’Round Town


Wed, 01/12/2022 - 7:00am

It wasn’t the storm of the century but it was enough to launch the region’s fleet of snow plowers and salt and sand spreaders. They were flying around all over the place, on state roads, out of driveways, in parking lots and on town streets. There was a parking ban. On the highways and byways, drivers needed to be alert. In addition to all the snow activity there seemed to be a lot of people with binoculars and long lenses flitting about. There was a bird alert on the internet tracking a poor creature from Russia which had either lost its way or was on a tour of local feeding grounds. We saw it by accident off Pratts Island. A small dot on a rock being approached by a kayak in Sheepscot Bay. The bird flew off before said kayaker could get close enough for the award-winning photo. It headed up the Sheepscot toward Five Islands/Westport. We lost sight of it rounding the point heading north.

On an early trip to Hannaford for milk, I passed seekers on the Southport bridge, at West Harbor Post office and down near Tugboat Inn. Later in the day, while checking on a cottage off Ocean Point Road, there was a significant uptick of traffic headed toward Ocean Point. The bird must have made a move and all the trackers had gotten updates on their cell phones to muster for a better view. I hope it has the energy to keep everyone entertained.

A short adjustment of flight plan could create a serious traffic snarl as people speed to and fro hoping for a glimpse. I, for one, feel the poor thing must be exhausted from all the attention. It was even featured on the 6 o’clock evening news!

But, before the snow landed, preparations were well underway. As I passed the Small Mall parking lot I noticed a piece of E.M. Wood equipment off-loading a big plow blade and instantly recognized my friend Ernie Morton managing a boom truck’s soft landing at the edge of the black top. I slipped into a space next to the bank and prepared to annoy. Ernie is one of my favorite local personalities. One of the highlights of my 45-plus years here on the peninsula was visiting Ernie and Richard Latter in the early days of Hawke Motors. Oh my God. What an adventure. I used to create mechanical issues with my car just to make an appointment and sit in on their hysterical banter. Ernie and Richard were worth the price of repair work. I was allowed to enter the inner sanctum to overhear their noteworthy analysis.

“Richud, What do you think about the sound of a hammer blow to this wheel hub?” Ernie would ask.

“Put the fine adjustment maul to ‘Uh, Ernie. That should do it,” Richard replied. Let the wailing begin! And back and forth they would go. But, in point of fact, between the two of them most things would come apart. They were a heck of a team.

Ernie is a very capable mechanic, not just for busting things apart, but for the more intricate maneuvering often required for wheeler operation and boom truck precision. We got him good and stuck next door once at the Claude Parmenter place. It wasn’t pretty but Ernie (and Claude) eventually got things unstuck.

The magic is in the ability to come up with solutions on the fly. Ernie has that ability along with a good heart. It’s a unique combination that I have always admired over my many years around construction and repair. Easy to get stuck but unstuck is an art.

Ernie’s good at figuring stuff out.