Have you lived in or visited Maine? Tell us about it!
Kennebec County, Maine, USA (North America) — February 2019 —Winthrop, Maine. A small town, about 20 minutes out from Augusta. It used to be a vacation destination, some 150 years back. By the 1980s, when I grew up, it had grown decrepit. Trolley lines and lavish hotels had been supplanted by crumbling tarmac and weather-beaten hovels. Poverty was the norm, with all the grime and resentment that go alongside. The kids were mean. Their parents were conservative. The school was a mess. The only culture to speak of was sports culture—that, and the odd shirtless bonfire in the woods. It was an unpleasant place to be for anyone who happened not to quite fit in. It also was culture-locked, in that the nearest city was barely a city in a functional sense. There was no public transit. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do. There were no theaters, no roller rinks. There was a tiny arcade affixed to a LaVerdiere’s at the top of the hill, and that was great for a few minutes, but they only had half a dozen games at a time. Teenagers would drink in parking lots. Younger kids would prowl for easy prey to strengthen their knuckles. It was the collapse of society, writ small.
York County, Maine, USA (North America) — June 2018 —Biddeford, in York County, Maine, in the farthest northeast corner of the United States, is a mill town, that, in the 1970s, when i was a teen, consisted of 65% French-Canadians and 25 or so % Irish. Up to the 1950s, they lived in distinct parts of town, the Irish closer to the Northeast portion, the French near the mills and expanding out. I grew up in a quiet town that, i believe, had to import crime just to get a statistic. Mostly middle to lower-middle class, the working town mindset embedded itself in the students. Most families would stay in the community for a long time, but sooner or later, as children got married, often between 18 and 25, they would find a good inexpensive lot of land outside the city, say in Buxton, Dayton or Arundel, and dwindle the population. The town could have grown and developed. The downtown area has a historical edge to it, but by the mid to late 70s, it just died. Sure you had Reilly’s Bakery and Biddeford-Saco Savings Bank, but small businesses were boarded up, as the outflow to the Maine Mall in neighboring South Portland, right off I-95, or mall outlets down toward New Hampshire draw money away from the city. A lack of insight and quick desire to get tax revenues led to the city making terrible decisions, not the least of which was the building of a waste to energy incinerator in the downtown area, adjacent to the river. However, growing up in the city felt safe. My parents bought their house in the early 1970s, a few blocks from the high school, and we never locked the doors at night and, in the muggy summer days, would leave windows open at night to allow any breeze at all to come in (with the mosquitoes). When I go back home to visit periodically, i drive through the city and see how it has changed. The downtown has revived a bit, but there’s still that sense that it is a city that wants to be more than a ‘hometown,’ but is stuck with a significant lower class population that are un-educated and unproductive, not necessarily criminal, just depressing.
Androscoggin County, Maine, USA (North America) — April 2018 – Durham, Maine 04222. A bedroom community to Portland, Auburn, Lewiston, Brunswick and Augusta, Durham has a long history of farm land, equestrian centers and close knit cul-de-sacs. Famed horror writer, Stephen King spent most of his early youth a stone’s throw from Methodist Corner, an area that is home to a falling down church, a defunct pet cemetery, and a deadly four way intersection that has a knack for collecting car crashes and auto fatalities. In the past 12 plus years I’ve lived here, Durham and it’s inhabitants are being dragged into the modern urban landscape by the long growing tentacle of Portland jobs, culture and accessibility. Family names, like [content redacted; names removed], that have been weaved into the fabric of Durham’s past seem to be fading away. Durham is not a religious town but it’s an American town. Ford trucks, snowmobiles, and bean suppers, and Memorial Day parades that start at the Amvets and saunter down a sleepy thoroughfare. A road too small to be thought of as a “Main Street,” but it’s the closest thing we got. Right now it’s Trump Country, but many of older folks know that it won’t be that way for long because the newcomers are arriving from Portland, “the City.” Durham is a town that’s pivoting towards the future whether its current residence want that or not.
York County, Maine, USA (North America) – April 2018 — I live in Arundel, Maine (04046). My town is bordered by larger towns that have commerce and things to do. The street where my house is located in two towns, that’s how small it is! The towns are connected by two small highways, one with just land, and the other with a few corner stores and several car dealerships. This town also has the same zip code as a neighboring town, which makes getting my mail a pain, as I have to drive nearly 30 minutes to get to my designated post office! Living in a small town does have benefits though; one is able to join several area libraries for free or get discounted parking at the local beaches! It is less than an 8 minute drive into the neighboring town to get groceries, go to work, or even go to the beach. Living in Maine certainly has its perks, especially with all of the easy accessible beaches and local trails. The town of Arundel has parking at the Eastern Trail, which is a long trail that heads south and north up the glorious coast of Maine. While my town may be nothing special, this state certainly has a lot nearby to offer.