All of the stories I am about to tell are true and really occurred here in lime city. No names will be used. No need for black tape over the eyes as there are no pictures of the perpetrators. These stories have never before appeared in print.

The Beer Cart Heist

Years ago there were Blue Laws in Maine. Large grocery stores over a certain square footage were not allowed to be open on Sundays. The smaller stores got one day a week without competition. One store that did very well on those Sundays was the IGA on Main Street where the Auto Zone Auto Parts store is now. Every Sunday the little IGA was packed to the gills. By the end of the day the place was ransacked. Shelves were emptied and what was left was topsy-turvy.

One of the charming features of the place was the beer aisle. Back then beer drinkers would buy one or two beers from a six-pack, leaving partial racks of beer. The savvy store manager had a great idea, put all the stray beers in a shopping cart for a low price. Make your own mixed six-pack!

One Sunday we went to the IGA to pick through the beer cart. When we arrived, there was no beer cart. We were met by a very somber store manager.

In all the chaos someone had brazenly pushed the cart out the front door, chock full of beers. Unfortunately the beer was consumed before detectives could develop a solid lead.

Quarters For Wine

Back in the nineties The Courier-Gazette had a circulation manager who was ready to retire. I would say he was like the “Last Rose of Summer” – just kind of hanging on.

One of his duties was to empty the quarters out of the newspaper machines around Rockland. When a new director took over, his first discovery was that not every machine was getting emptied. Especially the machine at the Maine State Ferry Service.

It had not been emptied in a very long time. The receptacle that held the coins was so packed, it had to be brought back to the office to get the money out with a screwdriver. This meant that three times a week the money put into the machine cascaded over the top of the coin box and ended up on the ground under the machine.

In time we learned that some locals would stop by Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, tilt the machines back and pick up the quarters off the ground.

My wife was working at Rockland Wholesale on Park Street back then. One night I told her about folks harvesting quarters at the ferry terminal. The light came on in her eyes. She said people would show up to buy wine, especially on Thursday mornings, and pay entirely with quarters.


Altered Maine State License Plates

Back when lobsters appeared on Maine license plates the first time, there were some individuals who felt that the red lobsters did not properly represent Homarus Americanus, the Tasty Crustacean, in the proper fashion. After all, red lobsters are not live.

These individuals bought small bottles of Testers green model paint and tiny brushes and painted their bugs the “right color.”

They got away with it scot-free.

Burning the Back Steps

There are individuals who do not own a pickup truck. Not many, but a few.

One such individual replaced the back steps on the old house and was left with the chore of disposing of the old ones. These steps had asphalt shingles on the treads. The decision was made to burn them in the driveway.

What could go wrong?

At first the steps did not want to burn because they were wet and rotted. It took some time, but once the shingles ignited, the fire got going in earnest, emitting thick plumes of black smoke across the North End.

Before long fire engines appeared on North Main Street, lights flashing and two-way radios crackling. Dinner guests retreated into the house and hid behind the couch to watch from inside, hopeful to avoid arrest. Finally a single flashlight beam came bounding up the street in the firm grip of a Rockland Firefighter. The back step burner was caught red-handed and ordered to put out the steps with a fully charged garden hose.

The couch dwellers escaped arrest and further embarrassment.

Christmas Tree Dragging

Another case of an outlaw without a pickup truck is the annual story of an individual who drags their spent Christmas Tree behind their sedan to the transfer station every year.

Curious about what happens when getting to the office shack at the station?

The shameless tree dragger explains that “you do not slow down or wave when you go by.”

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.