Bean of Maine
There are times when a man may burnish his soul by fighting progress tooth and nail?ah, for the day when it was fashionable to stifle a telephone by ripping the damnable thing off the wall and heaving it through the window, amidst a cathartic tinkling of glass. If L. L. Bean of Freeport, Maine is not a stout, white-haired old gent who wears black sateen sleeve guards and steel-rimmed spectacles, keeps his money in a wooden drawer and has a few skunk and muskrat pelts drying in the back room, he should be, and the world would do well to ignore all contrary evidence.
The L. L. Bean Catalog, which L.L. Bean has been mailing out to hunters and fishermen ever since 1902, contains, it is true, disquieting suggestions that modern efficiency, and perhaps even electric lights, have crept into his establishment. "We are located," reads the issue for fall, 1954, "19 miles east of Portland on U.S. 1 Business Highway. Plenty of free parking near salesroom entrance." Parking! Obviously a typographical error. The catalog is a fascinating work. Because its prose contains innumerable clues to the character of L. L. Bean. He does not sound like a man who would permit horseless carriages to stink up his store.
There is obviously little nonsense about him. Of Bean's 1954 Maine Hunting Shoe the catalog says, "The Maine Hunting Shoe was developed in 1914 by Mr. Bean. He returned from hunting wearing a pair of all-leather woodsman shoes, the type in common use in 1914, with sore feet. As a result of this experience, Mr. Bean developed the Maine Hunting Shoe?a leather top with rubber bottom. The average hunting shoe weighs about four ounces more than ours. As big-game hunters walk about seven miles (or 18,480 steps) a day they lift 2,310 pounds more than necessary." No false modesty creeps in. Of Bean's Combination Compass, Match Case and Whistle, it says, "The whistle is loud enough to be heard a long distance."
The page devoted to Bean's Improved Double L Fly Rod Outfit, however, seems to present the proprietor. "Our improved LL rod ($18.80 postpaid) is one of the finest rods we have ever offered," it says, in part. "With this rod Mr. Bean landed an 18-pound Atlantic Salmon while fishing on the Tobique River, New Brunswick.
Obviously Mr. Bean spent little time disposing of that Atlantic Salmon. He simply waded (stiffly but sturdily) out into some handy pool with a set of Bean's Over-the-Shoe Boots (with chain tread sole, $12.55) yanked up over his rusty business suit, made a few false casts with a Bean LL fly line (Sizes C and D, $2.35) and then, face thoughtful, high starched collar gleaming in the sun, let his fly settle softly on the water.
The 18-pound Atlantic Salmon in question struck instantly, doubtless aware that Mr. Bean is a busy man, made a few accommodating runs and came splashing to the net?which, of course, was wielded by a small boy of Mr. Bean's acquaintance. "Get him, Bub?" asked Mr. Bean. Then, ascertaining that the fish was indeed captured, he added, absently, "You can have him?take him home for dinner." He was already wading ashore. "This rod," he said thoughtfully, squinting with satisfaction at its high-grade Tonkin Cane construction, "will do for the L.L. Bean Catalog."
JOHNNY: What is an atheist, Pop?
POP: An atheist is a man who doesn't care who wins the Notre Dame-S.M.U. game.
Epizootic, stay home