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June 16, 2013

Maine Observer: Sometimes you want to talk to strangers

Having moved away from Maine in 1965 to pursue a beautiful girl in Arizona, I have spent many more years in the West than in my native state.

However, Maine has always been home and we (yes, I was successful in winning over the girl -- we were married in 1966) often visited Maine over the years

The thing is that every time I hear a New England accent, I inquire where the person is from.

Whenever I see a Maine license plate, I wave and if possible communicate with those people.

I have even left notes on cars from Maine. By and large all the contacts have been friendly. One guy seemed like I was bothering him. I figured he probably stole the car.

We eventually settled in Cottonwood, Ariz., with our two daughters. Back in the '80s the shopping was indeed limited, so there seemed to be a tradition of a major shopping trip for back-to-school clothes.

I became the driver and financier of these expeditions, and the girls shopped with intensity. My daughters were as beautiful as my wife.

I think it was around 1990 -- probably in August -- and we were in Flagstaff at the mall.

As I recall we were in a girls' shop and I was milling around trying to look fatherly and fighting boredom. Somehow I heard the New England accent from a young girl.

She might have been 12 or perhaps 14 or 15. I don't know -- a teenager.

I began my questioning:

"Are you from back East?"

"Yes."

"Me, too! Whereabouts?"

"Maine."

"Really? Me, too! What town?"

"Dover-Foxcroft."

"Wow! That's unbelievable! Me, too! I was born in Dover-Foxcroft."

She then sort of gave me a snarly glance and took off. I mean, it was a hasty departure, and I was a little dumbfounded.

Later I told my wife and daughters about the incident, and they of course knew that the poor girl was probably just suspicious.

I could see why. After all -- Flagstaff, Ariz., to Dover-Foxcroft, Maine -- who would believe a connection between a young girl and some old guy in a girls' clothing store? No one, I'm sure.

Anyway, I only spent two or three days in Dover-Foxcroft, in December 1943.

My mom and I returned to Shirley Mills, where we lived with my grandmother Effie Virgie, who owned the little store there. My dad was overseas at the time as an Army captain during World War II.

The little store is still there. We got to visit there some years ago when my mom passed, and we of course returned to Maine for her funeral in Buxton.

I wonder if the girl from Dover-Foxcroft might recall the suspicious man from Maine.

Charles Wright lives in Arizona, but he still thinks of Maine when he thinks of home.





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