I just got back from a mini-vacation to Popham Beach, Maine. There is no more beautiful town in America that I have seen. Maybe there is a prettier, more American-y small town in the mountains of Pennsylvania, but I doubt it. (See: “Allentown” -Billy Joel)
Popham is a town stuck in time. It’s as if the 1950’s happened and Popham just stopped aging. All the houses still look brand new, but they were clearly all built more than a half a century ago. The old fort still stands at the mouth of the river, solemnly watching for a war with Britain that never came. A single-room church house stands along the main street, it’s steeple the only thing poking up above the trees and rooftops. It’s bell rings out across the harbor, inviting any of the hardy lobstermen in on Sunday morning.
Percy’s Ice Cream looks like a sitcom location where the whole gang gathers. It’s the coffee shop in Friends and the bar in How I Met Your Mother. The place serves delicious, Maine-made Gifford’s ice cream and they sell lobster at a price that feels illegally low. The place is staffed with college students all summer long who are clearly not from the area, but have fallen in love.
It’s easy to see why. At any time of day or night you can hear the waves crashing against the beach. There is often distant music being played by someone with a guitar on their porch by the ocean. The air is cool, but not cold, and sunburns can sneak up on you because you never feel hot.
As I was skim boarding with my sister today I looked out across the waves to three islands just off the coast. Each one had high rocky cliffs all around and a light house on top. The quaint and unique sight is one that can be seen nowhere else in the world. It emphasizes the individuality of a small, no-name town that grew up by the sea.