Sunday, June 03, 2007

Maine Trip, May 2007 -- Day 2, Part 1

Bangor Water Tower, 1906 postcard
On Friday morning, May 18, I woke up in Bangor, Maine. Something
I had not done in probably 45 years. It was cold and rainy. My room overlooked the airport terminal building. It was very grim in the gray light that morning. It looked like an Eastern European concrete block building from the Cold War period. Like a rural East German airport in a black and white movie of a John LeCarre novel.

After a really bad breakfast in the hotel coffee shop I checked out of my room and went across the street to the airport lobby to pick up my Hertz car.

I realized that despite the warm weather in Maine the week before, I was now facing more cold than I had planned for. So I stopped on the way at a Wal-Mart to get a sweatshirt and some jeans.

Bangor looked a little bit more prosperous than my last visit four years earlier. Probably from all that gambling money. Recently a slots-only casino has appeared downtown and there was more tax money pouring in than the locals ever expected.

Author Stephen King's Home, Bangor, MaineFans of Stephen King's books also bring money with them when they visit the area to see some of the real-life locations mentioned in his books. They may not bring in as much money as a shoe factory provided 50 years ago, but they are relatively non-polluting and don't burden the public schools. Mr. King himself is known to be a generous donor to good causes in the area. He probably provides as much, perhaps more, than a typical factory owner did in charitable giving. His house is quite the landmark, Gothic towers, spider-web gate and a high iron fence decorated with bats and gargoyles.

Bangor was a very well-off city through much of the 19th Century and into the 20th. But business and jobs moved away and it showed. A bad joke from years ago: at a party sombody said, "Bangor has seen better days." Sombody else said, "No, Bangor has seen better years." And then, "No, no, Bangor has seen better centuries." We all laughed, but it was true.

By the time I headed out of Bangor, south-bound on Interstate 95, the skies were brighter and the town looked very green with signs of spring all around. But the heaviest rains were between Bangor and Augusta and that's where I headed in my rental Toyota Matrix.


Jae said...

What a lovely house. I want a big house like that!!

That water tower reminds me very much of how I imagine Derry's standpipe as seen in IT. OK... I'm going to Bangor!!

Kenyo said...

From what I have read online, I think it is that water tower. I certainly wouldn't suggest that you go for a swim in it.