'Where will they lean?'

By Patrisha McLean | Oct 23, 2009
Photo by: Patrisha McLean F300 McDucks

Camden — This photo sums up McDuck’s for me, especially if you notice the time on the clock — 10 past 5, and that’s a.m.

A couple of years ago I spent many mornings chronicling the early morning culture of McDuck’s. It was terrifying at first, being a new face and a woman in a clubby, masculine domain. But Richard was welcoming, and soon friendly nods replaced blank stares as I reveled in the secret camaraderie of gathering in a warm spot on a dark, cold morning while everyone else slept. I ended up meeting some of the nicest people I know, including Gerry Wright, part of the 6 a.m. crowd and one of only two women I saw in all my mornings there.

When Richard opened the door at 4 a.m. there were often people outside, waiting. Waves of regulars at half-hour increments headed straight to the coffee station in back to fill large Styrofoam cups. Each leaned in his own spot, reserved in some cases by decades of habit, against the ice cream freezer or candy rack or fridge (filled with an astonishing selection of beer), shooting the breeze about town doings and common acquaintances or just contentedly sipping coffee. Men who delivered Oakhurst products, plowed snow, trapped lobster and patrolled the streets of Camden kept each other company before heading to work, or back to work.

I was shocked when, a few weeks ago, I saw the “closed” sign on the McDuck's door. I called my daughter Jackie, who’s in college in New York, to tell her the news. She was as sad as I was, for all the people who’d been going there for decades, and said, “Where will they lean?”
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