On moving to this hamlet in the mountains of Western Maine three decades ago it was called Bob’s Corner Store and Texaco. Bob might have forgone including the oil company in his convenience store’s name but he chose to incorporate the whole in his sign out front. I think he was proud of the association. He was a typically—more than typically—Maine hard worker. Indirectly I suggested he might teach himself to go without sleep around the clock in order to get more done. He seemed to think it possible to accomplish the feat. He was generous in dealing with us—gave us credit when we needed it most…. Locally known as “putting it on the slip.”
We thought he’d be there forever. Bob is still going strong but the corner store has changed hands and names a few times in the two decades since.
A great theme of Time in Maine (or anywhere) is succession. No thing is permanent and each thing changes. Here the surrounding contour and geology of the place changes slowly. We don’t notice it, although we may see its contours more clearly after logging of a particular portion. “Suddenly” the hillside is exposed and snowy through the thinned woodland.
This shop had been vacant a few years before so the hamlet felt vacant, too. According to demographers, it cannot be called a village because it’s too small. We are glad when the community remains a community because one storefront, with succeeding owners and names, persists. It may be entirely changed inside, open, bright and inviting where once it was crammed, merely convenient, dimly lit. But both incarnations being filled with friendly bustle make all the difference.
So does the spirit of the place. This seems dependent on the owner or manager, the workers. R. walked into The Local Hub yesterday—a late incarnation of Bob’s Corner store and Texaco. He went straight to the rack looking for the local weekly. He scarcely noticed a young woman who works there move to the cooler and draw out a tall dark bottle of Innis & Gunn (his favorite). Until she held it out with a smile. “Last one!”
Nice. Don’t you think?
(This last photo (googled) is, I believe, from a realtor’s outdated website.)