Thursday, June 16, 2005

Neo-neocon's handy guide to northern New Englanders

Here are some lesser-known facts about folks who live in New England. And by "New England," I mean the part I know best, northern New England--that is, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Actually, I'm not so sure about Vermont any more. Vermont seems to be populated these days mostly by outsiders such as myself (I've only lived in New England since 1969, after all). Connecticut? It ain't New England. Any state that is composed half of Yankee rather than Red Sox fans is not New England. Sorry. Massachusetts? Borderline. Rhode Island? What's that? (Just a joke, folks, please don't send me angry e-mails--but you have to admit it is rather small).

Fact A: New Englanders don't use umbrellas.

These last few days it's been back to the cold-and-rainy-Seattle-in-winter scenario, weatherwise. Yesterday at the supermarket I reluctantly got out of my car, pushed the button on my umbrella that automatically opens it (love that thing!) and huddled under it as I raced in to do my shopping, when I noticed that I was the only person around using an umbrella.

It's not the first time I've noticed this. New Englanders are hardy; they laugh at the weather. They scorn people "from away" who feel they will melt if a little rain falls on them, even if it's 48 degrees and windy and the rain chills them to the bone.

Fact B: New Englanders don't use garages.

Actually, I want to amend that--they use them, just not for cars. When I first lived here, people would often say something like this to me, "We went by your house the other day and were going to stop by, but we figured you weren't home because your car wasn't in the driveway." I found this puzzling--my car was usually in the garage, I'd say--and they looked back at me equally puzzled. Car? In a garage?

No, garages in New England are for storage. Even during the five or so months a year that we get a great deal of snow, and leaving a car in a garage would just seem to make sense, people here prefer to leave them out and dig around them. And it's not that the homes lack storage, either--most have large attics and deep basements and a storage shed or two on the property. So the garage thing remains a mystery, but I think it must be connected to the umbrella thing.

Fact C: If you weren't born here, forget about it.

It's not that people won't be cordial. But you'll always be somewhat of a stranger.

Fact D: Women mow the lawns.

It's not an absolute rule, but it's pretty much the case. Years ago a relative was visiting from California and pointed this out to me (I'd never noticed it before, but after that I noticed it often). Actually, what he said one day when we were driving around sightseeing, was this, "I'm going to move here. The men don't have to mow the lawns."

Fact E: New Englanders love ice cream.

So what, you say. Doesn't everybody? Well, New Englanders love it more, and they have less reason to, because we have more cold weather (see this by authorities Ben and Jerry on the subject, as well as this: New England is known for its high ice cream consumption, no matter what the season...).

I try to be part of this important New England tradition, especially if the ice cream is ginger (I know, I know--I'll probably take a lot of flak for admitting that. But, have you ever tried it?) Ice cream stands dot the land, and although they close for the winter, they define "winter" somewhat narrowly. They tend to reopen when the weather is still very cold, and you can see stalwart souls standing out there in near-blizzard conditions, indulging in the long-awaited pleasures of their favorite cones. Very hardy folk indeed.

27 Comments:

At 3:21 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger sygamel said...

Boston suburb resident and one man sample:

Fact A: New Englanders don't use umbrellas.

Haven't owned one in a couple of years, but then again it's two steps from front door to car and I park at work in a covered parking garage with a skywalk to my office.

Fact B: New Englanders don't use garages.

Don't have one now but my parents used their garage for cars, though not the entire time I was growing up. Also, we owned a larger garage than the average for New England.

Fact C: If you weren't born here, forget about it.

Unfortunately true among the local yokels but there has been a decent influx of "outsiders" over the last 10-12 years, changing the landscape a bit.

Fact D: Women mow the lawns.

My mother never mowed the lawn once growing up. Either N.E. fathers are sissies or their wives are hardyfolk. Maybe neither (it's moving a self-propelled machine over flat ground, after all)

Fact E: New Englanders love ice cream.

So true. Heck my family used to make Sunday plans to walk downtown to Baskin Robbins during the summer. Even now I'm never without a gallon in the freezer.

 
At 4:29 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Karl Gallagher said...

Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles I was walking across the campus with a co-worker. Some drizzle was coming down, so he popped open his umbrella and held it high.

Him: "Don't you use an umbrella?"
Me: "Only when it's raining."
Him: "What do you call this?"
Me: "Humidity."

 
At 4:41 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger chuck said...

Fact D: Women mow the lawns.

Disagree. I grew up in Massachusetts and never saw 'girls' mowing the lawn. Later I moved to Utah and one of the first things I noticed were the woman and teenaged girls mowing. So Utah is the place to be if you are a guy and don't like to mow.

That said, maybe Massachusetts has changed, maybe Romney has spread the Utah effect, maybe Massachusetts isn't part of New England. Whatever. I stand by my facts.

 
At 5:11 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous neo-neocon said...

Those who disagreed about one thing or another may have missed my caveat in the intro: I'm not talking about Massachusetts. This is just about northern New England, particularly New Hampshire and Maine (hmmm, maybe I should change the title to reflect that). Massachusetts (and particularly Boston, but all of Massachusetts) is a totally different kettle of fish, resembling Connecticut more than it resembles its neighbors to the north. I lived in Massachusetts for about six years, NH for about five, and Maine for about four.

 
At 5:18 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous neo-neocon said...

Correction: that is, lived in NH for about twenty-five years.

 
At 5:24 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous neo- neocon said...

Changed the title to include "northern."

I also just noticed that it's possible to change the comments settings so that comments can show not just the hour of posting, but the date as well. I'm definitely not quick on the draw with the technical end of things here, but slowly, slowly...done!

 
At 5:38 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger sygamel said...

Those who disagreed about one thing or another may have missed my caveat in the intro: I'm not talking about Massachusetts.

I didn't miss it. The agreements merely served to reinforce your points.

 
At 5:50 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger sygamel said...

As a side note, my parents grew up in Springfield (near Connecticut yes, but not of the Boston mindset) and didn't move east until 1980, so I don't think I represent your typical metro Bostonian.

 
At 5:56 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous neo-neocon said...

Well, what do I know, anyway? I'm from away :-).

 
At 6:29 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger sygamel said...

For a "not born here", you did "wickehd guhd" (incidentally I don't have the accent) You hit 4 of 5!

 
At 7:33 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous anemone said...

I'd say right on all counts from a born and raised New Englander. Born in Northern MA, but now a tax refugee in NH.

Growing up we had 2 neighbors with garages. Neither EVER put their car in them.

Umbrellas - 'strue. But I'm not quite sure why. Never thought about it.

Ice Cream. Definitely. It's a staple. Got to have bread, milk, toilet paper and ice cream on hand at all times.

Lawns? I'm a female and I mow our lawn maybe every third or fourth time, I'd say. This may be a recent thing. Me and my sisters never did growing up. But then, we didn't have a self propelled mower then.

Locals - I have to shamefully agree. It's not that we don't love outsiders, it's just that, well - how can people possibly understand if they were born here?

 
At 10:05 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous neo-neocon said...

I need some tech help--I changed the comments settings so that the date showed for each comment as well as the time, but it only lasted for a little while. Now it's back to the way it used to be--just the time shows. I changed it several times, and each time, after a short while, the settings spontaneously changed back so that only the time shows. Does anyone have any idea how to make the new settings stay?

 
At 10:10 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Red Lief said...

I don't know, neo.

You're on to a few things, a recalibration required for others.

I am a born and contented Swamp Yankee from Massachusetts, by way of Maritime expats from the one time Great White North.

I am not a liberal (was one briefly, before muggings, divorce, and giving up medicinal jane), and so detest the politics of this Staat, but I can attest that there is much of Old New England still extant heeyah, and even in gorgeous and corrupt Little Rhody.

Spend some Summer time among the natives along Duxbury Beach, or fishing off Cohasset, or sun-shiney drinking in Newport and Jamestown and Middletown, and know that this is our Ancient Home, without parallel or comparison.

One could be misled, however, when hearing the Rhody accent. It sounds Nyawk, but its speakers are Yanqui, without any doubt.

Let me re-Staat, I despise the politics, but I would choose no other place to live.

You are correct about Connecticut, however. It is an extended suburb of New York.

I am a male and have always mowed the lawn. Until the divorce, that is. Then I mowed two lawns.

Umbrellas? I use them, when not already attired in a canvas baseball cap.

Garage? Wish I had one, to put my stuff.

Ice Cream? Most certainly. But not commie Nyawk flatlandah Ben and Jerry stuff, but Far-Far's, and Scoops, and once upon a time, Bliss Brothers and Newport Creamery.

Northern New England?

A strange and magical place, where many a heavenly Summer week passed. Vermount is no longer a constituent member, and is today some freak rump outpost of atheist Quebec and the lost tribes of Nyawk.

Way Down East?

Won't tell ya bout it, cuz ya might go theyya.

 
At 5:22 AM, June 17, 2005, Blogger sygamel said...

Vermount is no longer a constituent member, and is today some freak rump outpost of...the lost tribes of Nyawk.

lmao

 
At 10:21 AM, June 17, 2005, Blogger Renee said...

My experience with New Englanders is limited to expats who have migrated to the sunbelt, and I'm happy to report that anyone can become a Texan, if they have the right attitude and the gumption for it. That's why George HW Bush will never be a Texan, but "W" is as Texan as it gets.

Do you think Fact C is related to the elitist strain that runs through what is passing for libralism these days?

A lot of it, from their position on school vouchers to smart growth policies, which are really no growth, seem steeped in an us vs. them mentality that is focused on preseving the status quo for the benefit those who've already got their's and keeping both the less fortunate and the new money at arms length.

 
At 10:27 AM, June 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I love your blog. I discovered it only a week or so ago, but everything I've read so far is very good. Thank you.)

Fact A: New Englanders don't use umbrellas.
Yes, well, I own an umbrella. At least I used to. It's around here somewhere. I can't use it because when it really rains the wind is about 40 miles an hour, and the umbrella would never survive.

Fact B: New Englanders don't use garages.
Oh, yeah.


Fact C: If you weren't born here, forget about it.
Yes, I've lived in NH for about 17 years, and I'm still "the new guy". I'm from the South, but my Mom's family is from Minnesota. When people talk about last year's winter being tough, I just laugh.

Fact D: Women mow the lawns.
Not all of them, of course, but a lot of them do. And it is striking to see. I think that New England girls, like MN girls, are pretty tough. When the men are away, they have to plow the driveway, rake the roof, and hack the ice dams. Summer-time yard work is nothing.

(One of my first memories after moving up here was driving by a little girl waiting for the school bus. It was probably 10-15 degrees with a pretty good breeze blowing. She was dressed in a short skirt and a little jacket, leaning against a snow bank. Only the strong survive.)

Fact E: New Englanders love ice cream.
Big time. I personally don't eat much ice cream, but then again I'm not a native. With some, it's almost an obsession.

 
At 12:55 PM, June 17, 2005, Blogger sygamel said...

Do you think Fact C is related to the elitist strain that runs through what is passing for libralism these days?

New England's been like that forever, back to when this area was conservative.

 
At 8:11 PM, June 17, 2005, Blogger gatorbait said...

Y'all, when ah go tuh Noo Englund, them folks alwayz say ah got en axcint, ah say, nosuh, yew got th' axcint. ah still am knot tew shure whut them yankees are sayin', though..

They shure don wave lahk ah dew, but then, they hev en axcint, yew kno...

Bah th' way, them folks think salt 'n' peppah ar spices. Whut kin they be a' thinkin'? They dew hev sum fahn Ice Cream, tho...

 
At 9:44 PM, June 17, 2005, Blogger sygamel said...

I lost what little accent I had when I when to school in southern Cal.

 
At 10:31 PM, June 26, 2005, Blogger Jay Solo said...

Ginger ice cream is the best! Peaceful Meadows used to have that as flavor of the month each June, but I am not sure they ever make it anymore.

 
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