I sit in this big house staring out the window that has a great view of my L.L.Bean thermometer. I don’t have to do that to know how hot it is. I have one of my two daughters calling each hour to tell me they’re seeing Maine temps on their iPhones.

Yes, it’s been hot for a couple of days, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve spent July days in San Antonio in 110 degrees, which only went down to 98 at night when I, and my fellow airmen, slept under the stars on wool blankets.

Then there were the actor years in Manhattan’s brownstone apartments, before air-conditioning or window fans were invented.

My three years in Japan were noted for the June and July hot rain monsoons. But those memories, on nights like this, kick up more memories for me to entertain you with. You are being entertained, aren’t you?

I know you’ve memorized my memories, but a boy has to make a living.

I’ll hit the big notes first. I was born in September in St. Louis, Missouri. That’s all you need to know about heat. So hum along.


But I’ll say this: September in St. Louis, I think, is where Peter O’Toole wanted to shoot his “Lawrence of Arabia.” He liked our beers. But David Lean won. A writer’s joke.

But that’s really the shared memory of the older folks of my family. They’re all passed now, in fact, everyone in my old neighborhood but the summer postulants at St. Joseph’s across the street are deceased. It’s all some kind of monumental thing there now.

This brings to mind a memory of the good sisters in their traditional white postulant apparel, huddled under the cool shadows provided by the great historic convent church behind them.

Alan Powers and I would sit atop the big brick wall and watch these newly arrived pre-nuns deal with the heat by fanning themselves with copies of last Sunday’s mass programs.

My sister Rita (at that time the star of the Michigan Avenue Saturday night Spanish Society tango contest) would, after sitting in the sun on our front porch, take me over to share our cold Dr. Peppers with them.

Yes. That’s true. I can taste it even now.


A painting made by J.P. Devine when he first arrived in Maine shows his memory of the three sisters of St. Joseph’s with one sporting early Ray Bans. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

The Sisters. Behold! Included with this column is a painting I made when I arrived in Maine, from memory, of three Sisters, with one sporting early Ray Bans. They were standing in front of Aules Café, on the corner of Holly Hills and Michigan Avenue, watching homecoming veterans, fire and police trucks, and Democratic office-seekers march to high school band music.

And, later that night, all the sisters in the convent would, in violation of rules, lift their brown shades and peak out of their bedroom windows to watch our sparklers brighten the night.

I wonder if that made them cry into their pillows as they recalled their childhood celebrations.

Ah well, today the Sisters of the old church have long ago abandoned the dark robes. Good night Sisters. Thanks for the memories.

A boy’s gotta make a living.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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