All Along the Shore

[all along the shore]

[Garrett County Press]

Excerpt from
All Along the Shore
by Edward Hungerford

IN all this world there is but one New England.

You may travel afar and see many features of creation repeated, here, there, everywhere. ... A bit of jutting headland of the California coast, set in with distant mountains and pointed with a low cypress tree and a pink stucco house may make you think of Italy; a Florida estate cleverly fashioned by landscape artists and architects may bring to your mind the south of Spain -- but New England never, never repeats herself.

Where else may you go and find as sternly beautiful a coast as that which twists and turns itself north from Boston town, all the way down in Maine to Calais and the Canada line? On the one hand, the sea:" . . . the eternal flow of . . . smooth billows toward the shore. . . ." The northern sea of boundless blue in summer, and in winter ofttimes of an almost unspeakable anger.

The sea, elsewhere? I'll grant you that. But not the New England sort of a sea -- not even all these beauties and delights that our North Shore furnishes: long, sandy, shelving beaches for the sort of bathers who like the exhilaration of coolness as they battle with the waves; yachts, making off toward the blue horizon; fine estates, wooded, rocky, dignified, coming down to wet their feet in the very waters of the Atlantic; jutting headlands, now and then bearing upon the tips of their thrusted fingers a stately lighthouse, or perhaps a brace of lights -- as at Thatcher's Island or Cape Elizabeth.

Do you still believe that you will find this sort of thing in many places outside of New England?

If you do, let me visualize for you one thing more -- the old New England seaport town. Now we have you. There is a cove; a harbor in deepwater; the town itself clinging stoutly and manfully to a sharp uprising hill; its neat, white houses and its many trees and its narrow streets clutching at ledges of rock; all the way up from the fringe of weatherbeaten wharves and warehouses at its waterside. Accent and emphasis to all of this by a white spire or two --rising above the greenery; perhaps in that ancient belfry you still may find the ninepound shot that a vainglorious British general planted there---more than a century ago. . . . In the narrow streets splotches of sunlight coming down through the interstices of the trees and splaying themselves upon the roadway and the sidewalk. Neat palinged fences, scrupulously white, and lined, perhaps with roses, and with hollyhocks. Ladies with wide skirts and with parasols coming out the broad doors of the old houses and picking their way along the narrow walks. . . . This is New England. Where else in all creation may it be duplicated?

And when this New England comes intimately down to the sea; to the bold brave coast of our North Shore, its interest and its fascination are compounded. Sometimes the rocky shore breaks for a space and then we have those selfsame smooth and sandy beaches; and then the rocks conquer once again and one finds the summer homes, large and small, of an intelligent and a perceptive America. There are hotels, of a great variety, all the way along this coast. Small inns and eating-places dot its course, all the way from Revere Beach to well beyond Portland. Smooth highways run close to its shore for its entire distance. ... A place of great natural beauty has been made into the playground of a nation, without sacrifice of that beauty or its inherent dignity. . . . The North Shore treasures its traditions. It will permit no sacrifice of them, whatsoever. It welcomes cordially the tourist. But he must respect it. And then, this done, he surely will come to love it.

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