The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 1, 2006


The A1 Diner in Gardiner, Maine. (Courtesy of Sarah Rolph)

Local author captures the quintessential Maine diner

Carlisle resident Sarah Rolph has been involved in communications and writing for more than 30 years and recently published her first book, The A1 Diner: Real Food, Recipes and Recollections.

"I have always sort of wanted to be a writer," says Rolph. "But for some reason I had the idea that it would be arrogant or foolish to really go for it. I valued money and status so I did the corporate communications thing and never thought I would publish any personal writing. I always dreamed of it, but I didn't believe in my dreams. One day I realized dreams are meant to come true. I stopped worrying and started acting on what seemed important and the result was my book." Her recent venture into book writing was due in part to what she calls a midlife awakening. "The key point about midlife," she says, "is that there is a very natural reshuffling process. A midlife crisis is simply an overreaction or under-reaction to this natural process."

"The midlife thing"

Rolph worked in various communications positions in the computer industry for many years. She has done editing and freelance writing, including leading the editorial team at MITRE Corporation. While working for a company called Prognostics, she was a specialist in corporate communications and sales. She was achieving goals and highly successful, yet something seemed to be missing. "The sudden death of four friends accentuated the whole midlife thing and pretty much changed my values forever," states Rolph. There was something lacking in her life. She describes the period of time after walking away from her corporate position as a compass change. "My compass changed directions. At the top of the mountain I got a new perspective. I had thought I was losing my direction, but my compass had changed. For so long anxiety ruled my life; now I rule my anxiety. I decided to embrace myself as a writer and give myself permission to believe in me."

Author Sarah Rolph and diner co-owner Mike Giberson outside the A1 Diner. (Courtesy photo)

Working independently

Rolph spent the past several years working independently and hopes never to go back into what she calls "the corporate harness," saying, "Although it is much easier to make money that way, I am working on building my independent corporate communications practice and it is going well." Work for her current clients includes online research, marketing and web-site design with her design partner, Kerrie Kennedy. "I like graphic design a whole lot and I enjoy collaborating as a writer with a designer, so it's really fun working with Kerrie."

Initially the venturing out on her own was scary; she felt guilty about not earning a big income and not being able to contribute as she had in the past. "Thanks to my husband, who has been willing to provide the financial support necessary during my transition, I have had the luxury of exploring many options and choosing the path that is best for me."

Rolph's path led to a small restaurant, the A1 Diner, in Gardiner, Maine. An old friend, Karen Molvig, from Rolph's days in Manhattan had recently moved to Gardiner. She discovered the A1 Diner and knew it was the kind of place that Rolph would like. Molvig invited her up for a visit and lunch at the diner. Rolph immediately fell in love with all of it — the diner, the customers, the owners. "The whole vibe of the place was something special," she says.

From the beginning she wanted to do a book about this special diner. She thought the owners, Mike Giberson and Neil Anderson, were ready to do a cookbook of their wonderfully eclectic menu, but they declined. Rolph's interest both in cooking and writing kept her thinking about this project, but she was hesitant to ask Mike and Neil again. She knew that they were too busy and sitting down and writing a cookbook with her was not high on their priority list. Some time went by and after many visits to the diner, Rolph realized that this book was not a cookbook for Mike and Neil to do; it was something more than that. It was a story to tell, a story about a small business success, a piece of small town America's history and food. She began writing and hasn't looked back. "Now that I've made that investment in understanding what is right for me and in pursuing my dream of writing a book, it turns out that I have even more options, and I'm confident that the money will come," states Rolph smiling. "I have learned to trust the creative process; now I embrace it. It's like jumping in the river — find a deep spot away from the rocks, then jump in, put your feet up a little, keep your eyes open, but mostly enjoy the ride."

Satisfied at having published her first book, Rolph is currently at work on several other projects. One involves an oyster farm in Point Reyes, California, which is in danger of being removed by the National Park Service. Also she is working on a cookbook for another diner, this one in California, as well as a personal story about her own midlife experiences and the transition from a corporate world to an independent environment.

Sarah Rolph will be reading from her book and speaking at the Gleason Public Library's annual meeting on Saturday, December 2, at 2 p.m. Seating is limited to 50 people. Please call 1-978-369-4898 to reserve a seat.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito