Christmas Eve Monday, Dec-24th:
I’m sitting in Dodi and Bill Thompson’s warm and cheerful home in Vienna, Maine, as far north and east as I plan to venture – 2355 miles and 20 days later. No snow here, but 3 inches of the white stuff in Dallas. Unbelievable! What the heck. I’m with dear friends, and that’s what matters, right? I have come bearing gifts of good tidings (watercolors of Colorado). They’ll love ’em. In a way I can’t believe that I’m actually here. However, since I’ve stopped and seen so many people along the way, it really doesn’t seem that implausible. I mean, like just yesterday, I was waving goodbye to Hank and Charlotte Hamilton down in
Marblehead, MA, which is only 170 miles down the pike. Oh what memorable three days they were! It had been 7 years, back in Monroe LA, since we had really spent time together (where Hank introduced me to boomerang throwing). In short, we toured most of northeast Massachusetts (Ipswich, Salem, Gloucester, House of the Seven Gables) via stone-walled country roads, and walked the 300 year old township of Marblehead through narrow, winding streets flanked by colorful, ship-lapped, shuttered dwellings (some of which I referred to as “leaners”, i.e., you could place a tennis ball at the front door sill and it would roll itself to the rear wall).
The Hamilton’s live in just such a structure, but you hardly notice the incline. I fell in love with this seaside “village”. Everything is within walking distance – the croissant shop, the clam and lobster house, the craggy shoreline with its “overlook” parks, Abbott Hall with its steeple and clock, everything. Hank’s 21 year-old son, Matthew, aspires to be a writer. So, naturally, I had to show off my classic ROYAL. And, as I expected, he flipped out over my new toy with expletives, such as, “Wow”, “Awesome”, “Super”. I could tell that he was just itching to bat away on the keys, but he could see that I had already started this page. Now, looking back, I wish I had let him peck a few lines. I read one of his short works. He’s very imaginative.
Now get this: the first evening in this “end-of-the continent hamlet”, I encounter three people, all from Dallas (while out walking the town with Hank). Gee-mo-ny! I drive 2100 miles to get away from you-know-where, and…. Just kidding. They were really nice folk, ya’ll hear? My first stop in Marblehead was the police station to ask directions to Darling St. This young copperhead, with a blue collar Mass. accent, makes a feeble attempt at drawing a map. I don’t trust his sketch. I see this very detailed city map on the wall, so I proceed to draw my own map. Now the same “officer” comes by and says, “Didn’t I just draw you a map?” “Yes Sir. I was just confirming it”. Typical civil servants apptitude. I found 22 Darling St. O.K.