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Despite Mother's distrust of aircraft, I flew to Portland, Me., and thence went by taxi to Freeport. The Bean buildings—salesrooms, offices and factory—dominate the main street of Freeport, a town of about 8,000 population. In the salesroom I went "hog-wild." I ordered a case of baked beans and a pound tin of tobacco in memory of Father, a case of steamed clams and two decks of playing cards, a pair of the famous Maine hunting shoes, several plaid shirts, a fishing knife, a porkpie hat and (another dream come true!) a pair of flannel slacks of the modern zippered variety—these last to be wrapped for me to take along on my trip abroad.
En route to Bar Harbor, I opened my portmanteau and drew out the colorful travel folders I had obtained from the Nova Scotia Information Office in New York City. One folder contained breathtakingly beautiful color photographs of the province that is known as " Canada's Ocean Playground" and "almost an island." I was especially interested in the Bluenose, the ship that would take me overseas. I was fascinated as I read that she was 346 feet in length, had a displacement of 6,000 tons and was capable of making 18� knots with her six 2,000-hp diesel engines. She was named, of course, for the great fishing and racing schooner Bluenose, built in the 1920s and so famous for her victories in races from the Grand Banks to Gloucester, Mass. that her figure is stamped on Canadian dimes in circulation today.
I had to smile as I read that the name Bluenose derives from the fact that Nova Scotians are called Bluenosers, because hard winters tend to turn noses blue. The original Bluenose was wrecked on a Haitian reef in 1946, and the present great ferry was registered in 1954, soon after Eastern Steamship Lines had discontinued its service between Boston and Yarmouth. Today's Bluenose can accommodate 600 passengers and 150 automobiles. She has every modern convenience—two luxurious lounges, day cabins for those passengers wishing to nap (I determined to engage one), a bar and a first-rate cafeteria.
At the Bluenose's wharf in Bar Harbor, the great ferry was a sight to take one's breath away with her gleaming white superstructure and red smokestack bearing the insignia "CN" for Canadian National Railways, the operators. I hurried to the ticket window and asked for a round-trip ticket ($10.40), adding in French that I would like a cabin avec salle de toilette. Since all Bluenose employees are bilingual, the ticket clerk nodded understandingly. The price for the cabin was $5.50 each way.
My first act upon being settled in my cabin was to change to my zippered flannel trousers from L. L. Bean's (I mastered the mechanism of the zipper without the slightest difficulty). I put on one of my new wool plaid shirts and Mr. Bean's special porkpie hat. I decided to wear Father's Norfolk jacket as Mother had asked and, thus attired, I hurried on deck.
Now there occurred, Bayard, an incident that was to affect my whole expedition in a way that I shall not soon forget. Rounding a corner just as the Bluenose drew away from the wharf, I collided with a buxom lady with such force that I was literally bounced off the ship's rail. Then I was amazed to hear the woman, not unattractive for one of her size, burst into great peals of laughter. Although I did not immediately see any reason for her merriment, I said automatically: "Sorry! Phipps Piper, Harvard '14, here!"
She continued to laugh. Then, pausing for an instant, she said, "Wilhelmina Beaver, Panhandle Divinity College, '36. You may call me Sister Billie, Brother Phipps."
I could not quite bring myself to do that on such short acquaintance. Whereupon the woman shifted an armload of books and gave me a resounding slap on the back. As I fell forward, I noticed that the books she carried were works of Bennett Cerf, famed for his collections of old jokes, many of which he used to relate on the What's My Line television program.
"I beg your pardon!" I said with some irritation.
"Laughter is love, Brother Phipps," she cried.