Editor’s note: Former Journal editor Mike Brown died this week at his residence in Northport. Brown was editor of the Journal from 1968 to 1971, and again from 1985 to 1987. He also wrote various columns for the paper over the course of several decades.

Born in Belfast in 1929, Brown graduated from Crosby High School in 1947. He served as a Marine in the Korean War, and first joined the staff of the Journal in the 1960s.

In “History of Belfast in the 20th Century,” by Jay Davis and Tim Hughes, Brown as a journalist was described, in part, as follows:

“Though politically conservative, Brown was not interested in maintaining the status quo. He was uncompromising in expressing and reporting what he saw as the destruction of the community he loved, waging a long and loud crusade against the pollution of the city’s harbor and bay by the poultry plants.”

In his obituary, Brown’s family said he believed that crusade was one of his biggest accomplishments. It culminated with a settlement from the poultry companies, and Brown donated his portion toward the construction of a new public pool at Belfast’s City Park.

Though none of us who now work at the Journal worked with Brown, we have read and remember his writings. He had a way with words — sharp, witty and often edgy — that made his columns memorable and left an impression on his readers (or a bruise, perhaps, if we was writing about you).

Whether reminiscing about days spent sledding on the closed streets of Belfast in his childhood, recounting his experiences in Korea’s inhospitable winter landscapes, or sharing his feelings about the “hippies” and “trust-funders” who arrived in Waldo County in the 1960s and ’70s, Brown knew how to keep his audience reading.

As a testament to his writing, we offer a piece that he shared with us earlier this summer. It is, in our opinion, classic Mike Brown.

Graduation time is surely different since the days when my Class of 1947 exited through the granite portals of Crosby High School in Belfast.

Nowadays, there are drug-free dances, class trips to New York and even Europe and convertible car safaris to Canada. I read somewhere that a whole senior class in Minnesota was going to Disneyland in limos, courtesy of a parent who probably made his dough as a Wall Street short-seller.

When I graduated (which was a safari in itself) nobody had any money. We didn’t have drug-free dances because we didn’t have any drugs. If we had an older brother, come graduation, we’d plead with him to go down to George Vattes’ little trailer store and buy us a quart of Pickwick Ale. If we didn’t have a brother we’d ask our classmate Buckwheat Smith to do it. Buckwheat had been to war and back.

I remember Class Day. Buck got us a quart and the six of us split it behind the First Church. Buck drank half of it, so we really didn’t get much of a buzz on.

On graduation night, I think it was Francis Woodbury (or maybe Oscar Eaton) who sneaked a jug of the family’s old cider into the girl’s locker room off the Crosby gym floor. It didn’t last long because some of the teachers sniffed it out. Stan Peterson found it and said, after a snort, it tasted like booze to him and he’d have to confiscate it.

That was about it for entertainment. Except, of course, the Senior Prom. I danced just the slow ones. My date danced just the fast ones. With other guys.

I started getting serious about girls when I was a freshman. My dad encouraged me to start early because, he said, there was quite a lot to learn and not much time to do it. I figured the best way was at the top. Handsome Happy Bickford was a senior and had more girls than any boy in Crosby. He introduced me to a lot of senior girls who were really too big for my little britches, but they surely were interesting.

Happy made Lorraine Clark promise me that when I graduated, she and I would have a date down at Johnson’s and split a root beer float. By the time I got around to graduation, Lorraine had all but forgotten about me. I was crushed.

My graduation week was awful. The smart kids had all the graduation parts. Joyce Smith, Don McKeen and Carolyn LaPierre read a whole bunch of stuff about honor. I thought Buckwheat should have the honor part. He had been to war and returned all shot up.

I hated the class gift part of Last Chapel. John Doak and Barbara Ramsdell handed them out. I forgot what I got. I know it was embarrassing. Especially when Barbara squeezed my hand and wouldn’t let go. Later on, down at Johnson’s, Barbara and I played footsies under the table, just like Happy taught me.

Class day was a mess. Most of the class went to Fort Knox, where the boys chased the girls through the tunnels as a last gasp to high school’s unrequited lust.

Damned if I was going to Fort Knox. Happy told me to play it cool. Play solitaire. That was rather difficult riding a bike. So my buddy Howard “Pauncho” Wentworth came to my rescue.

Pauncho had an old car — an Essex, I think. When the Fort Knox class day bus was loading in front of Crosby, Pauncho and I cruised out back and coolly asked a couple of girls if they wanted a chaperoned tour of Mount Desert Island. They giggly jumped aboard.

Atop Mount Cadillac one of the girls decided she wanted to go home. Pauncho said we’d just got there for Pete’s sake. Well, answered Spoilsport, her mother thought she was in Fort Knox and would be curious to find out she was necking in an old Essex atop a National Park, 50 miles from Fort Knox.

Pauncho and I had a conference. He suggested reminding Spoilsport of our class motto, “We build the ladder by which we climb.” I didn’t think it would work, but would give it a try. Spoilsport slapped me right in the kisser.

Well, aced out we motored home. Pauncho and I in front and the last of the class virgins in the back seat.

After graduation, we scattered like all senior classes. Some went into military service, some to college, but most to work in local businesses. We raised families nurtured by the values we learned as a class of Crosby High School.

We turned out pretty good, that old Class of 1947. And although the graduation game has changed over the decades, the Class of 2011 will turn out pretty darned good, also.

If there is any advice I might pass on to entering freshmen, it’s just that they find a Happy Bickford somewhere, get a good buddy like Pauncho Wentworth — and, if you want to make it to seniors, don’t fool around with virgins in National Parks.