It could have been my year

By David Grima | Jul 15, 2020

The news downtown is that Larry Reed, a long-time Rockland business owner who recently took over at Eclipse (i.e. the Trade Winds restaurant, i.e. the Red Jacket restaurant), is looking to buy the Time Out Pub property at the top of the public landing.

This place was closed by the Plague that descended upon us at the end of winter. Owners JB and Kathy are selling it to him after staying the course at what was once the Chuck Wagon for the last 20 glorious years. They certainly deserve their retirement.

(I think I have correctly followed all Maine protocols which require describing places by what they used to be but aren’t any more.)

Furthermore, according to secret sources that cannot be named (Paul Benjamin) it seems likely that the Monday Night Blues will be invited to return to the Time Out, although no date can yet be set. Last weekend, we had the substitute Blues Festival on the radio, a creative response to not being able to have it live in the city this summer.

Speaking of sources that cannot be named, it is understood that Paul is negotiating with city officials to see if he might be able to present some blues bands live at Harbor Park late this summer, with a drive-in format to permit good distances between audience members.

All that, and the drive-in movies being hosted by The Strand at Owls Head Transportation Museum Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights this month, means the Lime City is getting into the drive-in mood this summer.

Of course, it all started with some of the churches in town holding drive-in services in their parking lots. The congregation at God’s Lighthouse on the non-existent South Main Street certainly set the leaves shaking all across the South End last Sunday, with their outdoor singing, didn’t they?

Drive on, Rockland!

* * * * *

One of the best-kept secrets in town turns out to be that the Lobfest committee is holding the Maine Sea Goddess contest after all this year, despite the actual Lobfest itself being canceled.

It was particularly irritating to learn about this early last Thursday, and to find that all contestants were already selected. If I knew they were going to revive this home-grown beauty pageant, then I would certainly have entered it myself.

It could have been my year, I feel sure.

* * * * *

A Second Reader his chipped in his 10-cents’ worth of opinion on the issue I mentioned last week, in which another reader wondered if the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, might benefit from being painted up.

Our discussion reached the point where I explained that I find some of the public street- and wall-painting that has gone on lately in our fair city to be a bit much.

Second Reader offers the following commentary on people who think some colors are rather hard to bear:

“I like the idea of a drawbridge in Kittery painted in bright kindergarten colors in a mural of lobsters, whales and dolphins all living in peace beneath said bridge on the Maine side of the river,” says Monsieur Chartrand, with his tongue firmly in cheek, I suspect.

“Your colorful opposition reminds me of a long-ago newsprint battle with a Courier columnist who opposed an erstwhile parents’ group on their choice of primary colors to brighten up an actual kindergarten building in the now famous South End. I do agree that more recent downtown murals lack a bit of something. Or is it that they have too much of something else?”

Yes, dear reader, it is my own annoying self who is referred to, and the objection I took many years ago to painting some exterior parts of South School a bright swimming pool blue. Mr. C was on the parents’ group which chose that stunning color.

I am pleased-all-to-pieces to think he might be coming around to my point of view at long last, the dear chap.

* * * * *

I visited the newly reopened public library Monday morning, and came away with a slightly bruised spirit.

I understand perfectly why they will only let a few of us inside at a time, along with various other practical restrictions, and I guess there are some people who can do everything they need to do in a library in 30 minutes flat. But it must be awful hard.

So let me just whine on a personal for a minute or two, and then bravely attempt to move on.

Since I could walk, the local library has been a place where I can loaf, linger and lounge to my heart’s content, in the optimistic lifelong pursuit of something decent to read. I started with Dr. Seuss books, then graduated to Dr. Doolittle, Biggles, Treasure Island and so on.

On Thursday nights after dinner, the parents would tie us with ropes to the rear bumper of the family car and drive to the local library, where I would usually have to be hauled away from the bookshelves at closing time.

These days, many stores are doing business online, of course, and part of that arrangement is that you must pretty much know what it is you want to buy before you look. Few stores really have all their inventory available for online browsing, even if you are willing to shop via computer, so you have to pick from a limited menu.

The luxury of a public library is finding a book you never knew existed seconds before picking it off the shelf, then having a few minutes, or half an hour, of freedom to browse through it and decide if it’s going to be interesting enough to actually borrow.

Well, I suppose if I am going to reconcile myself to coronalibraries, I will need to speed up my reflexes somewhat. But that means giving up the very luxury that libraries offer, the one that underpins all their civilizing effects: the luxury of time enough to browse.

I tried to browse for a few moments Monday, but all I could hear was the tick-tock-tick clock of what a certain poet called “time’s winged chariot hurrying near” from the other side of the book stacks. It was too much.

The experience made me think of the Twilight Zone episode in which Burgess Meredith plays a bookish little bank clerk who only wants to be left alone to read. He hides in the bank vault one lunchtime, hoping for peace and quiet with his latest book, and when he emerges after lunch he finds the bomb has dropped and he is alone in the wreckage of the end of the world.

Naturally it is absolutely what the poor fellow wanted all these years, to be left alone to read. Then, in the middle of his Great Happiness, he accidentally smashes his glasses, and in his agony knows he will never read again.

Well, it wasn’t exactly that bad, and I suppose I am rather making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s not as though my life is over. But oh, I had hoped so much. I had hoped and hoped and hoped the library would be a place where I might again linger in peace and happiness.

Imagine if Hannaford had a 30-minute time limit on how long you could shop. I find, to my confusion, that I can be in the South End Market longer than I can be in the library.

* * * * *

Strange times indeed.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

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