On the Cobblestoned Streets of Portland, Memories

Nostalgia rained over me yesterday as I retraced the steps of my callow youth. On our way back from Southport Island we stopped by Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood where Kathryn and I lived from 1981-83. I drove around the gentrified area, glistening in the fall sunlight and full of colorful leaves, and tried to remember where we lived. I knew Congress Street and then found Emerson. Yes, that’s it. We drove around the one-way street and spied the tiny little house that I remember well. We rented it for $350 a month and I commuted down the hill and over the bridge to South Portland when I ran the Portland Chronicle, the little newspaper I helped start.

The old corner store were we would go for beer and bread had been replaced by a classy brunch joint. And the very top of Munjoy Hill was all taken over by a new huge building that looked like a hospital. We drove down to the Old Port and I saw slices of places I remember, from soooo long ago. A cruise ship had docked at the new Maine Ferry Terminal. A gargantuan boat, docked right at the pier, towering twenty stories up, and cruisers were streaming out and into the city’s Old Port.

It was hard to find a parking place amidst the cobblestones, but we found one, right near where there used to be a bar called Squire Morgans where I’d drink for free, on the company tab. Imagine that, having a trade account at a bar and ordering on the company. Boy that was a long time ago. We walked around and down to Commercial Street to the fish market we used to frequent when guests would come up to visit. There was Harbor Fish, with glistening black bass, flounder and delicate sole, iced up and ready. Across the street, in a dilapidated building, was the Porthole Restaurant. Lovely! With a fireplace and the old signs from its former incarnation as Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal, we sat at the bar and ate well.

I loved being in this small city again, and kept thinking about what it would be like if I had stayed. And if I lived here in 2008, and ran my cafe and my website on these cobblestoned streets. Hey, it might have just worked!