Long walks seem to be the thing this spring. Last weekend, I walked three and a half miles for a donut. This past Saturday, I walked that same approximate distance for a plate of lasagna. Life in Maine is interesting.
It started out innocently enough. I sent an e-mail to Julie, who readers know as “Slipper Sistah” here on the blog. I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk, maybe go to Luiggi’s. Slipper Sistah’s a good sport; she said “sure.”
When I got to her house, she was chopping wood and I spied a push reel mower near the wood pile.
We started our walk at about 3:00 p.m. Outer Sabattus Street has plentiful sidewalks and there are even crosswalk devices telling pedestrians to “WAIT, WAIT” until it’s safe to cross. The devices announce the street crossings by name. We didn’t pass any other walkers, though and the traffic zipped noisily by, happily motoring to destinations unknown. It’s Lewiston, Maine, not Cambridge, Massachusetts. Why walk when you can drive and get out of the city faster.
We passed throwback places like Val’s Drive-In and the Dairy Joy near St. Mary’s Hospital on Campus Avenue, both still in business. My mother brought me a milkshake from the Dairy Joy when I had my tonsils and adenoids removed at the hospital on July 1, 1973.
Luiggi’s was almost as I remember it when we used to go there in the 1970’s and there were even some Franco Americans having a meal. As luck would have it, Sistah recognized a woman waiting for her pizza and introduced herself. They reminisced about shared friends and then Sistah introduced me. I provided my mother’s maiden name and getting only a vague look of recognition, I tried my uncle’s name. Jackpot.
“Oh! Dick Belaire! I’m Paul Fortin’s sister!” she exclaimed.
“Tall Paul,” I said, remembering that before my uncle had been my uncle, he had been part of the Lewiston High School basketball team that won a state title and then made it to the New England finals. They were defeated by a Westerly, Rhode Island team at the old Boston Garden in March of 1960. Maybe Uncle Dick, Tall Paul, and Lionel “Rod” Rodrigue ate a few pizza’s at Luiggi’s back in the day.
I made some notes on my phone so I could remember to tell my mother about seeing Tall Paul’s sister and then Slipper Sistah and I left and headed up College Street. We passed the Bates College lacrosse fields and then we were at St. Mary’s Hospital again. I asked Sistah if she thought we could visit the hospital chapel, under one of the two architecturally magnificent domes. Sure enough, we were able to get into the chapel; a place of quiet repose.
I’ll have to go back to the dome one day when I have more time. Although my destination was Luiggi’s, I ended up going further down memory lane than I had anticipated and I bumped into ghosts from another time and place.
There are important stories everywhere; not all of them can be told in 140 characters or less and easily read while happy motoring.
Keep walking. Wait! Wait!