I just read a book in less than half an hour. No, I can’t speed read. The book is titled “Remember Maine” by Keith Jennison, with photographs by George French. I can’t remember when I have enjoyed a book as much as this one. Eighty-eight pages of dead-pan Maine speak, short and succinct, complimented by some great black and white photography.
This is not the side-splitting humor of Tim Sample, or Marshall Dodge and Robert Bryan of “Bert and I” fame. These pages reflect down east reckoning and reasoning you hear around here every day. The difference being, it’s not really meant to be funny, it just gives your innards a tweak.
To give you an idea:
Chapter one consists of three sentences that tell of a visitor trying to start a conversation with an old gent. Not having any luck, he asked it there was a law against talking. The old duffer said no, but people were not encouraged to talk unless it improved on silence.
Mainers aren’t by nature a chatty people. Their silence or abrupt answers might at times be misinterpreted for disdain by the tourists, but meaningless conversation is simply not important to a lot of us. Old timers can sit with a friend for hours without saying a word and not feel a twinge of guilt.
Chapter nineteen is a whopping two sentences. A man asked if it made any difference which road he took to get to a town. The Mainer said not to him it didn’t.
Now, a lot of people might find that funny, but to me it’s just common sense. I’ve given tourists a lot of directions in my life, and by the time I was tossing around retirement from the post office, I had just about had it. Most people didn’t listen, and many of the ones that did, argued with me. I guess that’s where the accepted response “Can’t get thayah from heyah” came from.
Chapter seven holds the record with just one sentence about the farmland being so hard that corn was planted with a shotgun.
Trust me. I’ve seen some of these rock farms, and this just might be true. Factual or not, it is a statement that makes a Maine farmer nod his head in commiseration. No whining, no rushing to apply for a hardship grant, just acceptance of the hand God dealt them and getting’ on with it.
We’re not easily impressed here in Maine, as Chapter fourteen, one of the longest chapters, illustrates. It speaks of an artist type fellow purchasing an old house because he wanted a nice view. The old coot didn’t understand what the big deal was. All the artist would see was a potato patch and a bunch of mountains.
My favorite, which did bring a smile to my face, was Chapter six which tells of a whole town walking out to the cemetery to bury a ninety-eight year old man. A young kid asked a lady standing next to him how old she was. She answers seventy-nine. The kid thought for a minute and told her it hardly paid for her to go back to town.
Source: Remember Maine by Keith Jennison