“On March 15, 1820, Maine became the 23rd state in the Union when the people of the Commonwealth Of Massachusetts decided to give the all the land there to the people of Maine. This is a decision Massachussetts residents have obviously come to regret because they’ve been buyin’ it back piece by piece ever since.”
This is the first day of the big Independence Day weekend, which to the locals in northern New England means that by three o’clock in the afternoon all northbound highways will become virtual parking lots as vacationers flood across the northern border of Massachusetts and into Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. This is actually only the high point of a flood which has continued for decades in dribbles and drabs.
You probably don’t know this but there is a style of comedy popular in northern New England (and nowhere else, which is why you don’t know it) called “Downeast Standup”. Popularized by Maine comic Tim Samples, it involves rambling tales told in a thick, plummy accent which end with a quite silly dry punchline. The butts of those jokes are often people from Massachusetts, who flood north of their borders every weekend in search of cheap booze, groceries (New Hampshire has no sales tax) and outdoor entertainment. Consider the one funny scene in Chevy Chase’s otherwise forgettable movie “Funny Farm” in which he plays a fed-up urban dweller who wants to move to the typical quaint New England village and live on a yuppiesque farm. Driving up to the town to look at a property he becomes lost. Finally he pulls up to a scrawny old Vermont codger sitting in a rocking chair out in his yard and says “Hey, Buddy. How do I get to ‘Redbud’?”
The coot goggles at him in amazement and says “How’d you know my name’s “Buddy”?”
Chase shrugs and says “I guessed.”
The coot says “You’re such a goddamn good guesser, I guess you can guess your way to Redbud too!”
Country folks one, city slickers zero.
Of course, times change and as more and more Massachusetts residents flee their crime-ridden high-tax hellhole for the halcyon hills of quaint northern New England, the less quaint it becomes. In the last five years alone we in New Hampshire have seen our quaintness quotient plummet by over fifty percent. They may leave but they bring their problems with them, and that isn’t really funny anymore.
Tim Samples sums it up in a story about a young Massachusetts couple who buy a home in Maine next to an old farmer whose family has lived there for centuries. After weeks of surveying the property they come over to him very concerned and tell him they have discovered that their common property line runs right through the middle of his well. They ask what they should do about that. The farmer thinks for a moment then says “Well, course you can do what you want with your half but I guess I’ll just keep drownin’ cats in mine.”
City people get all worked up over property lines and borders and such, you see.
Massachusetts residents have long been considered by locals as an invasive species, much like the Snakehead fish in Delaware or Monkeys and Anacondas in Florida. They upset the natural balance and the natives suffer as a result. Natives respond by cracking jokes, much as downtrodden Soviets did in the bad old days of communist rule. But like the owntrodden workers of old, locals are powerless in the face of the kind of insanely huge wads of Massachusetts cash the folks “from away” manage to throw about. And as they flood in they bring with them “No Hunting” signs, demands for trash collection and the taxes that come with it, bloated property values and all the Massachusetts-style nanny state legislation (gay civil unions, smoking bans, seatbelt laws) they originally fled.