Yankee principle

By David Grima | Feb 26, 2021

I heard before, I saw it in the paper, about that poor young woman killed on Route 17 in an auto accident the other day, and that she \worked at Rock City Coffee on Main Street.

My connection to Rock City is through close family, and I understand the staff there are simply devastated.

Things like this cut through the human experience like a knife, causing all kinds of wounds that will not stop flowing for a long time.

Perhaps it is no surprise the shortest verse in the Bible reports simply that “Jesus wept” when he saw the effect death had on the community, not to mention upon himself, following the loss of his own close friend. I acknowledge that tragedy like this, even on a local scale, is an absolute offense to the human spirit.

* * * * *

I hear the local chamber of commerce will have its visitor center on Park Drive closed for a while, during work being done to adapt part of the building as the new home for the Park Street Grille.

This of course raises a serious technical question about whether they will remain as the Park Street Grill after the move, or reemerge from their chrysalis fully rebranded as the Park Drive Grille.

There was a time in Rockland history when I called this small corner of town “Little Mexico. Where the PSG is currently was another Mexican restaurant called Cactus; opposite it was Rockland’s first Mexican restaurant, El Taco Tico, and on another corner was a lunch cart called Salazar’s.

Whether these three places existed at the same time as each other is longer recorded in my deteriorating memory banks, but I suspect they were or else why would I go to the extent of coming up with a special name for the intersection?

* * * * *

It has to be February when there is news in the Courier about grumbling and complaints in Owls Head. It’s just that time of year.

Many years ago I remember the town of Thomaston seemed to spend weeks one winter embroiled in bitter arguments and vicious name calling, and at one point I suggested it might help if the Air Force could arrange to parachute a large number of embroidery kits onto the town, to give people something more constructive to do with their time.

Meanwhile, cabin fever raged unabated across the community.

* * * * *

Speaking of restaurants, I hear Portland will allow fewer streets in the Old Port to be closed to allow outdoor dining, this coming summer. I think Rockland was the first city in Maine to allow such closures in 2020, as an emergency countermeasure against the Modern Plague.

On the fundamental Yankee principle of “damned if you do something and damned if you don’t”, Rockland city council has often been castigated for closing off half of our Main Street with improvised traffic barriers and bollards last summer, but I think we all understand why they did that.

Now, council has asked a citizens’ committee to come up with ideas about how to handle traffic and outdoor dining downtown this summer. This naturally means the poor souls who join this committee will now take the heat for whatever plan they come up with. The perfect set-up, for sure!

There was a certain degree of kerfuffle at a recent council meeting when creating this citizens’ group was discussed, because many downtown business owners are not city residents, and were therefore ineligible to be appointed to serve, even though some of their livelihoods might depend on various possible outcomes.

I do understand, but this is only an advisory committee. No out-of-town business owner is going to be denied time to speak at any of the meetings. Myself, I was once sentenced to serve about 18 months on one of these city advisory committees, and during our gatherings we let anybody speak who had the nerve to ask.

* * * *

Speaking of things pertaining to the forthcoming summer, I see the Yarmouth Clam Festival has already been canceled for the second year in a row. It seems few of us seriously expect Maine to be be free of the Plague for much of 2021, and even if I were a betting man, I would probably not put money on any of our own summer festivals taking place here in Knox County this year, either.

Yes, it’s a pity, and an economic hardship too. Still, it’s a different kind of suffering experienced by a woman in Alaska, who is reported recently to have been attacked from below in her outhouse by a bear.

On the other hand, the award for sheer cheek surely goes to the pair of 20-something women in Florida, who disguised themselves as grandmothers in the hope of being mistaken for 70-somethings and therefore getting vaccinated, in which hope they were justly defeated.

But surely there ought to be some sort of award for the brilliance of their effort?

* * * * *

I went to the dump last Saturday and saw the most wonderful large cardboard box in fairly good shape, lying in the recycling hopper.

“This would make a wonderful addition to my humble home at the top of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street,” said I to nobody in particular. “Where I am forced to live.”

Visions of all that extra living space and elbow room danced in my head, but then the whole idea crashed and faded away, for then I saw the wonderful box was so far away from me as I leaned over the railing, I knew I could never retrieve it without diving in after it.

I knew I could not then get out of the hopper and that I would probably end up being emptied into some truck and hauled away instead, and envisaged headlines something like “Used white man fetches record low price on recycling market.”

* * * * *

It occurred to me a month or two ago, while thinking about how much things have changed over the decades, that when I was in grade school almost all of us boys carried a jack knife. Can you imagine the holy uproar if a youngster carried a knife to school today?

* * * * *

It seems the second paragraph of this column, as printed last week, was slightly mangled by some roaring verbivore, located somewhere in the jungle near the production line.

I do apologize, although it was in fine shape when I taped the whole article to the leg of a carrier pigeon and set it off toward Courier HQ in Camden.

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

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Eric Thurston | Mar 02, 2021 15:43

I always carry a Swiss Army knife in my pocket. It seems that this can rile the authorities in Washington, D.C. A few years ago I attempted to enter the Library of Congress and placed it honestly in the box to have it properly x-rayed. To my unsurprise, I was told that I couldn't take the knife with me. The rest of my family was admitted. I waited outside. I hid the offending knife in a flower pot so I could later enter other facilities where I would not be considered a threat to national security.

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