Maxine on the 4th of July

Annie was hired to take on a monumental job of cleaning out the house of a deceased elderly woman who had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. She was a hoarder. Her house was full of boxes, including forty years worth of magazines — TV Guide, Readers’ Digest — plus clothing, dishes, books, and everything most people have. One box was labeled, “Broken Pot,” and inside the box were all the pieces. Another box said, “Tree needles” that turned out to be the needles that fell from a Christmas tree.

When Annie first entered the house, narrow passages — created by boxes piled high to the ceiling — were wide enough only for her to walk through sideways. Annie has a slight build. Almost every inch of the house was filled, and there was no evidence of furniture.

The woman’s son told Annie to keep most everything she wanted , with the exception of some jewelry and a few other items. She could throw out or give away the rest. A dumpster was pulled into the yard. Magazines and newspapers were recycled, some furniture was left by the dumpster for elves to come by during the night and take away. Annie co-opted her husband, John (remember the truck that slid into the cove by the golf course?), to help fill several boatloads of items which they transported to the Island for a rummage sale to benefit the Island Commons, an assisted living and nursing home for people living on the Island.

It was June when Annie started, and after a month into it she resurrected a wardrobe of fine women’s clothing that had been purchased at a well-known local department, store — Porteous, Mitchell, & Braun — in Portland, Maine during the 1940’s. The clothing was brand new with tags still on, folded neatly inside white tissue paper, and packed in original store boxes. As she unwrapped box after box of fine quality clothing she knew this wardrobe was too nice to throw away but too dated to wear.

Annie, forever a kid at heart, considered how much fun a young girl would have playing dress-up with these clothes. She thought a raffle to benefit the Island Commons would be unique and possibly very lucrative as a fundraiser. She knew just who to call for help.

Joanne and Annie met as children on the Island and spent summers together roaming its beaches and roads, getting to know the local people and the other summer folks. They refer to themselves as “summer complaints,” but they formed a bond with each other and the Island that is still thicker than blood.

Joanne jumped right into the project, deciding the best way to show the clothes would be on a mannequin. She ordered one on the Internet and it arrived on the Island a few days later via FedEx. The mannequin was a slender young thing whose face was not compatible with the era of 1940’s clothing.

So, Joanne (knowing most of the people on the Island) called Rodney, who worked in Boston and was usually on the Friday evening boat. “I need a mask of a middle-aged woman. Can you go to a costume store in Boston and pick one up for me?” That night Rodney emerged from the boat with a mask of Barbara Bush. It was a very bad likeness which made people think, “She looks like Barbara Bush, but no, that is probably just a coincidence.”

When the clothes and mask were put on the mannequin it was like putting the magic hat on Frosty. Maxine was born and is still alive and well on the Island to the pleasure of some and the chagrin of others. To be continued.

– – –

Please note the photo above is of Joanne and her sister with Maxine.