Goodbye to the Bee




When I was a callow youth, more familiar with monster movies and comic books than with cliches, I found a note from my mother saying something like, “I’ve left some snacks out for the time being, but I’ll be back later to fix dinner.” There was really nothing odd about the note, but my overactive imagination swung into gear. The Time Being? What kind of strange creature is that, and why should we have to feed it snacks? Looking back, I wonder if there was some insight to that childish imagining. Time does seem a bit like a hungry creature that consumes things. This thought occurred to me while cruising the seacoast, doing research for our cover story. This area is rich with history and alive with progress, and the wake between those two powerful forces can be murky. As we drove between Rte. 1 and Rte. 1-A we saw a little bit of everything: honky-tonk commercial zones, growing village centers, quiet acres and grand homes of the gentry. We curled through a rural residential area where any one of the horses grazing along the road were worth way more than my new used Subaru Outback. We even drove by famous author Dan Brown’s sheltered manse. (I’d tell you where it is, but the Illuminati scans the N.H. media pretty thoroughly.) I found myself wondering how all this would look in another 50 years. Can Hampton Beach remain a tattooed blue-collar Riviera with the Boston population bubble pumping up property values and generally classing up the joint? While out that way, I decided to check one item off my life list: a stop for coffee and crullers at Seabrook’s famous Honey Bee Donut Shop. This place has long been part of the Seabrook social fabric, but acquired legendary status for me after I met the owner, Phil Englehardt, author of the rough and ready “Motorcycleman” series of books. Phil’s escapist tales blend fact and fantasy and the Bee is described in some detail, so naturally it was just like I imagined: cluttered, aromatic, comfy. The people in the booths looked a bit haggard, but at home. They seemed rooted to the vinyl seats and anchored to the stools at the counter. When I asked the waitress a question, I got an answer from at least three of the customers as well. “Good people,” I thought. “Good donuts, too.” I took some for the road. Just as we were sending this issue to the printer, I got an e-mail from Phil, telling me that he was closing the Honey Bee to do more writing and spend more time with his new publishing company, Revolution Booksellers. I’m happy for Phil and wish him well, but I’m also happy I took that long-overdue drive and visited the Honey Bee — before it became a snack for The Time Being.
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