Image Source: Maine Project
It was a mundane life, but I was happy. Solidly middle-class, no entitlements or luxuries, but we never went without either. Growing up on such an even keel made me appreciate what I have and not lust after what I don’t. This balance has served me well.
I was born in Brunswick Maine, September 12, 1972, in Parkview Memorial Hospital. It’s a big Jesus hospital now, but I don’t think it was then. My mom said I was a good baby, but it took me forever to grow hair. And now, after my hirsute high school days, I’ve come full-circle.
My dad was a travel agent for Stowe (yes, named after Harriet Beecher, who also hailed from Brunswick) Travel, and my mom occasionally sold Avon. Her parents lived on the family farm in Whitefield, ME, and my dad’s mom kept her apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, until I was eight and she moved in with us. I went to the elementary school across from First Parish Church, next to the Bowdoin College campus, and I had a black, white and purple blanket for naptime.
We lived in a red ranch house on Thomas Point Road (there was an apartment first on Pleasant Street, but I don’t remember my time there). It was my older brother Eric, my parents, assorted cats and our beagle Ginger. Ginger was a fat little thing, and I loved her. There was a little stream in the woods behind the house, and I remember my mom flinging Ginger’s messes into the stream. Don’t tell the EPA.
First through third grades I went to Jordan Acers Elementary. The principal was Ms. Kurz, and the music teacher was Ms. Elser. I didn’t know it at the time, but Ms. Kurz and Ms. Elser were a couple. My teacher was Mr. Barrett, and he could be a mean bastard. But I suffered no trauma back then. I had friends, my bus ride was long and scenic (from the trailer park to the tidal basins of the Sheepscott River) and we spent the ride rocking out to Huey Louis, Greg Khin and Christopher Cross (sic) on the radio and dreaming of playing at Fenway for the Sox.
Eric and I played Nerf football in the yard and basketball in the paneled hall leading to the bedrooms. We played KISS, Bee Gees and the Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever soundtrack records on our turntable. I once backed into a wall-mount space heater in the bathroom, and I had griddle marks on my butt for a long time afterwards. We went to Thomas Point Beach, and we viewed all the artifacts from Admiral Peary’s exhibition to the North Pole at the Bowdoin College Museum.
We visited my grandparents at the farm, and we visited my grandmother in Brooklyn. We saw Star Wars and Poltergeist and Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater and we played Atari at home. We played on the rocks at Bailey Island and we bought Smurf figures and other toys at the Maine Mall. We went roller skating at the rec center and we watched the Blue Angels from our driveway when the air show came to the Brunswick Naval Air Station. We ate out at Pizza Hut and we ate home cooking at home.
We were a happy American family unit in 1970s America. It was middle of the road America, and it was all I knew and all I knew I wanted.