Day 626: Denial in Presque Isle

Sipping from a steaming cup of freshly roasted, ground, and brewed Suliwesi coffee in the Emerald Victorian library, Laetitia was in a pensive mood. This was her last day touring the United States for a while. When she came back, she thought her selection of places to tour might be more whimsical, less systematic. Tomorrow she would cross into Canada, crossing the Bay of Fundy on the ferry and spending several days in Nova Scotia before heading back across the province of New Brunswick and west across the lower tier of provinces to British Columbia. But she still had to come up with today’s tour and limerick. She decided to go north to Presque Isle, Maine.

It was not clear whether the original settlement of the territory now known as Presque Isle was part of the United States or Canada. In 1838, the Aroostook War over boundary disputes resulted in their settlement with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. Originally called Fairbanks after its founder, the town on the peninsula formed by the Aroostook River and Presque Isle Stream was renamed in 1859 after the French word for peninsula, presqu’île, or Presque Isle.

On the way to Presque Isle, the Mind’s Eye group had a picnic lunch at Mattawamkeag Wilderness County Park and made frequent stops for short hikes and to take advantage of photo opportunities. Arriving in late afternoon, Laetitia settled her group into their hotel. When she consulted her smart phone for a suitable watering hole for a pre-dinner libation, she noticed that the area had several clubs featuring both male and female strippers. However the stripper story that became the limerick of the day was one she heard from an old man at the bar where she went for happy hour. According to him, it took place a few decades ago. She wondered why so many of the stripper stories she encountered on tours were about women who chose to dress as Cleopatra. Perhaps it was because audiences found Cleopatra’s asp erotic.

On the stage dressed in Egyptian style
A stripper billed “Queen of Denial,”
Liked to brandish her asp
To make the crowd gasp
At a stripshow in Maine in Presque Isle.

Day 625: Bangor Hanger

It was only about 40 miles from Castine to Bangor, Maine, the Mind’s Eye group’s next destination, so Laetitia took the group on a circuitous route. They went first to Acadia National Park. The park was established in 1919 from private land donated by oil baron and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller. It featured mountains, ocean shoreline, and lakes. The group spent the day in the park hiking and wildlife watching, before heading to Bangor. Their hotel was near the airport, and they made an impromptu stop at the Maine Air Museum at the request of several members of the tour group. Some gossip about the museum overheard at the hotel bar provided the basis for the day’s limerick.

After pints and some mash with a banger
An am’rous young fellow from Bangor
Sought amore with his date
‘Neath a P-38
On the floor of an air museum hanger.

Day 624: Castine Scene

Since Bath is near Freeport, Maine, several members of Laetitia’s group had requested a trip to L. L. Bean. Founded in 1911 by a Maine outdoorsman, the mail-order company’s name has become a household word likely to be known by Americans who know nothing else about Maine.

Having satisfied her group’s urge to shop, Laetitia took them in the direction of Castine, Maine, their evening’s destination. Situated on a peninsula on Penobscot Bay, the area was of great strategic importance in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The British built Fort George there in 1779, and in 1811 the Americans built Fort Madison. The former is partially restored, and the earthworks of the latter remain. Laetitia’s group visited both, as well as the Maine Maritime Academy, which has been educating and training prospective members of the merchant marine since 1941.

The community has a large tourist population in the summer, but its coterie of permanent residents is much smaller. As in all small towns, there are a few citizens who like to make the business of other people their own. For one with a proclivity to eavesdrop, the cellphone is a great boon, because people using them have a tendency to have personal conversations anywhere and everywhere. As one who frequently bases her limericks on gossip heard while snooping in bars, Laetitia smirked as she turned an overheard conversation into the day’s limerick.

The townsfolk all though it obscene
When a phone call o’erheard in Castine
Ordered rubbers, large size,
But they failed to surmise
‘Twas for footwear sold by L. L. Bean.

Day 623: Bath Math

Laetitia and her group went southwest from Dexter, Maine, following the Kennebec River the latter part of the way as they headed for Bath. Bath is where the first oceangoing ship in the New World was built by English shipwrights. The Popham Colony, established in the area in 1607, failed, and the ship was needed for passage back to England. Shipbuilding was and still is a major industry in the area. Bath was an important center for clipper ship construction, and during World War II Bath Iron Works launched a new ship for the U.S. Navy every 17 days.

On arrival, Laetitia and her group did a tour of the city, noted for its Italianate, Greek Revival, and Federal-style buildings. Bath’s downtown was given the 2012 Great American Main Street Award for the success of its revitalization project.

Presumably Bath, Maine, was named after Bath in England, a spa town since Roman times that has figured prominently in art and literature, including Jane Austin’s Persuasion and Northanger Abbey and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. None of those works is connected to Bath in Maine, but Laetitia had read all of them recently and, for some reason not entirely logical, thought of Chaucer’s The Wyves Tale of Bathe when she heard the gossip that become the day’s limerick.

When Arnold, who taught high school math
Enticed Hester, a young wife of Bath
He did soon calculate
That she was a week late
And he’d be the butt of her wrath.