Guest Column – Mary – Portland Press Herald
The problem was getting to work from my house, near Evergreen Landing, on the northwest corner of Peaks Island, about half a mile along Island Avenue, past Trefethen and the yacht club, with its flotilla of half a dozen tiny spinning sailboats, past the one-room schoolhouse and the windowless brick telephone exchange to Gonzo’s house, a laundromat where you could wash your clothes, get your engine fixed -board and retrieve an LNG canister for the stove. Then walk down the hill to the pier to catch the hourly ferry from Casco Bay to the Portland waterfront and cobblestone shopping street with train tracks running down the middle of the street. That was the easy part.
At the employment office they had said, you’re in luck, Jordan Marsh’s recruiting agent is here today and she’s looking for someone like you to unload the trucks as they bring in goods for the inauguration of the new Maine Mall. They fill the shelves now.
And sure enough, she said, “I see you worked for us in our Cambridge warehouse at $48 an hour. I can give you up to a dollar fifty-six, and you start tomorrow morning at eight o’clock. You would be great to receive. I’ll let them know you’re coming.
When I asked, so where was this new mall in Maine, she pointed northwest and said it was about six miles away.
That was the hardest part, riding the six miles of Commercial Street to where they were finishing the Maine Mall in South Portland without a car, bus, taxi, or bike. My thumb worked fine the first day. After that, Mary was the solution.
She was one of those people who pops into your life, spends time with you, and then disappears. I can’t tell you Marie’s last name, because I never knew it. She felt that anyone knowing her full name would be an invasion of her privacy, and yet she was as much of a friend as I ever had. You could count on her. She was a sales clerk at the Jordan Marsh department store (now Macy’s) and helped stock the shelves with all the merchandise that arrived daily by truck from the central warehouse.
She drove to work along Commercial Street and right by the Casco Bay ferry pier and offered to ride me at the end of the day. I accepted it, but there was a catch. She didn’t stop her car on Commercial Street because the waterfront was a dangerous area and you never knew who might be hiding there.
And so, I learned to wait and watch at the side of the road, to run beside her car when it passed, to open her door while the car was still moving and to jump in, all in one. fluid movement – something I don’t do I don’t think I could repeat now that I’m older.
She wouldn’t stop the car, but she never let me down, and I was never late for work at the new mall in Maine, even once. It’s friendship and it was Marie.
Maine has some very special people.
Orrin Frink is a resident of Kennebunkport. He can be reached at [email protected]