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When you write a weekly column in a state that has over 3 million summer visitors a year, your e-mail volume tends to spike during July and August. A few times this summer the roads around my place became so thick with out-of-state cars that I thought most of the millions of visitors were staying right down the street from our place. And the rest, I figured, must be staying up the street.
Here's an example of a recent e-mail:
John:
My wife and I just bought and read your book, “down the road a piece, A Storyteller's guide to Maine” and enjoyed every page (well, almost every page). We are from Indiana and are currently RV-ing our way through your fair state. The plan is to stay here until mid-September.
At this point I only have one question: Regarding the cover photo of you standing in front of the road sign with all the foreign cities and countries listed, I would like to know exactly where that sign is so I can drive there and take a picture with our RV and e-mail it to our friends to show them just how lost we are.
Thanks in advance,
Dave Surette
Thanks for the e-mail, Dave and I was glad to read that you enjoyed every page of my book (well, almost every page). At this point, Dave, I have a question of my own: Why would someone want to swap the insufferable heat, humidity and triple-digit temperatures of a traditional Indiana summer for the warm, dry days and cool comfortable nights of Maine? Just curious.
All seriousness aside, Dave, you're not the first, and I'm sure you won't be the last, reader to e-mail me about the location of the famous Oxford County sign that graces the cover of my book.
The sign – and those are Maine town names, by the way, is in a part of Albany Township known as Lynchville and is at the intersection of routes 5 and 35. To say it's in the middle of nowhere would be very close to the truth, since nowhere is, in fact, a few miles further north. I'm not sure why that section of Albany Township is called Lynchville, but I bet there's a story there worth pursuing.
While you're driving around taking pictures of curious road signs, Dave, you might want to drive over to Casco village where they've put up a roadside giving the direction and distance to Maine towns that share the names of some U.S. presidents. The list includes the towns of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Harrison, Jackson, Van Buren, Lincoln and Clinton.
The reason I say “share the names” is because some of the towns listed –like Lincoln and Clinton – were not named for those presidents, but were named after other people with those particular names.
Years ago the selectmen of a town up north wanted to do something different so they came up with the idea of making a road sign listing Maine towns named after colors. But after a three-hour brainstorming session they realized that their sign would only include the towns of Blue Hill, Greene and possibly Greenville and Whitefield, so they got discouraged.
At one point the third selectman said he heard somewhere that Wytopitlock was Indian for “magenta.” That's when they decided to table the road sign idea and go home and get some rest.
Enjoy your stay, Dave.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.
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