I agree that many people come to the Yarmouth Clam Festival just to have fun (The Forecaster, July 27, 2017). But some come for other reasons.
The day before the Clam Festival I walked into Anthony’s Dry Cleaners on Main Street to wash bedspreads and blankets. Four men I didn’t recognize were sitting in a row, waiting for their laundry. They appeared to be from away. The two younger fellows were staring at their hand-held devices. The two older fellows were conversing quietly in Spanish.
“Buenos dias,” I said.
“Buenos dias, senor,” one replied.
I piled my heavy load into the big washing machines. Taking advantage of this chance to brush up on my language skills I continued in Spanish, “Are you working at the carnival over there across the street?”
“Si, senor,” they replied.
I hurried off to do an errand. By the time I got back there were six of them. They told me a little of their story, mostly in Spanish.
They spend winters getting work as they can at home in Mexico, and summers working in Maine. One said he likes Yarmouth.
“It’s peaceful here,” he said, “not like Portland.”
I said I felt fortunate to live here. A younger fellow then made it clear that he comes for the money.
One fellow has been through Yarmouth with the carnival for 14 seasons. Another 10. Another eight. They were proud of this.
All summer they move from town to town in Maine. They put up the carnival, interact with people who come, take it all down and move on to the next town. Next stop, Presque Isle. They were hoping it wouldn’t be too cold up there.
I told them I had read in the papers that the job market has been improving in Mexico. Seems like that news, if true, has not reached them yet. As for working in the U.S., they have had no visa problems, so far. They expressed some uncertainty about the future, but didn’t seem too worried.
I retrieved my clothes from the dryers.
“Adios,” I said.
The most talkative among them replied: “Que le vaya bien.” Rough translation: “I hope things go well for you.”
“You too,” I said, and out the door I went.
Al Howlett lives in Yarmouth.