Maine has always been special. In the decades between the 40’s and the 70’s Maine was spectacular. Between then and now, however, there have been many changes.
I grew up in Clifton, northish of Bangor, a town of about 60 souls back then, maybe less. Our roads were dirt. Electricity and telephones were not yet available. Our women cooked and heated our homes with wood stoves while the men farmed and logged with horses. No one wasted their lives watching television or cruising the internet. There were no drug addicts or garage thieves to poison our community. Folks went to bed early, got up early, and went about the honest business of living. Kids worked, played, or studied. Like our homes, our one room school house had no plumbing. We drank from a dipper in a pail of water and used outhouses, one for the boys, one for the girls. Self-sufficient, literally living off the land, we hunted, fished, trapped, logged, grew crops, and tended our livestock. Life went along about like it had for the preceding two centuries. A bit like today’s Amish, but much more in tune with nature than religion.
Since every individual had responsibilities and chores, no one sat around on their backsides wasting away staring at screens. Our clean and healthy forests were absolutely beautiful, lush with wildlife and huge ancient hardwood trees. Hidden to unseeing eyes, deep in the forests of Maine, were unique ecosystems that existed nowhere else on earth. Those systems and the wildlife supported by them were respected. There was no such thing as clear cutting our forests. There were no fishers, coyotes, coywolves, or people hunting for “sport”. Folks hunted and logged to feed their families, but did so conservatively with the future of our forests, our people, and the creatures that inhabited our forests, always in consideration. Nature was balanced and predictable. Life was good.
I left Clifton in ‘the 60’s to join the Marine Corps. Seems like the government scraped up all the Clifton boys that were old enough. Many never made it back. I came back once or twice in the 70’s, but didn’t stick around. I headed west where I enrolled in one of our country’s first community colleges. In those days they were in it for the community, not the buck, and were affordable to anyone. The G.I. Bill covered my tuition, and I was hungry for some book learning. I majored in business. Back then it was clackers with blank keys, and huge adding machines with hand cranks. Kaching!
Things rolled along that way for a while until one quarter I already had a couple of tough classes, but needed to fill four more credits. I looked around for something easy, something not too important. I enrolled in a welding class just to keep my schedule full. Didn’t even know what it was. At first I wasn’t very good at it. But, as I am wont to do, I gave it my best until one day I got an unexpected job offer from a local ship yard. They offered me a bit less than 6 bucks an hour. Until then I had been working restaurants earning about two bucks an hour, and could not refuse what to me was a fortune.
Welding was my gateway into the construction trades. Since then I’ve worked all the blue collar trades, and I’ve built everything from ships and oilrigs, to hospitals, shopping centers, homes, and bridges. It was always interesting, often fun, and there was lots of work everywhere. I worked the shipyards along all three coasts, the oil patches in places like Wyoming, banged nails from Arizona and Texas to the Carolinas, and hanged steel all over. I built and installed oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and did a stint as a 2nd engineer on a push boat on the Mississippi river. I’ve also worked a few white-collar trades, like teaching, editing, translations, and instantaneous language interpretations. I’ve been employed editing a couple of English language newspapers in other countries. (I speak three languages, I’m tri-cultural.) Lately I’m free-lancing as a content/website creator for a couple of publications, mostly about animal rescue. I’ve been all over our country and many foreign countries. Some countries I only visited, some I lived and worked in. I’ve also been to higher ed in three different decades. (I’ll be discussing that later, changes and differences over the decades and so forth – not good.) And I confess I’ve flown pretty close to the ground all along the way.
Just sayin’ all that so you’ll understand where I’m coming from as I share my North County experiences with you. I’ve been around. I promise you, if I say a there’s something a bit odd about a given population there’s a pretty good chance there is. I hope, dear reader, you will join me as I share with the world my experiences transplanting to the North County. I promise you, the coming true account of my experiences here in the North of Aroostook County, Maine, could make Stephen King blush. Stay tuned if you dare.