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Maine: everybody else is from somewhere else

THE TV game show had something like $38,000 riding on the right answer, and the right answer proved to be ``The State of Massachusetts.'' I looked up from my reading just as she looked up at me, and before I said it she did, ``When did this happen?'' Maybe the television people know something we don't, but isn't Massachusetts a commonwealth? You see, back in 1820, when our Province of Maine gained separation from Mother Massachusetts, the Mainers had something of a discussion as to what the new name would be. Maine had been ``the main'' ever since fish were taken offshore, and then became the district and next the province of Maine. In popular lore we hear that the folks in Maine worked hard to secure their independence from the Bay State, that we won something of a hard-gained victory. But it wasn't just that way.

Plenty of Mainers were perfectly happy with Massachusetts. At the time, the War of 1812 had just ended, and prosperity threatened. Boston did the business, and Maine had men to build ships and men to sail them. Fish and lumber, lime and granite - why break up the Boston and Maine partnership just as things began to hum? But that was one side of it. Maine had 221 towns by now, and the Maine delegates in the General Court at Boston were standing around in the way of Beacon Hill folks. If Maine continued to grow, it wouldn't be long before Maine would be running Massachusetts. So there was some feeling around Boston that separation would be ``good riddance.''

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On the first vote over separation, Mainers were indifferent enough so sufficient ayes were lacking. On a second plebiscite a couple of years later, separation was carried, but it was because of the ``Ohio Exodus.'' In the meantime enough of the young people of Maine had moved to the prairie country, and without their vote the separatists won. The signing of papers by commissioners was amicable enough, the main issue being that Maine should accept its share of the public debt.

Then followed a constitutional convention, previous to another vote of ratification. The preamble of the Maine Constitution was thoughtfully drawn and carefully worded. It starts, ``We the people of Maine ...'' Toward the end it runs, ``... do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent state, by the style and title of the STATE OF MAINE, and so ordain....''

The Mainers readily ratified that, making the point that they were having nothing further to do with any commonwealth. And the wording is so taken that State belongs with Maine, inseparable. You can speak of Kansas and you can speak of Arkansas, and Delaware and Missouri, but you must always say the State of Maine. If you've paid attention, you'll recall that anybody from Maine, when he's asked, will tell you that he comes from the State of Maine. Everybody else is from away.

So then they paid the $38,000 in prizes for the wrong answer, and I said, ``You weren't listening much more than I was, why don't I put on a tape with bag pipe music?'' So I read some more, and I read about Luise, the pig that sniffs out drugs for the police in West Germany, and now she is about to retire from the force. Luise (I read) is no longer the slender piglet she was when she was first trained and went to work.

Back going on a year ago she was honored in public ceremonies for her contribution to law and her assistance to the detectives, and the prime minister of Lower Saxony hung a medal around her neck while a band played some of her favorite tunes. Luise is now expecting and her trainer, Chief Inspector Werner Franke, says that at 300 pounds (app. 165 kg) she has become difficult to lead about. Luise will accordingly take retirement and live comfortably in a park. Her trainer says it's possible she may write a book.

Leading a sow requires a certain skill, but a pig of any heft can be maneuvered if you know how. If they'll bring Luise to the State of Maine, I'll teach her and her trainer what my grandfather taught me a long time ago.

There are two ways. The first is simple. You clap a pail over the pig's snout. The pig then tries to back out of the pail, and by maneuvering the pail you can make him back any place. He squeals some, but he's inside the pail where he's talking mostly to himself. The other way is more genteel. Tie a cord - it needn't be too stout - to one hind leg. By pulling the string left or right you guide him (or her). Nothing to it. So much for TV that evening.

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