On April 28, the New York Times published the results of an investigation that found New York City correction commission Joseph Ponte’s city-issued SUV making frequent trips to Wiscasset, Maine. Just two days later, they featured Wiscasset in another article.
Ponte owned a home in Wiscasset until March, and also worked as the commission of Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2014 when he was recruited by New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio, according to the NYT report.
NYT’s Rick Rojas described Wiscasset “a small town near the Maine coast with streets dotted with colonial homes and a blink-and-you-will-miss-it downtown that is nonetheless something of a draw.”
The town is known locally for stop-start summer traffic on Route 1 and winding lines for lobster rolls from Red’s Eats. Aside from those obvious facets, Rojas did an excellent job of describing the aura of Wiscasset. He writes:
“Some around Wiscasset said they had recognized Mr. Ponte or had encountered him or his wife around town. But many said people here tended to place a premium on independence, treasuring a kind of live-and-let-live attitude in which neighbors are friendly but also allow for a bit of space.”
“Everyone just leaves you alone,” said Deb Schaffer, who owns a boutique downtown and remembers seeing Mr. Ponte and exchanging greetings on the street. “But if you need something, they’re there to help.”
The piece features excellent photography of the scenery in Wiscasset’s downtown, as well as some funny observations that Mainers can relate to.
These days, ahead of the busy season, there is no line at Red’s, and in the parking lot by the yacht club, there were only a couple sitting in their truck, reading the paper and eating sandwiches on their “date night.”
When we feature journalists from away, usually we harp on them for not capturing the aura of Maine or hitting on the hot topics. But, Rojas and the New York Times did an excellent job on this feature of Wiscasset, summed up well in the last line.
“Our way of life,” she said, “is the best way of life.”