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Still The Way Life Should Be

April 3, 2011

A small lobster boat drifts along on the shores of Saco Bay this morning, the small crew searching to find that which they thought they’d lost in a freak storm.

Maine is, by area, the 39th largest of the United States and 38th by density, yet it doesn’t have a single city that even shows up in a list of the top 300 U.S. cities by population. Mainers like to think of themselves as different in their attitudes about most things. Not so quick to hop on the bandwagon for things “new” and more careful about throwing out stuff considered by others “old-fashioned.” Perhaps it’s in the blood, but I fancy it’s in the air because it’s a trait caught quite easily by folks who come here from where we call “Away” looking for a place that’s more emotionally sustaining in their lives … searching to find a life the way it SHOULD be.

Michael Townsend and his daughter, Lily, in 1998

That slogan,”The Way Life Should Be,” was used by the Maine Office of Tourism in an ad campaign conceived by a former New York ad man named Michael Townsend some years ago. The story of its genesis isn’t unique, but Michael tells it well. A sign bearing his words still welcomes all who cross the Piscatauqua River from New Hampshire at our southern border.

Maine has just weathered another of our famous “Nor’easters” and the crew of the Salty Bay is scouring the waters for lobster traps (called “pots” here) torn up from the ocean floor by massive waves. Similarly, the people of Maine are scouring the wreckage from an economic storm recently past and doggedly putting back the pieces of their lives.

The lobstermen of the Salty Bay will find some of their pots and reuse them. Others they find will belong to different boats and will be returned to their owners. In Maine, poaching someone else’s lobster pot is an unofficial capital offense. What is no longer suitable for its purpose will be discarded unless a new use for it can be devised: perhaps a few dollars from a tourist who visits this summer looking for a keepsake.

Mainers are a resourceful lot. Neither this week’s Nor’easter nor the storm of our recent economic past have ruined our coastline or our spirit. And while there is certainly much cleaning up to do, we will sort through our frustrations with all the cantankerous grumbling that defines a family squabble and return to where we began.

Maine: Still The Way Life Should Be.

[N.B. The above photograph has been used without the formal the consent of copyright holder or the approval of Michael or Lily Townsend, which have been requested. Michael is presently the Director of Creative Services for the public relations firm of Perry & Banks in Portland, ME, having believed his own copy and relocated here with his family from New Jersey.]

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2011 1:57 pm

    Thanks Cris for the acknowledgement, and for keeping the spirit of “the way life should be” alive. At a time when people can easily get discouraged about the direction life is going… when our new governor wants the sign to say “whatever way business wants life to be”… when you feel lucky to even have a wage, even though it stubbornly refuses to go up even while the cost of everything else does… it’s refreshing to read the words of someone “from away” who recognizes the beauty of Maine values and has enough hope in him to think they haven’t completely gone away.

    • cejesq permalink*
      April 7, 2011 7:37 am

      It appears permission has been secured. Thank you, Michael, your words speak volumes. While Maine may be open for business, it isn’t for sale.

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