Maine Memories: Cling Peaches and Bar “Harboring” Bible Study

It was one of those moments we never thought we would see … or hear.

Carol and I were traveling through the Maine coastline, trying to get in as many communities and lighthouses as possible in a few days’ time. We fell in love with Camden, Maine, and stood speechless as we experienced one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Pemaquid Point Light, in Bristol, Maine.

While we decided not to visit the area of Bar Harbor, Maine, wanting to devote several days there on a future trip (because it is the “Gateway to Acadia”), we spent much time in Boothbay Harbor. While there, in Boothbay Harbor, we just had to stop at a particular local restaurant … yes … based strictly upon the name … we just had to stop … as we stepped into “McSeagull’s Restaurant” … I remember thinking, as I read the sign overhead, “Eat, Drink & Flounder – Just for the Halibut!” … I thought, “You can’t make this stuff up” …

Not sure if I should mention one of the differences between restaurants in New England and other places … maybe things have changed, but, in New England, almost all restaurants are accompanied by the words “and Pub.” I remember, growing up in the South, that where you bought groceries, or where you ate, depended upon whether they served or sold alcohol or not. I can remember thinking, “Yes, but where do you buy your gas?” This is in reference to the only places open to buy gas were convenience stores, which sold more “stuff” behind the counter than just gasoline … Maybe that’s changed, as I can’t think of a grocery store “up here” that doesn’t at least sell beer. Restaurants the same. I know that in New Testament times, reading about Paul’s travels, for example, the word “tavern” is used. Why? Because these were the only businesses which were open. Often, as you travel, off-season, this is the same way in these United States.

Anyway, here we were, in Boothbay Harbor, at McSeagull’s, not in the “bar” area, but, certainly within sight and sound of the bar … as this was the only part of the restaurant which was open … as we heard something we never thought we would hear …

The date was November 6, 1971.
It was episode # 7, in the second season, of “All in the Family.”
This was the 20th episode of the series, and it was titled, “Edith’s Accident.”
The story was by Tom and Helen August, and the teleplay was written by Michael Ross and Bernie West.

Yes … “All in the Family.” To this day, one of our favorite shows. Somehow … that seems like a confession … I mention often that we don’t watch network television, but still watch the “old” shows on an “oldies” TV channel we get.

“Are you actually saying that you watch “All in the Family”?
Yes.

The show didn’t take place in today’s time. It took place in another time. A time we lived in, grew up in. And, shows like this take me back to those times. Hey … we love to watch “Sanford and Son” also … I think about this: People I know, who watch “All in the Family,” also love to watch “Sanford and Son.”
Interesting.
I remember when, on Friday night, we’d watch “The Brady Bunch,” then “The Partridge Family,” then “Sanford and Son,” then “Chico and the Man.” That’s a lineup, don’t you think? A common theme? Family. Have things changed? Changed on Friday nights? Think about it.

I remember my Mom laughing … laughing … I would be laying on the floor, in front of the television (black and white, of course), and Mama would be on the couch, behind me, and underneath the painting of Jesus praying in the Garden … laughing … and, on rare occasions, Daddy would come in … and, laugh … join in the laughter … I remember … I remember …

Yeah … I still remember that …

The “All in the Family” episode is entitled, “Edith’s Accident.” Edith, who doesn’t drive, or own a car, has a car accident. It is one of the most memorable episodes in TV history. Has there ever been a better cast? We all know their names. We all know the relationships.

This episode is also known by two words. Just two words:
“Cling Peaches.”

Edith has an accident, as a can of cling peaches … in heavy syrup … is propelled … into the hood of a car … Who owns the car? A Priest. Father Majeski, played by Barnard Hughes. Archie doesn’t trust Father Majeski, thinking he is taking advantage of Edith. In fact, he thinks Father Majeski is a fake … not really a Priest at all … Archie thinks the best way to catch this fraud is by tape-recording the meeting with Father Majeski:
Here’s the conversation:
Michael Stivic: “Archie, you’re violating his rights under the First Amendment.”
Archie Bunker: “Whose side are you on anyhow, huh? Look at me, I know I got a lot going against me, I’m white, I’m Protestant, I’m hard-working. Can’t you find one lousy amendment to protect me?”

Here’s the deal: Archie, to trick Father Majeski into proving he is a fake, comes up with a test to prove the Father’s legitimacy, by having Father Majeski quote a passage from the Bible.
I must paraphrase, but Archie introduces the test this way:

“Father Majeski, there, I was wondering if you could clear up a little bit of an argument we were having down at Kelsey’s Bar … we were discussing the Bible … it sometimes comes up between beers …”

Of course, Father Majeski answers the challenge, and quotes the Scripture in question …

Father Majeski has this exchange before leaving the house:
Father Majeski: “Go from the presence of the foolish man when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”
Archie Bunker: “What does that mean?”
Father Majeski: “It means don’t waste your time arguing with an idiot!”

As part of one of the most memorable episodes in one of the most memorable series in television history, it was the “test” of Father Majeski which brings the most laughter to Carol and me. It is a favorite part of one of the favorite episodes of one of our favorite programs … I must admit that one of the reasons I can’t directly quote from this episode is that we have, literally, worn out the CD on which the episode appears. The whole program is just so funny, and it has become a personal joke between Carol and me, this “test.” We have watched this episode so many times, and it cracks us up every time. As with a lot of the comedy in this series … it’s funny because it is just so unreal, right???

Or, is it funny because it is so real?
I think we just discovered the reason for this show’s success.

Anyway, now, 45 years later …
45 years later …
45 years???

45 years later (we were so, so young when this episode first aired) … here we are, in a restaurant in Boothbay Harbor, Maine … I had ordered shrimp with my Pepsi … we were at a table over to the right of the bar … and, we could hear everything at the bar … Not that we were trying to listen, but, we couldn’t help it …then … we couldn’t help but to keep listening …

On the left side of the bar, a man, originally from North Carolina (as we came to know), was sitting. He was having a conversation with a man on the right side of the bar, who, as we listened, was a “local.” They were having a discussion … over beers … about the Bible …

Carol and I were speechless … just stared at each other … knowing that we were witnessing, in person, one of the most special, personal, and most improbable conversations we’d ever be privy to. They were actually having a discussion, between beers …

They were discussing many of the “finer points” of the book of Genesis, and, I’m not making this up … it was almost chapter-by-chapter … until they got to the part about … Sodom and Gomorrah … I’m not making this up … when they got to the part about Sodom and Gomorrah … it was decided, by both parties … that “we can’t go there” … that’s an actual quote … and the discussion ended.

As I wrote earlier, “Have things changed? Think about it.”

Yet, here we were, witnessing “history,” to us. It was an incredible moment. Once Carol and I realized what was happening at the bar, we sat mesmerized … listening to every sentence, every pint … I mean point …

There are two distinct parts of the conversation I remember. The man to our left, from North Carolina, stated that he was raised a Southern Baptist. This is as direct a quote as I remember:
Yeah, I was raised a Baptist. Then, I married a Catholic girl.”
He went on to describe, in detail, how he had gone to a sort of “weekend” with his betrothed, to a church-sponsored event.
The response from the other side of the bar:
“Yeah, I did that once.”

This man from the Carolinas also spoke at length about a tradition his home town had which involved firing black powder muskets. As a fan of black powder shooting (having experience in the art), I listened intently to this, as well. He told of how, in his hometown, on the 4th of July, they fired muskets for 24 hours straight … yes, 24 hours straight …

So, that’s how “Cling Peaches” and a Bar “Harboring” a Bible study come together …

Edith’s Accident.
Cling Peaches.
Father Majeski.
45 Years Ago.

45 years ago?
We’ll never forget how these two events came together, for us, 45 years later.
I was able to find the video of the “Cling Peaches” part of the episode.
What a great cast!
What talent!
What memories … 45 years ago, and, just 2 months ago:

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