Longtime columnist George Smith, whose work filled this space every Wednesday for three decades, died Feb. 12. For the next several weeks, we will reprint some of George’s best columns. Here’s one from Sept. 2, 2020.

Real Mainers never throw anything away. I got that gene from my dad.

I was amused by a recent story in this newspaper about a new project by the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments and New Hampshire’s Apparel Impact to collect old clothes and recycle or give them away (“New textile recycling program places bins across Kennebec Valley,” Aug. 12).

I never threw old clothes away, and then one day I noticed a bunch of my old clothes were gone. Well, my wife Linda had thrown them away. Very sad. She did cut up a couple of old shirts to use as rags, and invited me to clean the house with them. I declined.

Linda was upstairs one time and saw all my fly rods there. When she came downstairs, she asked me if I really needed 14 fly rods. Well, of course I did! And I didn’t tell her I was about to buy a new fly rod.

I love books and have hundreds piled on book shelves in the living room and my home office. About five years ago, when I bought another book shelf for my office, Linda told me it was my last bookshelf. I quickly filled it with books.


I’ve been getting lots of books to review, from Maine publishers and authors, and I hate to part with them, but I’ve got no room for them on my bookshelves, so I give them to family, friends, and our Mount Vernon library. OK, I cram a few favorites onto my own bookshelves.

I have quite a collection of books by wonderful Maine authors, including Louise Dickinson Rich and John Gould. I like to pull an old book off the shelves and read it again. Last year I wrote a column about Louise Dickinson Rich and her book “We Took to the Woods.” When Linda put the book back on my book shelf she asked we why I had seven copies of it! Well, I don’t know — but I’m keeping all of them.

And of course, I have a lot of political buttons, bumper stickers, brochures, and posters. My favorite brochure is Bill Cohen’s from his first campaign for Congress in 1972. In the brochure, there’s a photo of Bill and me on the steps of the Bangor library. Bill has his arm out, pointing down the street — I like to say Bill was telling me to go down that street and don’t come back.

And seriously, I appreciate that Linda does not object to all my stuff, including paintings and photographs in every room of the West Quoddy Head lighthouse in Lubec, where my great grandfather was the keeper for 30 years. And we have dad’s ducks in every room.

I was very proud of Linda recently when she returned from the dump with three beautiful wine glasses. We have a very popular building at the dump where people leave things, our swap-and-shop for real Mainers.

After he retired, Dad started carving and painting. He carved 100 loons. And no, I don’t have all of them! When he was in the hospice unit at Togus for the last six months of his life, Dad painted 30 more paintings. Yes, he was amazing.

I have quite a lot of Dad’s stuff. I remember asking once why he had 15 hammers, because I only have eight. As a kid I loved going with Dad to the dump with an empty truck and coming home with a full load of stuff.

After Dad filled up his barn, he started building sheds in back of his house, and when he died, he had six sheds full of stuff. Dad’s annual yard sales were famous and drew people from all over the state.

So after Dad died, my brother Gordon, sister Edie and I had a yard sale at his house, and I loved seeing people drive away with a vehicle full of dad’s stuff. I knew they were real Mainers.

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