Archive for January 9th, 2012

Maine Population Stats

Tonight I had a rather comical experience at the local library, one town away.  As I went to check out some books, the librarian wished to remind me that “next Monday we are closed due to the holiday.”  I am ashamed to admit it, but I simply could not recall what holiday falls in the middle of January.  “What holiday is it?” I asked.  Apparently the librarian was equally clueless.  Flustered, she quickly checked the papers on her desk.  “Martha Luther King Day,” she said (and it was even funnier in a Maine accent, which came out “Mah’thuh”).

According to the 2010 US Census, Maine is America’s “whitest” State, with 95.3 percent of the population claiming itself to be Caucasian.  Additionally, Maine has the Nation’s smallest percentage of young people under the age of 5.  This is especially serious in rural Maine, where struggling townships find it difficult to keep their schools open for the dwindling juvenile population, requiring that local children ride further and further by school bus to reach a different elementary school should their nearest school close its doors. In some cases, schools can’t close because there are simply no other nearby alternatives within an hour’s drive.  Our closest neighbors’ three children travel by school bus (paid by our property taxes) 30 minutes each way to elementary school 2 towns away, and 40 minutes each way to middle school .  Because there is no local high school, the town must pay for them to attend the closest school, which is a  nationally-acclaimed private school called Fryeburg Academy, whose ca. 1792 charter allows locals to attend for free but charges $40,000 annual tuition for foreign and out-of-state students.  On huge, stately grounds, Fryeburg Academy rivals many universities in terms of facilities, dorms, staffing, state-of-the-art resources, equipment, labs, arts center, gymnasium, etc.  It is indeed a fascinating mix of students, with its preppy, wealthy Ivy-League-bound “foreign” students, and locals who may never even dream of going to college and instead follow in their woodsmen fathers’ footsteps.

Maine is also the Nation’s oldest state, with the highest percentage of the population in the Nation of people aged 45 or older.  And when talking about people aged 65 or older, Maine is only 2 percentage points behind Florida’s 17 percent.

What’s interesting is that in our little town, population 238, we have an unusual amount of diversity, which is atypical of the rest of the State.  There are two African Americans, one Asian, several Native Americans, and three Jews.  I think Mainers in general are quite proud yet nonchalant about  their tolerance of “otherness” in general.  Recently there was a discussion in a news forum between someone thinking of moving to Maine who happened to be gay, and a lifelong (straight)  Mainer.  The Mainer wrote in response to his query:  “You seem to be preoccupied with how people perceive you, and I don’t understand why people would care about you in the first place. If you want to come to Maine and live your life like the rest of us (we don’t share our bedroom proclivities with others usually), you can live anywhere in Maine. Maine is pretty “live and let live,” and “You mind your business and I’ll mind mine.” However, if you have a cause, STAY AWAY. You will not be happy here. Maine people will tolerate almost anything and figure it’s none of their business. If you wish to force the endorsement of your lifestyle on everyone else, you are in for a hard time.”

Based on our own experiences here, I would say that sums up the “Maine attitude” pretty accurately.