Miss Potato Blossom from 1970 to 1974

By David Grima | Oct 26, 2012

I must apologize for the rhetorical quality of last week’s epistle. It turns out it was written quite on the sly by one of the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse and submitted to the poor unwitting editor under my name. (By the way, there is a significant difference between being unwitting and being witless. Please bear that in mind.)

I have no idea what happened to the genuine article I had written for last week’s edition, or how the fiendish bird in question was able to intercept it, but as a result of that wicked creature’s chicanery you all missed a very moving and insightful description of the manufacture and distribution of Serbian goat cheese.

As you all know, I have absolutely no political opinions at all, and any such opinions that appear in this column from time to time can almost certainly be put down to the influence of those irritating feathered beasts of the air, those monsters with whom I share the upper levels of these grain towers above Mechanic Street.

* * * * *

Speaking of which, I received a communication from Doctor Billington of the North End last week, an illustration which I believe once appeared in The Courier-Gazette to explain how a certain party (I forget exactly who, but he must have had bags of money) proposed to turn these vacant towers into a luxury hotel-by-the-sea.

The illustration shows this place with windows and balconies, with flower pots in window baskets, if you can believe it. Who would ever think such a thing could be? Why, it looked almost domestic, and swept clean of its veil of spiders, pigeons, and beautiful streaks of rust. Clearly it was only a pipe dream. In this picture, the Four Seagulls are nowhere to be seen.

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I am told the modest earthquake about which Maine was in such a tizzy a week ago shook some glasses onto the floor at the bar of the esteemed Samoset. Or, at least that’s how the bartender explained it to the owner.

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Twice now I have seen it after sundown, a tall spiky and narrow bird, quite ghostly and as grey as the dusk itself, standing silently in the water at the edge of the shore betwixt Amalfi’s and the boathouse, where the old Holmes fish packing shed isn’t any more. For a half-hour I stood there waiting for it to fly off, or at least speak. But nothing.

I do not know what sort of bird it is. It is heronish in appearance, but I scarcely know herons from sparrows so I cannot be sure. It was quite a haunting sight. Does any gentle reader know what it might be?

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When B was a psychotherapist engaged in a group practice in Southern Maine, one member of the team would make sure to watch each week’s episode of the TV show called Marcus Welby MD. (This must have been back in the early '70s. The show was all about Marcus Welby. He was a doctor.)

Sure enough, after each week’s episode was over, they would start to get calls and visits from clients who were convinced they were suffering from whatever malady had been featured on that week’s show. Only by having watched the show ahead of time was the team able to make sense of the otherwise bizarre weekly mass outbreaks of people terrified they might have contracted leukemia, measles, etc.

I think this says something fairly important about how humans function.

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A thought from a dinner conversation the other day: Luxury taken to extreme will kill. For example, a fatty steak eaten once a month is delicious; eaten daily it will probably be the end of you, rather like the character played by Jack Palance in the movie “City Slickers,” who is found dead in an upright position on the trail one morning after a lifetime of eating nothing but bacon and beans.

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Speaking of a bad diet, another observation that came up is about money. Money in a society is supposed to circulate the way blood circulates in a body. When it does not circulate it clots up like blood or it pools in one part of the social body while starving another, and bad health such as social gangrene can often set in.

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About 10 days ago a certain person was holding a drinks party at her home on Broadway, when everyone noticed there was a guest present who was not known to any of the other guests. She had a dog with her, too.

Eventually, after she had had a few drinks and a few conversations, and when the fact that nobody else knew her had become apparent, it was discovered that she had simply wandered into the house while out walking her dog, and had settled in to join the party.

I believe she was then gently escorted home, somewhat the worse for drink.

Oddly enough, I have never had this problem with passersby at the grain tower.

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Dear Mrs. B., who seems to be an expert on these things, tells me the potatoes grown south of Presque Isle have suffered this year. The rains came at the wrong time, etc. She speaks with the appearance of authority on the subject of Maine spuds, and claims she was Miss Potato Blossom from 1970 to 1974. (There couldn't have been much competition.)

She is from Caribou, a town in Maine said to be far north of the South End, and therefore probably of very little consequence. Dear Mrs. B!

* * * * *

My friend F was talking about the cranberry bogs near his house in Nobleboro the other day. He said this year there was no fruit, only blossom. (Is he Mr. Cranberry Blossom? Never mind.) In normal years the cranberries he finds there are quite fine.

By comparison, he continued, the cranberries you can buy in cans are often big, red, full of air, and have little taste. I was immediately reminded of my other dear friend, Emmet Meara.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com or just by walking in and helping yourself to drinks.



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