Down East 2013 ©
As I write this I’m preparing to head north from my home in Brunswick for a show with The Shaw Brothers at The Caribou Performing Arts Center.
Caribou in February? I’m actually looking forward to the trip. That’s a Mainer for you, contrary to the bitter end. Part of the fun, of course, is that I get to spend the night before the show at our camp in eastern Washington County. My take on the local economy there is as true today as it was when I put on an album 20 years ago: “If you’re coming to Washington County make sure to bring money with you. They aint got none layin’ around up there!”
Nevertheless, every minute spent Way Down East feels like home to me. The day of the show I’ll head up to Caribou “the back way,” through Danforth and Houlton, stopping along the way at the WAGM Studio in Presque Isle to do an interview.
WAGM is TV the way TV used to be, still is in The County and hopefully always will be somewhere. Where else do they have programming like The Potato Pickers Special? The last time I was on that show they told me to arrive at 5 a.m. sharp to go on the air live. By way of incentive I was promised a good hearty breakfast. I guess prob’ly!
As I sat chatting with the co-hosts, reading farm reports, cracking jokes, and telling people which intersection to stand at if they wanted to get work in the potato fields that day, the functional kitchen set behind was a beehive of activity. Local high schoolers were hard at work frying bacon, scrambling eggs, and flipping flapjacks.
It did strike me as a bit odd that all this was happening “on camera” behind us, right smack in the middle of a live broadcast.
Odd, yes, but not half as odd as what happened next.
Having completed their culinary chores our teen aged chefs proceeded to pile the results on plates the size of Buick hubcaps and serve them up to us, piping hot, while we were still on the air! The cameras were rolling. There was no, “We’ll be right back after these important messages." No, “Now over to Bob for the morning weather forecast.”
Nope, just a big farmers' breakfast sitting next to microphone so I can chow down right there on live TV. It was weird to say the least but also delightfully interactive as I could easily imagine our bleary-eyed viewers slurping coffee and munching toast right along with us in real time.
Over the past 25 years or so I’ve traveled to about half of the fifty states recounting stories of Maine life and Maine people. I know that when I tell these stories folks assume I’m exaggerating. I don’t bother to correct that assumption. Someday they’ll come to Maine and see for themselves where I get my stories.
Tim Sample is a Maine humorist. You can find more of his work on the Down East.com store by clicking here.