Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ballard's Citco Station On A Saturday Night

That's Arnold Ballard at the left, but I don't remember the other two guys. This was in Ballard's Full Service Citco Gas Station in Patten, Maine. Arnie's father owned it. I took this series of photos to show my family and friends back in Dundalk, Maryland--a suburb of Baltimore--what it was like hanging out in town on a Saturday night.

Now that I see this old photo in this format, it comes to front that the most important historical angle to it is the hair cuts of those two guys. They look like the carefully crafted styles that many of my contemporaries wore through the '60s.

Hey! Don't the guy all the way to the right in the back look like he's figuring on going bald, before he's out of his twenties? He's already training his forward comb over!

If that fellow is still alive and sees this: "Sorry old pal, I couldn't resist".

I just fit right in up there in Patten, Maine. It may look like those fellows in that photo are shutting me out of their inner circle, but I had a comfortable leaning spot in amongst that circle of friends and buddies just off to the left. I had shifted position to take the photograph.

Oh yeah. I definitely fit right in.

Even though I fit right in up there, I was always aware that if at least the past two, no, three generations of a person's family hadn't been born and raised within oh, say sixty miles of the town of Patten, then that person would always be "from the outside."

I respected that.

They had a tough life up there livin' in the woods.

When there were local jobs available, the work was usually fairly hard and often dangerous. If they became injured or ill, it was their family, friend or neighbor who drove them the hour or more it might take to get to the nearest hospital. Those folks up there relied on one another for their survival. Everybody looked out for each other.

The kids from Patten and the other small towns in the area would often go to each other's dances and parties. And I went to most of them too, often with my best friend, Gary McCarthy. He and I picked up some sweet babes together, at those countryfied teenage social affairs.

Early one relaxed, mid-summer's Saturday evening, just before the night's teen fun and country kid style action was about to commence ta' happening in northern Maine, Gary McCarthy and I were sitting next to each other, while sipping sodas, on swivel stools at the lunch counter in the Patten Drug Store.

Gary turned to me and said, "Dave, if you get into a fight with a guy from another town, then by jeeze, it'll be me and you against him back to back; I'll fight any of his friends who try to hit you from behind. But! If you get into a fight with a guy from the Town of Patten? It'll be him, me and the rest of the town against you."

I had no problem with that. I admired them for the way that they stuck together.

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