Monday, April 23, 2012

Rural Maine

My nephew, the former nutcase outdoorsman (many White Mountain winter climbs), who likely has a significant familiarity with Le Chatelier's principle already and didn't have to look it up (PhD engineering candidate at Tufts), sent a link to rural Maine photography from the 80's.

I'm not sure why he thought I'd be fascinated, but he was right.  However, much of what fascinated was how normal it looked to me. From my reply:
A little grimmer, a little poorer, a little Dust Bowl, but basically just what my grandfather Wyman's neighbors looked like (Westford, MA), or NH looked like in general once you got out of the cities and tourist spots in my 60's childhood. Inland Maine was always known to be a bit poorer, but not so different from NH outside the Golden Triangle Nashua-Concord-Portsmouth - and a fair bit inside the triangle as well. Vermont much the same.
That it persisted more broadly into the 80's in Maine I guess is significant. You could still find similar scenes in NH even now, but you'd have to work for it a bit harder.  I'm guessing the Canadian Maritimes would have even more.


Kurt said...

That doesn't surprise me too much because that was pretty much the subject of the 1985 novel The Beans of Egypt, Maine. I thought that it was likely there was a lot of embellishment in the novel to make things sound worse than they were, but I remember driving through parts of Maine and New Hampshire in the 80s and early 90s and seeing run-down old houses in the country and thinking of them as "Bean" houses.

At the time, it always seemed to me that the book was championed by many critics because it presented a stark contrast to what the media liked to condemn as the "greed" of America under Reagan.

Texan99 said...

"Exiled from the American Dream"? These pictures don't look like abject poverty to me, just rural-ordinary.

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

A broken down trailer with a bent TV antenna sticking out, but two brand new snow sleds (Skidoos) parked in the yard. Spent three years in the Orono-Old Town area and geology field trips take you (or make you go?) to some to pretty raw backcountry. It’s out there - among the puckerbrush. Washington County is one of the poorest counties in the U.S., including all of Appalachia. Few tourists, just blueberry barrens and the landowners mostly hire Canadians to do the harvesting.

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

I'm not dumping on Maine, by the way. It's a great state in many ways. But it's two states really - the southern half where Bostonians and Conneciticut people spend their money, and the second half of the state where there is little cash money. Maine has passionate environmentalists and professional environmentalists (like VT) who have helped to drive industry to the South or overseas. "We'll just turn all of Maine into a National Park and lock the gate." Right.

Gringo said...

Then there was the family in my hometown with seventeen children. The mother died in her early 40s, of exhaustion, apparently.