There is just nothing like a small New England Town. I am sitting in a coffee shop in Damariscotta Maine. This particular coffee shop is attached to a book store. The book store, though relocated, is the same one that got me hooked on reading as a kid. The first memory I have of reading is a summer memory. It was June or July and we were staying at my grandparents’ cottage. I tore through the ancient Hardy Boys anthology that seemed to have been read by generations of Bradford boys. When I got through with the last one a peculiar melancholy overtook me. My mother, wise parent that she is, took me into town to the Maine Coast Bookstore and introduced me to Ewan Walker, the owner. He asked me a few questions and started to recommend books.
I read and enjoyed every book he recommended, and would look forward to my summer vacations in Maine because I knew he would be around to open my eyes to new literary joys. It’s been almost two decades since my last memory of Ewan’s shop but today I asked about him when I was checking out. The cashier reminisced about the old shop and how she helped move it across the street to where it is today. She recalled Ewan’s knack for picking out just the right book for her son and then asked, “Is Martha Bradford your aunt by any chance?” “Either my aunt or my mother I replied.” She clarified that she knew Martha Bradford the artists (my aunt), and asked me to send her well wishes.
That, it seems, is the perennial theme of my visits to this area. Whether it’s the postmistress noticing an uncanny resemblance to my dad, or someone I haven’t seen since a visit to my grandparents church 20 years prior hailing me on the street, I am constantly reminded that here, everybody knows my name*.
* …or at least my family name.