Day 119 -- Thursday, August 27

What a goofball I am! I would eventually, on this foggy New England morn, be leaving Portland, Maine to the south but I first drove some 60 miles out of my way, roundtrip, north to the village of Lisbon Falls. There, on Main Street, is a small ice cream parlor, Kennebec's Frank's Famous Frozen Fruited Flavors. I wasn't there, though, for any of the frozen stuff; I wanted Moxie. I mentioned this elixir to you, dear reader, a day or two ago but I'll refresh your memory. Moxie is the oldest carbonated beverage in the world. It began as a nerve tonic well over a century ago and in 1884, they began to add carbonated water to it and serve it as a refreshing drink. Ted Williams used to endorse it, it's only available in the Northeast (and three cities in Pennsylvania) and I wasn't about to miss my chance to sample some. But 60 miles for a soda? Well, it's the way I am; yesterday I drove 70 miles out of my way to get the new Lucinda Williams disc (that was definitely worth it!).

So how's Moxie? It's odd but not so harsh or strange a taste as I had been led to expect. It's a little like root beer, a little like the natural colas one can find in health food stores and yet nothing like either. There's a little bit of a bitter aftertaste but nothing unbearable. I wasn't overly impressed but it could definitely grow on you. The most exciting aspect of Moxie trek, however, was when the proprietor of the store asked me about my BRETTnews T-shirt. He said that someone had been in the store wearing one the week before. Cool!

On through the clouds of haze into Wells, Maine, on historic Route 1 to the Maine Diner. It's a spot that's been here for years and I wanted a little more lobster before I left Maine (I enjoyed a lobster dinner last night). I had the lobster roll; it was quite delectable. My server was Stacy, who is about to hit the road in a month or two for an American Odyssey-esque journey of her own. She'll spend the next few weeks poring over these issues of BRETTnews, learning what not to do.

On into Massachusetts. I stopped in Salem to see a couple of exhibits about the Salem witch trials. It's been three hundred years since this dark period of history, so Salem is celebrating the anniversary, sort of. It wasn't really anything to celebrate but people are clearly still interested in the events of those days. The Salem Witch Dungeon offered a brief dramatization of one of the trials and a walk-through recreation of the dungeon where the unfortunate accused were imprisoned to await trial. Did you know that the accused were required to pay for room and board while they were imprisoned and even the executioner's fee if they were hung? Some who, after the hysteria had passed, had the charges against them dropped remained jailed because they couldn't afford to pay for the bills they had accrued!

The Salem Witch Museum is a multi-media (well, two media) presentation that gives more completely the full story of the trials. Using piped-in narration and music and mannequins, the key scenes in the sordid tale are brought to (still)life. Earlier in the summer, a local production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible was presented; I wish I could have seen it.

I spent the night in Marlboro, a suburb of Boston. My hostess was my friend, Michaelene. She treated me to a tasty Thai meal, some good conversation and a nice, soft floor to sleep on. Who could ask for anything more?

Continue on the American Odyssey.
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