said Landry. "The week before the race we'd work together a lot. If there was ever anything we'd need, he'd step right up. His laugh was so hearty the walls would vibrate. I miss seeing him sitting there with his legs crossed telling stories. It's so funny not hearing his voice on the radio."
Landry summed up everyone's feelings when she was thanking the group of volunteers before serving them the meal she made for them Saturday evening. "We are very grateful for the time we had with Jim."