North by East
What's in a number? sic transit, and more.
WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?
Ask a numerologist.
It’s a fact. The number 207 is an often-used synonym for the state of Maine. It’s our area code. It’s the name of a popular evening television show. It serves as a synonym for the state from which Maine musicians hail on the album Music from 207.
So intertwined with our identity is 207 that we thought it might behoove us to know what, if any, significance the number holds.
We did what any seeker would do and asked a numerologist.
The esoteric study of numbers is to mathematics what alchemy is to chemistry — it was once considered to be mainstream and is now grouped with other occult practices such as astrology, tarot, and other forms of divination.
“207 is the number nine, when you add it together,” says Jane Silva, a massage therapist from Saco who pursues numerology in her spare time. “Nine is a brotherhood of mankind kind of number.”
A person (or in this case state) that is a number nine is cautioned against selfishness: “Planning a goal or achievement as a means to personal gain alone, to desire money, love, or power for personal satisfaction only is to wreck [Maine’s] life, destroy [Maine’s] power to accomplish, and to suffer personal pain,” says Juno Jordan in her book Numerology. (Is it just us or does this sound like a warning to Hollywood Slots?)
On the flip side, “when [Maine] finally learns to love life, success, and people in unison with the greater universal good, rather than for personal prominence,” continues Jordan, “[Maine] receives greater love, personally and impersonally, than it may have ever dreamed of.” We think the Bangor International Airport Troop Greeters have proven this true.
Silva adds that the word Maine, too, has its own numerological significance based on the numerical vibrations of each letter: “The name Maine makes one feel like a home away from home,” says Silva. “It offers protection and love. It takes away anxiety and fears, and heals the broken-hearted.”
Maybe there’s something to this numbers stuff after all.
The loss of a Jackman landmark is the latest blow to the North Woods.
For years, as mills close and the paper industry vanishes, Maine’s North Woods has been losing its people, with the younger generation moving away in search of jobs elsewhere. The towns they leave behind can seem a bit outsized, with massive brick buildings now serving only a fraction of their intended occupancy.
In Jackman last winter, this situation was sadly brought home when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland made the decision to tear down the stately St. Anthony Catholic Church on Main Street, rather than pay for its upkeep and heating costs. Reverend Richard Malo, who serves the 150-person-strong congregation in Jackman, says the circa-1928 granite building needed more than a million dollars in masonry repairs and cost more than thirty thousand dollars each year to keep heated at only sixty degrees. With just 718 Jackman residents, compared to 1,100 when the church was built, and only about ninety congregants coming to Sunday mass (compared to a couple hundred in the 1940s), Malo says the decision to move out of the building
was based on both economics and demographics.
So for $48,000, a wrecking ball demolished the turreted church last November, sending Malo and his salvaged altar and pews into temporary quarters at the American Legion Hall. “This building was like part of the household for people in Jackman,” Malo says. “With it, they lost part of their past — the liturgies that were there, the baptisms, the funerals. There was a sense of grieving, of passing away.”
Malo says plans and fund-raising are already under way for construction of a more modest, energy-efficient, and admittedly plain building that will serve clergy members, parishioners, and the larger community. “As hard as this was, doors have opened up to us, because financially we just couldn’t have continued with the other building,” he says. “We’re looking twenty years ahead, to build so that the debt will be paid off, and it’ll be a relatively new building with operational expenses that are 60 percent less than what we had.”
Logical, sound reasoning. And yet no less disappointing.
Interstate drivers might want to forgo that second cup of coffee.
Would you invite someone to your house, then lock the bathroom door? That’s what Doug Thomas believes the state that bills itself as “Vacationland” is doing. The Republican representative from Ripley submitted a bill to reopen two rest areas along Interstate 95 in Pittsfield, arguing that the $227,300 required to staff and maintain the roadside pull-offs would more than pay for itself through the goodwill it would engender in road-weary, and perhaps bladder-strained, travelers.
“For me, it’s a small investment in making people who come to Maine feel welcome,” Thomas says. “It’d be one thing to be talking about building new rest stops. But having them there but not open? That’s like slapping people in the face.”
Maine is not alone in this affront: Colorado, Vermont, and Virginia have all closed rest areas in recent years as a way of plugging budget gaps, though Virginia recently voted to reopen the sites after they became a campaign issue during last year’s gubernatorial election. Thomas’ original bill would have reopened three rest areas — two in Pittsfield and a third in Sidney — and required the Maine Department of Transportation to keep an overlook in Medway plowed during the winter (a task that would have cost just five thousand dollars, he says). State police concerns about vandalism were addressed by a provision that would outlaw loitering at rest areas.
A legislative committee has voted against the proposal, and Thomas doesn’t expect it to survive the session. “You could quibble about the money, but my argument was that it was money well-spent,” he says. “Don’t we need to treat the people who come to visit us like guests?”
Apparently only if they’re the type who pee before they get here.