This quote belongs to Mr. T. Jefferson but it is borrowed by many, including myself. I recently finished East of Eden, John Steinbeck’s immortal classic. How did I live this long (and “this long” is my little secret) without reading this book is a true mystery. I was transported, immersed, and elevated. East of Eden tells a family saga wrapped in Steinbeck’s beautiful philosophy of life.
After taking a deep breath, I perused the books already on our library shelves to see if I missed one. The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodard, 2004, caught my eye and just coincidentally that evening the young man who gave that book to me was coming to dinner, so I plunged in — rather like a chore. After all reading a book about Maine when you live in Maine is like taking coals to Newcastle.
What a surprise! The book is engagingly written and reveals some astounding historical information and fascinating contemporary facts. Such as:
* Monhegan’s intrepid band of lobstermen fish in the deep, ferocious winter;
* Captain John Smith of Pocahontas fame journeyed to Maine; thereupon, he gave the region its name of “New England”;
* Long before the Trail of Tears was the Great Dying when the plagues of 1616-1619 (caused by pathogens brought to the New World by Europeans) wiped out huge segments of the native Indians in Maine;
* Despite the Great Dying, the much-aggrieved Indians rose up in the Great Uprising which lasted almost fifty years until 1726;
* Maine was a colony of Massachusetts until 1820 when it became a state — all Mainers know this, but I had no clue;
* A higher proportion of Mainers fought in the Civil War than that of any other Northern state;
* Canning is not just for sardines – in the late 1800s Maine had 23 lobster canneries but by 1900 there were none;
* California and other places tried to transplant the Maine lobster – but it never worked.
If I have whetted your appetite and intrigued your mind, grab the book (or borrow my copy) and come on up.