Eleanor H. Porter, the author of “Pollyanna” hailed from Littleton, New Hampshire. This book and the 1960 movie version were a favorite of my children during our first moves in the summer and then again in the fall of 1996. By nature we are optimistic folks but our move to North Carolina and then to Michigan had been quite a test. Pollyanna taught the kids “The Glad Game” just as Pollyanna had played it; to look for something positive in every situation. It often made for amusing moments as they looked for something positive in getting lost, in starting a new school, or in our lack of understanding of the ways of our new community. Rather than sadness or frustration, life became about discovery, potential and independence. With an optimistic attitude, I headed to the Littleton Library where they have a statute of Pollyanna, arms open wide and smile on her face, welcoming all. The Library was a lovely old three story building stuff to the gills with books and people using its resources. The Main Street was bustling and reassuring to witness after seeing so many dying small towns in the Midwest. I enjoyed a walk past the stores, hotel and restaurants before into the White Mountains.
My initial intent was to drive up Mount Washington and maybe even adorn my car with a “This Car Climbed Mount Washington” bumper sticker. I thought after 16,000 miles the car had earned it, but unfortunately there was fog and rain. It seemed pointless to tackle the drive when there would not be any views to enjoy at the top. I decided to climb Mount Washington another day, which I believed wouldn’t be too difficult now that I was a New Englander.
It was with great happiness that I crossed the Maine border; the 48th and final state of my adventure. I drove foggy and wet, but lovely backroads across Maine through Lewiston to Brunswick. My destination was the Bowdoin College Museum of Art which has a large collection of Barbara Cooney’s original illustrations, donated by the Maine author/illustrated to the College. Cooney wrote or illustrated many of our family favorites including “Miss Rumphius”. The Museum had a glass cube entry, a twist on the Louvre’s entry, and I descended into the Lobby. After exploring for awhile, I asked a Gallery Assistant about the Cooney collection and was informed that the collection was in storage. It had been on display last year and was very, very popular. I was crestfallen and couldn’t resist making the comment, “well if it was very, very popular, it’s a good thing they put it away rather than making all or some of it part of the permanent collection”. I wasn’t playing The Glad Game well. So, understanding the limitations and use of space of the museum, I walked through an exhibit of a contemporary Danish artist, Per Kirkeby. I tried my best to enjoy the modern pieces which I didn’t have the slightest chance of understanding when I noticed that the Gallery Assistant seemed to be trailing me. I waved to him each time he appeared and found his spying on me more entertaining than the exhibit. As it was cold and raining, I walked only a little around the leafy Bowdoin campus before making the decision it was time to point the car south and head home to Boston.