Lettuce in Latin

By David Grima | Aug 15, 2014

I focused my bent telescope on Snow Marine Park, peering from the west concrete tower where I live at the foot of Mechanic Street. I was looking for raw sewage flowing from one of the houses up the street, which has apparently being contributing for 60 years to the slow poisoning of the waters and now the park there. Kendall Merriam, who grew up on Mechanic Street, has a poem about the boyhood game of flushing the toilet and then racing across the street to watch it pour into the harbor.

The tidal flats alongside Mechanic Street were filled and made into a park in the 1970s, but apparently the sewage game never ended. It must be here somewhere.

* * * * *

A story passed on from a reliable source involves a new check-out clerk at one of our supermarkets, who couldn’t get the hang of using the various codes for produce. She asked a supervisor for help identifying the correct code, complaining that “It doesn’t help that the numbers are all the same, except in a different order.”

It is true that we poor fools have only 10 numerals to play with, if you include the very useful zero. For this state of affairs we can blame medieval Arabic culture, from which Westerners shamelessly borrowed our numbers. We did it after centuries trying to add up Roman numbers like XX, LIV, CI, etc., and coming to the obvious conclusion that it is very hard to do. Our hapless check-out clerk can be grateful she does not have to try and figure out the produce code for lettuce in Latin.

* * * * *

Speaking of local supermarkets, I hear that workers from a Rockland store are being shipped south and put up overnight in motels. This is so they can help their company’s other branches take advantage of the steep increase in consumer demand that follows the virtual closure of The Market Basket chain, (which is not to be confused with The Market Basket in Rockport.)

* * * * *

Recently I told a story from many years ago involving a rabbit from Portland who used to trick a witless dog into running into the side of a house. Now from the Woodman family comes another true life rabbit story, this time involving a brave bunny from the South End.

“At 6:15 a.m. Sunday, July 27, my daughter Hannah and I were startled by a horrific screaming sound coming from just out side of our home. We ran outside and quickly realized that the scream was coming from our gray pet rabbit Sage who was being attacked by a dog under our porch. The dog was under our porch biting Sage and trying to pull her through the wooden lattice where she was trapped between the lattice and the rabbit enclosure. While I was kneeling on the deck trying to distract the dog and get him to stop attacking Sage, an orange blur fired out from beneath me and ran towards the dog. I realized the blur was Sage’s sister Willow, who was attacking the dog! She was running at blinding speed around the dog and jumping on him! She did get him to stop momentarily while he turned his attention to her, and then she ran out from under the porch, but the dog didn’t follow her and continued to attack Sage. The police eventually came and rescued Sage and the dog was taken to the shelter. I was completely shocked by Willow’s act to help her sister... she is my definitely a hero in our family!”

* * * * *

For the first time in my life I voluntarily attended a City Council meeting. I went last week to watch a neighbor from the South End express concern that Lobster Festival vendors had been camping out overnight in certain downtown parking lots that do not allow overnight parking.

That same night another gentleman wanted to speak to the council about paying for trash disposal at the dump, which I understand is quite a hot topic in Rockland these days. As he talked on and on, it became obvious he was going to talk far longer than the few minutes allotted to members of the public for speeches, so a councilor proposed that the council’s rules governing the length of time the public can speak be suspended, to give him time to say what he wanted to say. The debate on this thorny question of procedure took so long that the councilors spent more time arguing about it than the time the poor fellow actually to finish his speech.

I will never attend a council meeting again unless I am paid to, as I used to be.

* * * * *

Last week Maine public television broadcast a documentary about Andre the harbor seal, who used to spend summers in Rockport Harbor and perform tricks there under the direction of Harry Goodridge. The breathless admiration of the documentary reminds me of a tale a fellow news hack told me in the '90s. Rather in the manner of my dear Friend Amnesia O’Meara of the Bangor Dreadful News, I have retold this story several times, so feel free to skip it.

As Andre became a fixture in Rockport, swimming up from points south to do his tricks, so it became an annual duty of all Midcoast journalists to report the first sighting of the creature in Penobscot Bay. This sort of silly-season story can seem like a lark at first, but it quickly gets tiresome. Andre expired at last in 1986, and so did the annual seal-spotting contest. According to my informant, several journalists held a party to celebrate the end of their servitude. I have not dared look any further into the facts of this party, in case the allegation proves to be not as true as I hope it is.

* * * * *

I have done some measuring, and it seems the proposed YMCA gym in the South End will be close enough to my concrete towers for me to drive with almost no expenditure of gasoline.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.