Playing with mud

By David Grima | Feb 11, 2021

Several years ago, I paid a visit to one of the manufacturing companies in the Lime City, and happened to see some correspondence on a desk about a product they were making for a country in the Far East.

The ability to read documents viewed upside down on a desk is something I picked up during my decades as a real newspaperman. I am sure it sounds a little strange to most of you, but I assure you it was a superpower I used only for the public good.

What it did for me that day was to connect me to the network of people and places far away with whom Rockland companies routinely do business. It gave me a vision of the scope of the real world around me, if you will.

I had a similar experience the other day, while leafing through a list of help-wanted ads in connection with my work. This time, the words I saw are posted in the public domain, so I have no reason not to share them with you, and maybe you will see what I mean when I say many of our connections in this city stretch across the map:

This comes from a help-wanted ad posted by the O’Hara Corporation, down on Tillson Avenue. Maybe it’s just the time of year working on me, but I thought I caught something of the poetry of enterprise and labor in it:

“The heart of O’Hara Corporation surrounds our catcher processor vessels fishing in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska.

“Our vessels catch flounders, Atka mackerel, Pacific Ocean perch, cod, pollock, among others. With a current home port of Seattle, Washington, the Araho (194 feet), Alaska Spirit (204 feet), Constellation (165 feet), Defender (120 feet) and her sister ship Enterprise (120 feet) catch, process and freeze their catch at sea.

“Our flagship vessel, Araho, is the newest addition to the Alaska groundfish fleet. Our five fishing vessels operate in one of the most sustainable fishing industries in the world. O’Hara Corporation will continue to strive for the best quality groundfish product we can offer our worldwide customers.”

Anyone who has watched a certain cable TV show might know something of the hard work that must go on aboard these vessels out there beyond the western coast. It’s part of the great effort necessary to keep the world working for the rest of us.

* * * * *

We’re not unaware of the fishing that takes place closer to home.

Last week, I was watching my cardboard TV in an aimless fashion, and flipped to the local cable channel that features an interesting range of shows. This one was produced by Gil Merriam, who was interviewing Lime City native and poet Leo Connellan (Nov. 30, 1928 – Feb. 22, 2001).

Leo was reading a poem he wrote about a woman called Amelia, whom he knew well enough to make sure he stopped by the sardine cannery in town to say goodbye to her when he enlisted in the Army.

In the middle of his reading, a video date-stamped May 1997 was shown it was filmed in the interior of a Rockland sardine plant as the workers went about the process of turning little silver fish into canned sardines. (I believe they used to have a sardine canning contest at the Lobster Festival, years before I came here.)

As the camera panned back and forth along the line of workers, I recognized one or two faces. No names, just faces of people I must have surely seen on the streets and in the stores around here.

* * * * *

Well, we had our nor’easter last week, as modern people seem to want to call it.

Twenty or 30 years ago, a gentleman who was old enough to know told me that people never used to call them anything but north easters, but somehow the idea got around that it was more authentic to describe these heavy winter gales in pirate language.

The idea stuck with me, although I am now far less of a noodge about using the older phrase or even (may heaven and my unfortunate victims forgive me) correcting the modern usage. After all, who’s to say what is absolutely correct about words, other than time or custom?

The gale struck late last Tuesday. A couple of weeks earlier, somebody contacted city hall and urged that the colored holiday lights hanging in trees at the corner of Park and Main, and further down along Main too, be left up as long as possible for purposes of boosting morale. The city agreed, but reserved the right to remove them in case of bad weather, as they cost rather a lot.

That Tuesday morning, sure enough, city workers were out before 8 a.m. with their cherry-picker, taking down the lights so they could be put away safely to shine on another holiday. I think we’ve had these city lights for two years or so, and it’s good to learn they are being taken care of as a valuable public asset.

The snow that fell that evening and well into the next day would certainly have pleased at least one person, an education tech in one of the various classrooms our school district maintains across our part of the county.

Not for the apparently obvious reason that the schools were not open that day, but because, as she told her husband a short while earlier, “I hope we get some snow soon, because today at recess, I saw kids playing with mud.”

* * * * *

Don’t you think it is quite wonderful that our new U.S. Secretary of State is called Antony Blinken? Shorten his first name to a mere initial and say out loud what is left, and you will see that it sounds close enough to “Abe Lincoln.”

* * * * *

Speaking of television, (see above) for better or worse, it does serve as a kind of transmitter of our culture.

Huddled together in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, I was watching a show on my hamster-wheel powered set, and watched the umpteenth version of the surely-by-now-famous Reny’s ad, in which various people, including choirs, children and people who sound like frogs, sing the single line “Reny’s – a Maine adventure.”

Mostly charming, I think.

Wondering who else might someday be tapped to perform this little ditty, I found myself pondering on whether Susan Collins, our U.S. senator about whom I complained mildly a few weeks back, might be able to redeem her reputation, and herself, by singing this ad on television? For free, of course.

I later mentioned this idea to my beloved, who immediately grasped the full scope of the possibilities involved, and wondered whether even our ex-prez, poor Lord Trumpleton, might be able to do sufficient penance and thus restore his thoroughly self-ruined reputation in this same way.

I said it was a brilliant idea and theologically sound, as nobody should be placed in a position where they cannot hope for redemption. However, let us be realistic. Penance implies a certain degree of contrition and remorse, and unfortunately I think we are standing on very thin ice here, hoping for that.

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

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (2)
Posted by: Judy Lindahl | Feb 15, 2021 12:51

Love the reminiscing about the sardine fishery. My late husband put three children through college running the Jacob Pike. And now I will never see the Reny’s add again without thinking of Trump!

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 12, 2021 05:25

Yes, Mr. Grima, it has happened before and it looks like it may happen again.  Yet you and I will survive and thrive because ist's just who we are. :)      First-hand accounts by Americans in Berlin during WWII reveal how Germans fell under Hitler's spell | Daily Mail Online

If you wish to comment, please login.
Note: If you signed up using our new subscriber portal, your username is the email address you registered with and your password is in all caps