The wave of nostalgia was instant. I read a pair of names in the federal court press release and like that, I was back in the mid-’90s again. Heavy-hitting crack dealers from far-flung countries were back in Lewiston selling their wares from sweaty downtown apartments. There were home invasions every other day and shootings all over the place.
The mid-1990s was a wild time, with gangsters and gangster wannabes running amok. There were mini turf wars and violent debt collections. There were street vendettas, there was treachery and the street corners were jammed with prostitutes like you read about.
Had those trends continued locally, the No. 1 film at the box office this weekend would be “Straight Outta Lewiston,” with Kennedy Park as the backdrop instead of Compton.
Word to your mother and such.
All of these lurid memories sprang like fleas out of the past when I read those two names in the press release. As it turns out, I should have paid closer attention to the listed ages – suspect No. 1, with that instantly familiar name, was 27. Suspect No. 2, a lass whose mugshot looks so familiar, was 24.
These were not my old criminal friends rising up in felonious reunion. These were their kids.
Whatever the street word for “Doh!” is, I’d like to utter it here.
It’s a tradition I’ve noticed with troubling frequency over recent years. I’ve been at this job so damn long, I’m now writing about the second generation of Lewiston’s finest felons – the third generation in one particular case, which makes me just want to take a Doan’s, read the AARP headlines and go to bed, only to get up six times during the night to pee.
The notorious criminals of Lewiston’s feisty past have grown up and moved on. Some of them have moved on to federal prison or the grave, I will grant you. But many of them have not.
People change, bruh.
One of downtown Lewiston’s more infamous crime families has wandered off to the quiet woodlands just north of us to start a farm, with goats and chickens and all of that Old MacDonald business.
Another group of former outlaws, most remembered for brawling with cops at the social clubs on Lisbon Street, is now mostly noted for plowing driveways, painting houses and doing fine roofing work.
One ’90s-era felon, famed for shooting another man just for snoring too loudly, is now doing a fine business grooming cats and teaching 14th-century folk dance to elderly couples.
I might be making that last one up, but that’s the thrust of it. All those glorious former bad asses have moved on. Some of them find religion. Some of them find self-help groups and get clean. They stopped taking shots at rivals and started taking a shot at the American dream.
Cops, too, seem to make smooth transitions out of the raucous lifestyle and into sedate ones. One former hard-driving detective, who was always at the center of the action in those rough-and-tumble ’90s, is now running a bed and breakfast somewhere along Maine’s tourist belt. Another has himself a quaint little bookstore on the coast. To them, the bar fights, the flying bullets and the late-night drug raids are all just colorful stories to tell their guests over coffee and corn bread.
People change, yo. It makes me wonder why I haven’t done it yet – why I haven’t moved on to a career in glass blowing, fly-tying or floral arrangement. Maybe it’s because I don’t know how to blow glass, tie flies or arrange flora. It’s all very confusing.
On the streets, the torch has been passed to the next generation and for better or worse, I’m still tasked with writing about their nefarious deeds. I’m still on Pine Street with my notebook and pen, or over on Walnut when the honky-tonks get crazy. I’m exactly where I was in 1995, in other words, only the faces have changed even if the names have not.
Whatever, bruh. I’m sure the cat grooming is completely overrated and way more dangerous than it looks.