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There was a man in our town who’d never traveled out of Maine. His name was Bud Leighton and he used to brag about how little he’d traveled. He had been to Eastport even been to Lubec and Perry but never thought to venture across to Canada.
He’d been to Oxford County, over on Maine’s western border, even been to the wilder western parts of Piscatiquis County but never took the time to cross over into New Hampshire. Bud had been all over Aroostook County. He’d climbed some of Maine’s bigger peaks like Katahdin, Old Spec, Bigelow, Munjoy Hill, but never even thought of going across to New Hampshire to climb some of their peaks - like Mount Washington.
Bud would say, "I can see all I need to see of the White Mountains from over here in Maine. Then he would ask: What else is there to see in New Hampshire but their mountains? If you can see them from here why waste your time going all the way over there? There’s not one reason I can think of to go way over there just to say I’ve done it. Well, I haven’t done it and I don’t want to do it."
Then Bud got to thinking about things. No one knows how it happened but one spring Bud decided out of the blue to take a trip out of state. Bud knew he wasn’t getting any younger and maybe he should venture out of Maine to see what was out there while he still had the strength to travel.
After a few trips to the library to page through atlases and travel books. Bud Leighton decided he would take a trip to New York City. Once the decision was made as to where he was going he thought about the best way to get there. Should he fly? Bud didn’t mind flying. In fact he’d taken several plane trips around Maine. He once flew in a Cessna 180 from Oxford’s airport to Belfast and from Belfast to Rangeley. He’d flown in a glider in Trenton and then flew with a friend from Trenton to Augusta and Portland to Presque Isle. But he’d never flown on a commercial aircraft.
After much consideration Bud decided to go by bus to New York just for the adventure of it. He also thought he’d see more of the countryside if he went by bus.
After all his research and all his planning Bud thought he was ready for his big adventure. On a Thursday night he packed a travel bag and the next morning he boarded a bus for New York City.
That night he checked into a fancy midtown Manhattan hotel went up to his room and for the first time in his life he dozed off to sleep in a state other than Maine.
His first impressions of New York? The city was bigger than he thought it would be. He also thought people of New York talked faster and funnier and drove faster than the people from Massachusetts and he didn’t think that was possible.
The next morning Bud thought he’d have breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant and wanted to get a newspaper to read while he ate so he went into the hotel’s gift shop which claimed – on a big sign in the window - to carry every newspaper in the United States.
Well, Bud thought this was some city he’d come to. Here was a gift in one of the city’s many hotels that was able to offer its customers every newspaper in the country.
After reading the shop’s boastful claim Bud knew just the paper he’d buy so he walked over to the large newspaper rack and went up one side and down the other and back again two or three times but couldn’t find the newspaper he was looking for.
A little annoyed Bud went over to the clerk and said, "You claim to have copies of every newspaper in the country right here in your shop, is that right?"
That’s right, sir said the clerk. We have copies of EVERY newspaper published in the United States of America right there on our racks for your perusal. What newspaper is it you’re looking for?
"I can’t find an Ellsworth American, said Bud.
"ELLSWORTH?" the big city clerk said as dismissively as possible.
"ELLSWORTH?" She repeated. "I’m sure I don’t carry such a paper because I have no idea where Ellsworth is."
Bud couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
"If I were you I wouldn’t want to trumpet my ignorance like that," said Bud "because I know for sure that everyone in Ellsworth knows where New York is."
Here he was in the largest city in the world, in a shop carrying hundreds of newspapers from all over the country and all Bud Leighton wanted was his Ellsworth American.
They might not be know to clerks in New York City but you’ve got to admit those Ellsworth American people sure know how to market their paper to people here in Maine.
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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