Saturday, May 3, 2014

Maine, where life is like it should be

A national poll released in the Bangor Daily News Thursday written by Seth Koenig shows that Maine is tied for first place in the states where its residents least want to move.  Three other states, including Hawaii, were tied with Maine which showed that only about 23% of Mainers, both from away and native, would like to pick up and move elsewhere.  Compare that with Connecticut, for example, where nearly 50% of the residents would like to move away.

The Gallup Poll results really aren't surprising especially considering all the complaining people like me do in these blogs and in daily conversations away from the Internet.  Many Mainers who do leave end up returning here to live.  I'm among them.

It was nearly 60 years ago that I left this state to move to Florida.  I had just graduated from high school and move to St. Petersburg to live with my parents who had moved there a couple years earlier leaving me here to live with my grandmother so I could "graduate high school with my friends."  Moving to Florida didn't turn out to be a "bad thing."  I was able to land a job there with a now defunct evening newspaper.

I did learn from that experience that I needed a college education to move ahead in this world.  Here's the best part:  Residents of Florida at that time could go to college virtually free.  Of course, once in those same students had to maintain the grades to stay in or be dismissed.  I had lived there for more than a year before I decided to give college life a try and so by then I was a resident of that state.  Of course my parents had already become residents long before, but I'm not sure if that would have transferred to me or not since I was, at that time, still a minor.

When I applied, an official in the admissions office went over the rules for me and, since he had never heard of Deering High School in Portland, Maine, I was admitted on academic probation.  I couldn't believe that someone had not heard of one of the very best high schools in the country, but I accepted the conditions.  One of my happiest moments early in school came at the end of the my first semester when I took my grades to that same admissions officer and requested to be taken off probation.  I was on the Dean's List.

Believe it or not, all this is leading up to the BDN story.  But not until four years later.  I became an official Gator (earned my degree from the University of Florida) and within two months had made the decision that Maine, not Florida, was my future.  There was one more element in that decision, though, an element named Sandra. 

I didn't become rich by returning here, but I honestly believe I've been successful in a variety of jobs and activities.  Don't read anything negative in that last statement, I retired from my full time job and at the same time, from my part time job more than 35 years after I started them.  Of course, Sandra's and my greatest successes came from raising two productive children, although one of them has moved away from Maine to the West Coast.  He has not expressed a desire to return.  Yet.

So, like most Mainers, we like Maine.  I'm not in the least bit sorry I left for a few years, but I am extremely happy I returned.  Yes, I complain about our increasingly socialistic government and the constant raising of taxes to pay for everyone who simply doesn't want to work but live on my money, but 90% or more of Maine life cannot be beat.  It might have been easy to move my family down to Florida, but Florida isn't Maine.

Now, at my age, winters have become a challenge; but even rough ones like we just had remind us that Maine still is a great place.  My Fearless Friend and his wife head to Florida every winter, snow birds they're called, but about the first thing they write in emails from their home there is "xxx days before we head back to Maine." 

The story of the Gallup Poll is a nice read.


No comments: