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As a radio talk show host (560 WGAN) it's assumed by many, of course, that I know everything. It's not surprising that people think this when you consider how many talk show hosts are known to be 'know it alls.'
I'm not saying I'm a know-it-all, I'm just saying that people think I know a lot and these people frequently ask me questions about Maine and things related to our state.
I Know. Go figure.
On computer web sites these frequently asked questions are known as FAQs and just to show that - if nothing else – we’re in touch with all things of a “cyber” nature here at Storyteller Central, I thought I'd do an 'all FAQ column' for this first week in July. If nothing else it should help the tourists who are now as thick as black flies here in the Pine Tree State.
The first question we had to deal with, of course, was: how many times does a question have to be asked before it can be called a 'frequently asked question' or FAQ? We still haven't come up with a suitable answer to that question but we'll do the best we can under the circumstances.
The most frequently asked question we get here at Storyteller Central, the FAQ of all Maine's FAQs, is the simple question - "How did Maine get its name?"
Here's a typical e-mail: “John, We know a little about the names of the other New England states. We know that the names Massachusetts and Connecticut come from Indian words, Rhode Island's name comes - for some strange reason - from the Isle of Rhodes, Vermont's name comes from the French words for 'green' and 'mountain,' and New Hampshire is named for old Hampshire, the picturesque county in England. But, John, we have no idea where Maine's named comes from. Can you help us? Ken.”
Thanks for the e-mail, Ken, and I wish I could be of some help to you. Although we know that there was once a province of Maine in France, a town named Maine in Virginia and Ireland and an island known as Maine in the scattered group of islands off Scotland known as 'the Orkneys,' the simple truth is we don't know what connection our Maine has with any of those other Maines.
As far as we know someone at some time started calling this corner of New England 'Maine' and the name stuck. Sometimes names stick like burdock, so be careful.
If you have any ideas for a name we might want to stick on our state I suppose you can submit it to us and, who knows, we might just change our name. Before you make any submissions, Ken, you should know that the names 'Lobsterland' and 'Moosehaven' have already been considered by our panel of experts and both were soundly rejected.
In an e-mail that is typical of another FAQ Eric writes: “John, I once read that a tourist can't say they've 'experienced' Maine unless - during their visit - they have a 'personal encounter' with a moose, a lobster or a light house. Can this be true? And what does it mean, John?”
Thanks for the e-mail, Eric. First, I want to call your attention to our We also know that if a tourist doesn't see a moose, eat a lobster or photograph a light house, their trip will be judged a complete failure.
We also know that a seafood platter may substitute for a lobster but there are no substitutes for seeing a moose license plates. Here in Maine we ask our prison inmates to put the word 'vacationland' on the license plates they cheerfully pound out for us at their facility there in Warren so that people like you will know how important vacations (and inmates) are to us here in Maine.
All seriousness aside, Eric, we take tourists and their vacations very seriously. It's safe to say that nothing in Maine - not trees, not even seafood - has been studied more intensely and measured more carefully than tourists and the 'vacation experience' they have while within our borders. Not only do we know how many tourists visit our state each year, we also know where they come from, why they come, how much money they bring and leave and - when it's over - what they thought of their Maine experience.'
Knowing all that, please try to enjoy your vacation!
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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