Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting here from there

“So how did you get to Maine after growing up in Florida?” I frequently get asked this question even after these thirty-eight years living here. Well, it’s a long story. Here’s the beginning:

       “The girl was to drop me off in New London to catch a ferry to the island. It was 1969, the summer after my first year of college, and I had landed a job waitressing at the country club on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound. Through a friend of a friend, I connected with her, a girl whose name I will never remember, who was driving back home in her red Karmann Ghia. We were all “girls” back then veering either into motherhood, the typing pool, or being a “chick,” a newly liberated woman who was supposed to be equally comfortable with flower power and revolutionary politics.

       "Growing up in Florida, I knew very little about “up North.” To me, New London and New England sounded very far and exotic, kind of like the olden days I’d read about. My impressions came from “The House of The Seven Gables,” and descriptions of fog. I didn’t know about ferries or summer seasons bookended by Memorial Day and Labor Day.  I didn’t know about old money and summer homes opened by caretakers.  I didn’t know there still were houses with wooden floors and third floor dormers looking out on oak trees, where the hired girls like me were boarded.  I thought such things only existed in the books I read lying on the terrazzo floor of our Florida room barely shaded by a solitary palm.

       "What I did know as the girl and I left my parents’ house in Satellite Beach was that Fishers Island was in New York State with an 18-year-old drinking age. I also knew that we two chicks turning north onto A1A in that red Ghia, top down, short shorts and hippie hair, looked really good.”

That turned out to be a pretty big summer, what with Woodstock and Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. I went to the former and ignored the latter, even though it was the culmination of President Kennedy’s vision of putting a man on the moon before the close of the sixties. That vision, of course, was the guiding light of the entire Space Coast when I was growing up (not to mention by father’s brief career as a rocket engineer). By 1969, I couldn’t have cared less, to use a favorite expression of my father’s.

(Italicized excerpt from “On Our Own Road” in Hullaballoo on the Space Coast: A Memoir of Place by Linda S. Buckmaster, copyright 2012.)


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