The whole place has gone mad

By Stell Shevis | Oct 01, 2015

"Stell, let's get out of here. I think we've made a terrible mistake," Shevis said to his wife after the couple had traveled to Camden from New Jersey in the dead of winter to look at a home they had just purchased in Belmont. They had faced rude comments and strange behavior from many folks in town and had no idea why.

We packed in a hurry and made for the bus stop a few blocks away at the drugstore. When we got there, a dozen men were standing around waiting for the bus. When we went inside to keep warm, they all crowded in as well. We were surrounded.

When the bus arrived they all stood and watched as we climbed on board. The bus took on a few passengers in Rockland and as it started again, I noticed a motorcycle cop was just ahead, and looking back. There was another one following the bus.

The bus came into Thomaston and drew in in front of the State Police barracks. A police officer issued smartly from the building, came to the open door of the bus and ordered in a loud voice, "Will the couple who got on at Camden come with me and bring all your luggage."

We looked around in disbelief — but realized that was us!

There was an uneasy silence as we picked up our things and ran the gauntlet of accusing eyes to follow the officer. Inside, he said, "You people have certainly kept the phone lines busy. Haven't had so much excitement for years! I must inspect all your luggage, and also your identification papers. There are some serious charges against you."

He carefully inspected everything, riffled through the sketchbooks, removed the film from my camera, poked through the few clothes in the one suitcase. We didn't have much in the way of papers and there were no credit cards then, neither had drivers licenses, no birth certificates. Why would anyone carry that? I can't even remember if Social Security was in effect then!

Shevis was ready to explode! "Just what the hell is going on around here? This whole place has gone mad! We bought property here and just wanted to look it over, and my God we find ourselves in a mad house!"

"Well now, if you had just stopped in here on your way, everything would be hunky-dory. We would know who you were and there would be no trouble at all. But you told the taxi man you wanted to be alone, and that you'd walk the 12 miles when you were good and ready. And look at your clothes! Real foreign looking they are, even to me and I'm no country bumpkin! And sir, you have a foreign accent!"

"Dammit!" Shevis shouted. "I'm from Scotland, came here as a child and am a naturalized citizen and I think this is an outrage. Is this a police state that we should sign in when entering the state?"

"Now sir, let me clear this up some. Three months ago, two German spies were apprehended up in Gouldsboro, up the coast a ways. They had landed by submarine and were climbing up from shore through a scrubby patch of woods, and were spotted by a schoolboy. He could tell they were not Mainers because they were wearing long overcoats and felt hats! They looked foreign to him and he was right. The youngster ran to the nearest house to call the sheriff, who caught the two right away. The boy was written up in the newspapers and got a medal! Now everyone wants to catch a spy and get a medal! They were sure you two were spies and can you blame them?"

Well that did explain the crazy way that people had been acting and I suppose we should have been more aware of conditions. He ushered us back to the waiting bus, nodded to the driver, and we continued on our way, but not without suspicion on the part of our fellow passengers.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.