I’ve been making at least annual trips to my native Maine from central Pennsylvania since 1991, the year I moved to York to become a business reporter for the Daily Record newspaper.
As I get older, the nine-hour drive gets a little tougher, particularly on the back end. It never gets easier to cross from New York into Pennsylvania and know that it’s still three hours until we’re back in Hershey. And increasingly it gets tougher to leave behind the people, places and things about Maine that I love.
Some snapshots from our visit in July:
Invented by a Mainer in the 1880s, Moxie was one of the earliest mass-produced soft drinks in the United States. It still has a legion of supporters, including yours truly and my son, as I described in this blog post in 2013. My hometown, Lisbon, plays host to an annual Moxie Festival, complete with parade and 5K race. Question: Why is it so hard to find a cold Moxie on Main Street in Lisbon Falls during Moxie Festival?
Lisbon doesn’t know what to do with what remains of the abandoned Worumbo textile mill, most of which a fire destroyed in the 1980s. Part of Worumbo’s history is a connection to Eddie Waitkus, who began his baseball career in 1938 playing for the mill’s semi-pro Worumbo Indians. He went on to the major leagues, where as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies he survived being shot by a female admirer. His story inspired the novel “The Natural” and the 1984 movie by the same name that starred Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs.
Worumbo makes a cameo appearance in Stephen King’s novel, “11/22/63,” which is partly set in Lisbon Falls. King graduated from Lisbon High School in 1966. Dean Hall, one of my teachers when I was at LHS, grew up with King, whom he described to me as the “neighborhood weirdo.”
Lisbon is a couple of towns over from Freeport, which is best known as the home of retailer L.L. Bean. I wish Bean would commit to offering more American-made products, but I remain a big admirer of the brand. (Full disclosure: My mother retired from Bean.) That only has been enhanced for having attended a free show by the brilliantly talented singer-songwriter Josh Ritter as part of Bean’s summer concert series. (Note to the guy wearing the Dickinson College sweatshirt: You don’t get up and leave during “Joy to You Baby.” I throw my hands in the air.)
Josh referred to the state as a “touchstone,” having recorded his past three albums at a Maine studio operated by band mate Sam Kassirer. (Josh also has family ties to Pennsylvania, which inspired this song.)
Sam’s Italian Foods , which has 13 Maine locations, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Another Maine company claims to have invented “the Real Italian Sandwich,” but Sam’s makes the best ones. Sam’s makes 13 versions, but I’ll take salami every time. The soft roll is filled with salami, white American cheese, long dill pickles, green pepper, onions, tomato and oil.
Nothing fancy but so delicious, especially when paired with an ice-cold Moxie.