Good new things

By David Grima | Nov 21, 2019

The South End Grocery, economic hub of the mighty cultural empire known as the South End, was honored at the Chamber of Commerce Big Bash last week for being in business for 25 years.

Lord Prez Reginal K. Trumpleton was at the ceremony at the Samoset, and immediately announced there will be a massive military parade in Rockland next July Fourth to mark the local store’s quarter-century.

It took several hours of special pleading, not to mention begging, to persuade the Lord Prez that we’ve only just had our streets repaired in the South End after a 20-year wait, and that the division of tanks he so generously wanted to lead the parade would do our roads no good at all.

He graciously withdrew his offer.

* * * * *

Speaking of government, have you ever seen an official municipal sign before that urges you not to be ill?

For reasons I cannot divulge here, I found myself at the Rockport dump last Saturday, and saw a sign there as follows:

“Don’t Try To Throw Up.”

It is a remarkable sign, and only after much staring and other intellectual efforts did I finally figure out what on earth it is about.

It is an attempt to persuade people not to pitch compost over the high retaining wall against which this remarkable sign is leaning.

We can assume people have tried in the past, and suffered terribly for it.

* * * * *

Speaking of begging, there is a news report to the effect that a large number of swans in the English county of Derbyshire have learned to knock on the door of local houses, asking to be fed. The swans have also taught their offspring this trick, and apparently the locals are happy to oblige.

* * * * *

Speaking of foreign news, the Times of Malta carries a report of a recent sale of paintings at the Thomaston auction house on Route 1.

Three paintings by the late Frank Portelli, a well-known painter in his native Malta, went under the hammer only the other day, and at least one of them fetched far less than a Maltese art expert thought it should have.

Now I am sure that several readers will be scratching their heads, wondering where Malta is. Well, it lies a little way south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, and is where my grandfather was born and died. It consists of two smallish islands, and its people suffered rather badly at the hands of Fascist Italy and Germany during WW2.

The wicked Fascists tried to bomb the place into oblivion because it was a British military base at the time, and although they failed in the end, they caused much damage, death, and heartache. There is a story in my family that a letter to my grandfather’s family, sent from Wales, was returned marked “Undeliverable: Address No Longer Exists”, or words to that effect.

Malta has been in the news before. St. Paul was shipwrecked there on his way to Rome, and is said to have converted the locals to Christianity.

Three antique British biplane fighters were at first the only defense the Maltese people had in the war against the bad guys and their air fleets, and they named them after words written by St. Paul to the Corinthians: Faith, Hope and Charity.

These days, Malta is often again in the news, this time because it is one of the first places that refugees from North Africa find as they struggle to cross the Med.

* * * * *

We have had some rum weather lately, no question about it. Even a little snow, filling my socks one morning when I woke up in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live.

An explanation for the unseasonable coolness was offered during coffee hour at St. Bildad’s last Sunday, inasmuch as it is the consequence of people putting their holiday decorations up far too soon. It has deceived the weather.

I do believe I saw a story recently with a similar cautionary note. A family in Texas had put up an inflatable snowman and a Santa in their yard, only to have their homeowners’ association write them a formal letter demanding they remove them as it is too early.

And yes, Texas has also had freezing weather, lately. I think the case is well made.

* * * * *

Another awardee at the Chamber Bash was the American Legion post in Rockland, honored for being one hundred years old this year. It was founded only three months after the Legion itself was created.

Although the Salvation Army in our beloved Lime City was not up for a longevity award that night, I was sitting at table next to Keith Davis, captain of the local SA church. He mentioned that the “Sally Ann” has actually been in Rockland for 130 years, and was founded here only nine years after the first members of the church arrived in the US, at Battery Park, New York.

And oddly enough, those original church members were from my home city, Coventry, back in the Olde Country.

Really, it is a small world. And, what with the Legion and the Salvation Army, it seems clear to me that Rockland was once what we now call an “early adopter” of good new things.

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

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 26, 2019 13:13

Good read as usual David! I do think of Rockland and the area of Hope where I was Postmaster and Storeowner at Hope Corner for many years.. . I miss New England but do enjoy the sunshine here in Arizona in my "old Age"!

Mary "Mickey" (Brown)McKeever +;)....

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