Admit it, You Called It ‘Kay Park’
We all grew up being aware of this Bangor neighborhood near the airport that seemed to be the punchline of Bangor jokes. But, maybe ironically, one of the biggest jokes was the joke on us.
A Little Bit of Capehart History
Bangor's Capehart area began as military housing for the members of the Dow Air Force Base. It was the result of a housing crunch back in the '60s. When the base closed as Dow in the mid-'60s, it became low-income housing. Capehart eventually was separated by the terms 'Old Capehart' and 'New Capehart'. To me there is no old or new, it's all been the same since I could ever recall.
Despite the many jokes about this neighborhood, the joke was on us. I grew up calling it 'Kaypark'. Do you know why? Because everyone else called it 'Kaypark'. It wasn't until recent years, and maybe it was seeing a sign up that said 'Capehart', that I finally put the pieces together. I'm still not sure how that evolution happened for us to refer to this area by a close-sounding, but nonetheless wrong, name.
Personal Story Reflecting A Pleasant 'Kay Park'
While most recollections of this neighborhood seem to be negative, my young encounters of this neighborhood were ones of friendships and caring.
When I was in my preschool years, my mom worked on the base as a civilian and was friends with the members of the 101st crew. I remember sleepily sitting in the basement while she, her friend Steve and some other people jammed out with guitars, tambourines, and a PA to "Yellow Submarine." They even recorded it.
I remember playing with Steve's two young daughters a game where you would put cardboard toppings on a cutout of a pizza slice. I also remember being cared for during the day by a Sargant's wife, named Jean, who I still remember as an important figure of being around diversity in a state of practically no diversity since she and her family were African American.
One thing that was quite traumatizing, however, was the giant Japanese beetles crawling up the basement walls. I will NEVER forget those.
Call it what you will, this historic part of Bangor is most definitely a memorable one- even if you pronounce the name wrong.