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Invasion of the Land Yachts

SHOULD you visit our Down East lobst'rin town of Friendship, you will find you can reach the harbor either way. Harbor Street finishes with a loop, so you can go one way and come back again, either way. The other morning, as the portents conspired to commence a lovely day for gazing at our ocean in one of its more serene postures, a couple of these big highway homes with vestibules, annexes, and dance halls arrived to gladden us, one from West Virginia and one from Arizona.

Each was larger than our Hahn Community Center, which is our town house and our basketball arena, and by rare good fortune one of the drivers decided to look at the harbor one way, and the other the other.

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They met where the bushes thrive just at the edge of Betty Kreuger's driveway, which is the last place in the world where anybody needs two Minnehaha Land Yachts loaded with sightseers, tourists, and nonresidents. Betty heard the brakes squeal, and thought somebody over by Rob Armstrong's was playing the bagpipes.

I dwell on this so you can all appreciate how summer continues to entertain us back on this fringe of culture, where cark is reluctant to intrude and care seldom lifts its hand. Betty listened to what sounded like two rounds of the famous ``Bride's Lament'' of the Clan MacLeod, and she wondered why silence then prevailed. Two hours later she started to get her mail and found Friendship was having a traffic problem.

Friendship has been noted for going on a thousand years for its freedom from such. Freedom Linscott and Mose Burch discussed this with customary erudition and decided it was caused mostly because neither driver knew how to back. The two land cruisers sat there eyeball to eyeball all afternoon, and Betty didn't go for her mail until after she got the green peas shelled.

Meantime the loop was clogged, and neither of the mansion drivers could have backed anyway. It was kind of comical in a snide way to think these two jokers could tie up the entire waterfront activity of Friendship, whose fishermen lead the world in lobster fishing, and could bring a halt to everything in the shoreside community of Jameson Point, where recreational and residential property is assessed at four times the total valuation of Arizona.

Ruel Bartol said the two drivers deserved the compliment Hazzie Newell paid his boy Faunce when he finished hoeing the corn. Hazzie said, ``You done all right, son, except for the most part.''

Other than that, Friendship's only traffic problems are in the harbor, when two boats ``show their helm.'' Long before signals were put on automobiles, the fishermen used the same idea to indicate intentions. When another boat approaches, it is courteous to make a slight motion of the wheel or tiller so the other chap knows what you have in mind. Then you pass, nodding your thanks. Now and then both helmsmen send the same message at once, and it's much like two people meeting in a doorway.

We had another incident that perhaps belongs in the record. A magazine that aims at motorcyclists recently had an article on the things to see and enjoy on a tour of Down East coastal Maine, so we've been having an infestation.

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Ned Fenleigh says he wonders why they always seem to come in flocks of 20, look grim, and like joggers seem unhappy with their pleasures. The motorcycles have to have the lamps lit on the highway, day and night, which is good because except for the noise they make you wouldn't know they were there.

So a cavalcade of motorcyclists came into Friendship, reading the state tourist pamphlets as they approached, and by the Martin's Point road off Route 220 they turned the corner and went downhill past Sheila's Shanty. Sheila was watering the window box after starting the soup du jour. At the same time Chubby Driscoll was headed out of town with his 24-wheeler of iced lobsters, bound for Philadelphia. Chubby hadn't chanced to see that magazine with its story of all the fun to be had in Maine.

Sheila told me she recognized the sound of Chubby's truck in low gear so she waved at him, and then Chubby touched his horn in response and Sheila spilled a whole pan of water. Then, she said, she had looked back of herself toward the road, and she spied these motorcycles coming into town.

Sheila said Chubby showed his helm all right, but 10 motorcycles went to starboard and 10 to port, and Chubby slipped his clutch up three gears. Chubby is all right now, but Lem Colton covered for him on three trips to Philadelphia, and he is restless at night. Sheila has been closing her shanty in the afternoons.

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