The Security of Old Staples After Moving in Maine

Alcide Bergeron of Boobytown, Maine, remarked once in the passion of frustration that he would rather have the house burn down twice than move once.

As to Boobytown, this is a localism that derives from a common French-Canadian family name, Bubier. In the early days of migration from Quebec to Maine, several families of that name came from the eastern townships to settle in an unorganized township of Maine that would later become known as Dallas, and that part of Dallas occupied by the Bubiers retained its identity as Bubiertown, or Boobytown.

As I recall, I went to Boobytown long years ago to inquire for the Bubiers, and was told that the last true Bubier had long since graduated with honors at 13 years of age from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was in Yucatan developing a series of storage basins on the Xtnypdonkls River. You may recall him as Philoclais Bubier, the inventor of the universal alloy.

Certainly not all the good folks from Bubiertown were so gifted as Philoclais. And the remark or the hypothesis by Alcide Bergeron that a given house can burn down twice is to be accorded its own evaluation without respect to the drought in Yucatan.

What I mean is that we have moved. Our comfy little home by the sea down the rugged coast of Maine is in the hands of a real-estate dealer who is selecting superlatives for an ad in this newspaper. We have dispersed our belongings and found a pleasant nook in one of these pious sanctuaries made for discreet and genteel persons, such as we, who no longer wish to climb long ladders and clear the beautiful autumn leaves from their eaves' gutters. For the first time in our lives we have no home to go home to, if we should need one.

Truth to tell, my usual rule, moving did not prove to be as cumbersome as Alcide suggested. Once everything was packed in boxes, we had to move or we'd never see anything again, and numerous dear people, who were delighted to see us leave, were eager to speed us and offered every assistance. I write in jest, of course, but the native Maine tendency toward moderate understatement was having a good day, and everybody said it would be nice if the new neighbors coming to replace us would prove to be no worse.

Volunteers who hastened our departure had the choice of corn chowder or shrimp stew. These are traditional in Maine labor relations, and suitable for the zero day it was. Everybody was in fine appetite, and the supply was more than adequate. Betty Roberts made the chowder, and Scott Jordan brought the stew. We leased a van truck, and dessert was by the Extension ladies.

It will take me an indeterminate time to get accustomed to our new abode. Our goods were unloaded and arranged in our ample apartment by the time we arrived, we having spent two days with our ''best man'' of 65 years ago, who invited us to visit and avoid the moving confusion. This was a most pleasant diversion, and we embraced it willingly, and I readily assured him he is still best man.

I first made his acquaintance in 1926 in a freshman Latin class. The professor was Paul Nixon, the best authority on Martial, the Roman wit. It's amazing how chance friendships come in handy. Emerson recalls arising early at his boyhood home in Wrentham, Mass., to watch Eleanora Sears walk by on her way to Providence. At the same age, I was getting up early in Freeport, Maine, to see George Bartol snort by on the town's first farm tractor, taking pressed hay to the railroad to feed the horses of Boston.

The purpose of our new home is basically to let folks find pleasure in their fullness of maturity, but that is hardly applicable to one who has always taken delight in this great substitute for work - writing.

Still avoiding novelties, I have my typewriter on the ancient oak desk with my Webster and my Roget at my elbow. Here is my own fantasy refuge fenestrated on the foam of perilous seas and romantic Hebrides as I wish, even if I still haven't found where the volunteers put my underwear. One who writes does not need to know where his underwear is, but it helps to be able to spell. With a flip of my merest wish, I can wander the world in the idle moment, but is it ''brocolli'' or ''broccoli''? Age cannot wither nor custom stale the infinite variety of orthography. Old age is an ideal excuse to ponder and be amused by the intricacies of ''i'' before ''e.''

And I have learned quickly, so very quickly, that the frivolities of being up there on the shelf bring no comfort and offer no relief. I do wonder how it perchances that I can turn my new TV set on from across the room (and off, too), but I still fancy football is a silly substitute for anarchy, and that ABC won't balance the budget any sooner than CBS.

I am reminded by television of the time Hank Pulsifer reprimanded his wife for her superfluous conversation. She was a yakker. Every day, from kin-see to caint-see, she'd yak about nothing at all, and poor Hank had to go out to the barn every so often to get his ears rested. When he came back, she was still at it. Hank put up with it and never said a word until along in his golden years he just had to break out and let go. He'd had enough.

So in the midst of one of her spates of verbiage, Hank pounded his fist on the breakfast table and, in a pleading tone, he said, ''Addie, can't you meditate?'' So here we are, and so be I, and it's another whole new experience, but the meditating is top notch. So far.

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