You hear it a lot about how connected, close folks are in a small Maine town.
And the reasons are many. First because of the smaller population, and the entire community is more involved. Have roles in the social, civic, sporting, community fabric.
Family is very important.
The overlap of living, working, playing with other people makes you part of more than one. You all spend time together. Get to know each other better. Are just closer to your neighbor down the road. The next pew. Two rows down on the bleachers. You need each other in a small Maine town for survival. Worry, pray, check in on each other on a regular basis.
It’s like having just enough players for a full team in baseball. Or the bare essentials to cover the positions off the bench to play a regulation hockey game. With no extras in one of the 108 very small Maine towns. So in a way the local population in a small Maine town causes a greater responsibility to step up, pitch in, work together. And they do. Whether it is a church harvest supper, a grange hall building campaign for a new roof, or the local high school musical. Maybe playing in the local town band, having some role in the community theatre.
Which reminds me of Elizabeth Stone, mine, everyone’s high school English teacher.
Who was in the audience of a local play I was involved in in her home town of Smyrna Maine. I wondered what she would say for pointers if asked. As I recall her total immersion in the role of Lady MacBeth. Showing the class what emotion, acting, passion or sorrow were all about. To express yourself on the stage or in writing.
There are times when hunting, pecking recycled electrons in these Me In Maine blog posts thinking what if this was her English class? Some passed in blog posts would get an A+. But others would be riddled with written in red remarks. Reminding this section could have been shortened up, too wordy. Or you could have taken this area to the next level. If you had gone down this rabbit trail instead.
We all have days when the results could not have been better or other factors caused the opposite to happen right?
Usually your favorite teacher was your hardest. She held your feet to the fire and made you do more when she knew you were capable, could do better work. We were challenged, really learned from teachers like Mrs Stone. It was not just a job, it was their life, purpose in the small Maine town. Who are still looking over our shoulders, dead or alive. Still educating from up front. The lesson seeds planted by them working to shape us, improve us. Make us who we are. She was born to teach. Still substitutes. My kids had her and loved her. Know her magic, presence when she enters the room and takes control. Sit up straight, pay attention. The class ending bell rings too quickly.
Or parallel parking with no room to spare in front of the local Maine courthouse with the clock on top.
To trot into the registry of deeds for a survey plat, a few copies of some legal descriptions, I think of Terry Spurling. Like his colleague Mrs. Stone, and her husband Irvin Stone who was a high school math teacher, I prefer to keep it on a last name basis. Out of respect, because that is how I knew them first and foremost. How I will always refer to them, remember them fondly.
Mr. Spurling, a gym teacher and driver’s ed instructor would have given me a smile, high five for the perfectly executed parking maneuver. I learned how from him. Forty years ago. Mr Scott the principal while listing, selling a Maine lake property told me to call him Woody. Ah, smiling, can I keep calling your Mr Scott? I don’t want to get detention. A call made to my parents for disrespect. A note to take home about running in the halls. Acting out on the bus. Over extending senior privileges and forgetting where the high school was with friends. Close to the time to put on the square hat with the swinging tassel. When lilac trees, snow ball bushes were in full bloom.
In a large city, the degree of impersonal connections if there are any at at all increases.
Can you remember your tenth grade English teacher, driver’s ed instructor, etc with absolute clarity as if yesterday was today? Do you run into them after leaving high school? Maybe it’s like having 300 channels on your cable or sat dish plan. But whining anyway about “there’s nothing to watch.” I grew up with three TV numbers that worked. Pulled in signals from a Maine farm house antennae that picked up two Canadian broadcasts.
One American television cherry picker in Presque Isle Maine that could select from ABC, NBC, CBS for programming fare. And wait. Forgot. A fourth choice. One more option. Public broadcasting, MPBN beamed in Bert and Ernie, Mr Rogers. Turned out okay. Spent more time outside exploring than plopped on a couch. Never lamented to parents that “I’m bored”. On a Maine farm, that never happened. We were busy. Feet shuffling, moving, industrious. Everyone is in a small Maine town.