When we were staying at Ocean Park this weekend, we took a run up to Freeport, Maine, for some Christmas shopping at the iconic L.L. Bean. I remember this place from my boyhood, 50-plus years ago. Things were more rustic, for sure, but something about every square inch of the campus of buildings seemed to recall the place I remembered so fondly. We bought baked beans that it seemed obvious I’d be thrilled to soak overnight and cook all day, salt water taffy, classic chinos, an L.L. Bean mug, and all sorts of other great stuff.
Where the trip really paid off was the Men’s Department. I hate to try on clothes, but the atmosphere at Bean’s was so casual and relaxed I ended up trying on more pairs of pants in one session than I’ve done in the past five years. They didn’t count the items you took in to the changing rooms or give you a chit to return. You just scooped up whatever pants your wife gave you and strolled on in. Charlie, one of the fitting experts, marked my cuffs and in an hour and a half the pants were ready to fetch. This gave me time to read my Kindle at Starbucks while Darlene did some varsity shopping along the main street of Freeport.
As for the photo, that statue of the original Bean boot made me smile in recognition. I got my first pair when I was probably 7, and I’ve got a pair of low-tops down in the closet. We called them “Wallagans” in my family, and I’m kind of glad I can’t find that name with a Google search. They were the real thing, perfect for snowshoeing and horsing around in the snow. I loved posing in front of the big boot, and a thoughtful fellow shopper offered to take a shot of the three of us when Darlene was framing just me and Claire.
Now we’re back in Cambridge, and it may not be too late to start soaking those beans!