2012-03-23 / Community

A Window on the Past

Remembering The Caper Take Out in Knightville
By Kathryn DiPhilippo South Portland Historical Society


Arthur Albert Emmons Arthur Albert Emmons This is a follow-up to a story we ran on Dec. 16 about the clam takeout stand that used to be located on Ocean Street, adjacent to the Million Dollar Bridge.

We didn’t have much information to go on except that residents have remembered the clam shack; there is no listing for this business in any directory we could find. We are so pleased that the story reached the family that used to run this business, although they now live in other states.

Arthur Albert Emmons had owned an IGA store in Kittery before moving to South Portland in 1952 with his wife, Rita, and their children. They purchased their home at 55 Hillside Ave. and Arthur started The Caper in 1953. According to his daughter, Leanne, “He and Mom thought the old gas station on the right side of the bridge as you entered Knightville would be a good location because it was the only route from Portland to South Portland and the Cape, so there was good traffic.” She remembered him working long hours in the business and her mother going over to help clean at times.


The girl in the doorway of Caper Take Out is Glenice Emmons and the boy is her cousin, Mike Gleason. Glenice’S father, Arthur Albert Emmons, owned the restaurant. (Courtesy photos) The girl in the doorway of Caper Take Out is Glenice Emmons and the boy is her cousin, Mike Gleason. Glenice’S father, Arthur Albert Emmons, owned the restaurant. (Courtesy photos) Arthur’s daughter, Glenice, also had fond memories of the short-lived business. “Dad worked hard to turn the interior space into a ‘to go’ restaurant. I remember a huge stainless steel hood over the fryers, a tall front counter, the smell of clams frying and the frappe machines.

A few other to go food items were offered such as hot dogs. Dad always loved hot dogs!

“My sister and I attended Roosevelt

Elementary School during the day but on the occasions we were at The

Caper, we remember climbing on the rip rap on the banks of Casco Bay at the edge of the property, looking for rats and being afraid that we might find one! The parking lot was sandy soil and crushed rock.

“Dad used to tell of actor Gary

Merrill coming in to get clams occasionally. He and Bette Davis were married and lived in Cape

Elizabeth at the time. Knowing Dad, he probably fell all over himself and gave Mr. Merrill anything he wanted without charge!”

Emmons closed the business partly due to low profits, but mostly due to the long hours it took to run it.

Glenice and Leanne sent along the two accompanying photos of their dad and his business. In the photo of the takeout, a sign reads: Chicken in a Basket, Pepper Steaks, Fried Clams, French Fries, Hot Dogs, Hamburgs, Pizza, Cold Drinks, Coffee and Frappes.

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