The writing and art on pages 24 and 25 appear in Volume III of the F&M Alumni Arts Review, an annual publication showcasing literary and visual works by F&M alumni. The theme of this year’s Review is “Shift.” To see work by other alumni and learn how to submit work for Volume IV, visit fandm.edu/alumni-arts-review. The submission period for next year’s edition opens Aug. 15.
John Shire ’66
Kelly Schenke ’95
“I’m what you would call
a slacker,” he said, leaning back,
arms folded, embracing
his own story, the near misses
the posture of sin, that twisted grin
making his eyes seem darker
than they already were,
fiercer than the life I pretend
that he lived.
Susan Hagner ’83
Richard Kanter ’89
Underway; Shift Colors
G. Michael Brown ’71
Bill is 87, a native Mainer, and a man with as many real adventures as Walter Mitty had imaginary ones, and a Down East accent as thick as molasses in February. I met him 20 years ago, when I moved to Maine. As I showed interest in our state and our town’s history, “Chief,” being a living piece of it, quickly became a mentor.
At first, our excursions took all of an hour and were limited to the neighborhood—albeit with the historical insights of a Smithsonian docent. We’d both had lengthy careers in the Navy; his lasted 20 years, and his tattoos, body art from Manila and Marseilles’ adventures, are now just distorted and faded inked memories. As we began each trip, we’d salute each other with what those in the Navy traditionally say as a ship pulls away from the pier: “Underway; Shift Colors!”
Chief has a story for every building and barn, and it soon became evident that I am to carry this knowledge forward. The one-room schoolhouse where he’d arrived pre-dawn in the frigid winter to start the stove, thus earning a quarter a week; the town’s laundry building that 70 years ago served as the middle school; the swimming hole where skinny dipping had once been commonplace.
Eventually our trips grew in time and distance; from an hour’s walk around town to camping for days in Maine’s North Woods (which brought me as close to hypothermia as I ever care to come). Dirt logging roads. Small town diners. Dexter, Rumford, Ashland.
He’d worked, explored, and hunted in most every corner of the state and was determined to make a Mainer out of me. Finally, after years of being pushed off one-lane dirt roads by fast-moving logging trucks, I’m not fazed anymore.
Chief has begun to show his years, physically and mentally. When next we say “Underway; Shift Colors,” I’ll be taking the helm as the “Maine Man.”
Perhaps fall foliage in Eustis?