When I entered the green trailer behind the lilac bushes on my south line, my old neighbor, Gramp Wiley, quickly hid a crumpled copy of Cosmopolitan beneath the cushion in his rocker.

“Tim Sample told me about his last show in Eastport,” I gasped as I dropped on a chair. “People mobbed him when he got out of his car.”

Gramp Wiley smirked. “Probably thought he was the man with the food stamps.”

“Tim said he was there about a week after that big hurricane flattened half of Washington County.”

“It was on the news,” Gramp said. “According to the FEMA estimates, it did $3 million worth of improvements.”

“Things have always been tough down that way,” I said. “Kendall Morse, who lived in Machias, swore that the Depression wouldn’t have been half as bad if it hadn’t come right on top of such hard times.”

Gramp Wiley leaned back in his rocker, closed his eyes, and said, “Tell me about it. I used to have a friend in Lubec. The things we’d hear just standing around listening to conversations at the Dennysville dance hall. I can still see a fellow in a T-shirt and a baseball cap saying to his buddy, ‘If your wife had my child, would we be related?’ The other guy looked at his shoes and mumbled, ‘No. But we’d be even.’ ”

You know better than anyone that there is an uncomfortable element of truth in these stories – and many more like them – about our Maine. No one could make up such things. They have a basis in fact and reflect a subculture that too many might alleviate with drugs or alcohol.

One might argue that acute provincialism and living from hand to mouth are self-inflicted. Some say this is proven every time we go to the polls. There are those who believe that education – learning a valuable trade – is the answer to poverty. And yet, there are poor and rich people alike who consistently vote against any government program that would enable young people to lift themselves up with an ability to install plumbing or manage a hedge fund.

Is it true, as the financial news website 24/7 Wall St. reports, that Houlton is the poorest town in Maine, and that this reflects a lack of college graduates there? We read that fewer than 20 percent of Houlton’s adults have a bachelor’s degree.

So imagine, if you will, that every high school graduate in rural Maine could attend a trade school or college of his or her choice and have all tuition and living expenses paid by a grateful state – which would soon reap a windfall in taxes paid in by a cadre of young and affluent Maine professionals. There would be more doctors and plumbers in Maine than anyone could wish for, albeit, perhaps, a paucity of lawyers.

Do you suppose that education would effectively destroy redneck Maine? Would an elimination of ignorance and its handmaiden, poverty, decimate an entire subculture? No more could a Maine humorist mesmerize New York audiences with the story about the “Welcome to Washington County” billboard spelled out on the county line with toilet plungers. Eyah.

On the other hand, do self-appointed do-gooders have the right to preside over the destruction of one more indigenous population? For years we have chastised ourselves for eliminating every ethnic group that has had the misfortune to come up against our guns and germs and steel.

So we must ask: How many people would welcome the complete eradication of their cultural heritage and willingly walk away from the familiar comfort of a crumbling trailer and potato casserole in rural Maine?

Can you envision an educated young computer programmer wiping away a nostalgic tear as he says, “I can’t count the times I saw my granddaddy blast an occasional rat that threatened his breakfast. He had a target painted on the door of a rusted-out ’55 Buick in the backyard. Used to pretend he was taking out Bonnie and Clyde”?

Caressing a recycled glass and concrete kitchen counter with his left hand, he continues, “Life is good here in Cape Elizabeth, but when viewed from a historical perspective, the elimination of our culture of ignorance and poverty will one day be considered one of the most shameful aspects of Maine history. We don’t even have a shotgun in the corner anymore.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/ MainePrivateRadio.html