| Every April when the weather in Maine warms up, I'm reminded of the fellow from Bangor who got arrested in our town one spring morning and later blamed his detention on the warm weather. Law enforcement people often say that weather can affect the crime rate but in this case the weather also affected the apprehension of a suspect.
The way I heard it, Handy Pinkham of Bangor had run out of money come spring and figured he'd have to do something about his financial circumstances pretty PDQ because his situation was getting more desperate by the hour. For some reason he thought that robbing a small, quiet bank Down East in coastal town of Milbridge would solve all his financial problems.
What happened was this. A few days before Handy's bank heist, Wink Dyer of the Milbridge True Value Hardware decided to put all his exterior paint on sale in anticipation of warm weather. News like that spreads fast in towns like Milbridge so within a day or two Wink's paint sale began to cause the type of retail activity that Wink always hopes for. His store was filled with folks wanting to get a head start on their spring painting projects.
One of the first customers on the scene was Harold Dow who wasted no time filling his pickup to the gunwales with over 50 gallons of Colonial Blue. Harold never did like the bright yellow house paint his late wife Ester picked out years ago and now that she'd been gone a respectable length of time, he figured he should now be allowed to paint his house a color he preferred.
Most houses in small Maine towns, of course, are white and so Harold's bright yellow house stood out and because of that it was often used as a landmark to help direct people out of town: “You want to go down River Road until you come to a bright yellow house and turn there, folks would say. The road's easy to miss, but you can't miss that bright yellow house. It's the only yellow house in town.”
So, as Handy Pinkham planned his bank job Harold Dow and a crew of local lads began slapping a fresh coat of blue paint over Harold's gaudy yellow landmark. A few days later - as Harold and his hired hands were putting away the leftover paint and cleaning the brushes - Handy Pinkham was robbing the Milbridge Savings Bank.
Harold had planned his bank job very carefully, and arranged to come into town by one route and quickly leave by another route. His getaway involved heading out the River Road and taking that turn by the gaudy yellow house. He knew he couldn’t miss it.
Well, Harold headed out River Road but missed the turn because he never saw the yellow house on the hidden corner.
Taking the next right a few miles later he sped out the dead-end road to Sprague Falls. He was soon arrested by a Washington County sheriff's deputy who happened to be investigating a camp break-in less than fifty yards from where Harold came to a screeching halt.
Harold insists to this day that if the weather hadn’t turned warmer and Wink's paint hadn't gone on sale and Harold hadn’t decided to take advantage of the sale and buy enough to paint his house, he'd be a free man today. Still broke, of course, but free.