One of the representative from one of the northern counties here in Maine has suggested ( as someone does every few years ) that the north secede from the south. They would form their own state to be known by some name as yet to be decided, in their constitutional convention. It could be Northern Main USA, or Real Maine USA. Who knows? They will surely attach the USA to re-assure themselves and others who have always harbored doubts, that they are indeed part of the lower 47.
Those of us living in the lower tier would be known as Northern Massachusetts. I’ve been to Northern Massachusetts, and I can tell you it’s way different from here. A friend of mine living in that break-off section of our state has reminded me that she could legally call me a Masshole: a local term of endearment we often apply to our neighbors to the south. It’s a name well earned by drivers from there who feel using an automobile as a lethal weapon is a birthright of theirs. I have lived in places like Texas, for instance. You got your Panhandle, your West Texas, your Rio Grande Valley, your Big Bend, your Gulf Coast, your East Texas and that unique part known as Deep East Texas, you got Central Texas and you got North Texas and probably other places. These parts are as different from each other as day and night. It is seen as diversity, which is seen as a good thing. This “two Maine” thing comes up from time to time. The more remote part believe they constitute the “real” Maine. They believe too many of the state’s resources are used up down here. When you consider that most of the people live here it is not to hard to understand why.

There is also, and I have been told this to my face, something about a lot of the families who have lived there for generations that gives them special status. The minute I moved to Texas, I was told I was now a Texan. I could wear cowboy boots and everything. Ye Ha! But I have had “true Mainers” tell me I could never be one of them, and they did not smile. I truly believe this is a minority feeling but it is there. Why can’t we be a vastly diverse state? We could have cultural exchange programs where people from each section spend time in the other section learning the customs and language. It would go a long way toward understanding and go a long way toward dispelling the myth of primogeniture that bestows a higher standing to those whose families have been here the longest. The important thing is this: ALL OF US ARE HERE!

I don’t think this two Maine thing has a hope in a hurricane of ever becoming a reality, and within a few generations It will become a quaint part of the growing history of this genuinely wonderful place to live. I do believe Native Mainers do have a point about how money from the south has taken the finest from them but it was a two way street. Choices were made. Consequences endured and will be endured. And it is OK to bitch about the past but not too long. We are likely on the threshold of the most exciting history making period in Maine. It’s going to take Old Salts and Newbies alike to make Maine’s future work. Jerry Henderson

1 Comment

  1. Fire in the Belly

    I have heard this inglorious rant for decades. At first it seemed to be just rural Maine quaint talk, and yeah I was a "non-native from away". After three generations of my family living in Maine and being labeled as "still non-native from away", I would fire back, "we’re all from away, you look far enough back and all of us come here in exile." Then a leader from the Penobscot Nation chided me with, "don’t give me any of that white man talk about who’s native – who’s not native." Lately the successionist rant strikes me as more about coming from folks who simply don’t like to be around or associated with people who may think and feel and act a bit different from local norms and customs. At it’s worst it reflects on people who apparently have nothing to learn from anyone else in the room or in the legislature or in the region. It reminds me of bully boys in grown men’s suits, sitting in their little sandbox chiding the rest of us with, " you can play in our yard, but only if you play by our rules, and if you don’t, we won’t like you any more and will take our sandbox elsewhere". Dividing the world up into your sandbox – my sandbox with this kind of selfish interest seems petty, arrogant and intolerant to me. I guess from the successionist view I’m pretty naive for thinking that maybe all of us are in this together, regardless of the arbitrary hammer and tong distinctions that successionists use to exclude those who are not exactly like them. How sad in a time when all hands indeed are needed on deck.

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