An Adventure in St. Thomas, During Which I Meet Mikey
Life in the Hurricane Zone

Roadside Help

I grew up in a small town in Maine, and my parents both came from even smaller towns in Maine. The heck with Kevin Bacon, before I went to college, I could have connected nearly everyone I met to Daddy or to Mom in only three or four moves. That, of course led to 1. not being able to get away with much; and 2. feeling that I was pretty safe in all situations.

A case in point:

One year I was home from U-Maine Orono on Christmas break and wanted to take the car into Bangor to spend time with a girlfriend on the day of Christmas Eve. The car, Betsy, a usually reliable 1970 Dodge Coronet, broke down on 95 right in the middle of nowhere – that stretch along the highway where there are no exits for 5 miles and no homes within sight of the road. This was B.C. – before cell phones – and a very cold day, so I knew I had to be aggressive about getting help.

NOTE: this is not my car. Betsy was all brown and no longer shiny. But she was a great car. Thanks to www.kootation.com for the free download of this photo.

I watched behind me until I saw a tank truck with a local logo, and I flagged him down – certainly something I would never suggest to my nieces today. He pulled over, and offered me a ride to the first ‘safe’ house and the next exit, saying that it was against regulations for him to pick me up. I climbed into the cab and promised to keep his name out of it.

P5070190We chatted. Well – you know me – I chatted. And we immediately discovered that his brother worked in the same industry as Daddy and that they had just returned from the same conference in Vermont. I believe that’s three steps to connect. We pulled off at the next exit and he drove to the first nice looking “set of buildings” – a typical Maine big house-little house-backhouse-barn construction with a newly painted red barn. He drove into the driveway and waited in the truck while I knocked on the door to see if they would let me call my dad from there.

NOTE: Above is a big house … barn Connected Farm I saw on my trip back to Maine in May.

The couple were friendly and welcoming, and I thanked the truck driver and wished him a “Merry Christmas”. Then, I called home. When Daddy asked where I was and I began to describe the exit and the location of the house, he interrupted me. “For chrissakes! Ask them if they’re the Christies.” I did.

I had been delivered to the home of our neighbor’s brother-in-law – two steps - and enjoyed a cup of coffee with them while Daddy gathered what he needed and yet another neighbor to help us tow Betsy back home.

Years later EW and I stopped to help someone along the highway north of Portland, and found out he was from Skowhegan and knew my eldest brother. Maine is like that.

When cruising, our dinghies are our vehicles, and they break down, too. Only we can’t park them beside the road, so they are likely to drift toward rocky shores or out to sea.

The other day, a fellow boater’s outboard engine failed just as he was leaving Crown Bay Marina, and I cheerfully towed him to the dinghy dock in Water Island. More recently, a crew from one of the Pirate ships was heading to work with provisions aboard when their motor failed in the cut between Hassel Island and Frenchtown. There they sat, engine cover off, dinghy drifting toward the ledge, when one of the BVI ferries steamed past, throwing up a wake. I sped over, bumped their boat away from the rocks and began to prepare a tow. Fortunately, the skipper got their engine started, so I followed for just a bit to make sure it would keep running.

When they shouted they were fine and thanked me, one of the crew asked what boat I was from. “La Luna.

I don’t know their names, and  they don’t know my folks, but I’ve seen them around and we’re all family out here. And we all offer “roadside help” at sea.

Paying it forward in St. Thomas, just as I learned in Maine.

NOTE: Do follow the link to Schooner Fare -- one of our favorite Maine groups -- as they sing "Big House Little House ... " I was connected to a number of those places.  Hugs to all my cousins! 

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