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The Post Office Is Gone, by George

EVEN with my careful elucidation, some parts of this dispatch may not make sense to our professors of history, government, and politics. But it is true: The post office of St. George has been closed. The lady who had been selling stamps at the St. George office exercised her seniority and moved across to sell stamps at the post office at Spruce Head. When people asked her why, she said, ``I had to. They were about to close the St. George office!'' So when they asked the postal-service people why they closed the St. George office, they were also told, ``We had to. Our stamp lady moved over to Spruce Head.''

The honest lucidity of this, while it is good postal-service doctrine, will probably baffle the savants, while it merely sent the ``patrons'' of the St. George post office looking for a length of rope. Thus matters stand, and the post office at St. George may well be (may well have been!) the one post office in the United States of America unworthy of such abuse. This is about like setting fire to the frigate Constitution.

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And please don't bother to remind me that our scenic town of St. George, Maine, is not really bereft, since it also has post offices at Port Clyde, Tenants Harbor, and Spruce Head to accommodate the total of 1,600 residents. (In the summer the artists come, and that figure doubles.) St. George is rockbound coastal and runs to eelruts, gunkholes, coves, bays, and hidden places, so four post offices are not unreasonable. Some feel it would be handy to have more - at Martinsville, Clark Island, Long Cove, and so on, parts of St. George without. But the name of the township is St. George, and these other places are villages and ``locations'' in St. George, or near enough.

When the Spanish Armada ran out of steam and England began exploration and colonies, some gentleman adventurers in London and Plymouth put up the money to send Captain George Waymouth to America to look things over. In due time, his vessel Archangel arrived off ``The Maine,'' and his crew fitted together a knock-down pinnace that had been framed in England, and the captain ``discovered up a most excellent river.'' He named this the St. George River, after the patron saint of Olde Anglia.

The description of this discovering, as written by the ship's scribe, James Rosier, made America sound so attractive that recruits were readily signed on in England for the settlements, two years later, at Popham in Maine and Jamestown in Virginia. To speak plainly, the village of St. George on what we call ``the Georges River'' is the seedplot for the United States of America. I have here at my hand a list of deep-water sailing ships built on that river between 1787 and 1869 - some 500. At 19 cents a throw, the stamps bought at St. George as tourists mail home postcards of those 500 ships make something of an argument. Fact is, Bob Skoglund tells me he has been spending better that $1,200 a year for postage at St. George all by himself.

This fellow Skoglund is our best authority on many things. He calls himself the ``humble farmer,'' and still drives a Model-T Ford pickup for his turnip route and to pick up his mail. Robert lives in the heart of Maine's seacoast beauty, surrounded by summercaters and lobster catchers. Accordingly, he limits his agronomy to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - during alternate leap years. This leaves him time for cultural affairs, and he writes lectures that he delivers in places like California. Lectures like, ``The Eternal Verities Adapted to a Changing World.'' Once a year Robert stages a lobster bake at his well-kept four-square home, and invites his friends. They both come, and the outing is now traditional.

I dwell on the details, because on the front lawn of Robert's bucolic Georgian enclave may be seen a 30-foot native granite obelisk, which marks the exact center of the universe. There it is, giving ancient St. George not only its rightful place in the minor history of worldly affairs, but marking as well its standing in space, in infinity, and in the limitless rotations of the never-ending cycles of centuries. This is not something the United States Postal Service should monkey-doodle around with. Maybe we should shrug our shoulders if they shut down post offices in ordinary places like Boston and Poughkeepsie and Scranton and Skowhegan and Butte, and say, ``Oh well - it's just another town and not worth a fuss!'' But the Center of the Universe is another matter. Write your congressman by UPS!

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