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Contrary to the BDN’s Latin-leaning commentators, I do know where “Vacationland” on our license plates came from. According to our Carter family lore, my father, Leland F. Carter, came up with the nickname when he had a summer job as a guide at the Desert of Maine. He was then a student at Thornton Academy or the University of Maine, on his way to becoming a stoic but accomplished and erudite civil engineer for life.
One day after work on arrival home in Freeport, he announced that the State of Maine ought to be called “Vacationland” and that the state’s license plates should display the slogan. To that my grandfather, Charles Augustus Carter, a well-known postman and sometime lobbyist for Maine’s rural letter carriers, circulated the concept until he convinced the Legislature on adoption. Granted, Charlie Carter, hailing originally from Ellsworth, had a bona fide gift for creation of family lore, but Lee Carter held no truck with any lie and he never denied the legend.
Both my father and I studied more than enough Latin for yankee pragmatism as well as appreciation of “Dirigo” as a personal and state ideology. However, untold legions love to visit Maine, to come back, and to make lifetime tales and memories of this state as the ideal land for vacationing. Moreover, if only based on long-time personal experience on Toddy Pond, I gather that veritable hordes of Mainers do for vacation just as our tourists do.
Our scholarly cohorts may view “Vacationland” as a bit banal or commercial. In contrast, a Latin inscription strikes me as downright esoteric, too artificially formal for a thing so mundane as this state’s standard license plate display. Thumbs up on Vacationland, ad infinitum.
Robin Charles Carter