Life In A Northern Town

A Salvation Army Band played
And Children drunk lemonade
And the morning lasted all day,
All day
And through an open window came
Like Sinatra in a younger day,
Pushing the town away
Ah

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

They sat on the stony ground
And he took out a cigarette out
And everyone else came down
To listen.
He said “In winter 1963
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy
And The Beatles.”

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
All the work shut down.

The evening had turned to rain
Watch the water roll down the drain,
As we followed him down
To the station
And though he never would wave goodbye,
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train pulled out of sight
Bye-bye

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

Life In A Northern Town – Dream Academy

(Historical photo’s courtesy of Maine Historical Society and others)

This was and still is one of my favorite songs from my youth. Whenever I hear it I get the same feeling from the words and harmony as I did years ago. A feeling of peacefulness and security washes over me along with a renewed sense of pride having grown up here. New England is the birthplace of this country and the jumping off point for all those who came here first. The brave few who gave up all but their most simple possessions, crossed an ocean with all the risks it entailed, they are the inspiration for the second part of my life.

A_Maine_Logging_Camp
Maine Logging Camp

The history of Maine is filled with stories of logging and trapping. Men went into the woods for weeks at a time, some never came back. And yet many more came because they had families to feed, houses to build. In the early days of this country people understood what it took to fend for themselves, and if you could not due to no fault of your own, others would step up to help. Communities stood by each other for the most part, and neighbors were, well, neighborly.

Caribou_maine
Caribou Maine

A strong sense of pride is felt for your hometown, a camaraderie that transcends time as we reflect on our high school days, the local swimming hole of our youth that others swam in 100 years ago. Gathering at the local store for coffee and social discussions of the day, stopping at the Grange hall on Saturday night for a bean supper. Watching the children smile as the fire trucks drove by every 4th of July parade, the BBQ chicken at the firehouse afterwards. These memories are part of what holds me here, the glue that binds me to this place.

Camp_Russell_Pond_Maine
Hunting Camp By Russel Pond Maine

The traditions of hunting and fishing still capture the minds and hearts of it citizens, the skills not lost to the ages. Whitetail deer, moose and black bear fed many a family, and still do. Trout, small mouth bass and pickerel still swim in the many lakes rivers and streams. Maine is so vast and remote that over two thirds of the state is still uninhabited. Much of those areas are still private land with nothing but dusty dirt tracts only suitable for off road vehicles or horses. If you make the effort you can find places in Maine few have tread.

Log_Pile_of_the_Great_Northern_Paper_Co.,_Millinocket,_ME
Great Northern Paper Millinocket Maine

With logging comes paper, and Maine was the world leader at one time. Mountains of logs hauled to dozens of mills. Thousands of miles of paper of all kinds shipped across the world. A renewable resource that still covers the landscape of this state, only processed by the handful of mills that remain. Technology and a changing world have all but destroyed the powerhouse industry that built this state.

Androscoggin Mill Lewiston, ME
Androscoggin Mill Lewiston Maine

The giant textile mills that towns were built around, silent due to imports created overseas with slave labor and a lust by us for cheaper goods. Many have been torn down or burned, so much history lost due to a lack of vision and remembrance of what made this state more than just geography, more than the sum of it’s acreage and location.

Poland Springs Inn
Poland Springs Inn Poland Maine

The once grand hotels that many Presidents and dignitaries visited. The opulent dining halls and manicured grounds, men and women in their finest dress, meals served on fine linen and china. One of the very first golf course’s in this country was built here, and I worked on it in my late teens. It was at this point my love of nature began, from this point forward almost all my jobs revolved around working outdoors.

Schooner Wyoming
Schooner Wyoming

Maine is also known for shipbuilding. Many schooners were built here for the trade routes to distant shores. The largest schooner ever built named Wyoming was built in Bath Maine and launched on December 15, 1909. The boat building industry is still going strong in towns like Brooklin on Maine’s coast. Maine has over 3500 miles of tidal coastline with West Quaddy Head in the town of Lubec as the eastern most point in the United States.

Longfellow-House-190-e1411742092368
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House

Portland is the largest city in Maine and was my home for many years. This city was first settled in 1623 but was destroyed several times before becoming permanent in 1633 and was named Casco. There are 136 islands in Casco Bay where Portland resides originally called the “Calendar Islands” due to the number. Famous people like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow were born here and his house still remains.

Comercial Street
Commercial Street Portland Maine

The working waterfront was home to many a schooner that tied up with the bowsprit hanging over Commercial Street because the natural port is so deep. Today, this same street bristles with workers of the fishing fleet that ply the waters off Maine for some of the finest fish and crustaceans in the world. Think Maine Lobster!

This and more are why Maine is my home, why I suffer the extreme cold winters and the almost unbearable “Black Fly Season” that will make grown men run and scream like little children for the safety of a house or car! With all it’s history, all the pioneers that made Maine their home, I cant help but feel a great reverence for their gifts. I think their spirit has been passed down through the DNA of Maine’s inhabitants to settle in me. I feel the inner draw to the great woods, the grand rivers and lakes, the breathtaking shoreline. I know deep in my heart Maine will always be my home.

 

 

21 thoughts on “Life In A Northern Town

  1. Wow, those are stunning. A very enjoyable history lesson for someone who had never (although someday I will) visited. Beautiful! Thank you. : )
    Btw: that is also one of my favorite songs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think simple food tastes best depending on the atmosphere…try the Porthole Restaurant on custom house wharf for a taste of the working waterfront.

      Like

  2. I’ve been away for a couple of days so I won’t hold you up except to say that this was fascinating and beautiful and you are the ultimate Maine tour guide – this makes me ache for a place that I loved so much (on your recommends) and can’t wait to return to 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely out there.

    Like

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