To deceive and confuse

By David Grima | Apr 14, 2021

For over a year we have been watching for signs, any signs at all, of what might still remain of normal.

I present to you, therefore, the sight of young people wearing gloves and caps and tossing a baseball to each other at the ballfield on Thomaston Street, last Thursday evening; the sounds of the spring ‘peeper’ frogs in the air again on the evening before; the fleeting glimpse of a crow carrying a stick from tree to tree in the South End, around lunchtime the last week of March; and the brief gathering of some old friends on Saturday afternoon in a back yard, glad to be together again even though none dared suggest we all go inside when the sun began to lose its heat.

Instead, we all went home.

These things are not much, I agree, when they are measured against the enormous and fatal unnormal that still surrounds us. But they will have to do for now.

* * * * *

I see the Farnsworth museum was again accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, having been the first in Maine to receive this certification in 1972. All according to an out-of-state press release.

I must go back and visit the old place. There is something both soothing and stirring about seeing certain pictures again, after a long break.

Just remember, if you also decide to visit the museum, residents of our fair city are entitled to free admission.

* * * * *

Speaking of museums, as the Park Street Grille people reconfigure the building at 1 Park Drive, the old Courier place, for their new home, a reader has asked if the Maine Lighthouse Museum in that building will leave or stay.

I am told it will stay, but its entrance will now be via the doors at the other end of the building. We are waiting for the Grille itself to reopen, which might perhaps be another sign of normal? Well, half a sign, at least.

* * * * *

We were told to prepare for least three weekends of entertainment at the public landing this summer, starting June 26 with another drive-in concert, followed by the Blues Festival and then by the postponed celebration of Maine’s bicentennial, which should have happened last year but didn’t.

This latter event, we hope, might feature the local windjammer fleet in some way. Probably on the water, I imagine. We’ll find out what the details are fairly soon, I am sure.

* * * * *

I saw the front door of the old Time Out Pub standing open the other day, and suppose without actually checking that the new owner is perhaps starting to make some renovations to the place.

However, a hundred yards further along Main Street at the corner of Water Street, the clock remains in disrepair and stuck at 11:50.

It was good to see a front-page story in last week’s paper explaining the city has responsibility for this fancy public timepiece, and has got round to asking an electrician to figure out why it is broken.

* * * * *

Speaking of being broken, it is again time to draw official attention to the continuing awful state of many streets and side roads in Rockland.

A couple of years ago we finally dug up and rebuilt Main Street in the South End, and Water Street, too, which was nice so far as it went. But it was really little more than the long overdue beginning of a much greater effort of public work that needs to be done in the city.

It always seemed to me that the first responsibility of local government these days should be to the public safety, and after that, the roads. After all, what would be the point in seeing railroad service restored to Rockland (which I still say will not happen) while the roads we use every day are crumbling away?

* * * * *

Meanwhile back in the real world, the city is ordering the sign at our defunct Burger King restaurant at Maverick Square be removed. The business closed in December, I think.

There are those who see this as a gross interference, but the law has its uses in preventing dismay among the public. After all, The Courier-Gazette moved to Camden years ago but left its sign behind at the Breakwater Building in Rockland, to deceive and confuse all kinds of people.

I have had to redirect several abandoned Courier customers to Camden, after they showed up at my office door in that building searching for the newspaper.

I will bear witness that at least one poor hungry driver waited uselessly outside Burger King in the drive-through lane a few weeks ago, hoping to get non-existent service. Possibly he is still there, having died of hunger. I’ll have to check.

In my not very humble opinion, businesses that move away but won’t take down their signs are in a similar category as clocks that break down and refuse to tell the time.

Remember, a few years ago the city forced the removal of the old painted Senter-Crane sign from the brickwork on Main Street, as the building is now occupied by the Island Institute.

* * * * *

The Goodwill thrift store on Camden Street provoked a mention in the North Carolina press a short while again, when the photo of four 19th-century Northern Carolinians, members of a family named Barrier, showed up there and were eventually repatriated.

According to the Independent Tribune of earlier this month, Kathy Zvanovec of Hope found the photos at Goodwill last April, “realized they were historic and set out to find where they belonged.”

The Tribune says “Rufus Alexander Barrier (1836-1876) is known as one of the founders of Company H, Eighth NC Regiment, a group of 58 volunteers mustered at the Western Carolina Male Academy to serve in the Civil War.

"After the war, Barrier returned to Mount Pleasant and married Martha Roxana Anthony, daughter of a local minister. Together they had six sons, four of whom lived to adulthood.”

Because the photo found at our Goodwill store was marked with the names of the four subjects, Zvanovec “searched obituaries, sent emails, made calls…” and in November the images were seen on a website dedicated to locating gravesites, by a relative of the Barrier family, Scott Culp of Charlotte, N.C.

Through his additional efforts, the images now reside at the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society in the state where the four brothers were born. So, if you have ever lost something valuable and decided it will never be found, try not to give up hope that somebody will find it and get it back to you, even if it takes a while.

By the way, North Carolina had a confusing relationship to the Civil War, I have learned. While the state joined the Rebellion and sent thousands of troops to fight against the Union, many of its citizens rejected this decision and fought for the Union instead.

* * * * *

Another reader has written in response to my suggestion that Samuel Johnson accidentally left the word “sausage” out of his famous dictionary. I believe this idea was originally played for laughs on a television show starring British comic Rowan Atkinson. Then, by April 8, I received the following note:

“Mr. Grima. My copy of Johnson's Dictionary (5th ed. abridged, 1773) does indeed go directly from saucy to save; not a sausage to be found. (signed) D.D., Rockland.”

Wouldn’t it be fun to leave the story there? Unfortunately, I also found this information online:

“One of the gags in the Blackadder episode is the discovery that Dr. Johnson left the word 'sausage' out of his Dictionary. Fans of Blackadder will no doubt be disappointed to learn that in real life, 'sausage' is in fact in there. For Johnson had the letters 'u' and 'v' the wrong way round.”

If you are now as confused as I am, although possibly not quite as fascinated by the whole matter, I will attempt to leave the Great Debate right there, with my thanks to all who have taken part.

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

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