October 31, 2012

Vanity plates, fair part of fun in Maine


---- — Before sitting at the computer to write this column, I decided to check my old columns to avoid duplication. When you get older, you forget sometimes, right?

As I’m looking through the list, I realized this is my 103rd Pinch of Time. Wow! How did that happen? Guess I never stopped to count because I’m having so much fun.

Speaking of fun, Toby and I have just returned from a week at the Friendship Suites in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Sometimes fun is just relaxing, and we did a lot of relaxing.

Our cottage is right on the beach, about two miles from the famous pier. Fall is a quieter time in Old Orchard. The teens and revelers have gone home, and just the “old folks” are there. We had a week of sun and misty rain. Rainy beach days are for watching old movies, taking a nap or walking the beach with an umbrella. I love all three and don’t mind a rainy day.

Our daughter and her husband, Tracey and Randy, joined us for part of the week, and we all went to the Fryeburg Fair even though rain threatened. Well, it did more than threaten. As we were eating our organic turkey dinner in the dining tent, it poured “cats and dogs,” as they say. Thankfully, we all had umbrellas, but we cut our day short, opting to go back to the cottage to dry out.

Driving up to the fair, you see a lot of beautiful sights this time of year. The trees are turning beautiful colors, especially around the Sebago Lakes. There are man-made sights, too, that I enjoy. One is figuring out vanity plates on cars. I believe they have to be under eight letters and numbers. We saw some interesting ones on our drive up to Fryeburg.

There’s a lot of ingenuity that goes into the message these specialty plates convey. A big black Hummer had on his plate: “RUJLUS.” At first, I thought they were initials. After saying it over and over to myself, I came up with this: “Are you jealous.” I thought that was rather haughty.

Another was on a semi: “GRTTRKN.” “Great Truckin’” is what I came up with, probably by a guy who loves trucking. I figured this next plate belongs to newlyweds: “MARK I T8.” “Mark I Take”; I think she married Mark.

On our drive home to New York, a little car with Massachusetts plates whizzed past us, and I mean whizzing, on the Vermont interstate. His plate said “VRMTR.” I interpreted that to mean he was a Vermonter living in Massachusetts and was in a hurry to get home for mom’s cooking. He was blessed because there wasn’t a state trooper in sight all day.

I also like to read messages on church bulletin boards. The Swanton, Vt., Methodist Church always has an interesting adage. It made me laugh, but it has a serious side as well: “Honk if you love Jesus; text while driving if you want to meet him.” Like I said, made me smile, but tragically so true.

So here we are, the 103rd Pinch of Time column, and I’m looking forward to the next 103. I love to hear from our readers, so keep on sending me those emails and notes. I feel like I have a whole new circle of friends out there in Newspaper Land.

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at