AUBURN — His name wasn’t Joe.

And he never went by “Frenchy.”

But it looks like George Tomlinson was the lost-to-time mystery man who helped build the miniature golf course at Taber’s Restaurant and Driving Range.

“We did not find Frenchy,” said Taber’s owner Daniel Hargreaves. “But it turns out Frenchy was not the man we were looking for.”

Hargreaves and the people at Taber’s have been trying to track down the person who helped design and build the original mini-golf course 65 years ago. The course is being renovated and Hargreaves wanted to invite the man — or his surviving relatives — to the ribbon-cutting May 15.

They worked off clues vaguely recalled by a former employee: There was a person named Joe, who went by Frenchy. He had a French accent. He was a former football coach and lived on Skillings Corner Road.

The Sun Journal ran a story about Taber’s search Thursday.

By Friday, the story lit up Facebook. And Hargreaves heard from a woman named Mary Anne Tomlinson. 

Her father was George, not Joe. He grew up the son of English and Irish parents in Rangeley and “sounded like an old Yankee” rather than a Franco. He never taught football. He never lived on Skillings Corner Road.

But George, his wife and their young family had rented out part of Donald Taber’s home. George was a golf pro before serving in World War II. And he and Donald had been good friends. 

“(Donald Taber) had this idea,” Mary Anne Tomlinson said. “He said, ‘I thought I’d put in a driving range and miniature golf place. I’ve seen places like that.’ Dad said, ‘That’s a terrific idea.'”

On George’s day off — he worked for the Auburn-Lewiston Airport — the two drove through Massachusetts and scoped out mini-golf courses. When they got back, Tomlinson said, George designed a course for his friend. He also helped build it, pouring the concrete and laying the felt while Donald did the carpentry work.

Even though nothing in Tomlinson’s story matched the former employee’s memory, “I have a very good feeling about it,” Hargreaves said.

“Mary Anne knew so much information,” he said. “I feel like it is the guy we’re looking for.”

George Tomlinson died in 2002 at the age of 88. His daughter, who lives in New Hampshire, had no idea anyone was looking for him until a cousin saw the story and let her know. Tomlinson quickly reached out to Hargreaves.

George’s family is now invited to Taber’s ribbon-cutting. Tomlinson can’t go, but her brother, who lives in Greenville, is considering it.

Although the course’s designer has been found, a mystery still remains.

Both Tomlinson and Hargreaves believe Frenchy may have existed. Donald Taber and George Tomlinson probably couldn’t have built the whole thing by themselves, and the former employee may have been remembering another worker.

“If we could find out who this Frenchy character was, maybe he did have a hand in the construction. The search does continue,” Hargreaves said. “We’ve found there are a lot of people named Frenchy.”

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