The South End below Main Street was once full of children, but these days it is a quieter place and the children are fewer and far between. They have all grown up and gone, it seems. So when a group of vacationers and their little people showed up the other week their presence was felt more than their numbers seemed to justify, and it was pleasant to hear the sounds of play in the streets again.

At one point they were playing a game that involved racing around the edge of a pickup truck bed, a dangerous little game which would have ended badly had one of them fallen off the narrow edge onto the street. It reminds me of a story Fabulous Bob told me of his boyhood in Sebasco, where he and others played a similar game around the edge of a truck loaded with fish guts. Yes, he fell in. You can still smell it on him, faintly, these many decades later.

* * * * *

I was woken up the other day atop the west tower at the foot of Mechanic Street where I had slumbered among seagull feathers and dreams of wealth. At first I thought I had been awoken by my dear friend Terrible O’Meara of the Bangor Dreadful News snoring in an adjacent town, but it turned out it was only the noise of the drains being cleaned out. It seems to be a rule that whenever the city needs to operate loud and slow-moving equipment, it starts as early as possible in the South End. But at least our drains are now clean and sparkling, and all in time for the Lobster Festival.

* * * * *

Rummaging around at the dump last week I picked up a book by the travel writer Paul Theroux, who has a little summer place in St. George. It is a book about his walking tour of the British coastline in the summer of 1982, and contains much that I feel could be construed as deeply irritating by his victims. But this is a writer’s job, I suppose, to make fleeting comments based upon a lack of long-term appreciation of the subject at hand. I do it all the time.

However one thing I cannot let Mr. Theroux get away with. On Page 203 he calls Cader Idris in North Wales the best shaped mountain in England, or something to that effect. No doubt he was trying to be flattering. This is as hideous an error as calling Katahdin a mountain in Vermont. Such a monstrous corker has the unintended but inevitable effect of calling into question all his others assertions of fact.

* * * * *

The other day at the ‘Keag I overheard a woman discussing politics, and she seemed quite confused by the idea of Libertarians. She called them Unitarians instead. I did not offer to correct her as that would have revealed that I had overheard her, and it is rude to do that, of course.

* * * * *

Lingering outside a restaurant the other day, hoping to supplement my normal diet of fish heads and barnacles stolen from the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse, I overheard a worker from another restaurant asking someone from this place if they could pick up the mussels they were owed. Apparently this sort of trading and bartering goes on all the time among our restaurants.

Looking into the subject, I learned that it is quite common for individual restaurants to lend, barter and exchange supplies with others. Often when one restaurant is short of something it needs, it will send out to another to borrow it, and might then repay the loan in another form. I know of one which is reimbursing another in the form of lobsters, for example. Another restaurant once used the bar across the street as a waiting room for its customers when it had no tables free, and would send one of its waiters over to tell the waiting customers when a table had opened up, thereby preserving its own business while spreading a little to the bar at the same time. I have even heard of businesses sending their employees to work elsewhere when their own operations are in a quieter period and the other place could use the help.

In a business community where most owners are inevitably in competition with each other for a finite number of customers, it apparently still makes sense for them to support each other with these arrangements. A social network only exists if it provides some useful function for those who take part, so I suppose the usefulness of it is really self-evident.

* * * * *

Talking of evidence… With the recent guilty verdict in the attempted murder trial of Mr. Black (he did it on the mountain with a rock) I was able to talk to member of the jury about the experience, and particularly about the big question — how hard was it to come to a unanimous verdict?

In the juror’s opinion, there never was much doubt that Black had in fact whacked his wife over the head with a rock and then pushed her off Maiden Cliff. However as a man’s liberty was clearly at stake it was felt important by the jury to listen properly to all the testimony and view all the evidence and to give the accused the benefit of any doubt. However in reality there did not seem to be a whole lot of doubt involved. One of the impressive facts, the juror told me, was the quantity of blood on the victim’s clothing. The fact that the victim was alive to tell the tale must have also been of some assistance.

The juror told me that it was hard to live during the week of the trial with all the information that was being revealed in the court room. I am left with the impression that it was a fascinating but troubling experience.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at