It is not easy being a Philadelphia Eagles fan while living in New England. You are definitely part of a minority group: a leper in Patriotland. I know there are some geographical transplants who successfully make the transition to rooting for the Patriots. This is harder when you come from Philadelphia and grew up as an Eagles fan.
Patriot fans are passionate but Eagles fans are rabid. I went to my first Eagles game in 1956 when I was 6 years old. The Eagles played the Detroit Lions at the old Shibe Park also known as Connie Mack Stadium. The Lions were led by legendary quarterback Bobby Layne.
The Eagles lost that day and I remember that I cried. It was the first of many losses to come that I witnessed. The Eagles are one of those NFL teams who have never won a Super Bowl, a fact never far from the minds of Eagles fans. In the Philadelphia mind, whatever our success in the Andy Reid era, we are still in sports hell.
I learned about football from my parents. Both were sports nuts. They were hardcore Philadelphia fans, especially the Eagles and Phillies. My dad got season’s tickets to Eagles’ games starting in the late 50’s. He and I used to park far away and schlep across the often freezing bridge to Franklin Field, the University of Pennsylvania stadium, where the Eagles played before they moved to the Vet.
I do want to mention the year 1960. There are some happy Philadelphia football memories. 1960 was the last time the Eagles won the NFL championship. It was in the era before Super Bowls. I was there with my dad, watching the Eagles beat the Packers 17-13.
Quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, nicknamed the Dutchman, led the Eagles. I went to Friends Central School with Van Brocklin’s daughter, Karen. Norm seemed like a really nice guy. When he came to school in the afternoon to pick up Karen, he went to the school playground and he threw the football around with us kids. How cool was that! He also punted to a small army of students who wanted to receive his kicks. Van Brocklin actually was the Eagles punter, something you would never see today. I do not believe there are any pro quarterbacks who double as punters now.
Van Brocklin was surrounded by some great players. I would mention Chuck Bednarik who played both ways, center and middle linebacker; Tommy McDonald,a small, speedy and gifted wide receiver; and tight end Pete Retzlaff, a 5 time pro bowler. The Packers had Bart Starr, Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung. Ray Nitschke anchored their defense. That was a great win with Buck Shaw besting Vince Lombardi.
However, as I noted, it has not been duplicated. Not that it matters but I do not think Patriot fans can understand the feelings of Eagles fans because of all the Patriots success. Patriot fans are spoiled. It is not just the Patriots. In the last decade, Boston has had the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins all win as well. Before the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, it had been 25 years since any Philly team won a major sports championship. We are talking the 1983 Sixers with Doctor J and Moses Malone as the last winners. That qualifies as a sports drought.
After the 1960’s, I admit I lost interest in football for a long time. I was not at Franklin Field in 1968 when that famous episode in Eagles history happened: the booing of Santa Claus. It was December 15, 1968. The Eagles were 2-11 at the time. They had started the season 0-11. Still, 54,000 loyal Eagles fans showed up. The weather was miserable that day, snowing and sleeting. It was biting cold with a whipping wind chill. Fans had to clear their seats of three inches of snow and slush.
The half time show was supposed to feature Santa making an entrance on an ornate sleigh dragged by eight life-sized fiberglass reindeer. The sleigh float quickly got stuck in the field which had turned to muck. That necessitated the entrance of Santa by foot. The other problem was that the Santa who had been hired for that day was a no-show. Not clear whether Bad Santa was drunk but he did not appear. As a result, the Eagles entertainment director approached a young fan, Frank Olivo, who, in the holiday spirit, had dressed in a red corduroy Santa outfit. Olivo was recruited on the spot to step in and play Santa.
As the 50 piece brass band played “Here Comes Santa Claus”, Olivo entered the field between two columns of Eaglette cheerleaders who were dressed as elves. Olivo recalled what happened next:
“That’s when the booing started (when the band played “Here Comes Santa Claus”). At first, I was scared because it was so loud. But then I figured, hey, it was just good-natured teasing. I’m a Philadelphia fan, I knew what was what. I thought it was funny…
When I hit the end zone and the snow balls started, I was waving my finger at the crowd, saying, “You’re not getting anything for Christmas.”
Olivo says he was actually hit by several dozen snowballs. Maybe 100 were thrown. People joked that some of the people sitting in the upper deck were more accurate passers than the Eagles quarterback. Olivo commented that he was thankful for the snow. When the Eagles entertainment director asked if he wanted to play Santa the next year, he declined. “I told him, no way. If it doesn’t snow, they’ll probably throw beer bottles”.
I know the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl in 1981 under Dick Vermeil although ultimately they lost to the Raiders. I came back to football in the late 80’s/early 90’s. The names Randall Cunningham, Buddy Ryan and Reggie White come to mind. I remember the Fog Bowl in Chicago but not that much else about the team. I did go to a few games at the Vet. The Vet itself deserves a bit of comment. It was famous for its concrete-like turf and its court in the basement.
I never saw the Eagles Court. They were full service: starting in 1998, the Eagles had a court, a judge, and a jail at the stadium. Apparently, justice was dispensed quickly for drunk or unruly fans. Penalties included forcing offenders to give up season’s tickets, pay a $400 fine and sit in jail for the rest of the game. There is no Eagles Court at the Linc.
Philadelphia had so many lean years. All the losing seasons, bad coaches and bad teams are a blur to me. I do remember the name Joe Kuharich which I associate with multiple 2-12 years. Football got somewhat redefined during those years. A good year was not about making the playoffs. A good year would be defined as a year when the Eagles beat the Cowboys or Giants. To some extent, that is still true.
Then along came the Jeff Lurie/Andy Reid era. That changed the Eagles’ fortunes. From being a team of perennial losers, Reid turned the franchise around. Eagles’ fans became used to winning. For almost a decade, the Eagles were contenders and usually they were the best team in the NFC East.
While Eagles fans are typically critical of Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb for not winning a Super Bowl, by any rational standard, this was a special time in Eagles history. They never won so consistently for so long. They made it to 5 conference championship games and 1 Super Bowl.
If I have any criticism, it was the failure of Reid to surround Donovan with quality wide receivers. With the exception of 2004 and the acquisition of T.O. (admittedly a mixed blessing) the Eagles almost inexplicably failed to give Donovan receivers who were difference-makers. That might have gotten them over the hump.
In his early years, Donovan was a genuinely exciting player. Besides having a great arm, he was a running threat. Repeated injuries took their toll on him but he was a tough guy. I remember him playing in 2002 against the Cardinals and throwing 4 TDs while playing on a broken ankle. Eagles fans tend to remember all the wormburners and the alleged throwing up in the Super Bowl. That is very uncharitable. It was nice to see Donovan and Reid get honored at the recent game against the Chiefs. They both deserved the honor.
My dad used to call me on the phone multiple times during Eagles games to report on developments. That went on through almost the whole Andy Reid time in Philly until my dad died. It was a little before the NFL package came into existence so my dad kept me informed. My dad was a big Donovan fan. We had some wonderful times following those games and the team. I knew a lot without watching myself because of my dad’s reports.
I am not going to say much about the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. It could have gone the other way. It was a close game and the Eagles lost 24-21. That game was not Andy Reid’s finest hour. That was a tough loss.
One player I do want to mention – Brian Dawkins. For heart, grit, and for giving his all on the field, I would rate Dawk as possibly my favorite Eagle player of all time. I would imagine that opinion is widely shared in Philadelphia.
We now enter a new period. Many question marks. I remain optimistic about Coach Chip Kelly and the future of the team. Kelly appears to be very creative and original. There is nothing boring about his team. Maybe he will turn out to be some kind of football genius and maybe he won’t. I think it takes a couple years to turn a football franchise around. The Eagles had reached a deadened place at the end of Andy Reid’s tenure as coach.
I probably share the doubts of many fans about Mike Vick. It seems unlikely Vick can change his style of play in a way that will lessen his chance of injury. He always tries to stretch plays but he takes so many hits. The idea that he could make it through any season seems like wishful thinking. I hope I am wrong. Vick does have a great arm and he can still move. Turnovers remain his achilles heel.
If Vick is not the quarterback, then who? That is a big question. Nick Foles and Matt Barkley both seem talented to me. The Eagles do have some great offensive players. Desean Jackson and Lesean McCoy are both great. The Jeremy Maclin injury was a killer though. The defense is certainly suspect. Generously put, it is a work in progress. That unit seems a couple years away from being good. Scary to think what Peyton Manning might do to them later today. Again, I hope I am wrong.
Before my dad died, he said, “Jonny, maybe you will get to see the Eagles win a Super Bowl.” I honestly cannot remember if I hid my skepticism. Eagles fans generally expect the worst. I suppose there is the law of averages. Eventually, the Eagles are destined to win a Super Bowl as long as football continues. It is hard to know whether that will be in my lifetime or the lifetime of my children, who, I confess, are not Eagles fans.
I suppose it is a bit odd to be reviewing a little noticed book that came out about 20 years ago. Sometimes very good books get ignored. Such is the case with Hugh Pearson’s book about the Black Panther Party, “The Shadow of the Panther”.
I was prompted to take a look at the book after reading Steve Wasserman’s excellent review of a new book on the Panthers, “Black Against Empire”. Wasserman’s provocative piece appeared in the June 24th issue of The Nation. He mentioned the Pearson book in the review.
Wasserman’s review was really interesting because most writing about the Panthers is either in the love or hate category. There are not many books or articles about the Panthers in the balanced, shades of gray category.
Hugh Pearson’s obscure book was something of a revelation to me. When I picked it up, I was struck by Ishmael Reed’s blurb inside the cover: “The best book on the Panthers yet published. Explosive is too mild a word with which to describe this book.” Reed was not kidding.
I think the book was brave. It is certainly an illusion smasher. The detail and specificity of many of the allegations in the book make it more difficult to argue with. For folks like myself, more inclined to the heroic narrative about the Panthers, the book was difficult to read.
Pearson delves heavily into the dark side. There are two narratives going on simultaneously. You have the bold Panthers who stand up to police brutality in the Black community. These Panthers ran the breakfast for children program, ran a free medical clinic for the underserved, set up schools, and registered voters. They were a source of pride in the Black community. Then there were the criminal Panthers. Murder, extortion, rape, drug offenses – and that barely begins to touch all the crimes Pearson reported.
Particularly in the Bay Area, the Panthers were portrayed as the equivalent of a gang of thugs. There were a litany of despicable acts Pearson reported. The extent of the thuggery is shocking. It is hard not to think that the public image of the Panthers was at quite a distance from the reality. The Panthers looked better from far off. The problem was that the closer you got, the more seamy underside became visible.
Central to the story is the saga of Huey P. Newton. I think it is fair to say that Huey was the central personality in the party during its heyday. Huey embodied a bundle of contradictions. He learned to fight early in his life. Pearson wrote that he acquired a reputation for being so bad, so quick to the draw, that others on the rough streets of Oakland respected him. He could hang on the street with the brothers but he was also quite intellectual. Pearson showed how Huey valued education and how he ended up getting both a B.A. degree and a Ph. D. later in his life.
Huey led the Panthers to have a class-based politics. He was not anti-white or any kind of cultural nationalist. He was also an internationalist and the Panthers supported many Third World liberation movements.
However, from the perspective of 2013, it is hard to ignore some of the crazy stuff that used to appear in the Black Panther, the party’s paper. I would note the offensive dehumanized pig language which was a regular feature that ran deeply in its pages. I also remember the occasional anti-semitism that would creep in, usually in relation to Israel and the Palestinians. Wasserman mentioned the adulation of totalitarian North Korea and now deceased dictator, Kim Il-Sung. The Panthers somehow thought the North Korean concept of juche could fit here in America. Really that is bizarro world.
There was an element of megalomania with Huey. The titles he endorsed for himself included “Supreme Commander”, “Servant of the People”, “Supreme Servant of the People” and “Servant”. “Minister of Defense” was not enough. Talk about grandiose. After reading the book, the title “Servant” seems like unintended irony. While Huey had guts big time, considering all aspects, a more accurate title might have been “Self-Servant”.
In his personal life, Huey had a huge problem with substance abuse. Really that was what did him in. He had long-term issues with alcohol and cocaine and he siphoned off money collected by the Party to feed his addictions. At the end of his life in 1989, there were contracts out on him and not because of his politics. He had crossed other drug dealers, had tried to muscle them, and they wanted him dead.
Huey and much of the Panther leadership had a ridiculously sexist and abusive treatment of women. Pearson tells many stories. Eldridge Cleaver may have been the worst but Huey’s behavior was out of control. I would note that the picture Pearson presented of Elaine Brown, one of the most prominent female Panther leaders, was not flattering either.
There were any number of stories that freaked me out. The Party’s roles in the execution of their former bookkeeper, Betty Van Patter, is a horrible story. As is the story of Huey’s role in the shooting death of a very young prostitute, Kathleen Smith. The murders aside, the story I found unbelievable was Huey’s bullwhipping of Bobby Seale. Next to Huey, Bobby was the second most famous Panther leader. It is shocking that Huey could have treated his own close comrade so brutally but Huey was frequently erratic. I am hoping someday Bobby writes a memoir that pulls no punches. In Wasserman’s article, it sounded like he was considering that.
There was much competition and rivalry among Panther leaders. They were frequently expelling members or disciplining them for perceived slights. Macho posturing was common. Pearson says that Huey was enamored of the movie The Godfather. He went to see it repeatedly and required Party members to do the same.
Pearson wrote that Huey began dressing in a fedora, cape and tailored suits after seeing the movie. There is a horrifying story about how Huey pistol-whipped a tailor whom he had invited to his penthouse apartment.
The Party became a monstrosity of self-imposed wounds. At the same time, it was a victim of Cointelpro, a covert government effort to discredit and disrupt political organizations like the Panthers. While the Party often pointed to Cointelpro as the basis for many problems, that is clearly a grossly inadequate explanation.
Cointelpro did place informants and agent provocateurs in the Party. They tried to blackmail Party members and they worked to create a climate of fear about their infiltration. Still, it was the clandestine illegal activities of the Party itself which was its real achilles heel. Pearson believed that Betty Van Patter’s murder at the hands of the Panthers was due to the fact she knew too much about the clandestine activities. There was like a mafia goon squad around the Panther leadership.
That is not to say that the police and the FBI did not target the Panthers. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had called the Panthers the greatest threat to the internal security of the country. Hoover’s assessment was ludicrous but he followed up on it. The wave of attacks on the Panthers from 1967 to 1969 was hardly an accident. The constant raids on Panther offices across the country capped by the police murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark was part of a consistent project. We still only have a partial picture. It is wrong that no one was ever charged in relation to the murders of Hampton and Clark.
A deeper problem with the Panthers was their fixation on the gun and violence. That was so the wrong direction for any progressive political movement trying to gain a popular foothold. It scared far more people than it attracted. The gun stuff was a pose and in my opinion, stupid adventurism. The Panthers would have been far more effective if they had focused on constructively addressing the many social and economic problems in their communities. They could have stood up without the gun emphasis that too often defined them.
I always thought it was strange Huey titled his books “Revolutionary Suicide” and “To Die For the People”. Why would a revolutionary be so fixated on death or suicide? What kind of vision is that? The titles reflected a sort of death wish or prophecy. There was a lack of perspective about how far the Party was from reaching most Americans, let alone African Americans.
Pearson quotes Saul Alinsky about the Panthers:
“I like the Panthers, I really do, They’re nuts of course, but they’re really a fantasy of that senile political paranoid in Washington, J. Edgar Hoover. They haven’t got the numbers and they know nothing about revolutionary tactics. What kind of revolutionary is it who shouts that all power comes out of the muzzle of a gun when he knows damn well the other side’s got all the guns.”
The gun focus pointed the Panthers in the wrong direction. It created a justification for the repression that came down later. I certainly do not deny or disregard the idealism that brought so many good people into the Panthers. The problem was that the Panthers were so alienated that they could not figure out how to constructively advance their agenda.
Pearson argued that the Panthers focused on defiant symbolism rather than concrete achievements. He placed the Panthers in the historical continuum of organizations created to promote civil rights bur he placed them on no pedestal and he did not have a favorable opinion of the Panthers compared to SNCC and earlier civil rights advocates. I would credit the book with presenting a more critical and honest perspective than is the usual fare when the Panthers are discussed. People on the left could learn from this book and it deserves a wider readership than it ever obtained. In my opinion, leftists remain cowardly when it comes to honestly assessing both the strengths and weaknesses of the Panthers.
Unfortunately Hugh Pearson died in 2005. He was only 47 when he died. He deserves credit for taking on such a controversial subject and for moving honest discussion forward.
No Time To Butt Heads: Football, Brain Injury and Public Health – published in the Concord Monitor 9/15/2013
When Junior Seau retired from the the New England Patriots in 2010, he appeared to be in an enviable position. Extremely popular in his home community in the San Diego area, with all the fame and adulation that comes from being a long-time star NFL player, he was finally hanging up his cleats to enjoy retirement. He had made over $50 million in the 20 years he played for the Chargers, the Dolphins and the Pats.
Seau was widely considered one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the game. He was a likely shoo-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had no Super Bowl ring but he had been to 12 Pro Bowls.
As we all now know, Seau committed suicide in May 2012. He shot himself in the chest. He was 43 years old.
A recent article in GQ magazine chronicled the very tragic end of his life. Seau had been experiencing mood swings, insomnia, depression and forgetfulness. He had withdrawn from family and friends. He abused pills and alcohol. He made bad business decisions and he gambled away huge sums of money.
There was a weird possible suicide attempt in October 2010 after a very uncharacteristic domestic violence arrest. Seau drove his car off a 30 foot beachside cliff. He survived and claimed he had fallen asleep at the wheel.
His former teammate and friend, Aaron Taylor, described Seau at the end as like a beaten down man who had lost all his confidence. He struggled just to articulate his thoughts. It was like the old Junior had disappeared and been replaced by a shell.
After he died, scientists at the National Institute of Health who studied his brain found evidence of CTE – chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological disease linked to concussions. Interestingly, during his 20 years of pro football, Seau never was diagnosed with a concussion. However, as early as the mid-90’s, he had complained of severe headaches, bouts of dizziness and insomnia.
Seau, through his family, was among the 4500 former NFL players who have tentatively settled a massive federal court lawsuit filed over head injuries sustained while playing football. The players had alleged that the NFL misled them over the long-term dangers of head injuries.
The settlement reached on August 29 provides $675 million to be paid out to former players who have suffered cognitive injuries. Payments to individual players will vary depending on the extent of their injuries. Another $75 million will go toward evaluation, monitoring and treatment of all retired NFL players, not just those in the lawsuit. An additional $10 million goes to unspecified research. Part of the deal is that the NFL makes no admission of fault or liability that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football.
The settlement is still pending final court approval. It is possible some former players could object or appeal. The settlement does not apply to college players. There is a separate court case about that.
I would say most commentators think this is a sweet deal for the NFL. For a league that brought in $9.5 billion in revenue last year, $765 million is a relatively low cost to pay considering that quite a few of its former employees are dead, dying, or living horribly damaged lives. Not to mention the harm that went on long before the lawsuit. No one knows how many former players have been adversely affected by brain injuries in the period before the medical world even had the diagnosis of CTE.
It is important to remember that for years the NFL took the public position that there was no substantive link between concussions suffered playing football and long-term brain damage. From 2003-2009, the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, a body set up by the NFL, wrote that no NFL player experienced chronic brain damage from concussions!
In the world of denial of responsibility, the NFL can hold its own, more than rivalling the behavior of the tobacco companies with cigarettes. The bottom line comes first and nothing the NFL has done challenges that assertion. The league has acknowledged nothing. However, it is paying out some money.
As we head into a new football season, many questions come to mind. What are the effects of multiple hits, even little hits, on the brain? How can CTE be minimized? How can practices be made safer? Can technology design a helmut that can reduce if not eliminate concussions?
One has to wonder what the NFL knows that it is not disclosing. Part of the settlement is that the NFL can maintain a veil of silence and non-disclosure about what its research has shown. I wonder if like the tobacco companies approach to public health, the NFL has a research treasure trove it is holding in abeyance.
There is a growing body of evidence which shows that repetitive trauma, football-related concussions, can cause permanent brain damage. Memory impairment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, depression, and problems with impulse control are all common symptoms. CTE appears to progress to full scale dementia.
As an almost lifelong fan, I take no pleasure in writing this. Still, I think the NFL should reverse course and err on the side of disclosure. Football-related brain trauma is a matter of public health.
Complicating the picture is the reluctance of players to disclose their concussions while they are playing. In a 2012 Sporting News poll, 56% of the NFL players who responded said they would hide symptoms of concussion to stay on the field. In a game defined by toughness, many players apparently feel that disclosure equals weakness. If they can play through, they will.
While it is a different context, it is a bit reminiscent of military veterans and PTSD. Future promotions and hope of advancement mitigate against disclosure of a PTSD problem. NFL players worry that disclosing concussions will put them out of the game and will shorten their football careers. Junior Seau is a perfect example. Given the punishing hits he gave and took, is it possible he had no concussions playing? And why was nothing ever diagnosed?
If you are the parent of a child playing football, I think it is perfectly legitimate to ask if the risks are worth it. Whether it is pee-wee football, Pop Warner, high school, college or the pros, we all, players and family and friends, should at least have full disclosure of the science in order to make informed decisions.
I have no business writing about food. I certainly have no special knowledge. My wife, Debra, is the real food person. I am usually the person changing the channel away from the Food Network to sports or MSNBC. Still, I like good food as much as the next guy so…
I did want to say the Maine Diner, I like a lot. Located on Route 1 in Wells, Maine, the Maine Diner is a place my wife and I have gone to for years. The sign outside says “Breakfast Anytime”. It is open long hours – 7am-9pm.
The food is consistently great. I think it is a couple notches above usual diner fare. For the volume they do, I find it amazing that it does not falter. They have a big menu, not surprisingly leaning toward seafood but they have many of the dishes you would expect in a diner.
In the truly outstanding department is their seafood chowder. The chowder has lobster, local Maine shrimp, scallops and clams in a delicious clammy broth. It is very rich. The seafood chowder has been voted the best chowder in the Ogunquit Chowderfest for seven years.
Also up there in the food pantheon is their lobster pie. It has been celebrated on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. The lobster pie includes big and small pieces of lobster meat in a casserole topped in a delicious and buttery crumb mixture. It is kind of like baked stuffed lobster without the shell. They had a Dickie’s Diner Special this last Friday that featured a cup of seafood chowder, lobster pie with choice of vegetable and potato, a non-alcoholic drink, and choice of dessert for $30.95. Considering what it usually costs to get lobster in a restaurant (I never get it), I think that is a pretty good bargain if you are up for a splurge.
All the desserts are homemade. I rarely get dessert when I go out but I did get the blueberry pie. It was difficult to decide between the homemade Indian pudding, the apple crisp and the pies. The blueberry pie was chock full of wild Maine blueberries with a thin flaky crust. It was absolutely delicious.
There are a host of seafood items that are done right. You cannot go wrong with the fried clams, the lobster roll or the crab cake sandwich. Debra also mentions the she-crab soup, a creamy soup with Atlantic rock crabmeat and a bit of sherry. They do lobster in about ten different ways including lobster quiche, lobster club, lobster melt, lobster macaroni and cheese, and lobster benedict. I have never been to a place that served lobster in so many ways.
Being a Jewish guy from Philadelphia, I must acknowledge that Debra, a hardcore New Englander, has greatly furthered my lobster education. I was a lobster illiterate. When I was younger I had heard of Bookbinder’s Restaurant in Philadelphia and I had heard they served lobster but that was about the closest to lobster I got. My idea of seafood was flounder, blue fish, or maybe crab. There was a place near where I grew up close to 54th and City Line in Philly that was run by an an older man named Sam Fishman. (Place is long gone) He had great crab imperial at his restaurant but lobster was way pricey and we never had it. I only mention this because it does reflect my youthful distance from lobster.
I did want to mention the breakfast food too which is also yummy. Debra had the eggs florentine and the poached eggs were perfectly done. I liked the eggs benedict. The hollandaise sauce was rich and the eggs were accompanied by properly done hash brown potatoes.
They do have vegetarian options if you do not do seafood. The salad had fresh baby salad greens and flavorful cherry tomatoes. The cole slaw and baked beans are homemade.
It is a very busy place and you will probably have to wait in the summertime. There is not a huge amount of seating inside. The line goes pretty fast though and it is worth the wait if there is one. The place has a very hospitable, positive vibe. The waitstaff are friendly and chatty. The waiters were hustling but there was no bad attitude I saw. I think it is very customer-friendly and my guess is they are careful about hiring people who are personable. Also, there is none of the pretension that you can find at some fancy, overpriced restaurants. The atmosphere is comfortable and I think their prices are fair.
We sat at the counter and the guy who sat next to us was a talker. He raved about the lobster, mac and cheese. I guess he was a regular. The waitresses all seemed to know him and joked with him. It was the second time he had been there that day!
If you are in southern Maine, it is well worth a trip. I never thought I would write a restaurant review but I guess there is a first time for everything.