Rockland being meaner than Augusta
Have been hearing firecrackers and other pyrotechnics exploding in the neighborhood for two or three weeks now. Very sorry Rockland City Council took the knee-jerk action of formally banning fireworks when the state finally decided to make them legal. Imagine Rockland being meaner than Augusta! Local government hardly ever heard of a joyful thing it did not want to immediately ban or forbid.
Let me see now, I am not sure how many towns and cities burn flat across America each July Fourth simply because their citizens are allowed the use of fireworks. I think the answer is zero.
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Gas prices are now in what people are calling a low range, at about $3.40 per gallon in Rockland. People in Belfast were paying $3.42 on June 7 when we were paying $3.53 and Camden was paying $3.62, so it has taken several weeks for prices here to get as low as in Belfast.
In all the years I was obliged to write about gasoline prices at the pump, I never once heard a single explanation for the wide differences from town to town that made any sense. All we were ever told is that local gas stations don’t make more than a few pennies selling gas, which just has to be absurd.
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My vantage point up here in the northeast grain tower, the octagonal one, is obviously not all it is cracked up to be. While it was plain that my observation devices showed no cows in the South End, the temporal limitations of these devices have been made very plain. They only show you what is, or is not, when I am looking through them. It turns out they have no capacity to stare backwards or forwards in the continuum of time.
Although the cows of Lovejoy Street are not there now, and indeed could be said to be gone in the optical sense, I have been advised they are not gone in the sense of no longer being anywhere.
Donna Godfrey called me at a little after three last Thursday afternoon to explain something of the tale of the cows on Lovejoy Street. She now owns the cows with her sister Elaine Sprague. Their dad, Harvey Curtis, had the cows near his house there for some 50 years, until he died about two and one-half years ago. The Courier’s old photo of the cows was on his fridge door to the day he passed on, Donna said, and the animals were the love of his life. He once put them in the Lobster Festival parade, representing “the last farm in Rockland.”
But for 30 years the cows have summered up on Thomaston Street, in a field near the Butler Cemetery. That is where they are now. As Donna put it, the cows are on their annual holiday. They will return to Lovejoy Street for the winter.
By a coincidence, my remarks about the cows appeared in the Courier edition of last week, June 28. That day would have been Harvey Curtis’ 88th birthday.
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Roving Courier reporter George Chappell showed up at the foot of the grain towers last Friday, to say he had just been to South Thomaston (to attend a public hearing, the poor fellow) and had encountered there the ghosts of other South End cows. (I write this stuff, but I swear I don’t make it up. Not this bit, anyway.)
Apparently Verna Baum told him about cows owned by her father, Harold Waldron, which he kept on Holmes Street.
It helps us recognize the extent to which the nature of the Lime City has changed over the years of living memory. And while there has been much talk and nostalgia for the watery edge of town, the lime kilns and the offshore fishing fleets all now gone, the rest of the place has changed just as much, only without so much attention being paid. Of course it has.
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You might wonder how I pass the time up here in these medieval apartments overlooking the harbor. (Or you might not.) Other than looking for absent cattle, one thing I do a lot of is looking things up. Here is a recent result of that activity, in which for want of anything better to do I was investigating the meaning of certain words in Punjabi.
One of the many useful phrases offered to the potential traveler is the insightful observation that “there are eels in my hovercraft.”
The name Punjab, a region in approximately northeastern India, means Five Rivers. For the record the word is clearly related to the way one might say five rivers in Welsh. I knew you were all dying to hear about this. I hope you’re happy now.
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Having spoken so much about the relative evils of Rockland City Council, one should also mention that they have decided to sustain the current library opening hours. It is a fine thing to have done. It will help cost us more in taxes, but for once I am willing to scrape up enough to make up the necessary extra. I hope others are able to do the same because the city library is a necessary thing, and a library which closed every day at 5 p.m. just as the rest of us are getting out of work would not be a very useful library.
As it is, I am only able to visit the library for about 20 hours a week, even though it is open about 50 hours a week. And as everyone surely knows, it is the source of 90 percent of what is good about public life in this town. The books available there are much cleaner, newer, and more available than those to be found even at the esteemed city dump.
I am not sure how to balance the preservation of our library hours against the council’s decision to crush our hopes for enjoying domestic fireworks. But let them reflect soberly on the fact that by banning fireworks they are inclining more of us to attend the annual show up in Thomaston, thereby contributing to a continued dependence upon more gasoline consumption rather than less.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached with a very long ladder or at email@example.com.