John Moncure







“I shall be telling this with a sigh,

Somewhere ages and ages hence;

Two roads diverged in the wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

                        Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken


            I can trace, on a direct line, how I ended up in Maine to a mistake I made in August of 1960.


            As we scattered like flushed quail on graduation that fine June day in 1960, my path seemed clear.  I was headed to the University of Virginia.  Deposit paid, I had my roommate (a baseball player from Plainedge) and happily spent the summer contemplating the comforts of Charlottesville, Virginia, the tweed and prospects of attending a school that consistently ranked in the top ten party schools.


            In August, my father got a call from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, saying that I was in the “Jock Pool” and one of the nominees (North Dakota) had decided not to attend.  A slot was available.


            I was recruited for wrestling but never took it seriously.  I was far from an outstanding wrestler and wanted to play 150 lb. football at the University of Virginia (one of the few schools which had it) plus the University of Virginia was the school of my ancestors.


            My father sat me down and had a “heart to heart” as we say in coaching.  He thought it would be much more advantageous to have a B.S. degree, a trade, a commission in the Navy and the ability to make really good money upon graduation.


            I thought he simply wanted me to get the free education.  The prospects of four years of jumping out of the rack to reveille at 5:50 a.m. every day (except Sundays) and then going to sea held little charm for me.


            I acceded to my father’s wishes and that decision was the mistake that has made all the difference.          


            Upon graduation from Kings Point, I attended New York University of Law because it had the best Admiralty courses in the country, I knew I didn’t want to go to sea and I wanted to rectify my resume´.  I am convinced that I got into N.Y.U. because of my Federal Academy background.  N.Y.U. had one student from each of the Federal Academies in my class so the mistake made the difference in my getting into N.Y.U.


            As I was getting ready to graduate from Law School, it was 1967 and Vietnam was heating up.  I wanted to get into Navy JAG rather than be a grunt.


            I was accepted into the JAG program in a very competitive environment, 5,000 applicants for 50 billets.  I am convinced that I was accepted because of my Kings Point mistake and the Navy’s belief that I would be a career officer (it was correct).  I served a total of 30 years, 27 in the Reserves - and I really enjoyed my Navy service.


            While serving at my first duty station, NAS Memphis, a Navy Schools Command, I had a blind date with my best friend’s (another Navy JAG) sister, Nancy Jackson.  Nancy lived in Newington, Connecticut.  She flew down for the Memorial Day weekend in 1969, and I was immediately smitten.


            Next, we met in Manhattan at my sister’s apartment for the Fourth of July weekend after which I called my detailer in Washington, D.C. and asked him to cancel my orders for Japan and to send me to the nearest base to Newington, Connecticut.  I got orders to NAS, Brunswick, Maine.


            While transferring to Brunswick in August 1969, I took leave and we met again at my sister’s apartment for a week in New York.


            During those seven days we toured, saw Hair and had a glorious time.  While on the Staten Island Ferry, the “John F. Kennedy”, I asked her to marry me – on the third “date”.


            On January 3, 2010, we celebrated our 40th anniversary while at Vieques, Puerto Rico.  She is a very patient woman and I am a very lucky man. 


            We have two wonderful daughters, Halliday (31) and Travers (27).  Hal lives in Brunswick and practices law in Portland.  Travy teaches English as a Second Language in Yarmouth, Maine.  Hal’s daughter, Owyn, is 2 ½ years old and the cutest little girl in the world (sorry).  As the saying goes, “If I knew how much fun grandchildren were going to be, I would have skipped the middle stage.”


            While stationed in Brunswick, I took the Maine bar exam, just in case.  However, upon release from active duty, I took the most career-enhancing job available, with the Admiralty and Shipping Section of the Justice Department.  Again, I don’t think I would have gotten that job but for my Kings Point mistake.  I joined several other Kings Pointers who were practicing admiralty law there.


            After about two years, I got a call from a Brunswick lawyer whom I had befriended while stationed here.  He offered me a job.

            Nancy and I labored over the decision, essentially career versus lifestyle.  We loved Maine - lived in a 200-year-old saltwater farm after our honeymoon.  On the other hand, I was on a career fast track.


            The last decision, biographically, was my break from the Kings Point mistake – but when I told my father what we were considering, in 1972, he called me a fool.  Maine was ranked about 38th in per capita income. He offered to set me up in practice in Fredericksburg, Virginia (where Nancy went to school at Mary Washington).


            Nancy told me that there was no way that she was living in Fredericksburg – so that part of the decision was easy.  We chose lifestyle in Maine – I read Frost’s poem many times before making the decision.


We took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.