In search of mysteries and mayhem

Orpheus Allison, Special to The County
3 weeks ago

Presque Isle’s own native playwright, John Cariani, will be holding a workshop to gather stories about The County as material he will be using in a followup to his play, “Almost, Maine.”

I tease this for many reasons. Supposedly we — people — are made in the image of our God. Fair enough. We are given a variety of skills, and learn through experience what those skills and limits are. We gain knowledge about what makes us happy and what does not. Contrary to popular belief, not every person can sing. Sometimes they just do not have a bucket big enough to carry any tune. So while there might be a heavenly choir sing praises all day, the rest of the motley denizens of heaven have other responsibilities. Storytelling is chief among them.

How did we use the body, skills, and wits to help others? A lot of yarn gets spun doing this. So if the choir is not on your list, storytelling it is.

Go to any diner. Order a coffee and donut and just eavesdrop for a half-hour or two. Good time to practice stirring in the sugar. You will hear deals for a three-legged stud horse, a skunk trapped at the judge’s house just when his wife plans a dinner party, or the moose who traipsed through the Lovers’ Lane when canoodling was afoot. Yep, our everyday stories come alive.

Here’s one. The first year the Anah Temple Shriners brought their circus to The Forum in Presque Isle, they had some elephants. Citizens of the Star City were treated to a parade of the creatures down to Riverside Park. The elephants needed a bath. They splashed around in the water and a few relieved themselves in the street. Public works sprang into action, scooping the offending material into a barrel, which was then secured and transported to a top-secret site in The County. This was at the beginning of the Department of Environmental hazmat materials team and regulations. This agricultural area could not have foreign pathogens bringing in contagious material.

Ever raise rabbits or goats? Think of their dropping sizes, then multiply that in your mind by 10,000, and it is easy to understand the uproar that ensued when news broke that the secured barrel, at a secure facility, was empty. Rampant speculation was quite abundant. One possible witness, “Jimmy,” said someone may have wanted to grow big tomatoes. 

To this day, no sight nor smell has been found. But the stories have grown and will continue to bring a tear to the eye.

So bring out your stories, because they could be on a stage near you in the near future. It’s time for the Star City to tell the tales of skunks, moose, Mainers and mayhem which make this a great place to grow.

Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television, later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.