Thanksgiving unlike any Thanksgiving

By David Grima | Nov 26, 2020

A recent communication from Paris over-the-water suggests I should mention the South End Tomato Lady has been reelected to Rockland City Council, and I must agree a mention is long overdue.

Yes, it was such a close contest that both candidates for the seat in question asked for a recount, and unfortunately the Tomato Lady lost, which is to say she was determined to have won the seat by a Magnificently Unlucky 13 Votes.

My condolences to her husband and their pet dog.

* * * * *

The other night, early last week, I was sitting out on a cold clear night on top of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, when I saw a UFO glide across the sky.

It certainly was a UFO because it was flying and, for the life of me, I could not identify what it was.

It appeared as a single white light the size and color of a star, and was at first moving in a direction that seemed generally north. There were no blinking lights on it, such as the red and green navigation lights on an airliner or other aircraft. I looked rather hard for those lights. I decided it might be a satellite, but although I have seen many of those manufactured stars in my lifetime, this one did not meet all the requirements.

When it seemed to stop and turn about 100 degrees to the east, and proceed a little more slowly over Rockland toward the ocean, I decided it was certainly not a satellite.

If I was not chased inside my cardboard box by the evening chill, I would have waited for it to pass approximately overhead. A jet aircraft’s engine noise sometimes becomes audible only when it is moving away from you, and hearing it might have given me enough evidence to identify the thing.

I will say, though, I have never seen an aircraft other than a helicopter make that sort of extreme turn to change its course, before. Normally, they bank gently to one side or the other and so curve their way more gently into a new direction. This seemed to make a more or less sharp turn, more than a mere right turn, and in fact slightly going back toward its original course as though its 50-fingered little green pilot overshot his mark.

Or was it a camera drone, filming the darkness over Midcoast Maine? Oh well.

I am far more confident in the identity of an aircraft I saw flying approximately east over the Beloved Lime City Nov. 5, in broad daylight at lunchtime. It was a KC-135 air-to-air refueling airplane, most likely from the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard, and flying out of Bangor.

I only mention this to show I am not a complete novice when it comes to spotting planes, hoping perhaps you will better share my puzzlement at whatever it was that flew overhead the other night.

* * * * *

It is reported that several residential developments are being contemplated in Rockland, beginning with the scheme I heard about a while ago, to replace the ghost houses up the hill on Philbrick Avenue.

I call them ghost houses because, although the dilapidated structures that once stood there were finally torn down a while back, at one point you could still see them in place on Google Maps via the street view, and when you changed the view the houses faded to grass.

Then, there is another development planned for about 10 acres off Talbot Avenue, and finally, a nursing home planned for Old County Road.

I hope somebody is keeping tabs on how much green space we stand to lose with all these projects, although it goes without saying that we are generally short of housing in Rockland. Why, I know a perfectly decent fellow who camps out on top of a derelict industrial structure in the South End!

More seriously, I also know a citizen who lives year-round in a tent in our city. I doubt he is the only one.

* * * * *

Speaking of which, I hear there is yet another scheme to repurpose my dear concrete towers, as now somebody wants to project images of artworks upon them.

This would certainly be the least invasive of the many plots, schemes, notions, ideas, projects and possibilities that have been put forth for these elegant grain silos, which have graced the city’s shoreline in their own peculiar way since the middle of the 1960s.

Condominium, craft shop, hotel rooms, enormous gray canvas to be painted on, helicopter landing site, cheap storage for unwanted migrant children, missile launch pad — there have been so many novel ideas suggested in the last 25 years or so that I have quite lost track of which ones were at least notionally genuine, and which ones were fictional. I do confess I am responsible for most of the fictional ones.

But projecting the image of artworks on the towers is no new thing, and I have seen it done. Some time around the turn of the century, he said vaguely, I saw artist John Clapp use a powerful lamp to project gigantic silhouettes of his flat steel figures onto the side of the square tower, one night late in the year. John was an owner of The Old Granite Inn, near the ferry terminal.

It was all most entertaining, and also did little or no damage to the towers.

* * * * *

A tender sign of hard times: A cavalcade of cars traveling last Saturday to the high school, where a distribution of free food took place, just a few days before this Thanksgiving unlike any Thanksgiving.

According to the media, this was organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Farmers to Families food box program. The food was distributed without what we used to call a Means Test, which is a mercy and also makes for a faster give-away.

* * * * *

Saw an interesting headline in the online Courier a day to two ago: “Mobile health clinic makes Rockland stop.”

I have often wondered what it would take to stop Rockland, even for a few minutes, hoping of course that whatever could achieve such a monumental feat, I would never see it happen in my lifetime.

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

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