The South End tent evangelist

By David Grima | Aug 21, 2014

The South End tent evangelist seemed to be attracting a good crowd when I drove back into town on Sunday evening. N and I had gone out to buy a sandwich, and afterwards instead of driving straight back to the apartment we decided to take a little ride in the late afternoon sun, and got as far away as Tenants Harbor. The sky that evening was quite wonderful, and I nearly put the car in a ditch on the St. George Road while gazing at a perfectly white farmhouse lit up by the brilliant sun setting across the river, the brightness of the house contrasting dramatically with thick grey-black clouds rolling behind it.

“You drive and I’ll look at the clouds,” N said as I grabbed the wheel.

Rather a lot of cars were in the church parking lot where the tent is set up, many of them quite nicer cars than mine. In my experience these services are supported on Sunday nights by a large number of people from various local churches, so one hopes there is room for the unregenerate sinners of Rockland to creep inside the tent too. A week before this particular service I had popped my head over the parapet of the north concrete tower, where I live at the foot of Mechanic Street, to hear a great blast of Hallelujah drifting up from the direction of the tent. I felt relieved and refreshed by it, as though the entire South End had received a blessing that would last until it was washed away by the heavy rains later in the week.

* * * * *

It was (and still is) very sad to find a police mug shot of one of my former Cub Scouts on the front page of the Courier, last week. He was such a peaceable little boy. I suppose this is one result of living in a small town for a long time, that you are likely to see any number of people you have known over the years showing up in the paper, in one way or another. I hope the young man on the front page has the desire to make amends and reform. There is time for that.

Usually to be in the Courier you have to fall into one of the following categories:

A) You play some kind of game involving a ball

B) You just couldn’t restrain yourself from saying something at a public meeting

C) You just donated or received money for some respectable reason

D) You have just been born

E) You have just died

F) You have just been arrested

G) You have just been elected (strangely similar to (F) above)

H) You are suing your neighbor or perhaps your entire community

I) You are some kind of somebody else who is doing something somewhere

* * * * *

Speaking of people in other towns, I just heard that a live owl was found in a chimney in St. George last year. News from St. George reaches me slowly, I think. The owners of the chimney called the police, who called the state, who sent some kind of owl whisperer, some guy with long leather gloves who was able to retrieve the owl.

* * * * *

According to public television, there is a tree in Australia believed to be around 10,000 years old.

* * * * *

The art museum at Colby College in Waterville just published a book about its collection of art by the late Bernard “Blackie” Langlais (1921-1977) who lived in Cushing. I was mostly familiar with his work because I used to drive by it in the yard of his house, so the chance to glean some facts from the book is welcome. He was born in Old Town, and his wife Helen was born in Skowhegan. They married in Oslo, Norway, while he was on an arts fellowship. His dad was a carpenter. Helen gave up her life as a singer to make sure Blackie had everything he needed to be an artist, and she taught instead at the Cushing school. When living in New York City he began making abstract sculpture using scraps of wood, nails, glue, paint, etc., and he started to get some notice. He was hung in nice galleries (what a phrase) and written up in respectable art reviews. But when he began making recognizable figurative sculpture his work was suddenly no longer welcome in the nice galleries or written up respectfully. He decided he didn’t care. He earned a measure of fame when he built a very tall wooden native American figure for the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce — they called it the Skowhegan Indian back then.

(I remember reading in a book about the artist Louise Nevelson, who was from Kiev and Rockland, that Langlais built a wooden sculpture that was a fountain at the Samoset in Rockport, and when the Samoset later chainsawed it to pieces Nevelson was so angry she refused to stay there again.)

There is much more to read in the Colby book, which I have borrowed from Rockland Public Library. One thing I do not expect to find is the story of his name. It puzzles me a little that this Franco-American from Old Town, Maine, should have a name that, when translated literally, means the Englishman.

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.