Wiscasset is a small town

Thu, 08/25/2022 - 8:45am

An email arrived.  “Subject: Crazy Blue House.” A property on Federal Street had been painted a “Smurfy” blue. 

 Dan and Tracey Whitney, the owners, tried to get out ahead of the story, to calm neighbors who might have been alarmed by the bold color on the boulevard in Wiscasset’s historic district.

One emailed, “that's pretty breathtaking ... might could be the kind of traffic screecher we've been looking for to slow the fools whizzing down the hill.”

“Will not be crazy blue for too long,” Dan and Tracey wrote.  “That is just the primer coat and will be covered up on Monday and Tuesday with the more traditional Sherwin Williams Naval Blue.”

Well, in a small New England town, population ~3500, this became big news, fast.There’s an email group list of about 100 people, mostly recent newcomers, second-home owners, as well as long-timers.  

“Kinda loving that blue,” wrote Cynthia Pappas. “Me, too,” wrote Terry Heller who then pleaded for someone to take a picture of the house because she’s not very mobile these days, having broken many bones in one foot. “Will somebody PLEASE TAKE A PIC?!?!? I’m missing out on all the fun.”

Throughout the afternoon, neighbors noticed cars slowing as they drove om Federal Street, past the Smurfy house and blue and yellow Ukranian solidarity posters.

Later that afternoon, further down Federal Street, there was a garden party, ostensibly to welcome a couple who used to own Birch, an upscale home furnishings and gift shop..  About 50 people relaxing and talking and smiling.   And it seemed that every conversation among the neighbors began with “Have you seen the Crazy Blue House”? Everybody had.

Now, this is not a story about a house being painted.  It is about this small town in Maine.  This is a place where people know your name. And your medical reports, And your relatives. And they care about their neighbors. And their pets. And so on.  It’s a real community feeling.

Here, a house being painted a bold blue .. that’s news.

I spoke with one man who was born and raised here, started a family here, and retired here.  I looked at the people at the party and said to  the veteran of Wiscasset, “I guess these are the movers and shakers in town.”  He thought about that. There are life long-Wiscassetins, true, a few.  There are recent arrivals, some propelled by Covid or a desire for a simpler life. Finally, there are “blue collar Mainers,” who produce services or products.  And the various groups have their disagreements.  Just ask anyone whether the multi-million dollar highway project a few years ago has eased traffic delays. The Governor’s race this fall features a Trump fan running against a mainstream Democrat. Already the yard signs have been deployed.

Saturday’s party was also kind of a kickoff to Schoonerfest week.  The second annual celebration of Wiscasset’s maritime history. It begins Thursday.  Historical ships will sail the harbor, Food trucks. a beer garden, and nearly two dozen musical groups (blues to classical) Y’all come.