Pondering the fictional residents of Maine

Published July 5, 2013
Fans of the Hardy Boys debate whether their fictional hometown of Bayport is in New York, Massachusetts or New Jersey, but the rocky coast marked by steep cliffs tells me it’s in Maine. Many of the stories take place along the ocean, and one has Joe Hardy held prisoner in a cave in a cliff along the shore. I challenge you to find such dramatic cliffs by the ocean in New York, Massachusetts or New Jersey, but you’ll certainly find those cliffs along the Maine coast, which owes its rocky character to its provenance as part of the ancient Appalachians, whose remnants overlook the shore as sizable hills, such as Mount Battie by Camden, and are responsible for the multitude of islands that populate the waters of Maine.
I voraciously devoured Hardy Boys books as a child, and on my recent visit to the Pine Tree State I could picture those stories taking place along the Maine coast. The books feature the Hardy Boys’ speed boat and the Shore Road, and, although the stories may have lacked a writer’s guide to steer the many ghost authors who worked under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon, I like to think those authors preserved some bit of continuity throughout the series, and I vote for Maine as the home state of my favorite childhood heroes.
I read Hardy Boys books in elementary school, and in junior high I watched “Dark Shadows,” a daytime soap opera populated by vampires, werewolves and ghosts. I’ve always loved stories of the supernatural, so when my friends introduced me to “Dark Shadows” I was hooked. The show was wildly popular with people my age in the early 1970s, and because I’ve always been drawn to the 19th century I especially liked the extended segment where Barnabas Collins transported himself through hypnosis to the late 1800s. “Dark Shadows” was set in the town of Collinsport and environs, the opening TV sequence showing waves breaking on a rocky shore and the 2012 movie starring Johnny Depp providing historical background on the Collins family settling in Maine in colonial times.
Another fictional Maine resident is “Hawkeye” Pierce of “M*A*S*H,” who came from Crabapple Cove, also fictitious. The TV show was based on the movie, which was based on and closely resembles the book by Richard Hooker, who, if I can trust Wikipedia, graduated from Bowdoin College, where Joshua Chamberlain, whom I mentioned last week, taught. His real name was H. Richard Hornberger, and he based the novel on his experiences as an Army doctor in Korea. He was born in 1924 in Trenton, N.J., and died in 1997 in Portland, Maine. I remember reading long ago that he complained that the TV show was completely different from the book, and I was well aware of that difference when I watched the movie recently and saw a greatly sanitized stage version.
Finally, some of my favorite fictitious Maine residents are those in the comic strip “Non Sequitur.” I especially came to appreciate Capt. Eddie and Flo, owner of Flo’s Offshore Diner, and their Maine accent during our visit. I saw weathered fishing shacks along Penobscot Bay during our sailing trip and imagined Capt. Eddie working out of such a shack, and a recent Capt. Eddie line, in Sunday’s strip, accurately captured the Maine accent. But I’ll get to that next week.

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