Thursday, April 3, 2008

When I Moved From Maryland To Maine, I Went From One Nearly Crime Free Area To Another

If you'll notice, this business card says that the post office for Katahdin Lodge is located in Smyrna Mills, Maine. Not Patten, as is said throughout all of my Northern Maine Adventure writings and is on the painted signs in the dead bear photos on the last page of this digital coffee table book.

Patten, Maine was the original postal address for the Lodge. And in 1969, we had to pick up our mail in town. I enjoyed doing so.

Sometime between 1970, when I was home on leave from the Army, and 1977, when I returned to the Lodge to live and work, mail delivery service to Katahdin Lodge had begun.

My Uncle Finley had changed post offices for his Katahdin Lodge in the early '70s. He claimed that too many people in Patten knew too much of his business from knowing what kind of mail the Lodge was receiving. And then gossiping about it.

I don't know about that. I think that maybe it was just a little bit of paranoia brought on by Finley's Korean War induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In all small town/little village types of populations around the whole wide world, gossip happens.

Small town gossip was one of the aspects of my northern Maine adventures that was quite interesting and entertaining to me. And that aspect of my adventures is all laid out in amongst my published short stories, which are instantly accessible through the links at the top right of this page, under: My Work That Is Published In Maine.

Patten is where we, at the Lodge, went to town for some of our supplies and most of our socialization wants and needs. That little town is 10 or 11 miles south of the Lodge. The town's commercial section is about equal to two city blocks long.

Smyrna Mills is about the same distance from the Lodge as Patten is. Both in mileage and travel time. With a trip to Smyrna taking a few minutes longer. But Smyrna only had one small, country store for a 'commercial district'.

Patten had far more personality than Smyrna. It may still today. I don't know though. I just found a new web site for the Town of Smyrna, and the area looks like it is doing better today than it was when I used to pass through there on a regular basis.

Patten has more than twice the population of Smyrna, and as far as I know, that census number for Patten has never topped 2,000 souls.

I can only speak for the limited time that I lived and worked up in Maine, but, back then, for my own personal tastes, Patten had more good living per cubic inch than anyplace else on earth.

As far as I know, of coarse.

No matter what, for me, in Northern Maine, Patten was where the action was.

In all of those little towns, during the 1968-69 era, the crime rate was nearly zilch, nada', not a problem. And whether I was either in a place of business in one of those towns, or out riding around with some Mainer kids in their vehicle, on a Saturday night, I left the key in the ignition of the vehicle that I had driven to town in. There were no vehicle thieves to be seen anywhere, in or around most of Northern Maine.

In early 1968, when I was still living in Dundalk, Md., crimes did happen, but it was not bad here: people left car windows open all night; this was before everyone had air conditioners, so homes had wooden screen doors that would never thwart just a mildly determined criminal's evil intentions; our homes had screened windows that stayed open all night long, in hot weather; some burglaries did happen and were often somewhat of a fear; but armed robberies, muggings and other violent crimes rarely ever happened in my Dundalk neighborhood.

1968 Dundalk was not a violent or dangerous area, like Baltimore's dank, rotting harbor area neighborhoods were in those days. That is where the world famous tourist destinations of the Inner Harbor and Fells Point are today.

My Uncle Finley K. Clarke, his sister--my mother Doris, my Aunt Martha (nee Thomas), my father--Bob Crews and all of their brothers and sisters grew up together in the Bethlehem Steel owned company mill town of Sparrows Point, Maryland. "The Point" was an easy eight minute drive from my parent's, two sister's and my Dundalk home. During the entire history of that small Town of Sparrows Point, there were virtually never any crimes committed at all.

I spent a lot of time "down The Point" at my grandparents' homes. The Clarke and Crews families were members of the St. Matthews Episcopal Church down there. The Thomas's may have been too. I don't remember whether they were or not, but they went to church on The Point. I was down The Point for most Sundays, on every holiday--except for on the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day when large family picnics were held in my backyard in Dundalk--and I visited my grandparent's homes on many days in between holidays.

The small Town of Sparrows Point was an American community where you could comfortably walk around feeling 99.9999% positively certain that you would never be anywhere near an occurring crime.

Thankfully, the relaxing, nearly crime free life of Patten, Maine was nothing new to Fin, Marty, me or anyone else in our my families.

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