Famous Dagney Ernest

By David Grima | Apr 04, 2019

My recent Jeremiad about Maine’s terribly low birth rate, and the expected shortage of nurses, among other occupations, here in our Fair State, has brought a swift response.

As has been reported by the Associated Press, nine nurses who work in the baby-delivery section of Maine Medical Center in Portland are now pregnant, together with a further 12 nurses who work in the same hospital’s emergency department.

It’s wonderful news, of course, but even so, it is probably too little and too late to ward off the anticipated shortfall in the nursing profession. Even if all 21 babies choose nursing as a career, it could be 2045 before they finally get to work.

But at least they have the right idea.

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Last week I mentioned the South Thomaston Emergency Services Cookbook, but I was wrong to say there is a photo on its cover of a house burning down. This photo is actually inside, heading the section devoted to beverages and other things.

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Speaking of books, I saw a notice in Rockland the other day announcing a Socialist Reading Group that is being organized by the Midcoast Branch of the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America.

There has been quite a lot of talk lately about socialism, but very little evidence that many people have a clue what it actually is.

In fact, based on some of the remarks one sees and hears on the subject these days, quite a lot of people obviously couldn’t tell the difference between socialism and a pair of socks, not even if their lives depended on it. Nevertheless, they are definitely against it.

As an example of the difficulty in defining socialism that plagues many good people, three of the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse that live up here in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, recently declared themselves to be socialists. They even tore out words and letters from old newspapers they found fluttering on the beach nearby, and made some posters and signs to demonstrate their support for socialism.

The problem is that they couldn’t figure out what it means, either. Two of the birds’ socialist posters indicated enthusiastic support for Our Blessed Lord Prez Trumpleton’s wall along the Canadian border, while the third poster demanded free rotten herring for all.

The fourth gull (I think either Matthew or Arthur) pointed out this confusion to the other gulls, who immediately joined forces against him in the strongest possible terms and made him go away. So much for the state of civic discourse among our feathered friends.

As another example of the general confusion about the exact meaning of socialism, I should mention that Hitler’s Nazi party was just as confused and called itself socialist too, despite actually being to the far right of Attila the Hun. I believe the full and proper name of it was National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

No wonder many people are so baffled and bemused about the true nature of socialism, when half the people who have decided to detest and deplore it are actually beneficiaries of socialism themselves, apparently without knowing it.

I tell you, these are strange times.

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More people have stopped me to share horror stories about the ruinous condition of Rockland’s roads than I could ever have imagined. Oh, the suffering! In some cases, they have resorted to a kind of graveyard humor on the subject, as in the case of a friendly vegetarian from St. George.

She provided me with a picture of a badly potholed road with the following caption that I am sure many of you have already seen or heard about:

“In England they drive on the left. In New England we drive on what’s left.”

Never was a truer word spoken.

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I see the state is going to conduct a study to see what kind of things places like Rockland can do to defend ourselves against rising sea levels.

The other week I was at a meeting where a gentleman said there is no such thing as sea-level rise, and I found myself wondering how he knew. Then I was told he works as a fisherman, and I suppose that from the deck of a fishing boat the surface of the sea is always the same average distance away, regardless of tide or melting icecaps.

It is pure speculation on my part that this is why he felt so confident on the subject, but it does make a kind of sense. Sort of.

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I see the Dear Old Courier had bidden farewell to the Famous Dagney Ernest, who has been editing the arts section for the last 127 years.

I believe she started out all those years ago by contributing reviews of theatrical performances in the Midcoast to the Courier, and was later hired on as staff. She showed the same degree of personal care and dedication that one normally sees from sportswriters.

Dagney, like another former Courier arts editor, Ivy W. Dodd, demonstrated remarkable qualities of devotion to the arts as she did her work.

Ivy used to organize and manage regular shows of pictures by local artists in the halls of the old Courier building on Park Drive, for example. This is far above and beyond the kind of engagement one might have expected find coming from such a small-town paper as the Curious-Gazette. She is also said to have revealed to the world that a certain Mr. Wyeth had painted certain pictures of a certain less-than-fully-dressed lady called Helga. It was an art world news scoop of a very high degree.

Dagney’s love is the performing arts, and her writing and other coverage of such things in the paper showed that she truly knew what she was writing about. You can just tell. Likewise, she extended herself to all other kinds of arts in our area, and I am convinced she must have worked more hours than she was paid for to produce the full extent of the arts coverage her readers benefited from every week for simply ages.

Unlike myself, who was swept away in a tidal wave of change back in 2008, Dagney made the transition from the old Courier to the new Courier unscathed, or at least I could detect no visible evidence of scathing. I always loved working with her, and wish her the very best in her next enterprise.

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