Letters to the Editor
Read what our readers have to say about Maine.
Where in Maine?
I first drove through Damariscotta en route to New Harbor and Monhegan some years ago. It is, however, so much more than a gateway to all the other gorgeous villages in the area. Damariscotta boasts one of the best bookshops I have seen in midcoast Maine, a lovely and lively library, a delicious variation on the club sandwich (add smoked salmon and caper mayonnaise) at the King Eider’s Pub, and sweet little cinema. Damariscotta has the balance right. It feels like home.
—Monica De Jersey
I have to get up, find my Blackberry, and write this even though it is after midnight. That is the exact view of Main Street in Damariscotta and the newly renovated steeple on the Baptist church from what was my grandmother’s house, next to the Congregational church in Newcastle. Whoever took the picture might well have been standing in her backyard. The picture floods me with fond memories of summers on the river and holidays with my aunts and uncles and cousins. Can’t wait to get back again with my own children and grandchildren.
New York, New York
One of the things I’ve always liked about Down East is its balance or even neutrality when it comes to politics. The January issue surprised me. Colin Woodard’s article “Red State, Blue State” struck me as a sour grapes look at politics in Maine rather than an honest look at the immense effort and groundswell of discontent that was engendered by the rise of the Tea Party and its success at the polls. Mr. Woodard writes about Maine’s Republican platform — clearly poking fun at it. He doesn’t mention the Democratic platform that is a six-page, single-spaced, mind-numbing manifesto covering all the myriad ways they will more strictly regulate private enterprise, enforce and penalize offenders of dozens of invented transgressions, increase the tax burden and shift it onto those most able to pay. It’s no wonder that the Tea Party captured the show. To read the two platforms is to look into the chasm between the way the two parties look at the role of government in America.
The truth is that the Democrats have had a lock on all legislation passed in Maine since 1962. Take a look around Maine. Industry has fled, jobs are gone — especially those serving the lower income sectors. State government is the largest employer and tourism is our biggest income generator. Our children flee the state in droves in order to find good jobs. This is not a robust outlook for Mainers. Those of us who want to celebrate diversity ignore the biggest culture divide here in Maine, and that is economic. Until we figure out how to come together about the basics — or even agree on what the basics are — we are doomed to rocket back and forth from action to reaction.
The Sandy River
I grew up in Phillips on “the Sandy,” in fact, right on the street in the first picture of your February article. My mom’s house is to the right of the last house shown. To write an article about the corridor along the Sandy River and the only thing that could be written about Avon (pronounced A-von not a-VON as stated in the article) was an inappropriate reference to one family is unbelievable. If some research had been done, the author might have found out about the successful business that operated for more than forty years in Avon, employing from twenty to forty locals over the years. This business was forced out of town because of foreign imports.
As to the questions: “What do people do here? How do they live? What are their lives like?” I think we live pretty much the same way as people in the “destination town” of Rangeley and the “college town” of Farmington do. We live, we work, we play, and we raise our families here.
So now, maybe, I have shed some light on some of the “mysteries” of the people along the Sandy corridor.
—Melany Knapp Buxton
I enjoyed your “Along the Sandy” article, as many times I have read your magazine in doctors’ offices and stated, “Why am I not reading about the real Maine?” For once I am able to read about the small rugged towns along the Sandy River in which I live. I moved here in 1999 from New Jersey to raise a family in an unspoiled environment. Now I am a farmer raising pigs and sheep. These little towns have been devastated by the Great Recession. There is little work, little money, and it is a very harsh climate to live in. My hope is someday we will again see our towns be thriving economic communities in which wood products, farms, and shoe shops are once more all the rage. People should stop at these towns. Every house has a story, every person a tale. I would like to thank you very much for adding our towns into your magazine.
I thoroughly enjoy reading Down East every month, but February’s “Along the Sandy” article was very special to me. From the mid-fifties through 1973, I spent every fall fishing and hunting around Madrid and always thought it was one of the most beautiful locations in New England. Ninety-nine percent of the cars traveling north on Route 4 blew right by, which was fine with me. I am hesitant to mention how good the brook trout fishing and deer hunting was because I do not want the Rangeley-bound folks to stop.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Your February article “Chess on Ice” was informative and very entertaining thanks to writer Suzanne Rico’s rookie playing experience. After seeing curling in a video of the 1999 film, My Life So Far, I was eager to see curling locally.
“Apparently, curlers pride themselves on the sportsmanship and civility of their game,” was a key sentence in the article. Curling is civil to its core. If all politicians, from town boards to Congress and around the world, could participate in curling, they might become exemplars of civility in dealing with people. If they cannot connect at curling, perhaps a virtual game could be created. Either way, the code for playing and the aftermath must be observed.
—Byrna Porter Weir
Rochester, New York