Away – Overheard From a Bench in Bar Harbor

ted-strutzs-town

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

“I hear tell they’re planning on tearin down that house on Old Farm Road.  Don’t rightly know if that’s such a good idear.”

“Don’t recon we have any say in the matta.  Least of all you.”

“And you do?”

“Shoea, I’m a local.”

“Hurmph, local.  What about me?”

“You’re from Away.”

“I was born in Ellsworth, 10 miles away, moved here in ’34 when I was just two.  That’s a year before you were even born!  Local, Hurmph.”

“Away’s away.  Weren’t born heya, ain’t from heya.  Ask anybody.”

“Next you’ll be saying I’m a tourist.”

“What, you saying you ain’t?”

“Ha!”

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Word count = 100

Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  This week’s prompt is here and uses a photo © Ted Strutz.  Read more or join in by following the InLinkz “linky“.

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I’m pretty sure this photo is Bar Harbor.  Maybe not, but it looks like it.  The story is based on a real conversation I overheard the last time I was there….

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A little advertisement ;)  My book The Halley Branch was released yesterday.  Here is the launch page and here is the page on Amazon.

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54 thoughts on “Away – Overheard From a Bench in Bar Harbor

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      That mentality about who is “local” and who is a “newcomer” can be funny at times unless, of course, you are caught on the wrong side of the divide ;) Thanks!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Small towns are just so funny that way! I’m lucky that most of the people in my small town grew up someplace else so they don’t’ make people feel like a stranger for long.

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  1. pennygadd51

    I thought at first that your story was going to be of a haunted house, because of the reservations expressed about tearing it down. However, as I read on all became clear – we had two old guys bragging about who had the best claim to be local. Nice, feel-good story!
    It reminded me of an incident when I was young. I was a newcomer in a village, and went to the local pub. As I approached the door, I could hear a lively buzz of conversation. I entered, and silence fell, and it remained silent until I had drunk my beer and left…

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  2. Rowena

    Well done, Trent although the subtleties of the accent are lost on me. Mum was telling me that the nextdoor neighbours sold their house to a Chinese family and how the Japanese people were living on the other side. These so-called “Japanese” people arrived when they were ids when we were all around 12 and I’m almost 50. I was thinking to myself that there must be a point when they are considered Australian. No doubt they’re citizens and they went through school here. However, I still remember when they first arrived and we hadn’t had any contact with Japanese people then and they had made us the most amazing origami sphere that was so clever. Most of the people in my parents’ street keep to themselves anyway but their area on Sydney’s North Shore is also renowned for being a difficult nut for outsiders to crack. You’d thin with people moving around so much these days that these old systems would’ve broken down by now.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      One thing is that people who seem “different” are always considered “Different”. There is the recent story of the jerk screaming at the “Hispanic” person to get out of America, but the “Hispanic” person’s family had lived in that town for over 300 years! Unfortunately, that extreme bias against those who are considered “Different” is growing at an alarming rate in this country.

      That being said… The idea in this story is something I’ve seen many times in small towns and can be funny. You can be 102 and have lived in town for 101 years, be relatives with 90% f the people in town, but if you were born 10 inches outside of town lines, you can never be a local…

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      1. Rowena

        You captured all of those nuances really well and it would good to bring them out in the open and talk about how these issues of identity and belonging play out. Perhaps, if we started living at more of a conscious level, we could change some of the prejudice which seems to be such a problem everywhere at the moment.
        BTW I think a lot of these racial tensions heighten when there are big influxes, or perceived influxes, of a particular racial group. Where we live, doesn’t get a lot of immigrants. However, I’m hearing more and more about the Chinese both as buying real estate Australians can’t afford and as tourists. I personally wouldn’t know. I mostly look out into my own backyard and into the computer. My research is usually at least 100 years old. I don’t really “live in the now.”

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          What it comes down to is people don’t like change. A new group showing up, or one who has been around for a while but the politicians or media decided are the new scapegoats, threatens those not part of the group. And we currently live in times were there is a lot of instability around the world, so people want to hang on to what they know even more. Makes their temperature raise when they think of “outsiders”.

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  3. Sarah Potter Writes

    Sounds like my neighbourhood! I was a newcomer about 15 years ago. Only now am I being treated as a local. I know, because tourists have started stopping to ask me directions! I think that’s a most observant bit of writing, Trent, and so true. I love the voice. It’s spot on.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      In some ways this story is a cliche of small New England towns and I’ve seen it in action. Funny thing is that it didn’t take me long to become accepted in my town. But then, I was at a meting of town’s people a few years ago and after asking around I found that about 95% of the people at the meeting weren’t original from my town. That is why they were so accepting – they were all from Away as well!

      Thanks!

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          Some of the small towns I’ve seen are like that. People can trace their family history back for generations, and if your great-great-grandparents weren’t from there, well, you are still the new comer….

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I’ve heard similar conversation, including the term “Away” in Maine. The state of Maine is an entirely different place from the rest of the country ;) I think that outsider thing happens everywhere, but small towns in Maine and other parts of New England are worse than most places.

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  4. 4963andypop

    Like the Maine accent and small town colloquialisms. I could hear the sing- song rhythms in their conversation. The” Away “usage I haven’t heardbefore. It reminds me a little of the Amish, calling those outside their community “the English”. I have heard “you’re not(you ain’t) from ’round here, are ya?”And, of course, various complaints about Yankees and Snowbirds. 😊

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I think every place has its terms for people not from there. A couple of people say they’ve heard “from Away” before, but I’ve only heard it in Mane. And, of course, there is their habit of dropping “r”s in some places and adding them elsewhere, but people in Massachusetts have that funny relationship with the letter “r” as well.

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      1. jillyfunnell

        In the UK people say “She’s not VILLAGE, you know” which apparently explains all sorts of behaviour ranging from simply being new to the area to practising witchcraft and rejecting membership of the bridge club!

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  5. Sandra Conner

    Now what I want to know is — did you really overhear this in a conversation, or is it an amalgamation of numerous comments over the years? I ask the question only because I’ve been talking to my creative writing students in class this term about listening in on conversations and writing them in their journals — because they are great seeds for stories — or scenes from stories — or even characters. If this is one you did actually overhear, it will make a great example for me to share with them.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It was almost 10 years ago, so I’m sure it wasn’t the exact conversation… I overheard a bit of conversation when in Bar Harbor where they guy from “Away” had lived in town longer than the guy calling him that was alive. Of course the “native” was born there. It was a teasing, back and forth conversation. Even though there weren’t many people around, I’m sure they knew that the tourists would all think it funny…

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Pretty much. A lot of small New England towns are notorious for this, but I’m lucky in that everyone I have met in my small New England town is also from elsewhere.

      Thanks!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      If you weren’t born here, you’re not from here and never will be, even if you live to 150! Luckily most of the people I have met in the small New England town were I live are from “Away” as well… (I’ve been here fro 25 years.)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks! I think there are some places that it goes, “My great-grand parents moved here in 1875!” “Well, if your family wasn’t here by the Revolution, your from Away…” ;) (I’ve heard “Away” used several places in Maine. I’m not sure what the term for “not from here” is other places.)

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