Just the way it is

THE elections here in Maine may or may not have pleased everybody, but they eased off for a time a horde of hopefuls who wanted to do more for us. There has always been a tendency in Maine politics to lament the deplorable past and bring on a better day, when serenity will prevail and we'll all have more pie for breakfast and total genius will replace the doddering imbecilities of everybody previously in office. But this time around we had more than the usual mighty surge of talent dedicated to happier days. No candidate seemed to rejoice in the good old times; none admitted anything right had ever prevailed. Willing hopefuls invaded the airwaves and marched through the newspaper pages in battalions of sorrows. I wondered if people thus besought paused to ponder that things aren't so bad as all that. Or, perhaps, to reflect that we may have some problems here and there that were brought on by previous politicians who wanted to do more for us and do it better.

My dad used to tell about the time he was a youngster and went to hear a revivalist who was preaching in a tent at the crossroads. The preacher asked that all who wanted to go to heaven would stand. Even in his youth my dad recognized that as a loaded proposal, so he wasn't astonished that everybody stood up. Everybody, that is, except 'Lon Littlehale, who was then about 90 years old and still kept 50 milking Holsteins on his farm down the road.

``I'm surprised and disappointed!'' said the reverend. ``Do you mean to tell us that you don't want to join in the eternal bliss awaiting the true and fathful?''

'Lon said, ``I like it right here the way it is.''

This, if any politician would trouble to ask me, is my sentiment exactly, and I happen to think Maine has done rather well over the years. I look about and see people well fed, some of them in new automobiles, their children in college, the price of lobsters holding high, and perhaps our only real anxiety coming on who pitches for the Red Sox tomorrow. Oh, sure - like other places, we have days when it rains on the picnic, but we're never in such deep despair as the pessimist politicians insist.

But we've just gone through an entire political campaign during which no candidate showed that he liked it here. ``I can do so much more ...'' they all said, and we can fill in the blanks. One chap, if I heard him right, plans to do away with Old Age, a dream lingering from antiquity that I expect is coming to pass during the next two years.

Now, years ago we had a man named Stanley Gore, who lived here in Maine up at Belcher's Gore. When he was still young, he figured out a way to bond the wood in the tail of a snowshoe, so after that a snowshoe didn't need to fall apart on the trail as snowshoes often did. That is, he produced an improvement. Which was fine, and for a good many years he prospered making the finest snowshoes you could buy.

Then he applied his idea to tennis rackets, where the handles needed the same kind of strength as in snowshoes, and almost at once he became a millionist and his full-bonded rackets were the favorite on every court.

The little village of Belcher's Gore was as well known to tennis people as Wimbledon, and almost every year Stanley Gore had to put an addition on his factory as sales increased and his workers grew in numbers. But Stanley Gore desired to retire.

Accordingly, having nor chick nor child and nobody to bequest to, Stanley Gore spoke to Lem Dalrymple one day, saying, ``Lem, why don't I show you my secret, and you take over my business and carry on?'' This sounded good to Lem, so he became privy to the big secret and took over the factory, and Stanley Gore took his wife to Florida to pass the winter.

And when the smelts would be starting to run and a reluctant May would be wafting its desultory warmth into Piscataquis County, Stanley Gore returned to Maine for the summer and was aghast to find his factory boarded up and out of business.

He hunted up Lem Dalrymple, and he choked as he asked him, ``What happened!''

Lem says, ``Well, things just didn't work out for me.''

Stanley Gore said, ``But didn't you keep on using my secret for bonding wood?''

``No, I didn't,'' says Lem.

``You didn't! Why didn't you?''

Lem says, ``Well, I thought of a better way.''

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